There is one thing in Israel that everyone can agree on regardless of race, politics or religion. At United Hatzalah, when it comes to saving lives, there are no boundaries. Emergency calls are answered and responded to regardless of who the caller is or where they are located.
Even more significantly, United Hatzalah’s volunteers cross a complete spectrum of Israeli society. Religious and secular, male and female, Jewish and non-Jewish, volunteers come together under the unifying cause of saving lives.
Imprinted with the Rod of Aesculapius on the Star of David, United Hatzalah’s orange vests are seen on Christian, Druze, Muslim and Jewish volunteers alike. Both faiths put a high focus on saving lives so it is only natural that this is one area where Jews and Muslims can come together.
For volunteers, politics play no part in what they do. The important thing is to preserve human life, regardless of whose life it is. On Jewish and Islamic holidays, volunteers, riding on their ambucycles, coordinate to provide for each others communities. During Ramadan and Fridays, holy days of the Islamic faith, Jews will come to the rescue of Muslims and Muslims will do the same for the Jews on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays.
In an interview with Breaking Israel News, Daniel Katzenstein, spokesperson for United Hatzalah, explained: “ I never would have had the opportunity to interact with these different people. Being a first responder is our life and to find someone else who is also driven by this from a totally different background is really eye opening.”
Omar, a fellow United Hatzalah volunteer, lives down the street from Katzenstein, but in the Arab village Beit Hanina. “I joke with Omar that I pray three times a day and that he prays five times a day. As long as you can leave your politics and your religion aside and what’s driving you is the treatment of your patient, then that’s where we can connect.”
Despite the recent uptick in violence between Arabs and Jews, at United Hatzalah both peoples continue to work harmoniously together. Just one month ago in an attack when an Arab terrorist crashed his car into the Light Rail train in Jerusalem, one of the first responders to the incident was United Hatzalah volunteer Haled Rashek.
Rashek, an Israeli Arab citizen living in East Jerusalem, commented in an interview with Yeshiva World News, “I come to all emergency incidents in the city to treat people regardless of the circumstances or backgrounds of the sick or injured person.”
According to Daniel Katzenstein, “We vote and pray differently but we unite when it comes to saving lives. Our blood is red, whether Arab blood or Jewish blood.” As one United Hatzalah volunteer put it, “At the end of the day we all have the same heart. It’s the same blood moving through our bodies.”
Fighting for a Breath