United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Menachem Eisenbach is looking forward to an uninterrupted tefillah this year on Yom Kippur. However, those rarely occur for first responders. Last year, Eisenbach had his tefillot interrupted in a way that he will never forget.
A woman was davening in the same shul as Eisenbach with her one year-old baby. Suddenly, the infant began coughing and then started gasping for breath. The panicked mother began screaming “My baby can’t breathe!” One of the worshippers took the child from her and raced towards the Chazzan, Eisenbach, whom he knew was an experienced United Hatzalah EMT. Eisenbach’s heartfelt prayers were abruptly interrupted when the gasping child was thrust into his hands.
Still draped in his white tallit and kittel, Menachem quickly changed roles from pleading for life to actively trying to save one. In a split second the veteran EMT grasped the seriousness of the situation, laid the child on the floor and swiftly and proficiently performed chest compressions. Within seconds, a small piece of plastic flew out of the baby’s mouth and he immediately gulped in breaths of precious air. The danger was over.
Menachem thoroughly examined the child as the astonished worshippers looked on in awe. After verifying that the baby was indeed unharmed, he handed him to a worshipper to return the healthy child to his mother. Taking a deep breath, Menachem composed himself and continued praying for the congregation, pleading that everyone be signed and sealed in the Book of Life for the coming year.
It would be no exaggeration to say that Menachem is a Chazzan who “practices what he preaches”. This incredible volunteer, like his 5,000 counterparts, saves lives, 24/7/365.
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