What brings an Israeli Arab to Uman for Rosh Hashanah? Ayman Ibrahim, an Israeli Arab from Abu Gosh went to Uman for the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. He was asked to be part of a special team of volunteers from United Hatzalah who will make up a non-Jewish segment of the team of volunteers headed to provide medical coverage for the tens of thousands of Jews who will spend the Jewish New Year in the Ukranian city.
Following instructions received from the organization’s Rabbinical Council and with the blessings of the numerous Rabbis, a contingent of trained Muslim volunteers has been sent to Uman in order to assist and perform tasks on Shabbat and the holiday. While these tasks may not necessarily be considered life-saving, they will go a long way to provide comfort and better treatment to patients in need at the medical clinic operated by Oxford Medical and United Hatzalah.
Ibrahim is a veteran EMT with United Hatzalah as well as one of its ambucycle riders. His history as a volunteer began after his own father suffered from a heart attack and was saved by a Jewish volunteer of the organization.
When asked about his decision to be a part of the contingent in Uman, Ayman said, “I joined the mission to Uman this year, together with other members of my community, all of whom are Muslim, in order to help ensure the medical safety of the tens of thousands of Jews who come to pray at the grave of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov during the holiday. Over the course of this coming Shabbat and during the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, my team and I will be assisting in the medical clinic in Uman and we will be carrying out the instructions and the Halachik decisions of the Rabbinic Council that advises United Hatzalah. We are proud to help those making this pilgrimage and hope to assist in any way that we can.”
Rabbi Naftali Halperin, the International Halachik Coordinator of United Hatzalah, explained the reasoning behind asking a team of Muslims to head to Uman to help in the clinic. “According to Jewish law, one is allowed to desecrate the Shabbat or Holiday (Yom Tov) if the action one is doing will help save a life. However, there are a lot of secondary actions which will not directly save a life which, according to Jewish law, it would be preferable if they were done by a non-Jew. Hence, these actions will be done by our non-Jewish medical staff who have all volunteered to go and assist those who wish to pray in Uman over the holiday. Our Muslim team members have been given the instruction to perform any task that according to Halacha (Jewish Law) is prohibited or not recommended to do by a Jewish medical practitioner for a patient on Shabbat or Chag (holiday). We have asked for and received many opinions, and the recurring one is that this is a praiseworthy endeavor that will help limit the amount of desecration of the holiday by Jewish medical personnel. ”
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