It occurred only two years ago, when emergency medical technician (EMT) Moshe Jaffe, a lawyer by trade, saved the life of a man in synagogue while he was praying on the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah.
Moshe recalled the story that has left an impression on him above all others. “During the holiday of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, two years ago, my brother Dr. Aryeh Jaffe and I arrived at our synagogue at 7 am for morning prayers. Soon after we arrived, we received a call that a man was ill in a different synagogue that was nearby. Because we left an ambucycle at our synagogue before the holiday as a safety precaution, we were able to race over to the other synagogue and we arrived in just a few minutes. The man had suffered a heart attack and we performed CPR on him in the synagogue itself. The eerie part of the story was that we were performing CPR on a person while the entire congregation was praying around us to be inscribed in the book of life for the New Year. Part of the liturgy of the holiday reads: Remember us for life o King who desires life. The resuscitation was indeed successful, thank God, and we went to visit the man in the hospital a few days after the holiday. We saw that he had regained consciousness, and was smiling and talking like any other person. It turns out that it was the first successful resuscitation of that new year anywhere in the country. A few months later we were invited to the thanksgiving meal that the man threw in honor of his surviving the incident. During his public speech in the synagogue, he thanked us. It was something that moved me greatly and left me with a sense of happiness and fulfillment.”
Moshe lives with his wife and two children in Jerusalem, where he also volunteers as an EMT. He got involved with life-saving due to his family’s continued dedication to United Hatzalah, Israel’s national volunteer emergency medical services (EMS) organization. Both Moshe, as well as other members of his family, have been involved with the organization for many years. His brother Aryeh has been volunteering with the organization since its inception and today is the Doctor who supervises the Jerusalem chapter.
Moshe believes that volunteering as an EMT is something that has had a resoundingly positive effect on his family. “On one hand, I must say that it is challenging. To leave my wife and children at any given moment is certainly not an easy thing to do. On the other hand, this is one of the best things that I have ever given to my children. It has inculcated the idea that we do not live simply for ourselves, rather it is important to volunteer and help others. I am very happy with what this has done for my family. There simply is no replacement for it.”
While earning a living is certainly important, Moshe believes that it is not something to live for, but rather to help you live. Volunteering to help save people’s lives is something to live for. “I work as a lawyer and I always tell people: To make another deal is nice. To win another litigation is also nice. At the end of the day, it is with these things that we go shopping at the grocery store. But believe me, what will put a smile on your face when you walk into your house at the end of each day is that person whose life you just turned around because you are volunteering. The knowledge that you gave something of yourself and you rebuilt the world of another person, there is no other feeling like it. That feeling will also turn your world around for the better. It not only has an effect on you, but also on your spouse, your children, and your entire environment. This is how we will go and build our mutual responsibility towards one another which is so prevalent in our country. This has no comparison in any other place in the world.”
For the coming holiday season, Moshe, like all other EMTs, paramedics, and doctors, at United Hatzalah, wishes everyone a safe a healthy holiday season and new year. While the hope is that the services of the EMS organization are not needed this holiday season, should the need arise, all 3,000 volunteers are waiting across the country to respond to any medical emergency.