Last week, a senior delegation from Hatzolah of Central Jersey in the United States visited United Hatzalah’s Halacha Department at the organization’s national headquarters in Jerusalem. EMTs R’ Mordechai Senderowitz, R’ Avi Brode, R’ Shmuel Morman, and Paramedic R’ Avraham Moshe Muller, all senior members of Hatzolah of Central Jersey, which services Lakewood, Jackson, Toms River, Howell, and surrounding areas, came to highlight the special connection and coordination held between the two organizations in the world of emergency medicine and halacha.

The delegation was welcomed by Rabbi Daniel Katzenstein, Director of United Hatzalah’s Donor Communication Department, Halacha Department Director Rabbi Yaakov Rozenberg, and National Halacha Coordinator Rabbi Naftali Halperin. Rabbi Katzenstein led them on a tour of United Hatzalah’s National Dispatch Center, and the Rabbonim highlighted many of the innovations integrated into United Hatzalah’s dispatch systems that enhance shabbos observance and avoid preventable chillul shabbos. These include an automated text-to-audio system that broadcasts calls without dispatcher intervention and the ability to lock a responder’s reported location on shabbos, preventing unnecessary geolocation transmissions.

The delegation was also shown the new communication devices that each United Hatzalah member receives, which have many enhancements and shabbos modes to enable halachicly preferred and faster response to situations involving pikuach nefesh. One such feature allows members to preset their device to the optimal volume based on when they are expected to be in shul, during meals, or resting.

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Rabbi Akiva Benedikt, Deputy National Halacha Coordinator, showcasing some of the shabbos features of the dispatch center to the delegation of Hatzolah of Central Jersey

The visitors were taken to United Hatzalah’s auditorium, where they were presented with an overview of the Halacha Division’s activities and responsibilities regarding shmiras halacha in the organization. Together, they engaged in a lively discussion about halacha and emergency medicine.

The group then met with Halachic Transportation and Technology Coordinator Rabbi Shai Moshkowitz, who gave a hands-on presentation of the many adaptations and optimizations made to emergency response vehicles for shabbos operations. This included the master control panel on ambulances and the increased use of customized electric vehicles (EVs) for emergency response, such as electric fly-cars, minilances, and bicycles. Every volunteer, immediately after completing their training on the relevant organizational vehicles, receives a special set of shabbos instructions for that vehicle.

At the end of the visit, the delegation expressed their appreciation for United Hatzalah’s Halacha Department. “It is crucial that any organization’s rabbonim are well-versed in both the halachic and operational aspects of the organization. As evidenced by the clear instructions given to members, attention to the smallest details, and provision of comprehensive answers to complex questions, United Hatzalah’s Halacha Division has set a high standard in the field of halacha and emergency medicine.”

Eli Beer, President and Founder of United Hatzalah, said, “I am proud that United Hatzalah is a leader in the field of halacha, just as it is a leader in the field of emergency medicine. The Department of Halacha was established at the organization’s inception and continues to play a leadership role internationally in the study and application of medical halacha.”