United Hatzalah, an organization that enlists the community as EMS first responders, hosted ten US consular officers at its headquarters last week as a part of a tour put together by the Haredi Consul. The intention of the tour was to educate the US consular officers regarding the contribution of the haredi community to Israel. United Hatzalah is an organization that has haredi roots, and has transformed into a national EMS organization that is comprised of people from all walks of life in Israel and provides service to anyone who needs medical assistance, regardless of their political or religious affiliation.

US Consular officers at UH
US Consular officers at UH

The tour was organized by Rabbi Matityahu Cheshin from the haredi consul. Rabbi Cheshin is a 9th generation Jerusalemite and comes from the Breslov community in the city. Part of his job is to connect between various diplomats who are in Israel and Israel’s haredi community. Cheshin said that the reason why he felt it was important to bring specifically the US consular officers on the visit was because “The US Consulate is the largest consulate in Jerusalem. So it is natural that they would be interested to hear about what is going on in the haredi community which makes up a large part of the population, especially in Jerusalem.

“We chose to bring the consular officials to see UH because it is an organization that began as a haredi organization and now it helps everyone. It is important and is something that people need to know about. I look at myself as a liaison between the haredi community and the consular community throughout Israel. The work that United Hatzalah is doing has a very important message that we need to share with the world and I am happy to collaborate and help make that happen.”

One of the visiting American diplomats said, “We were very pleased to join our friends at United Hatzalah, Israel’s volunteer EMS organization, to learn about the important, life-saving work done here. Today’s visit is part of the Consulate General’s regular outreach to all of Jerusalem’s communities.  We are proud to serve your community through Consular services and to work with you as friends and partners.”

When the Director of International Operations, Shai Jaskoll, showed the consular officers a letter that the organization had received from the Consulate after United Hatzalah volunteers had saved the life of a worker in 2012, the positivity all around the room simply gushed forth.

The event occurred in September of 2012. During the incident, a staff member of the US Consulate General was walking home when he experienced severe chest pains and collapsed. United Hatzalah EMT’s responded to the situation immediately and initiated first aid and resuscitation efforts. From there he was transported to Hadassah hospital, and spent time recuperating in the US. Due to their immediate response and valiant efforts, this man’s life was saved. The consular officers expressed their deep appreciation.

Cheshin’s created this tour in an effort to highlight the altruism that permeates the haredi community of Israel. According to Cheshin, the work of United Hatzalah exemplifies this altruism and harnesses the goodwill of communities throughout Israel to save lives.

“United Hatzalah is very much like the United States. It brings people together from all backgrounds and all walks of life and helps give them a better future. The haredi consul aims at bridging the cultural gap between the haredi community and the diplomatic core in Israel, and that is something that United Hatzalah knows a thing or two about as well,” said Cheshin.