On a recent Friday afternoon, a 90-year-old woman was preparing for Shabbat when the contents of one of the pots on the stove caught fire. Smoke quickly filled the apartment and the woman, due to her limited mobility, was unable to escape. She urgently called for help.

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Yisrael Chanukah

Yisrael Chanukah, a United Hatzalah volunteer EMT, who is a husband and father of four, was also preparing for Shabbat when the emergency call came in from United Hatzalah’s Dispatch and Command Center. He immediately dropped what he was doing, dashed outside to his ambucycle, and raced to the apartment in 60 seconds.

Chanukah could see accumulating smoke through the window and heard a cry for help. He sprinted into the building and found the elderly woman breathing heavily. He quickly assisted her out of the building and assessed the older woman who assured him he was fine.

Once the elderly woman was out of the building, Chanukah realized that there were only seconds until the fire spread from the pot to the rest of the apartment. He sprinted back inside and ran out seconds later with the pot, placing it on the ground where it posed no danger.

Chanukah then approached the elderly woman to treat her minor injuries. Meanwhile, the fire department had arrived and began using large fans to ventilate the apartment to remove the smoke and make the air inside breathable once again.

In spite of his Shabbat preparations waiting at home, Chanukah stayed with the older woman for an hour. Kind neighbors arrived and offered the woman food and necessary items for Shabbat. The fire chief then approached and explained that soon it would be safe to return. As the woman was stabilized, caring neighbors were nearby and the situation was under control, Chanukah finally allowed himself to finally go home.


“When it comes to saving lives, it doesn’t matter what it happening around me. I drop everything and rush to offer whatever assistance I can. When I helped the elderly woman, to me that was the greatest way that I could possibly honor and enjoy Shabbat, by making sure that another person was alive and well to honor and celebrate theirs,” said Chanukah.