On Thursday, United Hatzalah volunteers Dr. Joyce Morel and Miki Cohen received a certificate of commendation from Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat for their life-saving work in the city. Miki, an EMT volunteer, is also the head of the Jerusalem Chapter of United Hatzalah. Joyce, who immigrated to the country three years ago from Canada, is a renowned doctor in the city.

United Hatzalah Founder and President Eli Beer together with Dr. Joyce Morel and EMT Miki Cohen
United Hatzalah Founder and President Eli Beer together with Dr. Joyce Morel and EMT Miki Cohen

The certificate of commendation was presented to the volunteers during a ceremony in which the city recognized numerous heroes from a variety of health and rescue organizations. Other organizations present at the ceremony whose representatives we recognized included the Fire and Rescue Services, Ambulance Services, and officers from various police and military units.  

The pair of United Hatzalah volunteers who received the prestigious awards work day and night to protect the health of the citizens of Israel’s capital city. Over the past few years, they have both treated victims of terror attacks as well as many other medical emergencies. The lives they have saved are countless and the prestigious commendation that they received is well deserved.

Dr. Morel, in an interview with Jerusalem Radio, said, “Saving people’s lives is one of the greatest deeds that a person can do. It fulfills one of the paramount biblical commandments.”

During the interview, Morel recalled how she began working with the organization. “It was during the funeral of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. I went to the funeral and I saw EMTs from United Hatzalah on duty with their vests. I told them that I was an emergency room doctor and should they need me they should just call. The medic who I spoke to said, ‘Actually we just got a call about a woman going into labor, would you like to join us and help deliver the baby?’ During the funeral service, which more than 800,000 people attended, the entire area was cordoned off and there was no way for an ambulance or even a taxi cab to get in or out of the throng of people that was surrounding the neighborhood. I went to the woman’s house, together with the EMTs, and we delivered her baby on the spot. I hadn’t delivered a baby in some ten years prior to that incident,” she added. “I was immediately hooked.”   

Dr. Morel receives commendation for work done to save lives in Jerusalem, from Mayor Nir Barkat
Dr. Morel receives commendation for work done to save lives in Jerusalem, from Mayor Nir Barkat

Dr. Morel, who works in Shaarei Tzedek hospital and as a doctor for the HMO Meuchedet, was one of the first responders at the fatal terror attack on the Bnei Torah synagogue on November 18, 2014. She entered the synagogue to help the victims of the attack, even as one of the attackers was still shooting at the police. “I go when I am needed. If I can save a life, I go, no questions asked,” she explained.

Jerusalem Chapter Head Miki Cohen is likewise an emergency medical services (EMS) hero. A resident of the Bayit Vegan neighborhood, Miki was a part of the team that formed United Hatzalah from its infancy. “I remember running around many years ago with the President and Founder of the organization, Eli Beer, long before it was an organization. At the time, it was just five of us kids trying to save lives. It is amazing how things have changed, but all five of us still run around and try to save lives, we just do it a bit differently now.”


Miki is the father of six children and runs the largest chapter of the organization, which is comprised of 450 volunteer EMTs, paramedics, and doctors. “We have two new courses set to go in Jerusalem and we should hit 500 volunteers in the city by the end of the year.”

“The commendation I received today is not for me, but it is for all of the volunteers of the Jerusalem chapter, who work tirelessly to protect the people of this city. I accepted the commendation on behalf of all of the volunteers and it gives me great pleasure and pride to accept it,” Cohen said. “It fills us with pride to be recognized for the tireless work we do. Answering emergency calls at every hour of the day or night is not something that is simple or obvious, it takes a special kind of person to volunteer and it is good to see the city recognize them. It gives us motivation to continue our work. It gives me motivation to continue to help the chapter grow and make it a place where people of all walks of life and all faiths can unite to help save lives.”  
(Photos by Shlomi Hershkoff – United Hatzalah)