Photo Credit: Rich
Beware the sufganiyah!

United Hatzalah volunteers on Monday performed CPR on a man in his 70s at a senior citizen’s residence in Netanya after he had choked on a sufganiyah.

United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Yaakov Vazna who was the first responder at the scene reported: “According to staff members at the residence, the man choked while eating a sufganiyah. I performed CPR on the man and he was then transported to the hospital in a mobile intensive care ambulance in critical condition while still undergoing CPR.”


The sufganiyah, plural sufganiyot, is a round jelly doughnut eaten in Israel and around the world at the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. The doughnut is deep-fried in oil, filled with jam or custard, and then topped with powdered sugar. The doughnut was known as Berliner in Germany (see note at the end), and Ponchika in Poland. The ponchika was brought to Israel by Polish Olim, and it was renamed sufganiyah, a derivation of sfog-sponge. Like the potato latka, the sufganiyah absorbs the oil with which it is fried, as a kind of homage to the miracle of the pure olive oil at the temple that lasted eight days.

A short while after the senior citizen choked on a sufganiyah in Netanya, another man choked on one in Ofakim, down south. The man, in his mid-60s, was at home eating the traditional Hanukkah treat when he suddenly began to choke. Worried family members called emergency services for help.

United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Motti Elbaz who serves as deputy head of the Ofakim chapter was one of the first responders at the scene. He reported: “According to the man’s family, he choked while eating the sufganiyah. Together with other first responders who arrived, I performed CPR on the man in an effort to save his life. During one of the rounds of compressions, the piece of sufganiyah was dislodged from his windpipe. Miraculously, the man’s pulse came back and he was transported to Soroka hospital in Beer Sheva, sedated and ventilated, in serious but stable condition.”


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