Beit Shemesh Mayor Dr. Aliza Bloch on Monday visited the Jerusalem headquarters of United Hatzalah and thanked the organization for its assistance in transporting the elderly, disabled, and house-bound to vaccination centers in her city. During the exclusive visit, which included an in-depth tour of the United Hatzalah national dispatch center, staff members and volunteers showed the mayor how the vaccination transport system is working in Beit Shemesh—and in 20 other municipalities around the country,
Dr. Bloch was accompanied by Deputy Mayor Yisrael Silverstein who holds the municipality’s health and early childhood education portfolios.
Two weeks ago, Beit Shemesh joined 20 cities across Israel in partnering with United Hatzalah to transport elderly, disabled, and shut-in people to and from nearby COVID-19 vaccination centers.
Chen Danzinger was also on hand to greet the mayor and thank the volunteers who saved her life. Chen, who teaches in Beit Shemesh, suffered a cardiac arrest in her school last year. She was resuscitated by United Hatzalah volunteers who performed a successful CPR and saved her life. Yechiel Rosenberg, one of the volunteers who performed CPR on Chen, showed up to greet Chen and Mayor, surprising both women. Chen told the Mayor that “without Yechiel and the other responders I wouldn’t be here today.”
Mayor Bloch summed up her visit, saying, “We are in the middle of a battle against a virus that has altered the regular ways of doing things in this world, and that is in addition to the regular everyday challenges that we face. The work of United Hatzalah in general, and its volunteers in Beit Shemesh in particular, is very moving to me. United Hatzalah volunteers know how to take on responsibility. They take responsibility for the city, for building bridges between communities, and most importantly, for the message that the key to building unity comes from the people, from the ground up.”
The past three decades have seen clashes, politically and physically, between the newcomer Haredim who arrived in search of much-needed housing, and the indigenous population that settled in Beit Shemesh in previous years, since its establishment in 1950. City Hall politics were marred by attempts on the part of each group to undo the other whenever they took power. Mayor Aliza Bloch, an educator who was elected in 2018, has dedicated her public life to building bridges between communities.
“When a volunteer of United Hatzalah responds to an emergency they don’t know whom they’ll be helping. This is the way to build bridges, and United Hatzalah knows how to both rescue people, and how to build bridges,” Mayor Bloch told her United Hatzalah hosts.
Vice President of United Hatzalah Dov Maisel said at the end of the visit: “I want to thank Mayor Bloch for her cooperation with us. The transporting of the elderly to receive their vaccinations is resulting in lives being saved. I also want to thank her for her kind words. Encouragement from the Mayor gives our volunteers the drive they need to continue to respond to emergencies at any time of day or night.”
United Hatzalah Beit Shemesh Chapter Head Dovid Leff added: “We see the partnership between the organization and the municipality of Beit Shemesh as a natural thing, to safeguard the health and wellbeing of the residents of our city.”