Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

8 Adar 5759 - Feb. 24, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly







Swift Shabbos Action of Hachovesh Har Nof Helped Save Infants' Lives

by Betzalel Kahn

The speedy action of Hachovesh Har Nof, a voluntary first aid organization, helped save the lives of the toddlers attending a neighborhood day-care center two Shabbosim ago. Following instructions of Har Nof's rabbonim, the children of the day-care center were rounded up from all over the city and brought to the center, where they were inoculated against viral meningitis.

A few days prior to this incident, a two-and-a-half year old child was hospitalized in Shaare Zedek. When his situation deteriorated, he was transferred to Hadassah-Ein Karem, where he was diagnosed as having viral meningitis.

At 8 a.m. on Shabbos, the head nurse of the Jerusalem branch of the Health Ministry called Hachovesh Har Nof and asked that all of the sick child's classmates be inoculated. However, the nurse mistakenly thought that the patient was an 18-year-old-boy. Efforts were made to locate a boy of that age who had been hospitalized. But it soon became clear that the meningitis victim was an 18-month-old infant. The head nurse asked Hachovesh to try to assemble the children by noon in order to carry out urgent inoculations. "But I don't think you'll succeed, because it's Shabbos," she added.

The Hachovesh volunteers managed to gain entry to the day- care center and to locate the enrollment records. It quickly became clear that some of the children lived in other neighborhoods: Bayit Vegan, Kiryat Yovel, Pisgat Ze'ev and Shmuel Hanovi. The Hachovesh Shabbos goy was recruited, and he, together with his brother, brought the children from the distant neighborhoods to the center, while Hachovesh located the neighborhood children.

Before taking this step, the volunteers consulted the local rabbonim, and it was decided that since there was a 20% risk that the other children might be infected, it was necessary to desecrate the Shabbos and inoculate them immediately. At noon, the regional doctor, the regional nurse and another doctor, waiting at the day-care center, could not believe their eyes. All of the children were present to receive their vaccination.

The children were vaccinated one by one and then sent home. Children who did not live in Har Nof, and who had arrived with one of their parents, remained in Har Nof until motzei Shabbos. Two parents, who had come from Kiryat Yovel and Bayit Vegan, borrowed baby carriages and walked home during the afternoon.

The children's parents warmly thanked the volunteers of Hachovesh Har Nof: Yossi Merzel, Danny Monkotowitz and Moshe Hershkowitz -- who had been on their feet from 8 in the morning until three in the afternoon, without even pausing to make kiddush or to eat -- for their outstanding mesiras nefesh. They had sanctified sheim Shomayim before the doctors of the Health Ministry, who were astounded by the speedy, effective efforts made to save the lives of the children.

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