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Why such a big keychain?
I joined Hatzalah in the '80s.
Why the pager and the walkie-talkie?
I have a belt. And I joined Hatzalah in the '80s.
What was it like when you first joined?
It was the heyday of Hatzalah. Great times. Tons of sickness. Always busy. Always running.
How did the saving lives at Hatzlalah start for you?
In the '80s, we didn't have enough vans. Not many vans. Just pagers.
So what did you do?
We walked everywhere. We got a page and we started walking.
How long did it take?
To find the payphone? That depended on if you were in the suburbs or not.
How did that affect people?
They had to breath longer. They had to hold on. That was the term we used. 'Hold on.'
How did that help? How did it work?
We would keep the family member on the phone, from central office. The phone operator would say 'hold on.' They would then say, 'The person will be there soon. He's walking. Hold on.' If it was a serious case, they would say, 'He'll walk over right when he's finished with dinner. Hold on.'
How did people take that?
They appreciated it. They all have families. Eating with the family comes first.
Do you enjoy it more now, or was it better in the '80s?
The '80s. Back then I was part of something. We were a team. We walked everywhere together. It was a good way to get exercise too. The only way I get exercise now is running to the van.
Where's the van?
At my house.
Do you feel the Hatzalah guys are in better shape than the average Jewish male?
Yes. We save them.
How did you feel when you started?
So cool to drive on Shabbis.
So. You've always wanted to drive on Shabbis?
Yeah. But I couldn't until I started saving lives. First call after we got a van, I was the driver. Amazing. They wanted to put me in Chairim. They were saying, 'Look at that Jew driving on Shabbis. A shanda. Excommunicate him.' Then they said I was a Tzadik. Driving on Shabbis and being a righteous individual, it doesn't get better than that.
How did their minds change so quick?
I saved the rabbi's father.
How do they know you're saving lives?
You carried the keychan even on Shabbis?
You had to. That was the uniform. Walkie-talkie, pager and keychain. This way they knew you were a Hatzalah guy coming to save them.
Why not just tell them you were there to help?
When you have payis, they don't think you know CPR. They hear the keys clinging and they know they're safe.
But they have shirts at Hatzalah now.
I'm a traditionalist. This way they know I'm a real Hatzalah man. They feel more comfortable when they see the keys.
What do you use them for?
No. That's a digital key.
Any calls for Lag BOmer this year?
Did you help out with those?
No. I was with my family. The kids had off from school.
Did any Hatzalah guys take calls that day?
I hope. I'm not sure. They all have families.
Why so many fires?
It's the Heelulah of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yoachai. The yahrzeit. Bonfires are like big yahrzeit candles.
But why not contain them, at a safe place in the park?
The parks department doesn't allow that anymore, after last year. The kids burned down the field. So, the kids started fires in their homes.
Why not use a firepit?
Do you think they had firepits back when Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai was living? Do you think they had Hatzalah?
Oh shoot. I have to go.
No call came in. He looked at his pager and ran. I think he uses that pager to get out of talking to people. When he's had enough of a conversation, he says he has to save a life.
Michel is a very impassioned man. Yet, I still have no idea what he does for people. I think he helps people when he isn't hungry or watching a show with his kids.
I hope he saved somebody.
He is truly not in good shape. Michel has a gut. I can only imagine how much kugel the other guys he is saving are eating. I am guessing that most of his calls come from dinner.
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Wearing Israeli flags. Showing their support for Israel at the rally in DC. It would’ve been smarter if they brought coats. Based on experience, flags don’t work as good windbreakers.