Published On: Sun, Mar 20th, 2016

Forget Batman and Superman, Haredi children in Israel dress up as United Hatzalah EMTs for Purim

Photo credit for above three photos Miri Esrati United Hatzalah


On the Purim holiday it is traditional to dress up in a costume or mask to fulfill the spirit of the holiday in which God allegedly hid his face from the salvation of the Jewish people and instead brought about their salvation through natural means.

In an ironic twist on the tradition the Ultra-Orthodox community in Israel is coming out in droves to purchase costumes and dress up as EMS paramedics from Israel’s national volunteer EMS organization United Hatzalah in order to honor true heroes who go out everyday to save people’s lives in Israel.

The irony of dressing up as “saviours” is not lost on the community many of whom look up at these EMS technicians, paramedics, EMTs, doctors and first responder volunteers as true heroes and saviours of the nation. With United Hatzalah first responders, many of whom are Ultra-Orthodox themselves, responding to over 260, 000 calls last year (over 700 per day), it is no mystery as to why they are viewed that way.


PurimPhoto credit for above three photos Miri Esrati United Hatzalah


Gavy Friedson, the Deputy Director of International Relations for United Hatzalah spoke about his experience with Haredi children emulating him and other United Hatzalah volunteers. “It happens all the time. Every time I walk out of the office I get asked for a sticker or to take a picture with Haredi kids. These kids don’t have TV at home and they see their brother or father or uncle going out and working for United Hatzalah or Zaka. They see their older family members zipping through traffic to go save someone’s life, so it is only natural that these people should become role models or ‘heroes’ in their eyes.”

“Fulfill a child’s dream and let them be an EMT for a day” so reads the ad put out by costume distributor Yossi Amar. “We opened up sales in numerous locations around Israel and we couldn’t believe how many we would sell. We’ve sold over 1, 500 costumes so far and that is still with a week and a half to go until Purim, ” said Yossi Amar.


purim Photo credit for above three photos Miri Esrati United Hatzalah


Amar is usually a medical and health supplies distributor for an organization known as Haderech L’Hatzil Haim (The way to save a life), but when it gets close to the Purim holiday he begins to supply costumes stores all over the country with the United Hatzalah costumes due to their high demand.

“Children are dreaming of becoming EMT’s, ” Amar explains, “parents call me continuously and want to dress their kids up like this. People are even purchasing real first aid kits to go with the costume and to keep for the house after the holiday so that they have one.”

Amar said that the demand is not limited to the Ultra-Orthodox areas but the demand is highest there. Many stores in Modi’in Illit, Bnei Brak and Jerusalem which are all densely populated by Ultra-Orthodox communities have sold out of the costumes and have requested more from distributors such as Amar or from United Hatzalah themselves. “In areas where kids are not allowed to dress up like soldiers or police officers due t community concerns, one of the prevalent alternatives that they have for costumes of positive role models that give back to the community is a United Hatzalah medic, ” Amar added.


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