Hatzalah Cleveland

Dear Neighbor,

We are delighted to share exciting news regarding the formation of Hatzalah in Cleveland. Hatzalah, a volunteer emergency medical response service, is designed to provide rapid emergency medical care for members of our community.

Hatzalah Cleveland has the support and encouragement of local Rabbonim, medical professionals, and community leaders. Our foundation will be built on strong Rabbinic and medical leadership ensuring the highest standards of care and sensitivity.

Hatzalah Cleveland will initially operate in Beachwood, Cleveland Heights, and University Heights, with the possibility of expanding coverage to our other neighborhoods. Hatzalah Cleveland is not a substitute for the 911 emergency system. Our purpose is to offer a lifesaving bridge during the critical moments prior to the arrival of the local fire/rescue department.

Hatzalah originated in New York City and now operates in cities of all sizes worldwide. In forming Hatzalah Cleveland, we are using other Hatzalahs’ and EMS systems’ best-practices to implement a model that will rapidly respond to our community’s emergency needs. We are collaborating with fire, rescue, and police departments, local municipalities, and other healthcare organizations in our formation and operations. Hatzalah Cleveland is the only Hatzalah organization in northeast Ohio authorized by Chevra Hatzalah of New York to use the name Hatzalah.

To provide the highest level of care, volunteers will undergo training to become certified Emergency Medical Technicians, as well as receive additional medical and halachic training. This will equip them to professionally and sensitively handle emergency situations that arise in our community. Each member will have all the necessary medical and communications equipment needed to respond quickly and effectively.

To learn more about membership requirements, or to apply for membership and join our first EMT class, click here.

For more information, please see the FAQs below. You can also email info@hatzalahcleveland.org or call 216-353-6613. (Please note this is a non-emergency number.)

Thank you for your support as we establish this important service for our community!

Rabbinical Board

Rabbi Boruch Hirschfeld
Rabbi Nissim Abrin
Rabbi Ari Spiegler

Medical Director

Rafi Israeli, MD, FACEP


Shea Roth

Executive Board

Rabbi Nissim Abrin • Dov Berman
Shmuel Feuer • Rabbi Yitz Frank
Rabbi Avrohom Meystel • Shea Roth
Rabbi Ari Spiegler • Donny Zigdon


Josh Botnick

Operations Committee

Michoel Bloom • Shmuel Kessler • Shea Roth


Elchanan Mantel • Shragie Schiff


What is Hatzalah?

Hatzalah, Hebrew for “rescue”, was started in Williamsburg, New York in 1965, for the purpose of responding to the unique cultural and religious needs of the Jewish community and improving pre-hospital emergency medical care. Over the years, Hatzalah has grown into the largest volunteer ambulance service in North America. In fact, Hatzalah members were some of the first EMS personnel to arrive at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Hatzalah has chapters in cities throughout the country and world including California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Hatzalah has been instrumental in the saving of thousands of lives and in the assistance of others in their times of need.

What is Hatzalah Cleveland?

Hatzalah Cleveland is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to rapidly respond to the emergency medical needs of the Cleveland Jewish community. Hatzalah Cleveland complements local fire/rescue services by providing rapid, high quality care within minutes of being dispatched. Hatzalah Cleveland also ensures that 911 has been called and EMTs continue to provide care and comfort, remaining with patients until care has been transferred to 911 personnel.

Why was Hatzalah Cleveland started? 

Hatzalah Cleveland was started to help during those few precious minutes during which immediate and proper care may mean the difference between a patient surviving or not.  Our primary goal is to provide trained volunteers capable of responding to any type of medical emergency in our communities. Hatzalah volunteers bring a sense of compassion and sensitivity that is unparalleled because the patients are also their friends, family and neighbors.

Hatzalah Cleveland volunteers will be in our schools, shuls, community institutions and neighborhoods. Each volunteer will have the skill and equipment to quickly begin stabilizing patients until further medical emergency resources arrive on scene. Since our volunteers are local, we may often be there within one-to-three minutes of the call to our dispatchers. Volunteers will remain with the patient providing medical care and comfort until the arrival of medical personnel of equal or greater training who will continue treatment and transport the patient.

Additionally, injured or ill community members at times are uncertain whether medical attention is necessary or are reluctant to seek care because they are underinsured or uninsured. Hatzalah Cleveland members may already be on scene or called when community members are hesitant to dial 911. A quick assessment by a Hatzalah Cleveland Emergency Medical Technician can convince the patient to seek definitive care sooner than they would have otherwise. Faster care often leads to better outcomes.

Hatzalah Cleveland members are trained in both emergency medicine and Jewish law, and with an understanding of the unique needs of the community, are sensitive to cultural considerations and can direct patients to go to the hospital when they may not otherwise. For instance, a Hatzalah member’s explanation of the severity of a patient’s symptoms may alleviate the fear of desecrating Shabbos and inspire keeping the mitzvah of preservation of life, a form of patient advocacy that can only be provided from within the community.

When is it appropriate to call Hatzalah Cleveland?

If one is faced with a life-threatening emergency or even the possibility of a life-threatening emergency, call Hatzalah Cleveland and 911.

Our EMTs are trained to assess and begin life-saving treatments until fire/rescue units arrive to provide advanced care and to transport the patient to the hospital for further treatment.

Situations in which you should call Hatzalah Cleveland include but aren’t limited to:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Altered mental status
  • Cardiac concerns
  • Choking
  • Diabetic concerns
  • Difficulty breathing
  • High fevers
  • OB emergencies
  • Suspected poisonings or overdoses
  • Suspected stroke or stroke symptoms
  • Automobile accidents
  • Unusual bleeding
  • Burns
  • Fractures
  • Severe wounds
  • Slips and falls

If you consider calling 911 for a medical-related issue, think of calling Hatzalah Cleveland as well.

Are there any services that Hatzalah does not provide? 

Yes. Hatzalah Cleveland will not provide transportation to a hospital. Our goal is to provide immediate care and serve as a bridge until 911 personnel arrive and assume patient care.

Additionally, we are not trained to diagnose problems. For example, a baby having difficulty breathing may be having an asthma attack, croup, pneumonia, epiglottis, or a host of other possibilities. Determining the cause is not within our scope of practice. That is something to be determined by doctors. What we can do is try to ensure the baby is receiving adequate oxygen and is stabilized until paramedics arrive to transport the baby to the hospital.

What training do responders have?

Hatzalah Cleveland members will undergo training to become certified Emergency Medical Technicians-Basic. In addition, Hatzalah Cleveland members will also have additional medical training not required by the licensing organizations. This will equip them to professionally and sensitively handle emergency situations that arise in our community.

All Hatzalah Cleveland members will also be required to learn and understand the Jewish laws that apply to delivering medical care.

Does Hatzalah have a continuing education program for its responders? 

Yes. Continuing education training is mandatory and enables us to provide the best care possible. Each EMT is required to attend periodic continuing education classes and/or drills, which ensures their skills are current and ready when called upon in an emergency.

Does Hatzalah offer community training?

Yes. As part of our goal to improve outcomes of medical emergencies, Hatzalah Cleveland will offer members of the community the opportunity to take safety classes. Such instruction might often mean the difference between life and death.

The courses may include:

  • Basic first aid and choking instruction
  • Basic CPR
  • AED instruction
  • Stop the bleed
  • Stroke awareness

These life-saving courses can be arranged to be taught both during the day (especially helpful for mothers with young children in school) and in the evening for community members who have jobs during the day or are enrolled in classes. 

These courses will help you know how to best react for a variety of unexpected emergency situations ranging from “seemingly” simple kitchen accidents to more serious situations such as life-threatening heart attacks.

If you are interested in learning more about organizing one of the above classes, please email us at info@hatzalahcleveland.org.

Why won’t Hatzalah members talk about a patient they treated? 

There are many obvious reasons why it is not appropriate to talk about any patient care, condition, etc. The most important reason is the federally-mandated HIPAA law, which legally forbids any member of Hatzalah from revealing any information about a patient to anyone.  This is an extremely challenging issue, especially because of the familiarity between EMTs and our community at large.  Please do not ask any Hatzalah Cleveland member about a patient’s condition or a call, even if the community is generally aware of what transpired.

Is Hatzalah Cleveland affiliated with any other organization? 

Hatzalah Cleveland is a community organization operating under the auspices and direction of its Rabbinical Board.  We are an affiliate of Central Hatzalah of New York, the oldest and largest Jewish emergency-care volunteer organization in the world.

How is Hatzalah Cleveland funded?

Hatzalah Cleveland is an IRS-recognized 501(c)(3) tax-exempt corporation funded only through private donations.  One hundred percent of every dollar donated funds Hatzalah Cleveland’s operations, which includes equipment, training, and operational costs. All Hatzalah Cleveland personnel are unpaid volunteers.

Does Hatzalah Cleveland charge for its services?

No, Hatzalah Cleveland doesn’t charge a fee for providing its emergency patient care.

Is Hatzalah Cleveland accepting new members?

Hatzalah Cleveland is completely dependent on having local residents volunteer to provide coverage in our community.

We are always seeking new local volunteers to assist, and can help provide necessary training and support. Our implementation aims to provide the best coverage possible so that volunteers are always available to respond quickly within any of our neighborhoods, and within/to local schools, shuls, community institutions, and businesses any hour of the day.

To apply for membership click here.

How can I find more information about Hatzalah Cleveland?

Call 216-353-6613, Hatzalah Cleveland’s non-emergency office number. If no one answers, please leave a message and someone will get back to you. You can also email info@hatzalahcleveland.org for more information.