A 13th century liturgical poem recited by Sephardic congregations on Rosh Hashanah (and in some Ashkenazi ones) has a refrain which states: “May the year and its curses end with and may the new year bring in only blessings.” The refrain has an ominous tone this year as the Jerusalem area saw the deaths of four infants in as many days.
The first tragic death occurred on Sunday morning, just after 9 a.m. Emergency medical services (EMS) responded to a call of a choking infant in northern Jerusalem. After an elongated resuscitation attempt and evacuation to the hospital, the two-month-old child passed away.
A similar incident occurred on Monday morning in Modi’in, in which a three-day-old baby who had just returned from the hospital with its parents also died of unknown causes.
At the same time, but in the city of Petah Tikva in central Israel, another crib death occurred.
Concluding the week of tragedy, a healthy three-year-old died in her sleep on Wednesday morning, the day after her father left to celebrate the New Year in Uman. Emergency services succeeded in bringing the now bereaved father back to be with his family.
“These are some of the toughest cases that EMS personnel have to respond to,” said United Hatzalah Medical Division Director, Alon Basker. “Each of our EMTs, paramedics, and doctors receive specialized training in order to prepare them to be able to respond to cases involving infant resuscitation. But as mentally prepared as one can be, nothing can actually prepare an emergency responder for the emotional challenge and turmoil caused by actually dealing with one of these cases,” he added.