The ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Romema on Jerusalem’s northern side played host on Sunday to a touching example of Jews and Arabs living together and interacting in peace, love and mutual respect.
The story begins last October, when a Palestinian Arab terrorist rammed his vehicle into a crowd of people waiting at the light rail station at Jerusalem’s French Hill junction. Killed in the attack was an Ecuadorian tourist and a 3-month-old Jewish baby girl, Chaya Zissel Braun.
Aboard one of the first ambulances to arrive at the scene was Israeli-Arab paramedic Ziad Dawiyat (pictured). As Dawiyat recalled in a statement released by Magen David Adom (the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross):
“We found the baby girl unconscious and not breathing. We started CPR and transported her in very serious condition to Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus, where, unfortunately, she was declared dead. The parents were with us in the ambulance. They were very confused and did not fully grasp the situation. [The father] was injured in his leg and I remember that he refused any medical attention until his daughter returned, but to my sorrow, she did not return.”
One detail Shmuel Braun did remember from that day, amidst the din and overwhelming grief, was the number 12 emblazoned upon the side of Dawiyat’s ambulance.
The distraught father would later note that every time he saw the number 12 he would remember his daughter and pray that no other parent ever have to feel his pain.
Fast forward 10 months, and the Braun family on Sunday found themselves in immediate need of an ambulance as Chana, the mother, went into heavy labor with their second child.
Minutes after making the call, an ambulance arrived, and Shmuel was shocked to again see that number 12.
Dawiyat said that as he ran up to the family’s apartment, Shmuel was mumbling something about the number 12, but the medic didn’t pay much attention to it, instead focusing on Chana, who was clearly too far along to be moved to a hospital.
Dawiyat and his team sprung into action and delivered the Braun family’s new baby girl right there in the apartment. Only after the birth did Chana suddenly recognize Dawiyat. “I remember you,” she told the medic, who admitted he was at first surprised and confused. “You are the driver who transported us from the terrorist attack with our first daughter,” she continued, as the fog lifted for Dawiyat.
As Dawiyat continued about his business of caring for the new Braun baby, Shmuel “hugged me and kissed me. It was very emotional.”
Dawiyat later transported Shmuel, Chana and their newborn child to a nearby hospital for post-natal care in the same ambulance in which they had taken a far more fateful ride 10 months earlier.
Summing up the remarkable day, Shmuel stated, “We thank the Lord Almighty for everything and for giving us a daughter today.”