Jerusalem – In the aftermath of Aaron Sofer’s death, United Hatzalah founder and president Eli Beer urged Israeli yeshivos to make sure that all Students carry cell phones with them whenever they leave the yeshiva in an interview that aired Thursday night on Zev Brenner’s Talkline radio program.
“Today carrying a phone could be a lifesaving situation,” said Beer. “A phone today is not just a tool of business or pleasure.”
Sofer did not have a phone with him when he left Rav Tzvi Kaplan’s yeshiva on Friday to go for a hike in the Jerusalem Forest. Beer hopes that future tragedies could be averted by insisting that all students carry cell phones with them whenever they leave school grounds.
“You dont go to a places like a desert of forest or wherever it is without a phone,” said Beer. “I’m not here to advertise phones, but I’m saying that it could save lives.”
United Hatzalah offers an SOS app that sends out a distress call to United Hatzalah and tracks the user’s location via GPS technology. While the app , which was released after the kidnap and murder of the three Israeli teens in June, is currently available on United Hatzalah’s website for all major smartphones, plans are underway to have it loaded onto kosher phones as well.
“We are looking into new technology and are working with all the major phone companies so that we can pack it into all phones so that every Israeli student can have it,” Beer told VIN News. “I’m not saying that yeshiva students should use their phones every day. But a phone isn’t a luxury. It is a lifesaver.”
Beer noted that with the possible exception of some desert areas, phones with the SOS app should be able to send out distress signals anywhere in the country.
“The majority of the country has cell phone service, but even in a place where there is no service, police could still search where the phone last had reception further narrowing the search area,” explained Beer.
Beer also noted that it is crucial to follow safety rules when hiking, which include dressing properly for the Israeli heat and sun.
“Proper shoes are a must,” said Beer. “Dress shoes that you wear in yeshiva have slippery soles and you can’t wear shoes like that to go hiking. You wouldn’t go ice skating in dress shoes and you shouldn’t wear them to go hiking either.”
Beer suggested that anyone going hiking carry a minimum of four liters of water with them to prevent dehydration, something that can be further exacerbated by the typical garb worn by yeshiva students.
“You need clothing that is lighter than the regular clothing you would wear in the beis medrash,” said Beer. “You don’t realize how heat eats you up from the inside when you are wearing black, which collects the heat.
People don’t realize just how hot it gets here and you get dehydrated very, very fast. You need to fight that by wearing white clothing and light clothing. You need a hat, even a baseball cap, but it has to be light colored.”
Finally, Beer added that cell phones are a must-have on any hike.
“If you don’t feel well, chas v’shalom, or if you get lost or for anything that happens, having a phone can save your life,” said Beer.
The SOS app, which is available for free, has been downloaded by 60,000 people since its release, according to The Jerusalem Post. It is for use in Israel only and can be downloaded at http://sos.nowforce.com/?locale=en-us.