Although the joint prayer was nothing new for the two men, for many across the world, it was an inspiring image in the midst of the global Coronavirus pandemic.
Editor's note: We are re-sharing some of the best moments and most important stories of 2020. Although it was a difficult year for nearly all of us, there were also shining moments of light and signs of hope. This was one of them.
On an average day, the Israeli ambulance system fields about 6,000 calls. However, since the novel Coronavirus outbreak, it's been receiving an average of 100,000 calls a day. Paramedics barely have any time to pause throughout the day as they check up on a woman having respiratory problems or an elderly man with a fever. Avraham Mintz and Zoher Abu Jama had been responding to back-to-back calls in the southern Israeli city of Be'er Sheva on Tuesday when they realized that the clock was nearing six in the evening. Things had suddenly quietened down and the pair of emergency medical technicians stepped out of the ambulance to pray as it might have be their only break of the shift.
"Despite how little was known at the time about the disease's spread ... MDA was not at a loss about how to handle the introduction of this potentially fatal pathogen."— Magen David Adom (@Mdais) March 26, 2020
Read more on how MDA combats #Coronavirus https://t.co/O22oBdES6I
As Mintz—a 43-year-old Jew from Beersheba—wrapped himself in his white and black prayer shawl and turned north toward Jerusalem, the 39-year-old Abu Jama, an Arab from nearby Rahat, unfolded his prayer rug and knelt facing south toward Mecca. According to CNN, for the two members of Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel's emergency response service, the joint prayer was nothing new. They routinely work together two or three times a week and often use their short breaks to pray together. However, for many others, the picture of Mintz and Abu Jama's back-to-back worship was an inspiring image in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Two paramedics in Israel, a Muslim and Jew, take a break to pray together. One prayed in the direction of Mecca, the other toward Jerusalem. A photograph of the moment garnered attention from around the world. https://t.co/srrUfvzy0A— CNN International (@cnni) March 26, 2020
"We try to pray together, instead of each one of us taking the time for himself, because we have a lot of situations we’re dealing with right now," Mintz told The New York Times. "The whole world is battling this," Abu Jama added. "This is a disease that doesn’t tell the difference between anybody, any religion, any gender. But you put that aside. We work together, we live together. This is our life." The picture of the two men snapped by a co-worker quickly went viral on social media as it struck a chord with many.
We practice different religions, we are members of different cultures but when it comes to saving lives we do it together.— Israel ישראל (@Israel) March 25, 2020
One nation, one world.
📷Muhammad Alenbari /@mda_israel pic.twitter.com/5ppYeV2LhU
At this hour of crisis humanity matters. Classic example of diverse but United for a cause 👌— Jazmin Chouri Khan (@divajas24) March 26, 2020
This shows that the world can actually be United regardless of religion— Gladys Godwin (@GladysGodwin15) March 26, 2020
This is how God intended us to be. All together. He created us different to keep things interesting not to fight over it— Shakeel Taiyab (@Thrashershaq) March 26, 2020
"The fact that it is so simple makes it so powerful. I believe that Zoher and I and most of the world understand that we have to raise our heads and pray. That's all that's left," Mintz told CNN. The father-of-nine is a full-time MDA worker who trains volunteers. Abu Jama, a father-of-seven from the nearby Bedouin city of Rahat, was one of the volunteers who trained under Mintz. He left his previous job as a driving instructor and helps out as much as possible now. "In terms of belief and personality we believe in the same things and we have something in common. I believe he is a person that gives and takes the feeling of honor and that is important," he said.
#Israel 🇮🇱 #CoronaCrisis— Coronavirus Updates (@group1crew) March 22, 2020
Magen David Adom, Israel's Red Cross, is piloting a drive-thru #coronavirus testing method that allows people to stay in their own car during the entire sampling process. This enables medical teams to collect thousands of samples per day if needed. pic.twitter.com/twkiOr5aPe
MDA teams go above and beyond the usual roles of paramedics and EMTs, transporting Coronavirus patients to a hospital or to designated quarantine hotels, carrying out COVID-19 tests, collecting blood donations, and more. MDA Director-General Eli Bin is incredibly proud of his team which comprises 2,500 full-time employees and 25,000 volunteers. "The people of MDA are facing the virus, looking it in the eye. The workers of MDA are working with their hands and their gloves and their masks. We are the heroes of Israel," he said.
"Everyone is afraid of the virus. So are we, but we have the belief that everything is under the control of God, blessed be He. We both believe this," said Mintz. Abu Jama agreed, adding, "I believe that God will help us and we will get through this. We should all pray to God to get us through this, and we will get through this world crisis." He revealed that he’d had his aging mother in mind as he prayed. He has been keeping his distance from her even though they live under the same roof as she's quite frail and he doesn't want her to fall ill. Meanwhile, Mintz said that he had asked God "to let me see the end, the good end. Because I know that it’s a good end. And I hope to be there."