What number do you call if there is an emergency? Do we ever hide from a firefighter? These are two questions that were repeatedly asked by Firefighter Melanie Kael during her visit to the HALB Lev Chana Early Childhood Center. Medics Jud Berman (father of Nate) and David Coleman (father of Noam) joined members of the Woodmere Fire Department – Firefighters Melanie, Eliyahu Dweck, Jawad Kiani, and Darren Moritz – who guided the children in discussions on how to be safe.

This is especially relevant during Chanukah where we light candles every night. Our children know not to touch fire or play near lit candles, and that there must be an adult around when candles or stoves are lit. One of the most impactful moments was when Firefighters Eliyahu and Jawad slowly started donning their protective gear. Each time another piece was added, Firefighter Melanie would ask, “What’s his name? Is he still Jawad or Eliyahu?” The children responded “yes,” even after they began looking and sounding scary, wearing their helmet and oxygen mask and making loud breathing sounds though the hose. The children internalized the lesson that firefighters are our friends and will protect us no matter how scary they look and sound.

The highlight of the visit for the children was when they zipped up their coats, went outside, and excitedly peeked into the many compartments on the sides of the fire truck, which was full of additional equipment that the firefighters and medics needed as part of their job. The children then climbed into the cab of the fire truck with their friends. As the firefighters drove away, they reminded us to keep safe and wished us a Happy Chanukah.