City physiotherapist volunteering at Israeli hospital

Tali Speizman is a physical therapist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, but right now she's more than 5,000 miles away.

“I wouldn't forgive myself if I don't go in there and do what I can,” Speizman said during a recent Zoom call.


What you need to know

  • Tali Speizman is a physical therapist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, but volunteers at a hospital in Israel
  • She was born and raised in Israel and now volunteers in central Israel at a hospital in need
  • Speizman said she knew she had to return when she heard several family members died in the Oct. 7 terrorist attack

Speizman is back in her hometown in Israel after Hamas killed more than 1,400 Israelis earlier this month.

The difference between life in her hometown and the city she now lives in could not have been greater during the call.

“Sorry. I have to go because there are alarms. I'll talk to you later,” Speizman said as she ran out of the room in her parents' house.

A few minutes later she texted that she would be right back, and the interview continued.

“Thank God everything is okay with who I am,” Speizman said.

But everyone in her family is not okay. Several family members were killed in the terrorist attack.

“My father's cousin's wife, who was 82, was also dead and I loved that woman very much,” Speizman said, referring to the first attack on October 7.

Speizman knew deep in her heart that she had to come back to Israel. But what would she do? She wasn't sure.

“If I just stay home and scroll through social media, this is not the person I am. This is not the person I was raised to be,” Speizman said.

Speizman thinks about her father, who was in New York City 50 years ago when the Yom Kippur War broke out. He returned to Israel to serve.

“So I think the older we get, the more we realize that values ​​are about doing, not talking,” Speizman said.

For two days she took a plane to come to Israel. In less than a week, she attended three separate funerals of relatives.

Now she volunteers in central Israel at a hospital with a shortage of staff.

“Many people were recalled to the army. A few people were injured. A few people are mourning the deceased immediate family,” Speizman said.

Speizman treats people injured by the first terrorist attack and others as the war continues.

Speizman booked a one-way ticket to Israel. She has no idea when she will be back in New York. But she says the support in the city has been incredible.

Her colleagues at Mount Sinai raised money for her and donated their own time off in an effort to prevent her from having to take unpaid leave.

And her landlord? He gave up her rent on the Upper East Side.

“Everyone went to extremes. My colleagues, my friends, my landlord. The community,” Speizman said.

Speizman takes everything one day at a time. She doesn't know how long she will help at the hospital, but for now she knows she is needed there. And that's good enough for her.

“We're just ready and trying to be ready for whatever comes,” Speizman said.

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