Yulia Karra
October 31, 2023

Bar-Ilan University recently launched an emergency hotline that offers interpreting services to non-Hebrew speakers struggling in the times of war. 

Israel declared a war on October 7 after thousands of Hamas terrorists infiltrated the Israeli communities near the Gaza border, launching a massive attack that killed over 1,400 people, most of them civilians. 

Around half a million Israelis are said to experience significant difficulty accessing public services due to the language barrier, including immigrants, minorities, asylum seekers and refugees. 

The Emergency Interpreting Call Center is providing services in 10 languages: English, Arabic, Russian, Ukrainian, Amharic, Tigrinya, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Yiddish.

The center was established by Dr. Michal Schuster and Dr. Tanya Voinova from the Department of Translation and Interpreting Studies at Bar-Ilan University’s Faculty of Humanities.  

Schuster and Voinova recruited dozens of volunteer interpreters from their department to work with emergency responders and aid organizations. The department provides services to governmental agencies caring for affected families, municipalities and municipal welfare departments, health, emergency and rescue services, the National Insurance Institute and more.

The hotline is specifically aimed at helping callers with immediate medical, emotional and logistical needs, including families whose loved ones were murdered or abducted.

Incoming calls are redirected to an interpreter in the requested language, and three people stay on the line throughout the call: the assistance provider, the service recipient and the interpreter. 

“All interpreters at the call center, including partners from the Tene Briut Ethiopian-Israeli health organization, are highly trained and experienced, and all adhere to professional ethics, including accuracy, confidentiality and objectivity,” said the university in a statement. 

The hotline can be reached by dialing *9392, extension 4. The center operates Sunday-Thursday, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. For more information click here

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