Valentine’s Day: The love story of two Israeli United Hatzalah medics

Science and Health

Dina Klatis and Roni Sela like to “do good.” They met as volunteer medics for United Hatzalah, an Israeli volunteer-based emergency medical services organization. 

Roni: “Our story actually started a year earlier,” he explains. “In 2016, Dina’s picture popped up on my Facebook page of ‘people you may know.’ I sent her a message asking her to go out on a date. But she turned me down seven times. I later found out that she had a boyfriend.”

Dina: “In 2017, I was unattached and ready to move on. Since I admired the work of Hatzalah, I signed up with their Herzliya branch, which was close to my job. When I received information about my contact person, I recognized the photo – the guy who had been texting me for over a year.”

Roni, who started with Hatzalah in 2010, continues: “I also recognized Dina in the photo, and I was thrilled. When we met, she shook my hand and almost broke my arm.” 

“Like a good Russian,” Dina retorted. Dina was born in Russia. She was four months old when her family made aliyah and settled in Bat Yam.

Dina and Roni fell in love through United Hatzalah. Guests wore orange jackets at their wedding (Illustrative). (credit: SASHA KOZLOV)

“It helps to have a strong arm,” noted Roni, when he coached her for the emergency medical training (EMT) course. Soon, they were going to coffee shops together and riding their ambucycle together to medical emergencies in their vicinity. New Year’s Eve, 2018, was somewhat like other “date nights” for them – in a gas station taking Hatzalah calls together. Roni was then 39 and Dina, 24.

Would they have matched up on a dating app? 

They respond in unison: “Definitely not!” 

Roni: “We’re different in many ways. But we share the common value – to do good. Dina and I are both wired to feel good about doing good. It’s addictive. The more you do, the more you want to do. Dina jots down in her notebook something good she does each day. I try to take a call a day from Hatzalah. On one of our calls, we had the privilege of delivering a baby together. On another call, I rushed to the home of an 18-month-old baby who was having an allergic reaction. My EpiPen saved his life.” 

Roni and Dina are known as “the lifesaving couple.”

Dina: “As volunteers with Hatzalah, we help to save human lives. In our home lives, we help to save the lives of animals. Our home is a foster home for dogs. Besides our own two dogs that we adopted, our home is always open to strays. I’m like my mom in that way. I grew up in a modest home, but my mother always took in stray cats and saved a lot of birds.”

Dina is currently in her final year of nursing school at Tel Aviv University and is a student nurse in pediatric medicine at Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba. Roni grew up in Ra’anana after spending his toddler years in Queens, New York. He worked in Tanzania for many years and is now developing a venture capital start-up. The couple live in Herzliya. 

In 2021, Dina started thinking that Roni might be ready to propose and began to drop hints about engagement rings. Sure enough, that May, when they were on a vacation to celebrate their birthdays, Roni proposed.

It’s been suggested to women: “Look for guys by following your hobbies. Ask yourself what you really love to do.” 

Dina: “That’s exactly how I met Roni – by doing something I really love – volunteering for Hatzalah.”

Dina and Roni were married at the Kahi Resort in Emek Hefer on December 13, 2022. About half the 300 guests were from Hatzalah and were wearing their orange Hatzalah jackets. ❖

About United Hatzalah

Hatzalah is an organization of over 6,500 volunteers (EMTs, paramedics and doctors) who provide an immediate response within three minutes of any medical incident. Their services are free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. United Hatzalah volunteers are male and female, Jewish and non-Jewish, secular and religious. They respond to more than 600,000 medical emergencies a year throughout Israel. Volunteers range from 21 to 85 years of age. 

To volunteer, visit: