Jewish Female EMTs Plan to Join All-Male Ambulance Corps

Dozens of Orthodox female medical technicians say it's their dream to work for Hatzalah.


 
 

REUVEN FENTON, The New York Post | | Tuesday, September 27, 2011


A group of women in Brooklyn is trying to break through a decades-old barrier bv joining an all-male volunteer ambulance corps run by Orthodox Jews.

Lawyer Ruchie Freier told The Post she's speaking for dozens of Orthodox female medical technicians who say it's their dream to work for Hatzalah.

But others in the tight-knit, ultra-conservative communities in Brooklyn are outraged, describing the plan's supporters as "radical feminists" who don't care about traditional values like "modesty."

Freier said, "Hatzalah is doing a fantastic job, but times have changed. We have female EMTs who have the same training as men. In emergency situations, a woman would be much more comfortable if she was being treated by another woman."

Freier says she's won the endorsement of several prominent rabbis in Brooklyn and in the upstate Hasidic town of New Square, which implemented a similar program a few years ago.

Under the plan, female medics would not be first responders - and would be brought in only when a patient is about to give birth or needs treatment for a gynecological problem.

Hatzalah is a nonprofit, financed by donations. No women or non-Jewish man has ever applied, the source said.

Freier is supported by state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, an influential politician who represents Borough Park.

" - an idea that's worth looking at," he said.

"I think the leaders of the community who are involved with Hatzalah need to be involved, and that's a process that can happen. I'm sure Hatzalah will listen and consider it."

But Hatzalah CEO Rabbi David Cohen said it's a non-issue.

"This was discussed years ago by the rabbinic board. They said not to do it, and that's pretty much where we stand," he said.

"It's not on the agenda. There's no reason to put it on the agenda."

While many in the Orthodox community support the cause, others balk.

On the Orthodox blog "The Yeshiva World," an anonymous Hatzalah member called the plan "a new radical-feminist agenda," adding, "[The rabbinic ruling] on this issue is unequivocal: For reasons of [modesty] women may not join Hatzalah."

But female EMTs who want to join Hatzalah argue if mingling the sexes is what's holding women back, how is it men are the ones treating expectant mothers?

"I personally have seen the difference a woman makes when she is at the side of a woman giving birth," a Hasidic female EMT who lives in Borough Park said.



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