Search This Blog

Monday, September 26, 2011

Hatzolah: will not allow women as members

Ruchie Freier says women should be allowed on Orthodox Hatzalah ambulances to help with emergencies such as childbirth

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.

It’s 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.


  1. Interesting article on the topic

    Sheer Chutzpah: Challenging Hatzalah in the press and indicating litigation
    And WHO is fighting for Tznius
    Brooklyn – When Ruchy Freier went public with her call to add women to Hatzalah, it seemed that she took it on as a part of her community activities, as founder of B’Derech. Turns out she’s doing it under her capacity as a lawyer. Crain’s reported on Friday that she was hired by Borough Park and Williamsburg woman. “No, legal action is planned so far,” the paper tells us.
    So far?
    Is it possible that in the future they will take legal action? What a Chutzpah, to challenge the Hatzalah on the public arena, and signaling back handedly the possibility of legal action against this venerable and live-saving organization.
    From when I heard this issue, I was amazed that of all Frum women, only a lawyer is interested in a so-called Tznius issue. Rather, it fitted in to her organization’s activities to bring enjoyment to Jewish lives – something that we all lack, according to her. Now she says that she’s a hired gun, which I strongly doubt. Notwithstanding if she’s representing someone or it’s her own issue, taking her case to the wider media has no excuse.
    Doesn’t the Hatzalah have enough on their plate?
    Do they need the headache to have to set up a legal defense fund?
    Doesn’t such a case open up a can of worms, with the possibility that every turned back perspective volunteer will hire a lawyer? (I’m not elaborating on this one, not to further drilling that can of worms. I went into more details in an email to Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who is on record supporting the idea. I will be happy to share his response, if any).
    Don’t the Hatzalah leaders have enough a track record to deserve our trust to manage their own affairs?
    That’s besides the fact that having women only for one type of emergency, will mean they are un-alert and are inexperienced responders when these calls are coming. But all arguments aside, even if they are not right, you can’t attack them and black mail them through the general press.
    We should all stand up for Hatzalah and against its detractors.

  2. Uch, oy, yet, a-ready. Vomen wolunteers? Ve need vomen wolunteers like ve need a whole in the head.

  3. Dear Ruchi Frier
    I know your going thorugh a very tough time of your life your in that age where fun is lacking and you need more then you got at home thaat why you made an organzation called BDERECH that's only for Young BOYS so stick to that and don't Be MACHSHIL hatzolah members with woman partners look in the first Mishanh in pirkie AVOS in the baltnurah you have NO MOSORAH or das TORAH so please stay Away from HASHEMS POEOPLE and entertain the young boys from BDERACH
    SHAME ON YOU care for your KIDS and don't let them roam the streets

  4. Don't give up women
    It's a great idea and very much needed in our communities
    If there is will there is a way
    Much success