VIN Editorial: Why the Ruling Against ‘Ezras Nashim’ Is So Disturbing

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    (VINnews Editorial) – Walk into any given hospital, and you can ask that the doctor or Physician’s Assistant that would be seeing you – be of the same gender as you are.  A man can request a man.  A woman can request a woman.  It is a basic right. And it is a right that makes sense.

    Unfortunately, however, this is not the case for Orthodox Jewish women who wish to maintain their modesty in an ambulance.  Hatzolah, an otherwise wonderful and remarkable organization, fought vigorously against allowing Ezras Nashim, currently a Basic Life Support Agency, to become an ambulance organization.

    And that is quite sad.

    This past Tuesday night, the Regional Emergency Medical Services Council of New York City (REMSCO) denied the group’s application with a 12-7 vote. There were five abstentions and two members were absent.  There were a number of members of REMSCO that are on Hatzolah who were asked to recuse themselves from ruling.  They didn’t.

    Prior to this, Ezras Nashim had approached Hatzolah to become members and to be dispatched for the women who enter into labor.  Hatzolah refused.  The refusal of Hatzola to accommodate requests for tznius is particularly sad.

    The legal reality is that a hospital can even discriminate against men under such circumstances and only hire female nurses when it comes to job openings in their delivery room.   It is called Bone Fide Occupational Qualification (BFOQ) and both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act allow for a BFOQ defense.

    And so we have the absurd reality that American law allows for more modesty than do those that have protested against Ezras Nashim’s application.

    How could it be that a Torah organization is fighting against a legitimate desire for women to maintain their modesty?  Is Hatzolah so powerful an entity that they can convince Rabbis to come out against the opinion of the Sar HaTorah, Rav Chaim Kanievsky and against the opinions of Dayan Vosner zt”l and Rav Ovadiah Yoseph?

    In Israel, the situation is exactly the opposite.   It is the Hatzolah organization is the one that is supportive of female EMTs to deal with childbirth and areas of modesty.

    It is utterly mind-boggling that a basic and fundamental right of maintaining Tznius standards has been entirely negated by Hatzolah and the Rabbis who have signed on to it.

    The Torah is diametrically opposed to a breach of Tznius such as this when an alternative is available.  To deny that alternative the right to exist is just wrong.

    There is no legitimate reason either in Halacha or in practicality for Hatzolah or anyone else to oppose this opportunity for an upgrade in Tznius.  It is a right that women have in any hospital, why deny it to Orthodox Jewish women who wish to maintain their tznius?

    And please, please do not respond with the “response time” issue.  Labor is long.  We are talking Boro Park to Boro Park and then brought to Maimonides.  True, by definition – Ezras Nashim will have a lower response time than Hatzolah, but it will not make that much of a difference when it comes to deliveries in Boro Park.  Check the facts.  Ezras Nashim will be no slower than any other non Hatzolah ambulance.

    There is no question that eventually this bizarre reality will be reversed and that Ezras Nashim will take its rightful place as an ambulance company.  We wish that it will happen without any Chillul Hashem.  The ideal situation, of course, is to allow Ezras Nashim to join with Hatzolah and have Hatzolah transport for them.  This is what needs to happen and the sooner it does, the better off we will all be.

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    77 COMMENTS

    1. Rabbi Kaufman you might be right that in Pikuach Nefesh cases a man can go against Tznuis Rules but if there is an alternate you cannot force a woman into being treated by Males.
      במסכת בבא בתרא דף נז ע”ב:
      אי דאיכא דרכא אחריתא, רשע הוא

      Kudos To VINNEWS for not being Bigoted.

      • Its anyone’s choose to call whoever they want, how in the world can Hatzalah fight against this ? why isn’t Hatzalah fighting against Maimonides Ambulance service if Hatzalah has a faster response time ? everyone should be able to choose who they call its none of Hatzalah members business who a woman calls when she is in labor.

    2. Are you a Das Torah?
      Can you please write your name and not hide under (VINnews Editorial) ?
      I don’t know you and most of us readers don’t know you, why do you think you are entitled to push your opinion into my face?
      When is the last time you donated a few hours in the middle of the night to help a fellow jew.. ?

      I quote
      (Hatzolah so powerful an entity that they can convince Rabbis to come out against the opinion of the Sar HaTorah, Rav Chaim Kanievsky and against the opinions of Dayan Vosner zt”l and Rav Ovadiah Yoseph)

      why do you think Hatzolah convinced rabbis?? Did you ask the rabbis in person did you discuss it with them????

      Dear Vin,

      Please stick to your day job as a new aggregator from AP and JTA etc…
      And don’t push your opinion into matters that’s don’t belong to you..

      • Actually they are there power started with Shelly and continues by heavy donations to state officials
        As for monetary reasons yes they charge your medical coverage the same rate as private ambulance services.
        As some one said follow the money trail here

        • Ezras Nashim founder Judge Freyer was on Shelly staff and they sought a compromise. So don’t blame everything on him. Hatzolah manages to hold together diverse orthodoxy from strict chasidic to modern orthodox…in some communities, women medics and emt are on call to assist under the radar – without glory, without fanfare etc. The ACHDUS has a value and the humility of those women who work behind the scenes with ANAVUS is more loved by HASHEM than all the war-mongering LASHON HORA.

      • I agree totally! VIN has no right to make a chillul Hashem and decide to pasken their opinion on this, especially since their news coverage has become shameful! Posts which contain filthy language, lashon hara and rechilus, and anti Israel biased articles are printed here regularly!
        VIN, CLEAN UP YOUR OWN SITE FIRST BEFORE YOU CRITICIZE THE TZADDIKIM OF HATZOLAH!

    3. VIN you are so right… can you imagine א שיינע איד arrives to Maimonides hospital and is denied being treated by a male doctor!!!
      You’ll always have the man talk (locker room talk) I’ll call Ezra’s nushim to come check me!!
      Reality is I’m more comfortable if a female assist a 17 year old girl or a 28 year old vibel
      Nothing wrong for hatzolah to hire a bunch of women

    4. If Ezras Nashim was only for women in labor, Hatzalah would probably not have an issue with it.
      The problem is they want to be called for heart attack cases, choking cases, drowning cases etc. Where time does matter.
      FYI, I am an orthodox female.
      There is nothing wrong with a male delivering a baby. I would say a very large percentage of women have male doctors.

      • And they don’t share a driveway or carpool or checkout lines in Bingo with those male doctors.

        I don’t want my daughters attended to during labor by guys so desperate to be there.

        • I agree. I use an excellent male doctor. However, he is not my neighbor, friend’s husband, husband’s friend. Obviously in an emergency I will take help from anyone who knows how to help me. However, female is always preferred.

      • It doesn’t matter how many women have male doctors. If some women are uncomfortable, they have the right to have female doctors. Trying to justify the withholding of female doctors by mentioning the women who consent to have a male doctor is like trying to justify rape by mentioning the women who consent to s*xual relations.

    5. In emergencies “modesty” is thrown out the window. Anybody thinking of modesty when calling hatzolah is a chasid shoteh. A woman in an emergency situation must only think of her health and the health of her child, otherwise she too is a chasidah shota. Women in labor who call hatzolah are in dire straits and are obligated to think only of their and their baby’s lives. With that said, hatzolah has protocols in place to protect the dignity of women in labor emergencies.

    6. Sadly it is a huge Chillul Hashem already!

      Hatzolah is so blinded they seem clueless to how the world sees them.
      I say this LeToeles, Halacha states that when someone is doing something wrong you try everything to influence them to the right way. Not only has that not been possible with Hatzolah, but they have incredulously dragged Rabbonim into their Shameful behavior.
      At the REMSCO meeting the Goyim were incredulous at Hatzolahs aggressive resistance to allowing Ezras Nashim their license.
      It was a Non Jewish Woman who spoke up to defend Ezras Nashim’s right for Modestly! When someone thanked her she had tears in her eyes.
      The Media was Baffled! It’s didn’t make sense to them. Because it Doesn’t.
      Sadly Hatzolah doesn’t realize how the EMS world looks down at them now.
      It is the public’s Achrayis to help rectify this wrong. The Rabbonim have sadly been Strongly Manipulated and Harassed By Hatzolah.
      Their Power has gone on unregulated too far.
      I write this with pain, may Hashem help rectify this Wrong and turn it into a Kiddush Hashem!

    7. “And please, please do not respond with the “response time” issue. Labor is long. We are talking Boro Park to Boro Park and then brought to Maimonides.”
      If it’s not an EMERGENCY (i.e. imminent delivery, etc.) then why call an ambulance at all? Have someone, your husband or car service, drive you to the hospital.

    8. Ezras noshim is here and isn’t going away. If someone is in labor and would like a female emt we can all understand. However the issue is if a call is for a heart attack or stoke one might call en which is fine. Their respond time is slow. Upon recognizing a real emergency with a quick transport needed en refuses to call Hatzolah which can transport quick. Instead they follow thier protocol and call a 3rd party ambulance. One can understand why they would not work along side hatzolah it’s political but this puts the community lives in Jeopardy. Not expectable.

    9. A bunch of idiots commenting pikuach nefesh comes before modesty, for one, half the calls from hatzalah are not pikuach nefesh, second, you are missing the point, if a woman wants a woman should treat her she should have the option like in any medical facility, what is the argument against this?

    10. Reply to Stevens
      No argument. Hatzolah does not have a monopoly or an exclusive. There are 10 other ambulances that service boro park other then Hatzolah. Feel free to call fdny or senior care or assist ambulance. They all have female emt’s

    11. Hatzalah is a “boys club” and they don’t want those uppity women getting the idea they can step out of the kitchen.

      The arguments used by Hatzalah against Ezras Nashim were the same arguments used against Hatzalah years ago.

    12. This is not between Hatzolah and Ezras Noshim .

      Its between Hatzolah and the tzibbur .

      Simply put Hatzolah is taking away choice from those who would prefer an alternate first aid care .
      Why is this OK ? What is the justification for restricting everyones choice ?

      Even today we have a choice whether to call FDNY …or Hatzolah , yet somehow people can figure out whats best for them .

      It’s not Hatzolahs place to shove down our throats what they believe is best for us .

    13. This is one of the dumber sentences in the diatribe….
      “And so we have the absurd reality that American law allows for more modesty than do those that have protested against Ezras Nashim’s application”

      Regardless, here are some of my thoughts….

      1. When you call Hatzolah you know you are getting a male. If you dont want a male, dont call.

      2. Try calling FDNY and ask for a female, I doubt they will comply. Why not try asking for a white EMT, or Asian or Hispanic or any other minority group….

      3. If response time is not an issue, why are you calling an ambulance? Call a taxi, its just “Boro Park to Boro Park” and “Labor is long”…..

      4. In an emergency, response time is an issue, especially when they have to respond in middle of the night. It takes 30 seconds to put on a pair of pants and shoes without socks, and then putting on a shirt while running out the door. A woman will likely require more time for undergarments, covering their hair (if married), and making sure she is 100% tznius before walking out the door. Remember, this conversation is all about tznius, so we cant have the EMTs sacrificing tznius in the name of tznius….

      5. The % of Hatzolah calls where Hatzolah delivers or even examines a woman in a sensitive area is probably very very small, which means the need for Ezras Nashim is also very very small.

      6. Why couldnt Ezras Nashim find any local Rabbonim to sign on that they had to go to E”Y??? Did they go to the Rov in EY and explain both sides of the argument? Do the Rabbonim there know how Hatzolah in America operates? Remember, traditionally Hatzoloh in E”Y does not transport, MDA does, and they have both men and women, frum and not frum. There are a lot of other details that are different that the Rabbonim in EY are not aware of.

      7. Why is the Ezras Nashim phone number very similar to Hatzolah’s?

      8. What will Ezras Nashim do when a male calls? How will they even take a blood pressure? Its not tznius to touch a male, and the whole purpose of the organization is built on tznius….

    14. “A man can request a man. A woman can request a woman. It is a basic right. And it is a right that makes sense.”

      Speaking as an orthodox physician, this is a vast overstatement. We try to accommodate such requests when possible, but that’s all. Don’t confuse the community relations policies of certain Brooklyn hospitals with “basic rights”.

    15. For all those commenting about Halacha and tznius. According to many rabbanim a pregnant women is allowed to have a woman accompany her ON SHABBOS in a CAR just so that she will be more comfortable. Halacha says that when a pregnant women is in labor it is a time of sakana and we can be michalel shabbos JUST FOR HER TO BE COMFORTABLE. Kal vachamor waiting an extra few minutes so she can have a lady assist her.

      As someone who personally had a home birth, I called a female EMT who is also a midwife. Someone who delivered my previous babies in a hospital and has delivered hundreds of babies and is very experianced. She came in less then two minutes, took care of me through the birth and then after we were ready, we called Hatzala for the transport. There is no way I would have wanted a less experianced male hatzlala member to help me if there was another option. She came along with me in the ambulance and I fail to see why thats less tznius then if my mother would have come with me.

      Ideally Hatzala should allow women emts,to respond to birth calls.

    16. Thank you VIN for this.

      One addition that was left out and seems to have been pushed under the carpet; As originally reported on VIN when Ezras Noshimn was starting, Rabbi Yechezkel Roth, the Karlsburg Rov from Boro Park was in full support of Ezras Noshim. How it was to be integrated with Hatzola was up to Hatzola. Hatzola then refused to integrate women. And the rest is history. Ezras Noshim had local rabbonim support their cause in the beginning, who were then pushed into silence by those against it. Hatzola didnt want it, so the ‘Boys Club’ they made sure it didn’t happen. Many different reasons are given against Ezras Noshim, but I feel they are just excuses. If they did, there is no real reason why they could not work it out to work in partnership.

      • Once again, who do you work for? Must be the number one spokesperson for Ezras Nashim! And, most unprofessional at this! There is obviously much more to the issue which, we will not learn of because Hatzolah isn’t coming to this forum to discuss it. But, I can tell you, that because of women who represent themselves the way you do, I would never want to be serviced by the Ezras Noshim. When I have a women tend to my needs, I know she is a true and proven professional. I just don’t have that same confidence here.

        • “I would never want to be serviced by the Ezras Noshim.”

          Then don’t call them.

          Why do you get to control what choices are available to other women???

          Why is denying women childbirth care by other women so important to you guys?

          GET A NEW HOBBY.

        • Lol! I dont work for Ezras Noshim (or any ambulance /EMT ). I have just seen & heard how the boys club operate behind the scenes; have seen how mafia style they can manipulate situations for their benefit. Then there are the tznius horror stories I have heard from women who gave birth with Hatzola members. It is these reasons why I am voicing my support for them. I do not pretend to be a spokesperson for them either.

          I do not want to seem ungrateful for Hatzola. I have seen some fantastic Hatzola members who go above and beyond the call of duty, for simple cases and also repeated complex issues. I do not think that keeping women out of Hatzola is by any means a universal idea held by all Hatzola areas/people.

          Opposing Ezra Noshim is nothing more than a combination of power & money.

    17. I find this mind boggling.
      politics aside
      Why would any normal Ehrlich women who is in active labor call a brand new organization with minimal experience very few deliveries under their belt when they have a very strong chance of getting an experienced EMT and a paramedic or even a doctor who have hundreds of deliveries under their belt
      Or have a driver who drives for Hatzolah in one week more then Ezra’s Nushim’s driver will drive a year.
      Wake up it’s your life and your baby’s life at stake.

      • “I find this mind boggling.”

        What I find mind boggling is that you think your boggling mind gives you or anyone else the right to dictate and restrict the healthcare options available to every woman in NY.

        Hatzalah Boys Club! Get your heads out of our wives’ and daughters’ birth canals.

    18. I’d like to know one thing. Why doesn’t Hatzoloh publish data on how many calls it makes and break it down on types of calls? Then we could see how many are serious and how many are not. But, the fact is that most of them are just regular EMT’s who just do load and go. Paramedics are very few and are only called for serious cases and that may take more time to respond than regular EMTs. I think a lot of politics is involved here and not just the tznius issue.

    19. This is a ridiculous article:
      In a hospital the female doctor are presumably equally qualified and available as the males.
      Prehospital care is for an emergent unstable situation without the luxury of picking a medical provider based on gender.
      Assuming the reason the woman needs help is because birth is imminent you can’t ignore response time.
      Choosing a medical emergency provider based on gender alone skipping over a person that is qualified and closer based on their gender is tantamount to murder or at least bring עובר על לא תעמוד על דם ריעך.
      Any medical provider will tell you that the more patients you see the more proficient you will be in treating them. Ezras Nashim whose main function is to treat a very specific relatively uncommon patient will not have proper experience in dealing with inevitable things that go wrong. Such as v hemorrhages, cardiac arrest etc.
      To all those who say that this is about money I would say if it takes away money from superior care then money should definitely be a factor.

      • Hatzola and the rabbis who signed don’t give a hoot about women’s opinions or privacy. If they did, and they cared so much about health, they would allow women to join them.

    20. Ikar chassar min hasefer – the main issue is being overlooked. How in the world are Ezras Nashim volunteers going to get trained – will they go to EMT school, medical school, nursing school – any real school at all, or will their beis yaakov diplomas prepare them to provide life saving medical care during childbirth? Hatzala members go on 100+ ambulance calls with NYC fire/police ambulances before they start going on Hatzala calls. If this training option isn’t available to women (it’s obviously not tznius for them to hang out with a bunch of goyishe men) – they simply just cannot get trained. Listen to Dovid Lichtenstein’s podcast on it.

      For all the advocates of Ezras Nashim, how do you overlook the lack of training? Or should they only be called when specialized medical care isn’t needed (for what ends, to save having to pay for a taxi to the hospital?) – then call it Chaveiros and make it clear it’s not for medical help.

      Jewish life is just too precious.

    21. I am a Queens Hatzolah member for 37 years. I am not weighing in on this issue as most of you disparaging Hatzolah don’t know the facts and are jumping to conclusion that are totally based on ignorance. What I will tell you is that for 37 years I have left my family at a moments notice.Whether doing homework with my children,eating at the Shabbos table with my family celebrating at a family Simcha where someone collapsed and I missed said Simcha because I went to the hospital with the patient.I have awakened countless times in middle of the night to go on calls,the next day I had to go about my business as usual. I have had blood,guts and vomit all over me many times. The hottest summer or coldest winter day no difference.Now B”H at age 66 I still have the Zechus to do this holy work,now also leaving my grandchildren at the table.Recently I left my Granddaughters Vort in Lakewood early because I had a night shift in Queens and didn’t want to be late. What sacrifice have you done for Klal Yisroel or better yet what have you done for Klal Yisroel at all,What I know you have done is publish in public Loshan Horah and Rechilus. My advice to you is learn the facts as clearly you haven’t before you speak or write.This will likely end up once again in the non Jewish media adding to the the Chillul Hashem. As for EN my advice to you is if Rav Kanievsky supports your cause, get a Psak from him. The members of Hatzolah are all Erleche Shomrei Torah, Mitzvah’s we will surely follow his Psak As for me I will continue to do my best to save lives. I ask no thanks but on behalf of the the about 2,000 Hatzolah Ztadikim that I have the privilege to call my partners, I am outraged. Shame on you.

      • With all due respect, and I mean that sincerely, none of what you do for the kehilla grants you the right to stop other people from forming their own group to perform chesed.

        The only ones tarnishing the reputation and image of Hatzalah members are the Hatzalah leadership who seem to think they own exclusive rights to treating members of the community and some of your members are displaying a very unhealthy need to participate in labor and delivery calls.

        No one is trying to prevent any woman from calling Hatzalah if that is what makes her comfortable and no one should be preventing any woman from seeking help from a female EMT by preventing EN from operating their own ambulance.

        • 37 year Hatzolah member, you are a real hero! Thank you for your service! And, thank you for taking the time to say it so well! Supporters of Ezras Nashim are outraged that Hatzolah stands in their way. But, why are they disparaging the heroes of our community in order to launch what they believe is such a good idea? There is no excuse for this approach. Honestly, I don’t believe Ezras Nashim is getting many calls. I also don’t believe they will take off in a real way. Why invest in this?

        • Hatzalah didn’t accept women because that was a decision of their rabbanim. At that point, Ezras Nashim made it about Hatzalah by releasing a film called 93 Queen which was terribly disparaging to Hatzalah and the community as a whole. Ezras Nashim brought Hatzalah into this, not the other way around.

          Also, in contrast to Ezras Nashim, Hatzalah doesn’t feel that the correct place for this argument is in the press. They always followed Daas Torah and they continue to do so.

      • “Rabbis” are not interfering. Ezras Nashim has to show a need to obtain a “Certificate of Need”. A small segment of the population demand women only, and a small % of calls are a so called “tznius issue”. Ezras Nashim has not shown a real need. A few anecdotes or someone crying during a speech means nothing.

    22. one very interesting comment not made here
      a tznius reason for not have women in hatzalah
      is having a male and female transport a patient to the hospital and then on the way home the 2 are not in a tznius situation which can lead to many issues

      and that is one of the main reasons i think hatzalah did not want to accept women as members responding on a first call basis

      i think many wife’s of hatzalah members would not be thrilled if they know that their husbands are responding with other women

      thanks

      • I see your point. Nothing like spending time assisting a woman in labor to spark a little romance in the four minute ride back from Maimonides to the garage.

        If that’s what gets these guys going they shouldn’t be on hatzalah, period.

        When was the last time you saw a Hatzalah call where there was a shortage of guys to drive the bus back so the female EMT can Uber back to her personal vehicle?

    23. Hatzolah doesn’t know what they stand to lose. If they let Ezras Nashim exist, they’ll be fine, but fighting Ezras Nashim draws attention to the potentially illegal discrimination that Hatzolah engages in, which can lead to them losing the right to discriminate.

    24. Hatzoloh is successful because the members that go on the call are the ones are closest to the emergency.
      Valuable time will be lost if they have to search for the lady on call which may be a mile away instead of next door. Let’s not lose focus that these are emergencies and time is of the essence
      If it’s a Labor call where women claim they have time to wait they should call a car service

      • Since you think all a woman in labor needs is a car service, why does it bother you if the volunteers of EN want to be that car service?

        Why does anyone want to stop women who are more comfortable getting care from a female EMT even IF, and that is a BIG IF, they have to wait an extra two minutes? What business is it of anyone but the volunteers of EN and the woman who choose to call them instead of Hatzalah???

        • For the one in a million chance where a woman thinks it’s a routine labor and it’s not, waiting for EN will be deadly
          We are talking potential Life and death here, why you so hung up here on being serviced by a woman?
          Ambulances are called for an emergency, any normal person would want to get treated and transported as quickly as possible

    25. I have actually discuss it with a big Rav and he said that many volunteers will have no problem with it but the Rabonim of Hatzolah don’t allow them to join because of many problems that may/will occur ,BTW if Ezras Nashim joins with Hatzolah theythey will start to show up at any call and labor is only the excuse

    26. Has anyone thought that this maybe about money “competition” hatzalah can bill insurance for the ride. No one like competition, Maybe its this argument is about the $ and power. It hard to share!

    27. @chinagirl7, for the record on many non emergency calls hatzolah will contact a local third party agency (senior care, rca etc) to conduct the transport to avoid tying up resources such as ambulances or members to be unavailable for a real emergency. In those scenarios Hatzolah does NOT bill and if hatzolah really cared only about $ in one month of stopping this practice would more then cover multiple years of EN (if they get their ambulance) conducting transports.

    28. I was all for Ezras Noshim until a conversation this past Friday night. Can you please tell me, if a person of larger girth is to call Ezras Noshim for a heart attack, chas veshalom, how will two or three petite ladies carry out the patient and into the ambulance??? Every second counts, no?

      • Oh, please. I am quite overweight–I won’t tell you how much, but it’s probably more than you think. For fun, I asked my younger cousins–girls in 5th to 7th grade–to try to lift me. Individually, they were only able to lift me off the ground a little, but together, two of them can carry me. And those are little girls. Grown women can manage. Especially considering that it’s women who are on the stronger side who choose to join the force in the first place.

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