Video: Ezras Nashim and Supporters Come Out Swinging at Albany Hearing

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NEW YORK (VINnews/Sandy Eller) – It was another battle in the ongoing war between Ezras Nashim and Hatzolah, as an unprecedented hearing at the state level on Wednesday afternoon gave the public a chance to weigh on the all-female ambulance corps’ application for an ambulance of its own.

Ezras Nashim submitted its first request for an ambulance approval to New York City’s Regional Emergency Medical Services Council last summer. That request was denied in October, as previously reported on VIN News (https://bit.ly/3e8SMUA), despite the hearing officer’s recommendation that it be approved. Several Hatzolah members were among those who voted against the application and Ezras Nashim appealed the REMSCO decision to the New York State Emergency Medical Services Council in Albany.

After considering the matter, Administrative Law Judge Tina M. Champion advised on April 22nd that the REMSCO decision be reversed and that Ezras Nashm’s application be granted because existing ambulance services were not meeting the unique modesty needs of local women. A vote on the matter should have taken place at the next SEMSCO meeting, with members taking Champion’s conclusion under advisement, but that meeting has been postponed several times. In the interim, Hatzolah submitted a petition to SEMSCO bearing 330 signatures protesting the Ezras Nashim application.

Faced with what it considered to be significant opposition to the matter, SEMSCO convened a teleconferenced hearing to allow for public comment. According to Ezras Nashim founder Judge Ruchie Freier, holding a public hearing after an administrative law judge presents their conclusion is an extremely rare occurrence.

“This decision came out in April and you would think this would have been over, but it’s not,” Freier told VIN News. “Hatzolah wanted another chance to get up and say ‘the public in Borough Park is against Ezras Nashim.’”

Several of those who spoke on behalf of Hatzolah during the approximately 90 minute long hearing said that having two different ambulance services dedicated to the Jewish community would create confusion with people wasting time during an emergency deciding who to call. Others praised Hatzolah for its fast response time, its physical manpower, its sensitivity towards women and its many years of service to the Jewish community. One noted that even NYPD officers have called Hatzolah when a family member has fallen ill because of its pristine reputation.

But Paula Eiselt, producer of 93QUEEN, a documentary spotlighting Ezras Nashim told a different story. Explaining that she had spent five years following the all women’s EMT corps as she filmed 93QUEEN , Eisalt said that the ongoing saga has nothing to do with an ambulance.

“This is about Hatzolah’s leadership retaining power and control,” said Eiselt. “This is about so much more than need and frankly Hatzolah is taking this committee for fools for trying to convince you that there is no need.”

Eisalt said that she had personally witnessed Ezras Nashim having difficulty doing something as simple as obtaining necessary medical supplies because of the conflict.

“Suppliers feared Hatzolah,” said Eiselt. “I was told that Hatzolah had threatened hospitals not to train Ezras Nashim. I got voicemails from Hatzolah members threatening me. On the flip side, I have had Hatzolah members approaching me … saying that the leadership does not represent them.”

Offering another view of the issue was Debra Schmell, who works with special needs children, many of whom suffer from mental illness. She noted that many of her clients are extremely fearful of being helped by men they do not know, particularly those who have been abused by men.

“A lot of them in a life or death situation will not call Hatzolah because that will be a man coming and they would rather die,” explained Schmell. “So this becomes a life and death situation to have a woman that they can call to come and assist them.”

While Ezras Nashim supporters credited Hatzolah for its lifesaving work over the years, some took the volunteer group to task for adamantly refusing to having women joining its ranks, arguing that women should have options in their health care. And while much of the focus has been on modesty issues within the Chasidic community, 18 year old Amalya Tolchin said that as a member of the Modern Orthodox community she finds those concerns to be universal.

“Whether it be for a teenager like myself, to a 90 year old woman, a Chasidish women or a Modern Orthodox one, it is clear that the by-women-for-women care provided by Ezras Nashim is necessary,” said Tolchin, adding, “I truly hope they will receive their license so they can continue to provide care and make the lives of all the women of New York better, no matter who they are.”

Community activist Heshy Tischler talked about caring for his elderly mother in the last eight years of her life and her insistence on having only female attendants because of the modesty that had been so ingrained in her since her childhood. He admitted that while she had been seen by male doctors while hospitalized, there were times when Hatzolah calls became uncomfortable for her because she was being touched by men.

“Ezras Nashim is being deprived of their constitutional right,” said Tischler. “Ezras Nashim has the right to close the gap on emergency medical care in our community, namely allowing women to help. Women are not just competent – they are more qualified to serve as EMTs for the women of Boro Park.”

Ezras Nashim EMT Sara Weishaus, a registered nurse, spoke of a cousin who could not bring herself to call Hatzolah when one of her veins burst in the shower.

“She could not bear being exposed naked to males of her community,” said Weishaus. “Unfortunately, she didn’t make it.”

Weishaus spoke about responding to a call where the female patient requested that Ezras Nashim arrange her transport to the hospital. According to Weishaus, Hatzolah intervened, claiming “an exclusive territorial right to transport Jewish patients.”

“It is for incidents like this that we need our own ambulance,” said Weishaus.

Citing the 300 signatures opposing the Ezras Nashim application, Weishaus observed that they represent a minute fraction of the local Jewish community, adding, “Just because a few people out there do not want Ezras Nashim it doesn’t mean that we’re not needed.”

A final decision by SEMSCO on the application will be made at a future meeting which has yet to be scheduled.

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50 COMMENTS

  1. I spent time listening to a hatzolo scanner, during corona, I am blown away…by the professionalism, vast area,and response. Humbled beyond…for these woman to play met without understanding the ramifications is reckless. Even if some minute fraction of calls will be more comfortable

    • Where is the outrage from our community on Hatzolah for forcing all patients against their will, to be transported to Maimonidies Death Camp during covid-19 when they knew how many Jews are being killed there, all because of the money Hatzolah makes from that hospital.

      Tishler is holding today a Protest at Maimonides, kodus o him.

      • Your a sick individual to call Maimonidies a death camp. People L”a were dying in every hospital in this city. My mother in law passed away in Mount Sinai.

        • THe difference between Maimonides and Mt. Sinai was that Miamonidies was plugging out respirators and starving the patients to die from hunger, the shabbos after Purim they plugged out 40 respirators in 1 day. That’s why it’s called a death camp, Mt Sinai didn’t plug out.

          • Mr you have no idea what you’re talking about. Actually Maimonides was one of the few hospitals that said they would put anyone on a vent if needed no matter how old they were or what kind of previous medical history. Other hospitals came out with policies not to intubate anyone over 60 and it was the er doctor’s discretion.

      • Agree. Hatzolah of BP has been trying to pay off families looking to sue Maimonides for neglecting to care for patients during the Covid-19 outbreak. Now you know where the $1 million dollar fundraising money was going- to buy people off to stop them from suing the hospital that should be shut down. Imagine Hatzolah starved Maimonides Hospital of patients and took everyone elsewhere. Maybe they’d go bankrupt and be bought off by someone who would actually turn it into a normal place?
        Shame that people in Brooklyn have such a lousy hospital in their neighborhood

  2. I have a very simple question, why is such a holy org. as hatzolah with erlicha yingaliet, fighting tooth and nail, that they should be the ones touching women and delivering their babies when women give birth ?

    shouldn’t the frum men support that women deliver babies from women, we always hear rabbonim support segregation like the willy buses, women sit in the back, why is delivering babies different then sitting next to women on the bus ?

    • From the article:

      “Several of those who spoke on behalf of Hatzolah during the approximately 90 minute long hearing said that having two different ambulance services dedicated to the Jewish community would create confusion with people wasting time during an emergency deciding who to call.”

      So there’s a vast difference between that and seats on a bus.

      • At this point I’m not supporting Ezras Noshim because of their Queen2 documentary and their seemingly need for attention, however they would be serving a valid cause and the excuse that people would be confused whom to call is not valid IMO. Nobody calls a plumber when they need an electrician and nobody calls the pediatrician when they need a dentist appointment.

    • i’m with you. i think it’s completely about money and power and nothing to do with the community’s needs. chassidim are so obsessed with modesty – yet they’re fighting tooth and nail for this.
      hatzola also has no legal right to stop another ambulance corp from opening shop. someone needs to send them a memo that this is a free country and businesses/organizations can open as they please! it’s a free market!

      • It’s not that simple. New York State requires a “Certificate of Need” in order to operate. It is well within their rights for Hatzalah to testify against issuing a CON.
        That’s the way the process operates.
        (I’m not taking sides here with either EN or Hatzalah: just saying that it’s not as simple as “It’s a free market”)

        • You’re 100% right.
          I’m also dismayed about how Hatzolah is fighting this, but ultimately they have every right to act this way if they so choose too.

  3. Please this isn’t a fight be tween Hatzolah and EN. As Ruby said what Hatzolah did during these months is priceless. Let them continue doing what they do best.

  4. On July 7th, the judge granted Ezras Nashims request for ambulance license . The July 8 hearing was Hatzolahas appeal . I think Hatzoloh will lose , and will need to learn to live with the times . Ezras Nashims motto has been, “ If you can’t join them , beat them “.

  5. If Ezraz Nashim claim to be there for women who are giving birth, why do they need an ambulance? What’s the emergency? They’re not responding to calls of heart attacks or strokes. And if a woman is having a heart attack, do they really care if a male touches them? Are they that stupid? That’s called a chosid shoyta.

    • Ouch , you are right that a chosid shoyta would refuse help from a male in a dire emergency . The point here is that women should have options beforehand . They should have the right to train women to be that person to respond , and have the ambulance to do so .

    • Yes, they care, maybe they would rather die, I can believe that. Learn some psychology, maybe they are disturbed or were molested, who are you to judge, try to imagine yourself in her place for a moment.

    • Hi!!! They need to transport the lady to the hospital, even if she gives birth at home. And, many times women actually give birth in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. That’s why.

  6. I tried to join Hatzoloh decades ago, when flatbush was just starting and they had one bus on Ave M. I was flatly turned down because i was single. Shortly after that they took a young single male because he wanted the extra push to embellish his application to Medical School.
    They were not overstaffed ta that time, I watched with tears when they arranged the bus to be driven by an untrained storeowner from Ave M. He only had his basic driver’s license for 3 weeks and he was slipping and sliding the ambulance in a blizzard. He was doing every wrong thing causing skids.
    Hatzoloh does much good but there has always been a core of people in charge that seem to act on motives only they know and we go along because nobody wants to be seen as criticizing hatzoloh.

    • these women have no clue what it takes to do what these members of hatzolah really do. I can’t wait for them to have to carry a 300 pound woman down four flights of steps on one of their stair chairs.

      99.9% of the emergency calls they get have nothing to do with modesty at all

      these women are not able to run out of the house 24/7 365 like a man. A man could go out without a yamaka on his head but a woman will be looking for the right snood that matches her skirt for 5 minutes

      I am not sexist but the place for a woman is in the home taking care of the kids well the husband is at work at meetings and other obligations. And even if the woman is a professional of course, 99% of the time the obligation still on her to keep the home running. She literally cannot run out of the house like a man.

      So aside from carrying a heavy patient as I mentioned above a woman cannot do, a woman cannot drive like a man, a woman cannot handle stress like a man, a woman could not do many of these situations that the hatzolah members do

      Women and great…. But this is actually just a sexist movement from their side, not the men

      After a few people died because of their inexperience…they will have to answer to all the bad press

      One final note, all the women who are currently working on ambulances for the city etc…let’s just say….they are built like a man…

      • I know many weak men. I know many strong woman.
        This is not about woman’s rights. This is about a group of woman who are using their G-D given talents to help the world.
        Why do you care?
        Would you want a man showing up to your birth? How about your male next door neighbor? I hope not, even if you aren’t female.

  7. למה לא הולכים לב״ד ואלה המשפטים אשר תשים לפניהם ולא לפני ערכאות …שהמביא דיני ישראל לפני גוים מחלל את השם

  8. This is a Halachic question and not for the government to be involved.
    Women running on emergency calls is not Modest, Joining Hatzalah would have devastating modesty results (just check your local volunteer Fire or ambulance corp.) We have to choose the better of the eavels.
    The speakers have not really given a convincing reason for denying the lic. but for religious reasons for which the government has no authority to control.
    Take this to a rabbinical conference to decide.

    • Again, no. The process to get a license to operate requires a hearing: there is no other way. When Hatzalah went for its license, it had to go through pretty much the same hearing process.
      There is no “rabbinical conference” that has the authority to adjudicate this: it’s state law.

      As for your other assertion, why is a woman doing emergency calls inherently immodest?

      • Strang men on the street don’t deliver babies. Women go to the hospital and their doctor delivers it there. They can request female dulas if they want. For a case that happens once in a blue moon, where the expectant mother is irresponsible and decides to wait to the last minute, you don’t need ambulances for that. They can rush over in a EN vehicle. On Shabbos, you pre-arrange with a goyishe car service in advance. That’s what we did years ago. B”H we never had to go on a Shabbos. If a particular woman is a high risk, she should be in a hospital long before any contractions begin. I still don’t see why an ambulance is needed by this group.

        • You are obviously a man or a women who has never given birth.
          What you are saying is not true. How dare you call an woman in labor irresponsible! Each woman’s labor for each different baby is unique. And labor is painful and so is your comment.
          If you are really trying to understand, speak to the women of Ezras Nashim. They’ll enlighten you.

        • You obviously dont understand how labor and delivery works so you are not qualified to state your opinion. Perhaps it worked out well for the women in your family but it doesnt work that way for every woman and for every birth.

  9. The Rabonim and Admorim leaders of our communities have different opinions on this issue most Rebbe’s Admorim suggest that we must have an EN for reasons of Tzinios they strongly support the establishment of EN, I myself had spoken with some of the Admorim they are strongly backing judge frier and EN

    • If what you’re saying is true, why aren’t there any names publicized? Why are they scared? They weren’t afraid to publicize their names when it came to the BP Eruv.

      • I think since EN is a woman organization Admorim -Rebbes are a bit pulled back in signing a letter of support but are involved behind the seans and fully in support of EN, but the Litvish Mashgiach Hagon Htzadik Harav Elya Ber Wachtfogel did give EN a letter of support and The Rabbon shel Yisroel Harav Chaim Kenevsky Shlit”a added his signature to it, this should be enough what EN needs.

        • Rav Wachtfogel has personally attended a mesibah in support of ezras nashim, he’s given more than a letter, he’s one of the gedolei hador and he supports Ezras Nashim.

  10. Here is a story you can confirm with R’ Hershel Weber himself, as I heard it directly from him. When he formed Hatzalah, many big Rabbonim and Rebbes came out against it, saying it would not be tznius to deliver babies. A big Rebbe in Williamsburg, whose name I won’t repeat (but you can ask R’ Weber) was very outspoken against Hatzalah for that very reason – until the night that The Rebbes own daughter had an emergency, and R’Weber was there to save her and the baby’s lives. As he walked home, the Rebbe had stepped outside, so R’ Weber wished the Rebbe mazel tov on the einikel, and told him what happened. That Rebbe never spoke against Hatzalah again. I suspect he saw it as hashgacha pratis meant to open his eyes that Hashem approved of Hatzalah.

    I’m not applying this to Ezras Nashim, I’m simply telling a story to show that Hatzalah itself was once in this very same fight with community leadership. Who knows what is right in this caset, certainly not me.

  11. Why are they denying a group of volunteers the tools they need to better help frum woman?
    Seriously? They just want to help! I don’t understand why they don’t work hand in hand. No woman wants a man delivering her baby. In my neighborhood in EY, we have a bunch of first responders. When they get a call about a women in labor, they forward the call to the few women first responders in the neighborhood. Noone has ambulances. The transport is for MDA to take care of. One of the first responders can go in the ambulance with the woman in labor, just in case. There’s nothing like Eli Beer and Ichud Hatzala!
    Before this woman’s group founded in our neighborhood, I nearly had a baby in the ambulance. I managed to hold it in until we reached the hospital, only because my neighbor(first responder) was with me in the back of the ambulance. He was not delivering my baby. No way! Sorry!

  12. Facts.
    Del. Babies at home by hatzoloh in bp are extremely rare, and represent far less than 1% of calls.
    Ask. En how many del. They’ve been called to do in the past 2 years.
    If en sincerely wanted to help w womans health issues they can work w nshei cares as doulas plus and expand their services
    The frum challenges &potential pitfalls of having mixed units in hatzoloh far out weigh the benefits to a minute fraction of the calls.
    The fact that en is fighting this when many of their own husbands have patiently asked them to continue to help privately and give up the public fight, sheds light on the source of their motivations

  13. Judge Ruchie Freier DOES NO WORK AS A JUDGE AND COLLECTS HER SALARY . SHE SHOULD RESIGN
    ITS A SHAME SHE IS RIPPING OFF THE TAXPAYERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. I once saw an EN vehicle driven by a lady trying to pull out of a parking spot with huge space front and back.. it took her literally 2 min just to pull out.. now how on earth is she going to rush to save lives????

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