First All-Female Ambulance Corp (Ezras Nashim) Denied Permit in NY – Huh???

Ezras Nashim application hearing

FIRST THEY ARE INDOCTRINATED THEN DEBASED, THE DENIAL OF AN AMBULANCE PERMIT IN BROOKLYN

The following is a commentary – nothing more than the opinion of the blogger or bloggers, followed by the story:

It seems to us that this was a no-brainer, an all women ambulance corp designated to respond to the needs of women in the Hasidic community. Why not? Women are the caregivers. Women are the mothers. Women are the empathetic. Women are often better educated (within the Hasidic community). Why would someone even think to deny such a service? Money.

We believe there can be no other answer than the money and the control. We contend that those in charge of this decision should be ashamed. To those of you who voted against, or simply stayed home to avoid a quorum, the life of every woman who does not seek emergency care because she does not want to be touched by a man, is in your hands. Any death, yours to shoulder. 

The obvious gender bias is tough to palate. 

Hasidic women have been raised to believe that the touch of a man other than their husband and young sons is forbidden. In the Hasidic community, there are areas where men and women are segregated, even on streets.  A woman will not even shake the hand of a man, even as a gesture of courtesy in a business setting. Some find it insulting, but to these women it an engendered part of the sanctity of their belief in G-d. Distance between the sexes is required.

The most religious of women will not even take something directly from a man. “Please pass the salt” means that the salt gets placed down on the table by the man and picked up off the table by the woman so as to avoid any direct contact, even albeit vis a vis a salt shaker. In some cases, this is also true of the relationship between husband and wife during the time of “Nidah” or “ritual impurity.” A woman’s husband will not even take something directly from her hand. Some think this is extremism. In the religious community it is about piousness, virtue, the sanctity of a marriage and unintended sexual consequences of such interactions. 

We pass no judgement. 

We ask the following question to those ill-advised members of the committee who voted against the all-woman ambulance corp, and to those who decided to stay home, knowing the lack of quorum would fail the vote: When you indoctrinate a woman with a belief that the touch of a man is forbidden, how then is she to feel comfortable getting medical care provided by a man? How is any woman who has been raised within this belief system to feel comfortable if she is sick and needs medical assistance, even emergency medical assistance, when the person offering that assistance is a man?

Many women grapple with this decision. Others endure the touch and try not to feel somehow demeaned.

But, is this a fair demand of women within the religious society? What if the man who answers an emergency call is the Paramedic from next door who rides on the EMS truck for Hatzolah?

We have been told that many, many Hasidic women will avoid calling an ambulance, and will risk whatever medical danger they may be in because they fear the contact required to treat them will be the touch of a man.

As such being a Hasidic woman in a medical emergency can be tortuously uncomfortable. And these women deserve better from the society in which they are raised. They deserve better from the Rabbinate that petitioned against the bid for a permit for the all-female ambulance corp. These women bear your children. They are your future and the decision to deny Hasidic women a gender-appropriate ambulance is a travesty. It is an injustice.

The decision to deny the bid, in our view, has everything to do with money, control,  sharing of financial resources and the financial accountability of Hatzolah.

All-women Hasidic EMT group denied bid for ambulance in Brooklyn

The bid of an all-women Hasidic EMT crew to operate an ambulance in Brooklyn was denied Tuesday by a state-sanctioned board, in what the group is blasting as an act of bias.

Members of Ezras Nashim say the Regional Emergency Medical Services Council of New York City (REMSCO) is packed with sympathizers of Hatzolah, an Orthodox mens-only EMT group, that has forcefully opposed its female counterpart’s right to exist.

“It’s biased,” said Leah Levine, outreach and development director for the all-women group. “Once there’s a situation that there’s so many board members with Hatzolah, there’s really a very slight chance [for us to succeed].”

Ezras Nashim — Hebrew for “helping women” — sought to serve female clientele within a 2-square-mile area in the predominantly Orthodox Borough Park neighborhood. The women were previously turned away when they sought to join the men’s group.

On Tuesday night, REMSCO denied the group’s application with a 12-7 vote. There were five abstentions and two members were absent.

Ezras Nashim needed a 14-vote majority in order to get the OK to operate its own ambulance.

At least three of the men who voted against the women have ties to Hatzolah, The Post found.

“They should have recused themselves and they didn’t,” charged Ezras Nashim member Sarah Weisshaus, calling the vote “an injustice.”

“Because they are part of REMSCO they really had an advantage in terms of manipulating the situation.”

Scott Orlanski, a REMSCO board member who opposed the application, said Ezras Nashim didn’t meet certain requirements.

“This has nothing to do with Hatzolah,” Orlanski said at the meeting, referring to the Orthodox ambulance corps Hatzolah that operates in Brooklyn. “This has to do with Ezras Nashim and their proving need [to qualify for an ambulance].”

He added, “They may want to be met, there may be a desire to meet them, as has been indicated in the application submitted by Ezras Nashim, but we are not here to debate wishes, wants or desires … religion is not one of those [requirements] and I submit to my fellow members that should we tread into those dangerous, murky waters, we will be in a world of hurt.”

REMSCO board member Nancy Benedetto voted yes for the ambulance.

“What we are looking at this evening is that there is a lack of evidence that existing resources will be reallocated to fulfill the maintaining of modesty for observant Jewish women. That is a key piece here,” she said ahead of the vote.

REMSCO didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The women plan on appealing the decision in Albany.

Ezras Nashim, which launched in 2012, wants to serve Orthodox women who feel uncomfortable being cared for by male first responders.

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The Child Predators Who “Hide in Plain Sight” Grooming Children and the Days of Reckoning for Yeshivas

A view outside the Yeshivah of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School in Brooklyn, N.Y. (Google Street View)

‘We feel like we failed’: How one Jewish school is processing the arrest of a teacher who preyed on children

NEW YORK (JTA) — Sitting at the front of a large room lined floor to ceiling with Jewish holy books, Rabbi Joseph Beyda’s voice broke as he processed, seemingly in real time, the idea that a trusted teacher had preyed on his students.

“I think the overarching feeling of the administrators and the faculty and the board of the school is, we know you trust us, we take that trust very deeply, we dedicate our lives to it, we failed on this,” said Beyda, the principal of the Yeshivah of Flatbush’s Joel Braverman High School. “You could say it’s not our fault, but we feel like we failed.”

Beyda was speaking Wednesday night at a forum for parents and alumni at the Brooklyn high school that was called in the wake of last week’s arrest of Rabbi Jonathan Skolnick, a former teacher charged with soliciting naked photos of students for years, going back to at least 2012. An FBI special agent sitting to Beyda’s left confirmed the rabbi’s assertion: There was no way for the school to have known what Skolnick was doing.

“This is a man who hid in plain sight,” said the agent, Aaron Spivack. “There is nothing this school could have done. There’s nothing that anybody could have done. A wolf in sheep’s clothing, if you want to use that analogy. Predators are predators for a reason. They find ways to be predators.”

Skolnick, who moved last year to an administrative position at SAR Academy, another Orthodox school in New York City, was arrested Friday night by the FBI and charged with the production, receipt and possession of child pornography and child enticement. He was immediately fired by SAR. He had taught at Flatbush from 2012 to 2018.

Days after the arrest, which came only weeks into a new school year, parents, faculty and administration are still in shock. They want to know if there is any way to prevent this in the future, what to tell their kids and how to encourage them to talk about any abuse by Skolnick. SAR also held an open meeting for parents to speak with an FBI representative and school administrators.

“It’s just very sad that it took a long time until this came out in the open,” said the grandmother of one of Skolnick’s students, who declined to give her name for fear of being publicly linked to the scandal. “But it’s understandable because people are reluctant to expose such incidents. It’s sad, and I know he was a good teacher, he had a good reputation. My granddaughter and her friends, they were shocked.”

At the Flatbush forum, Spivack reviewed the FBI investigation of Skolnick’s alleged crimes. The rabbi is accused of posing as a teenage girl online and soliciting underage boys to send him explicit photos. At least one boy complied, and Skolnick threatened to release them publicly after the boy said he wouldn’t send more. Spivack said there is no evidence at this time suggesting that Skolnick inappropriately touched students or distributed the photos.

According to the FBI’s criminal complaint, Skolnick admitted that he had requested explicit photos from 20 to 25 people, most of them children. Beyda said he believes that many Flatbush students were solicited.

“The number is really high,” the principal said. “And it’s not going to be surprising to be greater than 100, and maybe more than that.”

Both SAR and Flatbush have policies governing the reporting of sexual harassment, teacher communication with students and the boundaries of teacher behavior with students. SAR conducted a background check before Skolnick was hired that came up clean, as did an FBI check. Beyda said Flatbush has an extensive interview and reference-checking process, and now does criminal background checks as well.

Advocates for preventing sexual abuse in the Jewish community said that the key for schools is to recognize and prevent what are called “grooming” behaviors — actions such as inviting kids over for sleepovers or luring them to secluded spaces — that lay the groundwork for abuse.

“If you see a rebbe insisting that a child spend Shabbos at his house without any other supervision there, that’s a red flag,” said Asher Lovy, the director of community organizing for Zaakah, which combats child sex abuse in the Orthodox community.

Joel Avrunin, the parent of a child who allegedly was sexually abused by a rabbi at a Jewish camp in Maryland, said that schools should hire an external firm to investigate Skolnick’s behavior and the school’s response to it. That’s what SAR did following revelations that Stanley Rosenfeld, an assistant principal at SAR in the 1970s who later taught English there, had abused students.

“What are the schools doing to find out the extent of his involvement with children?” Avrunin asked. “I’d like to see any school first hire an outside investigator. Who did he have contact with and what anti-grooming policies did the schools have in place?”

SAR did not respond to a JTA request for comment.

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The Satmar and the Value of their Money – De Blasio’s Presidency Bid and the Money in His Coffers…

Orthodox Jews stroll in Borough Park | Bebeto Matthews/AP Photo

Satmar Chassidim Helping DeBlasio Presidential Campaign Stay Alive

The following is via Politico:

Mayor Bill de Blasio is turning to reliable allies in New York City’s Orthodox Jewish community as he scrambles for debate-qualifying donations to his presidential bid.

A fundraising request for 10,000 donors giving just $1 each is circulating online and on WhatsApp — an encrypted messaging app — among those in the Orthodox Satmar sect, which is prominent in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The message, written in Yiddish and translated for POLITICO by three different people fluent or conversant in the language, acknowledges the mayor’s long-shot chances. It says it is not a request to support his White House bid, but rather to help him qualify for the September debate.

Failing to secure a spot on the national stage would be a blow to his struggling campaign.

The pitch also implies the donations would yield favorable treatment in the future.

It opens with a donation request on behalf of those “who work together with the faithful askanim [loosely translated to influential people] who are in constant contact with the government to lobby on a number of issues on behalf of our holy institutions and communities and for individuals who need help and to represent your interests,” according to one translation from a fluent Yiddish speaker.

It says the mayor “personally asked” for the support and then asks donors to extend the request to their wives and adult children.

“By donating the dollar you support your needs, the entire ultra-Orthodox public and our rights and needs by answering the call of askanim who need to show that the public recognizes those who understand our interests,” it reads.

Finally, it notes, “with the dollar you do not support his candidacy but you can help get him to the debate.”

De Blasio needs to show the Democratic National Committee he has raised money from 130,000 individuals in order to qualify, and as of his campaign filing this month, he only had about 6,700.

The message, shared with POLITICO by two people involved in Jewish politics who declined to be named, was signed by people they identified as Satmars.

The sect is divided into two factions, based upon loyalty to brothers locked in a succession feud following the death in 2006 of their father, prominent rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum.

To continue reading via YWN click here.

 

In search for debate-qualifying donors, de Blasio finds help among Orthodox Jews

From Politico.

Measles, Currently the Most Contagious Virus and the Misinformation Spread to Insular Communities

FEAR, MISINFORMATION, AND MEASLES SPREAD IN BROOKLYN

IT WAS OCTOBER 31, a balmy day in Brooklyn, and Alexander Arroyo was walking around his neighborhood dressed as an octopus, pushing his 2-month-old daughter in a carriage, as his wife chased their toddler through the after-school Halloween trick-or-treat crowd. As the family filled their bags with candy, Arroyo’s phone rang and he stopped to answer it, trying to hear over the din of excited children. Arroyo is the director of the pediatric emergency department at one of the biggest hospitals in Brooklyn, Maimonides Medical Center, and two days earlier, a 15-month-old girl had come to the ER with a fever and a rash. He’d been waiting for a call to confirm the diagnosis, and this was it. The test had come back positive: The girl had measles.

 

WHEN THE GIRL had arrived at the ER, she was put in a busy area, where children with earaches or broken arms typically sit. No one suspected measles, because, thanks to routine childhood vaccination, the disease was declared eliminatedin the United States in 2000. Although there had been localized outbreaks since then—among the Amish in Ohio, visitors to Disneyland in California, and the Somali American community in Minnesota—neither Arroyo nor most of his staff had seen a case firsthand. Suspecting ­measles was like thinking “maybe that’s a unicorn,” Arroyo says. “It doesn’t really cross your mind, because measles shouldn’t exist anymore.”

Still, several measles cases had been reported in a different part of Brooklyn. And after a few hours, Arroyo’s team began to worry that the child in their care might be another. They put a mask over her face and wheeled her into an isolation room, with two sets of doors and air circulating under negative pressure to prevent airborne particles from escaping.

By then, however, “the bomb had gone off,” Arroyo says. Measles is considered one of the most contagious diseases in existence. If a person with measles walks through a room with a hundred people who are not immunized, up to 90 of them will get the disease. The virus is spread through coughs and sneezes and lingers in the air for up to two hours. Some 122,000 ­people come through the Maimonides emergency room every year. The hospital, located in Borough Park, serves one of the most diverse patient populations in the country, from ultra-Orthodox Jews to immigrants whose first language might be Mandarin, Russian, Hindi, Punjabi, Arabic, or Uzbek. Many are working-class cab drivers, manual laborers, and restaurant workers who bring their children to the ER at night, when their shifts are done.

Dr. Alexander Arroyo in the waiting room of Maimonides Medical Center.

NATALIE KEYSSAR

Standing in the street that Halloween, Arroyo thought about the dozens of patients who might have been exposed—in the waiting room, the hallway, the exam rooms—from the time the girl came into the hospital until she was placed in isolation. He looked down at his daughter in the carriage, dressed as a clown fish, and thought, “She’s not vaccinated.” She was still too young, as were other babies who might have been in the ER. He knew that his team would have to figure out right away who, exactly, had been breathing the same air as the infected girl. He waved down his wife, who had been making her way down the street with their toddler, and asked her to take the baby carriage. Then he headed home to make phone calls. “I saw my life falling into a pit of measles,” he says.

Arroyo is an amateur kickboxer, lanky and athletic. He hurried down the street, talking by phone with the hospital’s infection-control nurse and mapping out a plan. At home he changed out of the octopus costume and logged on to the hospital’s electronic medical records to check what time, exactly, the girl with measles had entered the ER. He called the other doctors who had been on duty to see if they remembered any pregnant mothers or immunocompromised children who would have been especially at risk.

He also called the hospital’s IT department to help backtrack through medical charts. His team generated names of 55 children who had potentially been exposed to the disease, then asked the New York City Department of Health to cross-reference it with vaccination records. For the MMR vaccine (against measles, mumps, and rubella) to be effective, the immune system has to be mature enough to produce antibodies to the virus. Young babies’ immune systems are not sufficiently developed, so children generally receive an MMR vaccine at 1 year old and another at age 4 or 5; those who had come through the hospital but had not completed both doses were considered at risk.

On the Maimonides list were a 12-month-old, a 10-month-old, and three babies younger than 6 months, including one who was just 17 days old. All were vulnerable, and Arroyo realized he was already running out of time. To prevent infection, the children needed to receive MMR shots within 72 hours, and young babies would have to be given immunoglobulin, a form of temporary protection, within six days. The infection-control nurse began making calls to those babies’ parents.

 

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Yeshiva Kehilat Pupa, NYC’s $2M Measles Bill and an Armed Anti-Vaxxer Movement

One Williamsburg school ‘ignited’ NYC’s measles crisis

The outbreak has cost the city roughly $2 million.

June 25, 2019 Scott Enman
Yeshiva Kehilath Yakov Pupa in Williamsburg failed to bar unvaccinated children from attending class, Health Department officials said. Image via Google MapsYeshiva Kehilath Yakov Pupa in Williamsburg failed to bar unvaccinated children from attending class, Health Department officials said. Image via Google Maps

A single school’s decision to allow an unvaccinated child to attend class led to more than 40 measles cases and the eventual proliferation of the disease across New York City, a top health official said on Monday.

Demetre Daskalakis, deputy commissioner of the city’s Department of Health, revealed at a conference hosted by NYU Langone that Yeshiva Kehilath Yakov Pupa in Williamsburg was the catalyst for what would become the worst outbreak in decades — with 609 confirmed cases as of Monday.

“One school failed to exclude people in Williamsburg,” Daskalakis said. “We had one measles case in that school, and subsequently every unvaccinated child who was not excluded came down with the measles, creating really the spark that ignited Williamsburg and created a true fire of measles in that neighborhood.”

The infected child had the disease but had not yet begun showing symptoms when he showed up for class at the yeshiva, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish private school, in late January.

The school did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The outbreak began spreading in the fall of 2018, when Health Department officials announced that six Brooklyn children had contracted the disease. The initial Brooklyn case was acquired by a child on a visit to Israel, where a large outbreak was taking place.

The epidemic has been contained mostly to the Orthodox Jewish communities of Williamsburg and Borough Park, with more than a dozen confirmed cases also in Sunset Park among the Latino population.

Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency on April 9 requiring mandatory measles-mumps-rubella vaccinations for residents who live in the northern Brooklyn ZIP codes of 11205, 11206, 11211 and 11249.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill on June 13 banning any non-medical exemption to vaccinations, including religious exemptions.

The outbreak has cost the city roughly $2 million, according to Daskalakis. He said that despite their greatest efforts to send out exclusion letters, monitor schools and audit them, the disease has still led to dire consequences, including 50 hospitalizations and 18 ICU visits.

“We’ve had a lot of close calls with kids who have been very very sick,” he said.

The panel on measles was held at NYU Langone. Eagle photo by Scott Enman
The panel on measles was held at NYU Langone. Eagle photo by Scott Enman

As of June 14, 11 institutions had been shuttered by the city for failing to adhere to the emergency order. (UTA of Williamsburg – Yeshiva Torah V’Yirah at 590 Bedford Ave. was closed twice.)

Daskalakis said that further exacerbating the outbreak, and likely influencing the operators of lone wolf yeshivas, was a highly sophisticated campaign of anti-vaxxersseeking to undermine the city’s order through misinformation.

Some residents were also deliberately attempting to have their children contract measles to build up a natural immunity to the infection. “Rather than the spark igniting the kindling, we had the kindling actually looking for the spark,” Daskalakis said.

Although the disease is primarily affecting the Orthodox Jewish community, Daskalakis wanted to break the myth that the general Orthodox Jewish community is resistant to vaccines. “It’s not true,” he said, citing the fact that after the outbreak was announced, vaccination rates in Williamsburg rose from around 70 percent to about 92 percent.

Pro-Vax Mom Ensnared in Measles Law When Youngest Not Medically Cleared to Vaccinate

NYC’s Measles Crackdown Snares Pro-Vax Mom With Sick Baby

On Tuesday, April 30th, at around 10 p.m., armed officers with the Kings County sheriff’s department showed up at the door of a Williamsburg apartment to serve an Orthodox Jewish woman with a summons for failing to vaccinate one of her nine children.

The woman, identified as Jane Doe at an administrative trial Wednesday morning, is the first person to appear before a judge since the city declared a public health emergency 11 weeks ago. The declaration required everyone over the age of six months who lived, worked, or attended school in four Brooklyn zip codes, including the one where Doe lives, to be vaccinated against measles or show that they are already immune.

But even though much of the blame for the city’s measles outbreak has fallen on people who refuse to vaccinate their children, Doe is pro-vaccine. She testified at the hearing that all of her other eight children are vaccinated for measles. The summons she received that night was for her youngest, her eight-month-old son, who’d been sick for several weeks with fevers and ear infections.

I’m a very responsible mother…I was very hurt about this whole thing,” she told Gothamist/WNYC. “I feel they’re coming very strong on me because of the public and because of the anti-vaxxers.”

Doe submitted medical records to Administrative Law Judge Didi Skaff showing she’d taken her son repeatedly to the doctor’s office in late March and April. Her pediatrician had recommended postponing the shot until he recovered, Doe testified. The baby was finally given his first dose of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine last week, she said.

“I do think I got the summons very unfairly,” she said at the hearing. “All my children are vaccinated.”

In order to attend day care or nursery school, babies are required to get their first dose of the measles vaccine when they turn one year old, according to New York State’s immunization requirements. But the city’s emergency order in April applied to everyone above the age of six months. The change in the minimum age has also confused some day care facilities that said they were not directly notified about it.

Doe said until the sheriffs showed up at her door, she was not aware that children in her Williamsburg neighborhood younger than 12 months old were supposed to be vaccinated.

“We watch no TV. Most of [us] have no internet connection,” she said, speaking of her religious Orthodox Jewish community in North Brooklyn.

“None of my friends knew, none of my sisters knew,” she said. Nor did her doctor mention it when she took her baby there on April 20, 11 days after the emergency order went into effect, she said.

For days after she was issued the summons, her children were still asking why people had shown up at her apartment with guns.

“It’s ridiculous that you have sheriffs knocking at your door in the middle of the night,” she told the hearing officer. “The children were all really terrified.”

She eventually quelled their fears by telling them the men had come to sell furniture, she said: “That’s how I got them not to be afraid.”

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The Surrogate’s Court Race in Brooklyn – Why it Matters and Why You Should Vote For Someone Not Beholden

The Democratic primary is on June 25. Eagle file photo by Ned Berke

Why surrogate judges matter: A voter’s primer

 

Brooklynites will head to the polls on June 25 to vote in a primary for a number of lesser known judgeships, including for a seat on the the Surrogate’s Court in Brooklyn. Before filling out those bubbles, it might help to know: what is Surrogate’s Court?

Surrogate’s Court is for the dead — mostly. When someone dies, they usually leave things behind, namely: money and property. Whether or not they have made out a will before they die, in New York, their estates are handled in Surrogate’s Court.

There is a Surrogate’s Court in each borough of New York City. They are overseen by elected judges known as — you guessed it — surrogates. In Manhattan and Brooklyn, there are two surrogates. In the other boroughs, there is just one. Surrogate’s Court judges serve 14-year terms in New York City.

[The Democratic primary for Brooklyn’s Surrogate’s Court election is on June 25. Find your polling site here.]

The Surrogate’s Court handles the probate of wills — meaning, when someone dies and leaves a will, it must be proven valid in Surrogate’s Court before the estate can be dispersed among heirs. This can be a simple process, say, if a single parent dies and bequeaths their estate to an only child. Or it can be complicated, say, if a father who bore an illegitimate son gives his estate to his two children born during his marriage. If the illegitimate son wants to challenge to get part of the estate, that dispute over the will would be handled in Surrogate’s Court.

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