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.
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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