Wednesday, November 20, 2019

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

An all-women Hasidic EMT group was denied a bid on Tuesday to operate an ambulance in Brooklyn.

The group, Ezras Nashim, sought to serve female clientele within a 2-square-mile area in the predominately Orthodox Borough Park neighborhood.

But on 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.

Ezras Nashim — Hebrew for "helping women" — needed a 14-vote majority in order to get the OK to operate its own ambulance.

Leah Levine, the group's director of outreach and development and daughter of its founder, said she was "deeply shocked" by the outcome.

"How can anyone be opposed to women helping women in times when they're most vulnerable?" she told The Post in an email. "Our women need us, and are pleading with us not to give up. So we will do our best, and keep trying!"

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.

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

"It's the cultural norm of women in the Brooklyn Hasidic community to lead their lives in modesty," Jim Deering, the group's attorney, said during a public hearing last month.

"It is that cultural modesty and the trauma that can result from it not being honored that forms the need for Ezras Nashim's ambulance application."

The public hearing was attended by Hatzolah supporters who believe that having multiple EMS services in the neighborhood would cause "confusion" and "potential catastrophe."


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