Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Life

Hatzalah Should Allow Female EMTs

“Modesty” is again holding back women in the Haredi community. Although I don’t agree with it, I can sort of understand how the prohibition against women sitting in the front of a bus, walking on a certain side of the street or talking on cell phones in public can relate to tsnius, or modesty, and guard against the mixing of the sexes. But now comes a case where I just cannot see the logic, no matter how hard I try.

The New York Post recently reported that dozens of Orthodox women trained as emergency medical technicians are asking to join Hatzalah, the all-Jewish, Brooklyn-based volunteer ambulance corps.

The women are being represented by lawyer and community activist Ruchie Freier, who says she has the endorsement of prominent rabbis in Brooklyn and New Square (where Orthodox women reportedly serve as EMTs). She also claims that Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who represents Boro Park, thinks that having women join Hatzalah is an idea worth considering.

Hatzalah CEO Rabbi David Cohen doesn’t think so. He says that Freier’s proposal is a nonstarter and that women have no place in his not-for-profit organization’s ambulances. He is not moved by Freier’s proposal to limit women EMTs to female patients only, and solely in the case of a woman giving birth or suffering from a gynecological problem.

Opponents of the women’s request to join Hatzalah accuse them of being immodest “radical feminists.”

I’d like to know what is so radical about women attending other women during childbirth, a practice that dates back centuries, if not millennia, in the Jewish community. I would also like to know what is so modest about a halachically observant man touching the private parts of a woman to whom he is not related, even if he is volunteering in a medical role.

Engage

  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

  • UPCOMING EVENT

    SKY & SCULPTURE

    Hybrid: Online and at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

    Oct 2, 2022

    6:30 pm ET · 

    A Sukkah, IMKHA, created by artist Tobi Kahn, for the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan is an installation consisting of 13 interrelated sculpted painted wooden panels, constituting a single work of art. Join for a panel discussion with Rabbi Joanna Samuels, Chief Executive Director of the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan, Talya Zax, Innovation Editor of the Forward, and Tobi Kahn, Artist. Moderated by Mattie Kahn.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.