All-Female EMT Teams for Boro Park

From left: Ezras Nashim Director Rachel Freier, Ezras Nashim Director of Operations (and labor coach) Yitty Mandel, and Bramson ORT student Kristina Dubinskaya. (Photos courtesy of Rachel Freier via The Tablet)

From left: Ezras Nashim Director Rachel Freier, Ezras Nashim Director of Operations (and labor coach) Yitty Mandel, and Bramson ORT student Kristina Dubinskaya. (Photos courtesy of Rachel Freier via Tablet)

Beginning in June, a corps of more than 20 EMT-certified Orthodox women will be on call in the Boro Park area of Brooklyn to respond to medical emergencies reported by Orthodox women in the community, Kelsey Osgood reports in Tablet.

The group, dubbed Ezras Nashi, has been more than two years in the making – fundraising, planning, and training. The need for such an EMT team has been apparent to many community members for some time.

Though the Jewish law of pikuach nefesh deems it religiously acceptable for a man to tend to a woman in an emergency since saving a life takes precedence over anything else, the patient still might be concerned about the rules of tznius, which refers to a wide swath of Jewish customs related to modesty and separation of the genders. Aside from the issue of religious observance, it can be personally embarrassing for an observant woman, who has been separated from men most of her life, to find her room filled with male EMTs–many of whom might be her neighbors and members of her community–when she’s in a physically and emotionally vulnerable position, such as going into labor.

Female EMTs will be sent to join an ambulance going on a call, and assistance will be offered for as long as the patient requires it. In this way,  the team will be supporting the community’s “spiritual health.”

Tznius is as integral to the woman as Torah and Talmud study is to the man,” said Rachel Freier, the director of Ezras Nashim—which in Hebrew refers to the women’s section of a synagogue. “It is very important to our way of life, and it is not about women being second-class citizens or subjugated. When it comes to assisting in births, we are simply reclaiming our roles.”

To read more about the history behind the team – one team almost got off the ground 30 years ago – and how the Orthodox community has served its members for decades with volunteer EMT units known as Hatzalah (Hebrew for “relief”), go to the original article.

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