If you've been to any of the predominately Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn, then you've likely seen Hatzalah in action, an all-male EMS crews based in the community.
But for the last few years, Ezras Nashim, an all-female based EMS service, has been gaining traction and fighting for legitimacy; specifically, the right to utilize an ambulance.
Tuesday night, advocates for Ezras Nashim packed a stuffy meeting room in Morningside Heights, Manhattan in front of the local council which oversees emergency response. Advocates for the all male Hatzalah EMS service also attended the meeting, as the opposition.
When it came time to a vote among the board members – some of whom have either active or former affiliations with Hatzalah, it failed on all counts because they didn't have enough votes either way.
“They don't want women to join, at the same time they don't want women to have their own ambulance company, so that's something that I don't understand," said Jim Dering, Ezras Nashim's attorney.
“To anyone else in the outside world, it's a given, it's a self-understood need," said Chavie Friedman, an Ezras Nashim member. "Why are Jewish men fighting against it? Maybe you should be fighting for something that benefits your religion and stands for your religion. Why are you standing against it?"