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All-female Hasidic ambulance corps gets green light after years-long battle

All-female Hasidic ambulance corps gets green light after years-long battle By Reuven Fenton and Carl Campanile

New York State health officials approved a license for an all-female Hasidic ambulance company to provide emergency medical service in orthodox Jewish section of Brooklyn.

Hasidic ambulance corps
Members of Ezras Nashim gathered to watch the vote.
Stephen Yang

The application by members of Ezras Nashim had been opposed by the rival, all-male Hatzolah ambulance and many rabbis.

But the New York State Emergency Medical Services Council on Thursday approved the certificate of need application from Ezras Nashim 23-2.

“I can’t believe it. At the end of such a long journey and struggle, I really believe that it’s a miracle. I’m so grateful,” said Leah Levine, Ezras Nashim’s director of outreach and development.

“Now it’s a new world. Now that we have the license, we can use lights and sirens on our own vehicles, so our response time will shoot up. And now we can transport our own patients. So it’s just amazing.”

The decision reversed a ruling from the state Regional Emergency Medical Services Council of New York City last November, which denied Ezras Nashim’s application.

Members of Ezras Nashim said the rejection reeked of bias and was influenced by Hatzolah. Ezras Nashim in Hebrew means “helping women.”

Lilach Ben-Hayun, 46, EMT.Stephen Yang
Lilach Ben-Hayun, 46, EMT. Stephen Yang

The organization will now be permitted to serve female clientele within a 2.7 square-mile area in and Borough Park neighborhood. The women said they xwere previously turned away when they sought to join the men’s group.

The council overwhelmingly approved the application after bout 30 minutes of spirited debate.

One dissenting committee member, Alan Lewis, argued there was adequate emergency medical service for women in Borough Park and that a new provider wasn’t needed.

But committee member Jason Haag said it was important to provide “a choice” to women in Borough Park that acknowledged cultural differences.

Several members also said they ruled in favor of Ezras Nashim after the female provider and Hatzolah could not resolve their differences. By Stephen Yang.

Stephen Yang