(JTA) — After years of fighting to operate their own ambulance, a medical group that caters to Orthodox women in Brooklyn now has the right to do so.
New York State’s Regional Emergency Medical Services Council granted an ambulance permit Thursday to Ezras Nashim. The organization’s name literally means “women’s aid” but it’s also the term for the section in Orthodox synagogues that is reserved for women.
The Forward first reported the news of the permit, which came after years of lobbying and a major setback last year, when New York City’s medical services council denied Ezras Nashim’s request.
“We hope this is the end of the long journey,” Leah Freier Levine, the group’s director of outreach and development told the Forward. “It’s just so exciting. It’s been so long that we’ve been dreaming of this.”
Ezras Nashim, which was founded in 2014 by Orthodox women in Brooklyn, is a counterpart to Hatzoloh, a better known emergency services organization that was founded decades ago and is staffed largely by men.
Among the newer group’s founders is Judge Ruchie Freier, the first Orthodox Hasidic woman to hold elected office in America. She is also the mother of Freier Levine.
The idea behind the all-female service was that it would better serve religious women, who might not wish to be treated by male staff for modesty reason. Its staff of about 40 volunteers has has already been operating in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Borough Park and Flatbush, but the lack of an ambulance license limited Ezras Nashim’s operations.