Monday, April 09, 2018

EMTs that are Orthodox and Female

EMTs of Ezras Nashim (Ezras Nashim Website)
If there is a better example of misogyny among some of my fellow Orthodox Jews I’d like see it. Frankly I don’t think there is.

YWN posted a story that is apparently floating around Boro Park about a tragic event that happened there. It openly ‘warns’ people not to use ‘Ezras Nashim’ because of their apparent ineptitude. Which resulted in woman’s death. 

Ezras Nashim is a volunteer group of EMTs  (Emergency Medical Technicians) created and operated by women for women. It was founded and is run by the Honorable Judge Ruchie Freier, a Chasidic woman living in Boro Park. She saw a need in that community and filled it. I cannot say enough about Mrs. Freier. For me she is a role model for what women in a world where they are frequently discouraged to do - can do. Ruchie Freier is a Chasidic wife and mother of six who trained to be an EMT, founded the innovative Ezras Nashim, got her law degree and then eventually got elected as a judge - now serving in criminal court.

I have no clue whether the story in YWN is true or whether it is fiction. My inclination is not to believe it. But even if the bare-bone facts of the story are true, the description of ineptitude on the part of the female EMTs is so filled with bias that one would have to be an idiot to believe that spin.It obviously does not resemble the truth about Ezras Nashim in any way! The writer’s agenda is clear. He explicitly states it at the end of the story, albeit in a way he thinks makes him sound like it’s all about saving lives:
I am writing this because I myself when I had a certain medical emergency called Ezras Nushim and they nearly killed me. I cannot go into details…
First, it is likely that the writer is Chasidic because of the way he spelled the word ‘Nashim’ as ‘Nushim’. The pronunciation is in the Chasidic dialect. That should not come as a surprise since Boro Park now consists primarily of Chasidim.

Now before I continue, I want to make perfectly clear that I have no issue with that likelihood. I mention it for the following reason. It might help to explain why the grammar in his description of that event is so poor. It is very possible that the writer attended a school that had no formal secular education. 

One might protest and say that this is irrelevant to this issue. But I don’t  think it is. Although not all Chasidic groups feel this way, those that insist on not providing their male students with any secular education – tend to shun the idea of women getting involved in anything remotely public. They believe doing so is immodest. Becoming an EMT is no exception. They believe that men can handle these issues just fine without them. Probably even better! Which is what the writer of this story seems to corroborate. 

I obviously can’t say with absolute certainty that this is the case here. But that last paragraph strongly suggests that kind of bias. While most of the rest of Orthodox world has been praising the creation of Ezras Nashim, which has endorsements from some of the most right wing Poskim anyone can imagine - this writer found a way to criticize them without seeming to be misogynistic. Except that he failed miserably in the attempt. It is pretty clear to me that he is.

It is unfortunately quite obvious to me from the nearly 300 comments on that story that there are more than a few Orthodox Jews quite thrilled with what he wrote. It justifies their misogyny with a claim that it is all about saving lives. They might think that their opposition is perceived that way. But there misogyny comes through like a locomotive - loud and clear.

It is important to know for the rest of the Orthodox world to know this. And to understand that that this post was written with an agenda. Which is to destroy this fine organization for the ‘best of religious reasons’:

Pikuach Nefesh is involved. It will save lives. Those who opposed it were right. These women just can’t hack it. Women are incompetent in a crisis. A woman died because of that. Let us make sure that this never happens again and boycott Ezras Nashim (and put women back in the kitchen, barefoot, and pregnant, where they belong).

My hope is that the vast majority of mainstream Orthodoxy will see right through this post and realize it is agenda based and has no resemblance to reality.

I am absolutely convinced that the women who volunteer for Ezras Nashim are every bit as qualified as men who volunteer for Hatzalah. It wouldn’t surprise if they are even more qualified. Because of existing inequities between men and women in general - women may even have to work harder to ‘make the grade’ than men in order to be certified. 

It’s like what Ginger Rogers said about her famous dance scenes with Fred Astaire. Who is considered one of the greatest dancers in movie history. She not only had to do all of the steps Astaire did, she had to do them backwards and in heels.

The moral of the sorry here is that anyone who reads that story in YWN – don’t believe it! It is either not true or woefully misleading about what actually happened. The presentation of the facts is clearly biased against women. I’m sure that any fair investigation of the facts would reveal that. If you are a woman living in Boro Park and wish to have qualified female EMTs attend to you in a medical emergency, do not hesitate to call the EMTs at Ezras Nashim. Anything Ruchie Freier is involved with is pure gold. They will not let you down.