United Hatzalah hits back after poster claims religious 'transgression'

Eli Beer responds to pashkvillim decrying United Hatzalah as transgressing laws of modesty by training women EMTs.

United Hatzalah ,

Three women EMT volunteers of United Hatzalah after finishing an ambulance shift
Three women EMT volunteers of United Hatzalah after finishing an ambulance shift
United Hatzalah

Posters went up in the more haredi sections of Beit Shemesh accusing the United Hatzalah first response organization of transgressing the prohibition of yichud (seclusion with a member of the other gender - ed.) by training female EMTs to respond to medical emergencies.

Extremist elements in the haredi community of Ramat Beit Shemesh posted the pashkvillim (posters) that declared that having women respond to emergencies, which even overrides Shabbos, causes issues of yichud.

The claim is in of itself strange as the same can be said for male EMTs responding to an emergency involving a woman, yet no claim has ever been made against such practice.

The posters went on further to claim that female EMTs are committing a double sin both by being involved in National Service and also by being on a secondary level of prohibited intimacy.

These claims also appear to be baseless and are easily refutable as United Hatzalah utilizes volunteers over the age of 21 and does not have National Service volunteers responding to emergencies as EMTs. Additionally, regarding the claim of prohibited intimacy, the same objections raised against females treating males could conceivably be raised regarding males treating females.

If the person requesting help is female, it would be more halakhically (pertaining to Jewish law) correct that she be treated by another female than by a male, and therefore the need for female EMTs is vital to strengthening the halakhic aspects of emergency treatment, especially in cases of emergency childbirth or miscarriage.

The poster also announced an upcoming campaign against United Hatzalah and against the “knitted- kippah (skullcap - ed.) rabbis” who support them. However, according to the United Hatzalah website, the official rabbinic board of the organization (though surely other rabbis are involved in different capacities as well) are: Rav Ezriel Auerbach, Rav Sariel Rosenberg, Rav Aryeh Dvir, and Rav Yehuda Silman. None of these are “knitted-kippah rabbis,” but rather leaders of the haredi community in Israel.

President and Founder of United Hatzalah Eli Beer responded to the outrageous criticism by saying: “I am proud that United Hatzalah has women volunteers. We are the first organization to unite haredi, Modern Orthodox, secular, Jews, non-Jews, men and women alike. United Hatzalah stands as a shining example to other Jewish rescue organizations, demonstrating that no one should be excluded based on their religious beliefs or their gender.”

“We are going to continue to grow United Hatzalah and serve all communities. We will continue to increase the number of all of our volunteers, men and women alike; this is the best solution for all communities. This is especially true for the haredi community. Having women provide emergency medical care to other women who are in need of help is not just an issue of modesty, but it is a humanitarian comfort as well.

“You don’t have to be haredi to feel more comfortable having someone of the same gender treat your injuries, especially if they are of an intimate nature. Everything we do complies with halakha. We will not allow radical elements of any community to stop us from performing our duty and our mission which is to provide medical care and assistance and save lives, regardless of gender, religion, nationality. We are all human and we will work together to help everyone in need.”

The posters in Beit Shemesh United Hatzalah
Three women EMT volunteers of United Hatzalah after finishing an ambulance shift in Jerusalem, one Charedi, on religious Muslim, and one secular United Hatzalah


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