Those who attended this year’s Atlanta Jewish Film Festival may remember “93 Queen,” a documentary about how a group of Hasidic women in Brooklyn successfully established Ezras Nashim, the first all-female volunteer ambulance service in the Orthodox community there.
It was one of my “best bets” for the festival, along with Matthew Bernstein, AJFF board member, professor and chair of Emory University’s department of film and media studies. It was what we called “a real crowd pleaser” and a “fascinating portrait of female empowerment.”
The woman who headed the Ezras Nashim movement, Ruchie Freier, is to be the guest speaker at Chabad of North Fulton’s Women’s Inspirational Night next Sunday.
Although she has been careful not to describe herself as a feminist, Freier contradicts a number of the commonly held notions of women in the Hasidic community, which emphasizes more traditional roles.
She is a licensed attorney who became an Emergency Medical Technician for the ambulance project, which she still heads. Her code name on the ambulance’s two-way radio service is 93Queen.
Once the ambulance service was launched, Freier ran for and won a 10-year term as a judge in Brooklyn’s 5th Municipal Court District, succeeding her uncle, who was also a municipal court judge in Brooklyn.
She is believed to be the first Hasidic woman elected to office in this country. Both the ambulance service and her political campaign were fully supported by her husband, a member of the large and very conservative Bobover Hasidic community, but were aggressively opposed by many of the other men in the community.
Freier has since become something of a media star, after being profiled in The New York Times and appearing on the Today show and in the documentary about her work with the ambulance service scheduled for “POV,” the public television network’s showcase of outstanding documentary films.
She will bring her story to women at an annual night of cocktails, fun and inspiration at Chabad of North Fulton from 5 to 7 p.m. May 5. Tickets are $36 and reservations can be made at www.chabadnf.org/JWIN.