Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel’s version of the Red Cross, buckled to pressure from haredim and from haredi-leaning Zionist Orthodox rabbis and appointed a rabbinic committee to set up and enforce religious guidelines and gender segregation rules for the paramedic and disaster response service.
Haredim Force MDA To Establish Rabbinic Committee, Segregate Genders
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel’s version of the Red Cross, buckled to pressure from haredim and from haredi-leaning Zionist Orthodox rabbis and appointed a rabbinic committee to set up and enforce religious guidelines and gender segregation rules for the paramedic and disaster response service, Ha’aretz reported.
The committee will be headed by the notorious racist Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, who serves as the chief rabbi of Sefat despite Eliyahu calling on Jews there two years ago to refuse to rent apartments to Israeli Arabs; and by an unnamed Zionist Orthodox posek (adjudicator of halakha, Jewish law).
Last year, an extremist right wing group honored Eliyahu for his “actions, deeds and commitment for keeping a Jewish character in the Land of Israel.”
MDA has endured a steady stream of criticism from haredim for what they deem to be MDA’s inappropriate and immodest mixing of men and women.
MDA is funded in part by donations raised from Diaspora Jews and its mandate requires it to treat all sick and injured regardless of ethnicity, skin color and religion.
More than 2,500 haredim in Israel volunteer in MDA or for other rescue services like Hatzolah and Zaka, Ha’aretz reported.
But in February of last year, a ruling by leading haredi rabbis forbade haredim from volunteering for MDA.
“It is forbidden to volunteer for the organization, not even for the purpose of saving lives. Volunteering could, God forbid, lead to severe infractions…and [negative] spiritual influence,” the ruling stated.
MDA branches with many Zionist Orthodox and/or haredi volunteers already gender segregate, and their EMT crews are entirely male.
The new rabbinic committee began work a few weeks ago. It instructs MDA on gender issues and on science related matters.
In one case, the new committee ruled that MDA cannot transport anyone injured in an accident on Shabbat to a hospital, if that transport is requested for insurance rather than medical reasons.
The committee also wants to segregate men from women in MDA stations, so that on-duty volunteers of different sexes won’t spend the night together in the same bunkhouse.
Ha’aretz reports that MDA did not respond to questions about the formation of the rabbinic committee, but Rabbi Eliyahu did and confirmed details for Haaretz.