93QUEEN — Review by Cate Marquis

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Documentary filmmaker Paula Eiselt brings us an inspiring story of women helping women in 93Queen. A group of women in a Brooklyn Hasidic community see a need for an ambulance service to help women in their community, a service they dub Ezras Nashim (“Helping Women”). Continue reading…

In their ultra Orthodox Jewish community, there are strict rules separating men and women. Women don’t touch and are not touched by men who are not their husbands, not even to shake hands. Although the religious rules allows exceptions for medical treatment, many of these religious women prefer to be treated by other women only. But in this community, women are expected to be focused on children and home, and are discouraged from pursuing careers such as being doctors, nurses – or EMTs.

There is an all-volunteer ambulance service of Hasidic men serving the community but the service does not allow women to serve. So there is a need for an all Hasidic women volunteer ambulance service – Ezras Nashim (“Helping Women”). At the forefront of the effort to get this service underway is Rachel “Ruchie” Freier, a Hasidic women lawyer. Ruchie went to law school while raising six children and keeping the home for her real-estate agent husband, so this woman is really organized. She turns those skills to helping this determined group of Hasidic women who train to become EMTs to get the organization off the ground. They face opposition in their community, particularly from the men of Hatzolah, the Hasidic volunteer ambulance service, but they also find supporters. The struggle also reveals disagreements among the women committed to this project, over how to make it happen.

Although there is some heartbreak, 93Queen overall is an uplifting look at resourceful Hasidic women who figure out a way to help other women in their community.

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Cate Marquis

Cate Marquis

Cate Marquis is a film critic and historian based in the St. Louis, Missouri area. Marquis reviews film for the St. Louis Jewish Light weekly newspaper and Playback: stl website, as well as other publications. The daughter of artist Paul Marquis, she was introduced to classic and silent films by her father, as well as art and theater. Besides reviewing films, she lectures on film history, particularly the silent film era, has served on the board of the Meramec Classic Film Festival and is a long-time collaborator with the St. Louis International Film Festival, serving on various juries.