Friday, January 21, 2022

Having been intimately involved with the Orthodox presence on the Teaneck Volunteer Ambulance Corp from day one, I’d like to tell you the story. My late husband, Rabbi Stanley Fisch, had a long history in Teaneck, starting with teaching at the Teaneck Jewish Center Hebrew School while he was single and an undergrad at Brooklyn College at night. We got married and moved to Teaneck in 1958, when the Orthodox presence in town was tiny, and Bnai Yeshurun was the only and fledgling Orthodox shul. By the mid 1970s, Bnai Yeshurun was well established, Beth Aaron was growing and Rinat Yisrael was the new shul.

The Orthodox community was growing rapidly, and not particularly welcomed by the general and even much of the existent Jewish population, many of whom viewed us suspiciously as potential usurpers and takers, in a town that was known for public activism and giving. Stan said to me one day, “People in town need to see that Orthodox Jews give as well as take. I am going to join TVAC to start an Orthodox presence in the corps.” That was fine with me!

I think it was about 1975 that Stan certified as an EMT and became a full-fledged TVAC member. There had been Jewish members already; most noteworthy were the Musicant family, who were active Jewish Center members (you know of that family from the funeral home in Hackensack.) Stan had taught Musicant children in Hebrew school, and Dave Musicant was concerned that this Orthodox Hebrew teacher might be offended by some of the crude language of some TVAC regulars. But Stan assured him he was made of tough stuff and would get along just fine. And so it was.

Stan became a magnet for young frum kids to join TVAC, and he was beloved by all, Jew and Gentile alike. Orthodox teens and adults, both from Beth Aaron and the other shuls in town kept signing up to join. Some of those early names are still in town—Elie Katz, Yaakov Eizik, Kevie Feit, and many more—and the group was well integrated with standing and new members in a wonderful display of teamwork. In 1978 or 1979, Stan was appointed chaplain of TVAC, while maintaining his regular EMT service. He even got the corps to throw kosher candy to the kids watching the Fourth of July parade, a practice that continues to this day. He kept his service up until the early 1990s, when he was too ill to continue, but the Orthodox presence in TVAC remains a great kiddush Hashem.

Hatzalah is a wonderful organization, and many towns will benefit from its presence. In Teaneck, where the Orthodox community is already well integrated
into the Township’s existing multidenominational corps, it could be seen as a sign of separatism instead of the unity that has been achieved. We are fortunate to have TVAC, which encourages teamwork and understanding among members of all faiths, and affords rapid and expert emergency medical help to all citizens of our township.

Mollie K. Fisch
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