Cops Attempt to Tow Passaic Hatzolah Ambulance


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p cover.jpgHatzolah in Passaic NJ recently had a confrontation with local police , which has prompted calls for unity and sensitivity training. Yeshivaworld spoke with David Kaplan, founder of Hatzolah of North Jersey, to verify the facts of this story. The incident occurred when local police ticketed a Hatzolah ambulance, and attempted to tow the ambulance which was parked the wrong way on Reid Avenue. The local media who reported this story, failed to mention that this particular street is a dead-end street, and everyone parks the wrong way.

A crowd immediately formed while multiple cop cars provided protection to the tow truck as it was attempting to tow the ambulance.

“It’s unheard of to tow an ambulance in any city,” Kaplan told Yeshivaworld. “It sort of leads us to believe there’s selective enforcement going on.”  This reminded him of another recent incident where a Hatzolah ambulance was ticketed for being too close to a stop sign, while cars on the other side of the street (parked the same distance from the stop sign) were not issued tickets.

In the height of the incident, Samuel Rivera who is the Mayor of Passaic and a great friend of Hatzolah arrived in person on the scene – and convinced the cops to leave.

Kaplan also told Yeshivaworld that since its inception in 2003, Hatzolah has had no problem with the police and overall have a decent working relationship with them. But suddenly, last fall, Passaic police began issuing tickets to the Hatzolah ambulances. After complaining to the police, the tickets stopped – but started again recently, he said.

Kaplan said that volunteers keep the ambulances close to their homes to save the time it takes to get to a call, rotating stewardship of the ambulances among them.

Kaplan urged the city that they should think about the services Hatzolah provides to the community. Overall, he thinks that city officials have misconceptions about Hatzolah, which led to the clash. “We don’t discriminate whatsoever, we take anyone,” he said.

He also told Yeshivaworld that he has met with the police chief to ease any friction.


  1. Feif Un! Can’t you read? it says that it is a dead end street and “everyone els” parks there this way, and for some reason, the first renforcment is done on the ambulance…

  2. Feif Un,
    An ambulance always must be parked facing forwards, to save the time it takes to turn arround upon receiving a call. If it’s a dead end, and there was a parking spot only in the direction facing the dead end, it makes perfect sense for the ambulance to park against the rule, facing the way out.
    May we all hear besoirois toivois and never need the services of Hatzoloh, except for leidois.

  3. basically the way i see it is the PD doesnt like it when some private citizens due to being on hatazoloh will get away or feel they can get away with the law be it parking red lights etc
    the fact that we are jewish definatly adds fuel to their feelings
    as asuv sone lyaakov is still very much alive even in modern day america
    as we are well aware their are many (and im not talking about this individual situation)on hatzaloh who do in fact take advantage of their being members of this elite group of oske tzibur who some times do take advantage
    and being that we have to a)be carful of hillul hashem b)to make sure that hatzolah be able to continue its necessary work with out being hindered by red tape and rules and regulations to stop them its important to always work within the law and only use its lights sirens etc parking illegal when on calls as the law stipulates and at no other time

  4. This is not only a hatzola issue. In Passaic, the cops/towing company are very quick to tow on alternate side of the street days and hours. Almost everyone in Passaic has a story about how their car was once towed. I even heard a story about a family who ran outside as they saw their car being towed and offered to move it. The cop asked his boss what to do, and was told to tow the car anyway. This is a huge money-making machine for the towing company involved. Passaic residents are currently trying to fight this “policy” by gathering signatures for a petition against “instant towing.”

  5. When seconds count,to save a life,the ambulance must be in a ‘ready’ position. How come sanitation trucks,Ups tyrucks will park and drive the wrong side of a 2-way street to do their non-emergency business,and a Jewish volunteer ambulance gets picked on?

  6. Dvorah,

    The fact is that there are many cases where that is just so. I lived in a building and there was a Jewish man (not frum), that a regular amblance came for. He didn’t make it. Afterwards the ambulance workers were joking downstairs about it.

  7. Prou KAJ…

    You might be right, but in order to fight the powers that be, the locals are going to have to get together and put together a pile of pictures or videos showing a police car ignoring other vehicles in the same positions.

  8. devorah,
    a)religious jews arent the only ones to have such organizations as there exist many organizations/other religions that offer social,medical,health services
    you also have volunteer fireman/and auxiliary police officers
    being involved personally in one of the organizations u mention in your comment i can tell u first hand genrally speaking the local and state govt respect and appreciate the help of such organizations for many reasons 1)we act as liason/buffer if u will to our communities
    b) free up the local under staffed official organizations for other calls. this may not apply to local small hicktowns up state (as we saw in fallsburg the locals wanted to do the medi transport due$$ is involved) but hatazoloh tries very hard to have a good rapport and working relationship with the powers that be and always keep up communications with the local/state govt

    bottom line
    the value we have for life and trying to sustain one isnt matched by anyone hence we have our own organizations to deal with medical emergencies. chas vesholom if hatzolo isnt sucessful the respect the torah demands and accords to the deceased isnt matched by anyone
    or any other religion again another reason why we need misaskim zaka etc the world is indeed in awe of how our askonim go to the ends of the world literraly during and after a tragedy its a tremendous kiddush hashem
    and btw if passaic is having issues and are being discriminated against they definietly should pursue this and sue to get equal rights due any citizen

  9. Feif Un,
    They have 3 Ambulances, If there are no spots facing forward they would have to park illegally, as the driveway already has an Ambulance parked there.
    Due to its size there really aren’t many spaces to park legally, as parking on the other side of the street has to be 50 feet away from the STOP sign. If there are 2 or 3 cars parked there (its right near the train station and many commuters park there) already, there is no room to park on the right side if the street.

  10. Dvorah, You try calling EMS instead of Hatzolah if you c’v need an ambulance. I just hope it is nothing too serious. You nned to pray that EMS arrives in a reasonable time. They are likely to take quite a while.

    Hatzolahs average response time is about ONE MINUTE. And that is no exaggeration.

  11. “Hatzolahs average response time is about ONE MINUTE. And that is no exaggeration.”

    Uhhh. That IS quite an exaggeration. 3-4 is more accurate & still VERY commendable for an EMS provider.

  12. In NYC it is about 1 minute (certainly in the major frum populated areas, where Hatzolah members are living and working all over the place.)

  13. Don’t take this personally but, unless the member is in the building or right next door, 1 minute IS an exaggeration & certainly not an “average”. I am NOT saying that 3 mins. is slow, just realize that although it may seem super fast, in 99% of the calls it won’t be 1 minute, and your statement is not accurate. End of story.

  14. This was probably the most excitement the Passaic Police have had in years…

    They were bored and a certain politician, who shall remain nameless was surely behind this.

    Kudos to the Kaplan Family for handling it so well and keeping Hatzolah running so well!

  15. Joseph and to all the others:
    Yes it takes a long time to move an ambulance. Have you ever tried to move one ? I have driven many of them and they are hard to maneuver. And yes Hatzolah does have a super fast response time. Ever call 911 ? I used to work in EMS and I will say that some times it took up to 15 minutes for us to show up (there were reasons for this but I am not going to go on a rant here as to why). I know personally that there were frictions many times between the paid and volunteer squads. Many times it came down to pride and money. I know of cases where people died because of pride. We should be proud that we have Hatzolah members who act the way they do.

  16. oncefrum:it means births. and feif un you sound just as bad as the police themselves. during the nine days we need as much achdus as we can get!

  17. comment #24

    Reid Av resident…….

    You seem to hit the nail on the head.
    I work in Passaic and am somewhat familiar with the local scene.
    The Passaic police are a bored group and many times are looking for excitement, which is so easy to come by when they start antagonizing or attacking the local orthodox community.

    The locals are aware of the politician you are refering to, and it seems that this time he was again involved one way or another.

  18. I live in Passaic, and I must thank the Kaplans for the unusual work they do for the community. Hatzolah was started and maintained by them despite formidable obstacles by entrenched politicians, EMT Service, and Jewish lay and Rabbinic leaders. Our community appreciates the countless lives they’ve saved despite these uphill struggles.

  19. Dvorah,

    The inspiration for Hatzoloh came after an incident where a man died of a heart attack because EMS didnt respond on time!

    A chosid by the name of Hershel Webber and the Satmar Rov ZL then started the Hatzoloh operation.

  20. If you would all just ignore Feif Un who is just looking to have some fun (like they do in chat rooms lehavdil) he would stop posting comments.

    Occasionally Hakodosh Boruch hu needs to remind us that we are Yidden (not Americans) and that we are strangers in a foreign country.

    Hashem Yerachem.

  21. what are you trying to say that we cant blame it on them since hashem is givng us a lesson they still have bechira.Question why did hashem punish the metzrim if he wanted us to go through everyhting that we did ?

  22. in the aler heim (boro park) before there was a hatzoloh (yes boys and girls, hatzoloh did not come to america with the first jews) there was BRAVO (bay Ridge Ambulance co) in nearby bensonhurst. sponsored as a public service by a certain supposedly illegal/criminal organization consisting of members of a certain ethnic group that lived (and controlled) that area. it was a good public service for a few years, and some forward thinking yiddin decided to emulate it and set up the very successful hatzoloh organization.

    their competition — local hospitals and somewhat, local ambulances. the city saw it was a good business, so they dedcided to get in the act, setting up ems (which is not as old as hatzolah — chrck it out) and the rest is history.

    outside new york city (and in nyc too, but to a lessser degree) local police dept’s see any kind of emergency service as “infringing on their turf” explaining why local police dept’s (even in nyc; see the big fight between nypd and nyc fire dept) oppose hatzoloh and other groups. so what do they do? they harrass them by parking tickets, preventing them from responding to calls, etc.

    throw in a jewish group, and you have an even bigger pblm.

    so someone like feif-un will agree with me till the last paragraph.

    Editors Note: Hatzolah was started in Williamsburg by Rav Herschel Weber after someone collapsed in Shul on Yom Kippur, and they waited an hour for NYC EMS to arrive. The man had died by then.

    At no time, did they try to copy Bravo. They probably had no idea who Bravo was. They were not in that area. It was pushed by the Satmar Rov ZATZAL. Hatzolah opened in Boro Park quite a few years later. As a matter of fact, Bravo probably opened after Hatzolah in Williamsburg did.

    Take care