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Culture & Religion

Paula Eiselt: Change is made by the ones that stay

When you’re a Hasidic woman in Borough Park, Brooklyn, starting an ambulance corps is a radical act. Documentary filmmaker Paula Eiselt on the push-pull of identity and cultural change in her film 93Queen.

When I started college at New York University in 1990, nobody lived in Brooklyn. Brooklyn was the dark side of the moon. At least that’s how we NYU students thought about it. Lots of people lived in Brooklyn, of course. Just not us. It’s 2018, and Brooklyn has become an international brand, synonymous with artisanal pickles, gastropubs, and luxury condos. It’s the place even former NYU students can’t afford to live anymore.


But in a couple of Brooklyn neighborhoods, people are still dressing and living in many ways like it’s the 18th century, and adhering to laws that date back centuries, even millennia earlier.

I’m talking about Hasidic Judaism, and particularly, today, about Borough Park, Brooklyn, where this community thrives. And even more particularly about one woman—Rachel “Ruchie” Frier—who, in spite of being religiously observant as most humans would define it has nonetheless become a thorn in the side of the more conservative elements of this already deeply conservative community. The all-female volunteer ambulance corps she started was a radical move for Borough Park, and it’s the subject of 93Queen, a new documentary by Paula Eiselt.

Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode:

Reza Aslan on religious faith

Michael Hobbes on myths and realities of the millennial generation

About Think Again – A Big Think Podcast: Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.

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