Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Women behind the Wheel

Barbara Bensoussan

Running a car service as a frum woman requires more than keeping your eyes on the road. Several seasoned members of this exclusive group share what it’s like to be the lady in the driver’s seat

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

When hailing a cab or calling a car service, most of us expect a driver of the male persuasion at the wheel. But just as women today become EMTs, plumbers, and zookeepers, some of the ladies who once drove “Mom’s taxi” now earn a parnassah as drivers-for-hire.

Driving a car service isn’t a career most girls aspire to when they’re growing up. It’s usually a job women move into as a second or third career, or a means of supplementing the family income. Faigie, for example, began driving despite her degrees in accounting and psychology. Widowed at age 23, she spent 15 years selling computers and many more running a business inBrooklyn. When business waned, and she found herself in desperate need of income, her son suggested driving for a car service to stay afloat. “Because I was over 60, I couldn’t find any other work,” says this mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother in her throatyBrooklynaccent.

At first, Faigie found working for a car service in BoroParkvery tough. She wasn’t used to an all-male environment — some of the dispatchers were not as refined as the frum clients she’d dealt with previously. “But they were decent,” she admits. “And some of the drivers were nice, ehrlich men between jobs.”

Dispatchers weren’t always so obliging about funneling female callers her way. “Sometimes I’d wait for hours,” Faigie says. “At one point I left and tried another car service, but they weren’t any better, so I returned to the first one.” Little by little, she built a client base and now has steady customers.

For Miriam, driving paid for summers in the country with her children and supplemented her income when her husband developed health challenges. With mountain destinations like camps, bungalow colonies, and stores so spread out and almost no public transportation, there was a demand for women drivers — especially after dark (see sidebar for yichud issues with male drivers).

“My kids were in bed by seven,” she says, “so I could arrange supervision and run out to start driving.” Another woman in her area who also drove for parnassah felt threatened by Miriam and let her know she wouldn’t appreciate her advertising. “I decided to be mevater and only take jobs that came to me privately, whatever was bashert,” Miriam says. “But it didn’t hurt me. I think I actually got lots of business because I was mevater.”

As her family grew, Miriam drove more during the daytime and eventually acquired a 15-passenger van. Back inBrooklyn, she started a playgroup that included, as part of the service, picking up and dropping off the children. (She even takes children to other playgroups on the way.) She’ll also take longer trips, like driving women to Monsey fromBrooklynfor weddings.


To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Evolution vs. Revolution
Shoshana Friedman I call it the “what happened to my magazine?” response
Up, Up, and Away
Rabbi Moshe Grylak What a fraught subject Eretz Yisrael is, to this day
Where Do You Come From?
Yonoson Rosenblum Could they be IDF officers with no Jewish knowledge?
Heaven Help Us
Eytan Kobre Writing about anti-Semitism should rouse, not soothe
Work/Life Solutions with Chedva Kleinhandler
Moe Mernick “Failures are our compass to success”
An Un-Scientific Survey
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Are Jerusalemites unfriendly? Not necessarily
Out of Anger
Jacob L. Freedman How Angry Lawyer was finally able to calm down
5 Things You Didn’t Know about…Yitzy Bald
Riki Goldstein He composed his first melody at eight years old
When the Floodgates of Song Open, You’re Never Too Old
Riki Goldstein Chazzan Pinchas Wolf was unknown until three years ago
Who Helped Advance These Popular Entertainers?
Riki Goldstein Unsung deeds that boosted performers into the limelight
Your Task? Ask
Faigy Peritzman A tangible legacy I want to pass on to my children
Are You There?
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Emotional withdrawal makes others feel lonely, abandoned
A Peace of a Whole
Rebbetzin Debbie Greenblatt Love shalom more than you love being right
Seminary Applications
Rabbi Zecharya Greenwald, as told to Ariella Schiller It’s just as hard for seminaries to reject you