Very interesting article, thank you Danny for 
posting it. The article, though, does not explain 
-- or allow the people it refers to to explain -- 
the dangers of U.S. vaccines, other than general 
suspicions about the government statements. It 
presents no statistics on how many vaccinated 
children get the measles, what are the dangers, 
how many adverse events go unreported, what else 
is in the MMR, whether the immunity conferred on 
the individual by vaccines are lifelong, how 
effective are they, is there really such a thing 
as herd immunity and does it apply here, nor does 
it answer any number of non-cultural questions. 
It doesn't even raise those questions.

As this has been a HUGE debate over the years -- 
especially since we WANT children in the U.S. to 
get measles, chicken pox, and so forth before 
they will then become immune to the disease later 
in life where it can otherwise be very dangerous 
to adults, and the vaccines for children seem to 
"wear off" and weaken the immune system -- to say 
nothing of what the chemicals in the vaccines cause in the long run.

Now, I am not saying that no one should get the 
measles vaccine. I'm saying there is a history of 
important and not-adequately-answered questions 
about them, especially about the MMR. These are 
not even referred to in the article, which is a shame.

Here's from one researcher, Ben Kim: "In the 
Rimavex measles vaccine, we found various chicken 
viruses. In polio vaccine, we found acanthamoeba, 
which is a so-called "brain-eating" amoeba."

Here's another: MMR vaccine has been linked with 
a 'higher than expected' number of febrile 
convulsions, according to unpublished data from 
an authoritative study, writes Brian Kelly.

At 09:17 PM 11/21/2018, Dan Glasner wrote:

War Breaks Out in New Yorks ultra-Orthodox Community Over Measles Outbreak

Unique aspects of Haredi culture have led to an 
anti-vaxxer movement developing in the community. 
As senior rabbis issue contradictory rulings, 
medical experts are using informal gatherings to 
try to spread the word about the importance of vaccinations
Nussbaum Cohen (New York) Nov 21, 2018 5:24 PM

NEW YORK – The current 
outbreak in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in the 
New York area is leading to threats, 
recriminations and lawsuits, and is also 
highlighting the lack of consensus among senior 
rabbis on the vaccination issue.

However, it is also leading to new approaches 
from medical experts trying to reach those who, 
in the face of nearly 130 suspected cases of the 
highly contagious disease, remain determined not to vaccinate their children.

There are now 113 confirmed cases of measles in 
(or Haredi) communities around New York City and 
Lakewood, New Jersey, with another 16 suspected 
and under investigation by public health 
authorities. Two measles-infected babies have 
been hospitalized in intensive care units. And 
while it is mostly infants who have been 
infected, some teenagers and a handful of adults have also fallen ill.
In this June 25, 2014 photo, members of the Mennonite community
Isolated communities could be at greater risk: in 
2014 a measles outbreak hit Ohio after Amish 
travelers to the Philippines contracted measles 
and returned home to rural Knox County OhioAP

Why has the anti-vaxxer perspective taken hold in 
pockets of the Haredi community? The answer, say 
longtime observers, has to do with long-held 
suspicions of government agencies, including 
health departments, prizing cultural isolation, 
reliance on their own communities for things like 
emergency services, and placing their trust in God to protect them.

U.S. public health authorities say the current 
outbreak started when Haredi families visited 
Israel last 
and brought the illness back to their 
communities. An 18-month-old infant in 
Jerusalem’s Haredi Mea She’arim neighborhood 
has died and nearly 
potential cases have been reported. 
Non-vaccination rates are high in Israeli areas 
with large Hasidic populations, including the 
city of Safed and the town of Kfar Chabad.

Haredi immunization rates have dipped in recent 
years as a result of anti-immunization views 
taking root in the community. Now, as the number 
of infected Haredim grows, some within the 
religious Jewish community are initiating new 
efforts to reach Haredi anti-vaxxers.

Growing backlash

Tensions within the community are running high.

A Crown Heights couple, Sholom and Esther Laine, 
suing Yeshiva Oholei Torah  a Lubavitch boys’ 
school   for not allowing their unvaccinated 
son to start kindergarten. In the suit, Esther 
Laine says the school is infringing on her 
constitutionally protected religious right to 
claim exemption from the requirement of most 
schools, including Oholei Torah, that all 
students be immunized. Several attempts to 
contact the Laines were unsuccessful.

“The battle is getting very fierce,” says a 
Haredi mother, speaking to Haaretz from her home 
in Lakewood. “People are getting threats if 
they question vaccinations,” says the mother of 
three, who asked that her name not be published 
for fear of being pressured or intimidated by neighbors.
A measles vaccine is seen at Venice Family Clinic 
in Los Angeles, California February 5, 2015. Reuters

The ultra-Orthodox towns Monsey and New Square 
are part of Rockland County, about an hour north 
of New York City. There are currently 75 
confirmed cases of measles and six more suspected.

In New York City, there are now 24 confirmed 
measles cases  all in the Hasidic Brooklyn 
neighborhhoods of Williamsburg and Borough Park  
says Dr. Jane Zucker at thee Department of 
Health. “This outbreak would not have occurred 
had the children been vaccinated,” she says.

Although measles was officially declared 
eradicated in the United States in 2000, this is 
not the first outbreak of the disease in the 
ultra-Orthodox community. In 2013, there was a 
significant uptick in measles in Williamsburg and 
Borough Park, with 58 cases reported. There was 
also another minor outbreak in New York City 
earlier this year, which resulted in a 
miscarriage, pneumonia and hospitalizations, 
to The New York Daily News.

Now there is a growing backlash: Those known to 
be non-vaccinators are being ostracized by fellow 
Haredim, say members of the community. “People 
frown upon neighbors who aren’t vaccinating; 
there is animus toward them,” says Alexander 
Rapaport, a Hasidic Jew who lives in Borough Park 
and is founder and director of Masbia, a kosher 
soup kitchen and food pantry. “You hear 
there’s someone in that building that doesn’t 
vaccinate, and now the whole building is having 
tsuris with them,” he says, using the Yiddish word for trouble.

Ultra-vaxxers and anti-vaxxers

Unvaccinated measles carriers convey a 
significant risk to others who aren’t immunized 
 either because they are too young or have 
coompromised immune systems. One person sick with 
measles can spread it to as many as 18 others, 
public health authorities warn. Children 
typically get two doses of the MMR vaccine: one 
between 12 and 15 months; and another between 4 
and 6 years. A child who has gotten both shots is 
believed to be 97 percent protected from the 
disease, say health experts. Now, health 
department authorities are urging vaccinations 
for children as young as 6 months, and to hasten 
the second dose so as many people as possible are fully protected.
ILLUSTRATION: Orthodox Jewish men listen to a news conference o
ILLUSTRATION: Orthodox Jewish men listen to a 
news conference outside City Hall, in New York, 
Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. Richard Drew,AP

Rabbis beyond the New York area are now taking 
steps to prevent the measles from reaching their 
communities. Last week, the heads of the two main 
Orthodox rabbinical courts in Chicago issued a 
letter stating that “nobody has a right to 
endanger others by not vaccinating their 
children.” An unvaccinated person exposing 
other people to measles during an outbreak puts 
the non-immunized person in the category of 
someone who actively poses a threat to life, they 
wrote, using the term rodef (lethal pursuer)  
which is a serious viollation of Torah law.

The rabbis urged all schools, playgroups and 
shuls to ban any unvaccinated child, writing, 
“This is nothing less than a matter of pikuach 
nefesh,” referring to the religious law in 
which preservation of human life overrides 
virtually all other religious considerations.

Furthermore, prominent Israeli Haredi rabbis 
recently issued a strongly worded decree that 
those who refuse to vaccinate 
causing bloodshed,” according to the 
ultra-Orthodox newspaper Kikar Hashabbat. Rabbi 
Moshe Sternbuch, head of Jerusalem’s stringent 
Edah HaChareidis rabbinical court, issued an 
order that every father “must ensure that his 
son and daughter are immunized immediately.”

However, other influential Haredi rabbis view the issue differently.

Well-known Jewish legal expert Rabbi Shmuel 
Kamenetsky and his wife, Temi, are often cited 
for their anti-immunization stance, which was 
expressed in a 2014 
Jewish Times article: “Vaccines are a hoax. It 
is just big business,” Rabbi Kamenetsky was quoted as saying.

The rabbi’s status means his views carry weight 
beyond his own immediate circle. He is also a 
member of Agudath Israel of America’s Council 
of Torah Sages, which, along with the Haredi 
advocacy organization in general, “will not be 
taking a position on vaccinations or the measles 
outbreak,” says spokeswoman Leah Zagelbaum.

Another member of the Council of Torah Sages, 
Lakewood’s Rabbi Malkiel Kotler, endorses 
Lakewood Vaccine Coalition, which was created 
last March with the aim of advocating on behalf 
of those who do not want to immunize their 
children. The coalition’s website, in the 
meantime, has disappeared and its phone number is 
out of service. An email elicited no response.

An anonymous group called PEACH (Parents Teaching 
and Advocating for our Children’s Health) 
circulated an anti-immunization booklet 
throughout the religious community in the New 
York area and beyond. In it, an anonymous author 
claims that “hundreds of thousands of 
children’s lives have been ruined within hours 
of vaccines.” The idea that measles is a 
serious illness is “a fabrication,” it adds.

There is no identifying information about PEACH 
in the booklet and, with no online presence or 
listed phone numbers, the group is untraceable.

Changing things from the bottom up

This anonymous spreading of misinformation is 
frustrating to those who want to see Haredi 
children fully protected from communicable diseases.

Blima Marcus is an oncology nurse and president 
of the Orthodox Jewish Nurses Association. The 
OJNA is now trying to reach out to religious 
parents in a personal, informal way and has 
established an email address for those who want information.

In just the first few days, “we’ve been 
contacted by a few people seeking reassurance or 
clarification on specific vaccines,” Marcus 
tells Haaretz. The OJNA is planning to hold 
living-room gatherings soon. These will involve 
“no physicians, no agendas, no judgment: just 
frum [religious] nurses coming to listen, talk, 
answer questions and educate,” she says, 
adding, “We have 30 nurses from around the 
states who already volunteered their time to do this in their communities.”

Dr. Zackary Sholem Berger, an associate professor 
of medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 
has written in Yiddish publications about medical 
issues in the Orthodox community. He just held a 
session at a Borough Park health clinic with the 
goal of hearing the concerns of Haredi doctors, 
nurses and other medical professionals.

“To see any sector of my community not 
vaccinate is horrifying,” says Berger. However, 
“If you wag your finger at anti-vaccine people, 
it doesn’t work.” Persuading them “has to 
come from the bottom up,” adds Berger, who has a doctorate in epidemiology.

Anti-vaccine views have seemingly become 
entrenched in some parts of Haredi communities 
because of aspects of ultra-Orthodox culture.

There is a general distrust of government 
authorities that is likely rooted in the Jewish 
legal prohibition against one Jew turning another 
into the police, say knowledgeable observers. 
Hasidic communities were established in Eastern 
Europe at a time when government authorities 
themselves persecuted Jews  or at the very 
least, turned a blind eye to those who did. 
Historical memory in general is prized in Haredi 
communities and passed down from one generation 
to the next, almost like cherished silver Shabbat candlesticks.

Dangerous influence

There is also an insularity in Haredi communities 
 particularly among women, who frequuently lack 
access to the internet  that is viewed as a 
negative annd dangerous influence. As a result, 
WhatsApp and similar phone-based chat groups are 
popular among Haredi women, says the OJNA’s Marcus.

Participants in one WhatsApp group Marcus belongs 
to said they don’t trust studies because they 
are funded by pharmaceutical companies, she says. 
Furthermore, they don’t trust the Food and Drug 
Administration, which must approve all 
medications, because they believe “the FDA is 
in the pocket of pharmaceutical companies,” Marcus adds.

Haredi communities are also accustomed to relying 
on themselves rather than the outside world for 
many things, notes Borough Park’s Rapaport. 
“They have an off-the-grid mentality, so they 
don’t call 911” in case of emergency, but 
call the Orthodox volunteer ambulance corps 
Hatzalah instead. And instead of calling the 
police, they contact the volunteer patrol Shomrim 
 which arrives faster anywayy, he says. 
“It’s a mind-set which allows something like 
anti-vaccination to spread,” says Rapaport.

What’s more, he adds, there is a fondness for 
“old world wisdom”  like when people say: My 
bubbie [grandmother] and aunt had measlees, and they lived to be 90.

But Marcus cautions that a lot of people talk 
about the past “as if it was a healthier or 
safer time  but 100 years ago many people 
didn’t live past 8 years olld.” In the 
ultra-Orthodox world, “there’s a lot of 
misinformation as to how things were different in the past,” she says.

Marcus also notes that alternative medicine is 
popular among the Haredi community. “There are 
large pockets of homeopathy followers in Hasidic 
Williamsburg, in Monroe and in Lakewood,” she says.

One popular Borough Park chiropractor is 
distributing pamphlets in his office about the 
dangers of vaccines. People travel from upstate 
Rockland County to see him, says Marcus. The 
chiropractor did not return several messages left 
for him at his home and office, but the woman 
answering his office phone acknowledged that they 
do distribute anti-immunization information.

Finally, for some Haredi Jews, not immunizing 
their children is a reflection of their ultimate 
trust in God. “If we believe we are protected 
by the One above, we really have nothing to worry 
about,” the Lakewood mother tells Haaretz. 
“We try to keep restrengthening our absolute 
belief that nothing in the world can harm us unless it is the will of God.”


Measles outbreaks hit ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Israel and US

November 9, 2018

JERUSALEM (RNS)  Sarah Samson, a mother of four, 
says she became very upset when she learned 
that a girl in her daughters school here had come down with the measles.

The school is haredi, Samson said, using the 
Hebrew term for ultra-Orthodox. In our community 
there are so many pregnant women and families 
with many babies. If I was pregnant or had a 
child under the age of 1, Id be freaking out.

Measles, a highly contagious virus whose symptoms 
include a telltale rash, can also cause severe 
complications and even death. At greatest risk 
are children too young to be vaccinated, the 
elderly, pregnant women and people with chronic 
illnesses or a suppressed immune system.

The outbreak in Israel and an ensuing outbreak in 
the U.S. have hit ultra-Orthodox Jewish enclaves 
in both countries particularly hard. Dozens have 
contracted the virus in New York and New Jersey, 
and more than 1,400 people  the majority of them 
haredi  have fallen ill in Israel, half of them in October alone.

One Israeli toddler died after contracting 
measles from his parents, who are reportedly 
members of an extremist ultra-Orthodox sect that 
does not recognize any government authority or 
comply with governmental health regulations.

On social media, some angry Israelis said the 
toddlers parents should face criminal charges 
for endangering their child and others. On 
Wednesday, the 
World reported that several prominent Israeli 
rabbis have signed a document that reads, 
Whoever isnt vaccinated is a murderer.

But Dr. Hagai Levine, secretary of the Israel 
Measles Elimination Committee, attributed the 
outbreak in Israel mostly to a shortage of 
pediatric nurses and the complicated logistics of 
raising a large haredi family.

There is nothing explicitly religious causing 
these outbreaks, and vaccination refusal is rare, he emphasized.

Levine blamed the Israeli government, saying the 
number of nurses who provide health care in 
well-baby clinics, which give vaccinations and 
track childrens development through age 6, needs to be increased.

In Jerusalem, where most of the measles cases 
are occurring, a nurse that used to treat 100 
children is now responsible for 200 children. She 
doesnt have the time to track down all the 
children whose vaccinations are overdue, Levine said.

The U.S. outbreak has prompted some American 
synagogues and schools to ban the entry of anyone 
who has not been vaccinated against the virus, the Yeshiva World reported.

The health commissioner of Rockland County, N.Y., 
home to New Square and Monsey, two heavily 
ultra-Orthodox towns, has ordered unvaccinated 
kids to stay home from schools, and at least one 
Jewish school has barred religious exemptions 
as an excuse for not vaccinating.

One Lakewood, N.J., synagogue told its members 
that anyone who is not vaccinated, adults or 
children, may not enter the shul [synagogue] 
under any circumstances, according to the Yeshiva World.

In Israel, ultra-Orthodox families have eight 
children on average and tend to live in tight quarters.

Once measles makes an appearance, it spreads 
very fast due to the crowding and the high 
number of babies either too young to be 
vaccinated or whose vaccinations were delayed, 
said Levine, who works at the Hebrew 
University-Hadassah School of Public Health.

Lets say you have 10 children. You vaccinate 
the first few on schedule but when you have more 
children you may wait until a child is 2 years 
old instead of 1 year. You may not have a car or 
you might have limited resources. It becomes complicated.

Although there are some anti-vaxxers  parents 
who refused to vaccinate their children because 
they believe doing so poses a medical danger  in 
all sectors of society, this is very rare in 
Israel, Levine said, where the overall vaccination rate is over 95 percent.

The fact that Israel has such a good vaccination 
system has kept the outbreak relatively small.

But Levine acknowledged that the ultra-Orthodox 
are not all complying with vaccinations. There 
are different communities within haredi society. 
Some are vaccinated at very high rates while some 
dont want any connection with the government.

Levine said some ultra-Orthodox rabbis are urging 
their followers to vaccinate, and he hopes many 
more will do so in the days to come.

Judaism commands us to save lives, so it is 
natural for us to protect our health and the 
health of our neighbors, Levine said.

Walking with some of her young grandchildren 
through the bustling streets of Meah Shaarim, an 
ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem, a woman 
who gave her name as Chana insisted that the 
haredi community overwhelming supports 
vaccinations, though she has heard of some ultra-Orthodox sects that dont.

I made sure all of my 10 children are 
vaccinated, said Chana, who declined to give her 
last name for reasons of religious modesty. The 
parents who dont vaccinate are risking the lives of our children.

Her daughter, she said, had just given birth to twins.

Shes scared to death her kids will bring home 
the measles and get the babies sick, the grandmother said.