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
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"
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number of febrile convulsions, according to unpublished data from an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 York’s 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 â€“ The current
measles 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
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
There are now 113 confirmed cases of measles in
ultra-Orthodox (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
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
U.S. public health authorities say the current outbreak started when
Haredi families visited Israel last
Sukkot and brought the illness back to their communities. An
18-month-old infant in Jerusalemâ€™s Haredi Mea Sheâ€™arim neighborhood
has died and nearly
1,500 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.
Tensions within the community are running high.
A Crown Heights couple, Sholom and Esther Laine,
is suing Yeshiva Oholei Torah – a Lubavitch boysâ€™ 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.
â€śThe battle is getting very fierce,â€ť says a Haredi mother, speaking
to Haaretz from her home in Lakewood. â€śPeople are getting threats if
they question vaccinations,â€ť says the mother of three, who asked that
her name not be published for fear of being pressured or intimidated by
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. â€śThis outbreak would not
have occurred had the children been vaccinated,â€ť 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,
according 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.
â€śPeople frown upon neighbors who arenâ€™t vaccinating; there is animus
toward them,â€ť 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. â€śYou hear thereâ€™s someone in that building that
doesnâ€™t vaccinate, and now the whole building is having tsuris with
them,â€ť he says, using the Yiddish word for trouble.
Ultra-vaxxers and anti-vaxxers
Unvaccinated measles carriers convey a significant risk to others who
arenâ€™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 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
â€śnobody has a right to endanger others by not vaccinating their
children.â€ť 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
The rabbis urged all schools, playgroups and shuls to ban any
unvaccinated child, writing, â€śThis is nothing less than a matter of
pikuach nefesh,â€ť referring to the religious law in which preservation
of human life overrides virtually all other religious
Furthermore, prominent Israeli Haredi rabbis recently issued a strongly
worded decree that those who refuse to vaccinate
bloodshed,â€ť according to the ultra-Orthodox newspaper Kikar
Hashabbat. Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch, head of Jerusalemâ€™s stringent Edah
HaChareidis rabbinical court, issued an order that every father â€śmust
ensure that his son and daughter are immunized immediately.â€ť
However, other influential Haredi rabbis view the issue
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
Baltimore Jewish Times article: â€śVaccines are a hoax. It is just
big business,â€ť Rabbi Kamenetsky was quoted as saying.
The rabbiâ€™s status means his views carry weight beyond his own
immediate circle. He is also a member of Agudath Israel of Americaâ€™s
Council of Torah Sages, which, along with the Haredi advocacy
organization in general, â€świll not be taking a position on vaccinations
or the measles outbreak,â€ť says spokeswoman Leah Zagelbaum.
Another member of the Council of Torah Sages, Lakewoodâ€™s Rabbi Malkiel
the 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 coalitionâ€™s website, in the meantime, has disappeared and
its phone number is out of service. An email elicited no
An anonymous group called PEACH (Parents Teaching and Advocating for our
circulated an anti-immunization booklet throughout the religious
community in the New York area and beyond. In it, an anonymous author
claims that â€śhundreds of thousands of childrenâ€™s lives have been
ruined within hours of vaccines.â€ť The idea that measles is a serious
illness is â€śa fabrication,â€ť it adds.
There is no identifying information about PEACH in the booklet and, with
no online presence or listed phone numbers, the group is
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
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, â€śweâ€™ve been contacted by a few people
seeking reassurance or clarification on specific vaccines,â€ť Marcus
tells Haaretz. The OJNA is planning to hold living-room gatherings soon.
These will involve â€śno physicians, no agendas, no judgment: just frum
[religious] nurses coming to listen, talk, answer questions and
educate,â€ť she says, adding, â€śWe have 30 nurses from around the states
who already volunteered their time to do this in their
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.
â€śTo see any sector of my community not vaccinate is horrifying,â€ť says
Berger. However, â€śIf you wag your finger at anti-vaccine people, it
doesnâ€™t work.â€ť Persuading them â€śhas to come from the bottom up,â€ť
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.
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 OJNAâ€™s
Participants in one WhatsApp group Marcus belongs to said they donâ€™t
trust studies because they are funded by pharmaceutical companies, she
says. Furthermore, they donâ€™t trust the Food and Drug Administration,
which must approve all medications, because they believe â€śthe FDA is in
the pocket of pharmaceutical companies,â€ť Marcus adds.
Haredi communities are also accustomed to relying on themselves rather
than the outside world for many things, notes Borough Parkâ€™s Rapaport.
â€śThey have an off-the-grid mentality, so they donâ€™t call 911â€ť 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.
â€śItâ€™s a mind-set which allows something like anti-vaccination to
spread,â€ť says Rapaport.
Whatâ€™s more, he adds, there is a fondness for â€śold world wisdomâ€ť –
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 â€śas if it
was a healthier or safer time – but 100 years ago many people didnâ€™t
live past 8 years olld.â€ť In the ultra-Orthodox world, â€śthereâ€™s a
lot of misinformation as to how things were different in the past,â€ť she
Marcus also notes that alternative medicine is popular among the Haredi
community. â€śThere are large pockets of homeopathy followers in Hasidic
Williamsburg, in Monroe and in Lakewood,â€ť 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
Finally, for some Haredi Jews, not immunizing their children is a
reflection of their ultimate trust in God. â€śIf we believe we are
protected by the One above, we really have nothing to worry about,â€ť the
Lakewood mother tells Haaretz. â€śWe try to keep restrengthening our
absolute belief that nothing in the world can harm us unless it is the
will of God.â€ť
Measles outbreaks hit ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in
Israel and USNovember 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, I’d 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
On social media, some angry Israelis said the toddler’s parents should
face criminal charges for endangering their child and others. On
Yeshiva World reported that several prominent Israeli rabbis have
signed a document that reads, “Whoever isn’t vaccinated is a
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
“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 children’s development through age 6, needs to be
“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
doesn’t 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.
“Let’s 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 don’t 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
“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 Sha’arim, 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 don’t.
“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 don’t vaccinate are risking the lives of our
Her daughter, she said, had just given birth to twins.
“She’s scared to death her kids will bring home the measles and get the
babies sick,” the grandmother said.