Guest Blogger: Jews Don’t Have Shots!
Guest Blogger: Jews Don’t Have Shots!
Jews don’t have shots!
In the fallout from the Rockland County Measles Outbreak of 2019, today’s Anti-Vax Movement is fast becoming today’s Antisemitism excuse. Caught in the crossfire of pro-vax vs. anti-vax, the spotlight is on a cluster of Ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jews who, for no logical reason, have refused to vaccinate.
Tensions were already high in Rockland County, where approximately 31% of the population is now Hasidic. As that community grew, the inevitable changes made many unhappy:
“the influx has upended the housing market, causing some non-Orthodox buyers to seek homes elsewhere. Parents have also clashed over whether the Orthodox community has exerted disproportionate influence on public schools and siphoned funding to its yeshivas.”
Given that local officials believe the outbreak originated in the Hasidic community, suspicion and fear are on the rise. Officials have first denied the un-vaxxed entry into their schools, and now have taken the extraordinary step of barring them from public life.
In Rockland County, some residents say they now wipe public bus seats and cross the street when they see ultra-Orthodox Jews, and now, there is this:
In Spring Valley, NY, Erica Wingate was working at a clothing store in town this week when a male customer, with the black hat and sidelocks typically worn by ultra-Orthodox Jews, started coughing. Another shopper standing next to him suddenly dropped the item she had been holding and clutched her child. “She was buying something, and she just threw it down,” Ms. Wingate recalled. “She said, ‘Let’s go, let’s go! Jews don’t have shots!’”
In this small community of 3,000, Never Again may just be any day now.
“I think that for the most part people have been just annoyed — in certain parts of the county you can’t buy a house or can’t sell your house,” said Jessica Finnegan, 32, who was pushing her eight-month-old son, Kieran, in his stroller through a Target store in Spring Valley. “But now they are affecting us, which I think could get nasty.”
Still, Ms. Finnegan said she feared the emergency measure would spur a backlash against her Orthodox friends and neighbors. “I think this could really start something,” she said. “What if someone decided to take this into their own hands?”
Quoted from: “An Outbreak Spreads Fear: Of Measles, of Ultra-Orthodox Jews, of Anti-Semitism.”
Anti-Vaxxers, looking to exploit every opportunity, have now taken the Yellow Star of David, which the Nazis used to brand, isolate, identify and target Jews as the Anti-Vaxx badge of oppression, further linking Jewish people to disease and sickness spread by anti-vaxxers, Jewish or not.
The Anti-Vaxx Movement is not now, nor has it ever been, a Jewish movement. It is utter nonsense to claim that, insinuate that, or to believe that.
Make no mistake about it. This badge is a symbol of antisemitism, meant to link Jewish people with disease and illness, to sow fear and distrust of Jewish people, and to create hatred of Jewish people.
Just as Jewish people are a small percentage of the general population, Jewish anti-vaxxers are a small percentage of the Jewish population, orthodox or not. Every group has its small contingent of crazy and Jewish people are not immune from that.
Failing to vaccinate is directly in opposition to the Halachic Mandate to Take Precautions. The final chapter of the Code of Jewish Law emphasizes that “just as there is a positive commandment to build a guardrail around the perimeter of a rooftop lest someone fall, so too are we obligated to guard ourselves from anything that would endanger our lives.” That includes disease and sickness.
The Talmud teaches that “One who saves one life, it is accounted as if a world is saved,” and the Jewish philosopher-physician Maimonides wrote: “God created food and water; we must use them in staving off hunger and thirst. God created drugs and compounds and gave us the intelligence necessary to discover their medicinal properties; we must use them in warding off illness and disease.”
One of the leading authorities at the time of the discovery of the smallpox vaccine during the 19th century, Rabbi Yisroel Lipschutz (famed for his commentary on the Mishnah entitled Tiferet Yisrael), ruled that despite the small risk of death from the smallpox vaccine (at that time 1/1000), one should still get vaccinated.
When the polio vaccine was being implemented in Israel, there were those who turned to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, for his opinion. In 1956 the Rebbe wrote: In reply to your letter in which you ask my opinion about the injections that are commonly given to young children: It is with regard to matters such as these that the axiom “Do not set yourself apart from the community” applies. In 1957 the Rebbe again wrote a reply, stating: Regarding your question about inoculations against disease: I am surprised by your question, since so many individuals from the Land of Israel have asked me about this and I have answered them in the affirmative.
Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, one of the preeminent rabbis of the past century, rules that if the only chance to be immunized is on Shabbat (or the person would have to wait 4 or 5 years for the next chance to be immunized), then immunization would be permitted on Shabbat. Pikuach nefesh, the preservation of life, takes precedence over almost all other Jewish laws.
Yes, even on the Sabbath. No Jew should be unvaccinated.
Our Guest Blogger is Linda S. O. Gonzales (LindaSOG), a mouthy Jewish Conservative Blogger, out of retirement for the occasional rant.