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Statement from Agudath Israel of America on the Measles Outbreak and “Infectious Hatred”

Agudath Israel of America is deeply concerned about the recent outbreak of measles and the threat it poses to communities around the country.

For that reason, countless rabbinical figures and leaders, including leading rabbis in the Agudath Israel movement and doctors serving these communities, have repeatedly encouraged vaccination in the strongest possible terms. Indeed, the overwhelming majority of children enrolled in Jewish schools are vaccinated. Governmental records indicate that the measles vaccination rates in yeshivos in Williamsburg, Borough Park and across New York State are high, with yeshiva averages statewide exceeding 96%. Similarly high rates were obtained in areas around the country with large Jewish populations. While vaccination rates in certain schools and for preschoolers may be lower, vaccination is the clear societal norm in Orthodox Jewish communities.

Agudath Israel views with equal alarm something else that has spread along with this disease: infectious hatred. Our public discourse is debased when individuals and media outlets point the finger of blame for the spread of measles squarely – and sometimes viciously – at the “ultra-Orthodox” community. Social media comments have been particularly appalling in this regard. This is a time to come together and collaborate to meet a challenge. There is no excuse to use a public health issue – an outbreak we are suffering from – as a platform from which to spew poisonous anti-Semitic rhetoric. The motive behind this hatred becomes readily apparent in light of statistics evidencing that acute Orthodox Jewish outbreak areas have vaccination rates rivaling those of many other municipalities.

There may be reasons why, despite the high percentages of immunization, Orthodox Jewish communities are more susceptible to an outbreak of measles. Epidemiologists have chronicled how international travel by Orthodox Jews to outbreak areas, closely interrelated Orthodox social networks, and high numbers of Orthodox children at ages most susceptible to a highly contagious disease are key factors in the spread of diseases of this kind.

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There are 10 Comments to "Statement from Agudath Israel of America on the Measles Outbreak and “Infectious Hatred”"

  • True, But... says:

    Very true, but we have to know we are in galus and there are haters out there,many of them. We have to be very careful not to give the haters a legitimate grip. We must wisen up in the age of blogs we have to be doubly careful. Especially when , to be honest, they are right. For no good reason we are endangering the whole society. All the Gedolim should condem this selfish behavior. Before the flames of hate comsumes us.

  • Modah ani! says:

    I guess with the ban on internet the Agudah just heard about the measles outbreak. Better late than never

  • HumbleOpinion says:

    With all due respect…..I understand why you are coming out with the Statement that you have released. However, what is going on here? There IS a problem with members of our community feeling that THEY are smarter than all the doctors and experts out there who say that every person MUST vaccinate against these diseases and epidemics that can turn deadly. And the facts are, that it IS our community by and large who is for one reason or another spreading the Measles now. So we need to take a proactive stance and DO something. First of all for our health and the health of those around us. And second of all to stop giving the hate groups reasons and excuses to single us out.

  • worried says:

    The anti-vaxers are rodfim in both the physical sense, causing illness and birth defects, and in the broader sense, causing, and giving legitimacy to, the many who hate us.

  • Anon says:

    @worried was the aguda letter talking about your hatred?

  • David says:

    Mikvah?

  • Interesting says:

    This may come as a surprise to some of you, but most parents (whether Jewish or not) who don’t vaccinate their children tend to be affluent and well-educated, accd to an ABC news report in January. You can look it up online.

    There was a rally yesterday in California in protest of a proposed bill that will grant a State Public Health officer the authority to decide whether or not to accept any medical exceptions written out by doctors in that state. One of the speakers at the rally, Nick Johansen, said that he stands together with “his Hasidic brothers and sisters” in Brooklyn and elsewhere who are against forced vaccinations. He added that this is not the first time that his family has defended Jews. His ancestors were part of the Dutch Resistance movement and hid Jews during the war.

    I don’t see anti-Semitism coming so much for the gentile world…chaval, it seems to be coming from the Jewish world…one against the other.

    At this same rally, Bobby F. Kennedy, Jr. spoke. Among many good points, he said that pharma companies have been indicted for fraud on many of their products, and have paid out billions of dollars for damages/deaths due to their products. He asks whether these same companies, when they make vaccines, are going to be so concerned about their safety, knowing that they cannot be sued for any damages/deaths. (As you probably all know by now, you cannot sue a vaccine company for damages or death. Back in the 1980s the vaccine manufacturers complained to the govt that they did not want to make vaccines anymore bec they could not handle all the lawsuits coming their way, so in 1986 a law was passed that made them not liable for their vaccine products.)

    A smart question would be, “If vaccines are so safe then what are the vaccine manufacturers afraid of?” Think about that for a few minutes.

    Special message to “worried.” Please buy the book “Vaccines – A Reappraisal” by Dr. Richard Moskowitz, family physician for 50 years, BA from Harvard, Phi Beta Kappa, medical degree from NYU School of Medicine. You may change your opinion.

  • Please stop the madness says:

    Why the constant blaming of the non-vaxxers? Our community decided to outsmart the measles and kick out non-vaccinated kids from school. And then Hashem sent a vaccinated individual to spread the measles to dozens of vaccinated members of our city. And still people can’t accept the fact that Hashem runs the world and continue to blame people who are making the best choices for their own children.

  • Stop the madness says:

    Yes, let’s all work together to stop the hatred, but first within our own community. Let’s not perpetuate the myth that nonvaxxers are disease ridden creatures that are a danger to society. That statement is so preposterous, it’s mind boggling how anyone can believe that. Why are responsible, educated parents who would actually like to have a say in their children’s medical care so villified and looked down on? Please don’t give the herd immunity speech;the odds of a non vaccinated kid causing death is so obscure and minute that I am embarrassed for the people who pass on that inane rhetoric.

  • Keep our community strong and get vaccinated! says:

    Yes, the general trend of anti-vaxxers in the US tend to be middle-middle and upper-middle class white families but right now the measles outbreak currently affecting us is within our Frum communities.

    The junk science that purported that vaccines cause autism was thrown out in the mid-90s but for some reason beyond me, parenting groups on social media cling onto that study with ferocity. 20 years is a long time in the science world, and vaccines have been proven effective and safe. One reason rates of autism have increased is that we are able to detect it earlier than ever before due to new testing protocol. It’s also unfair to say NJ has a higher rate of autism than other states because we have to consider that certain demographics hold that families and the amount of children are higher than the average American amount.

    Unless your child is immunodeficient or allergic to the vaccine ingredients themselves, the vaccines combat hemorrhagic infections for not just our families and communities here in Ocean County, not just other popular Orthodox communities in other states, but for the greater population as a whole.

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