NYS Ed Department Framed Vaccination as a First Amendment Right – Whose Rights are at Stake?

State Education Department ordered Jewish school to accept unvaccinated kids

Amid a record-setting nationwide measles outbreak driven largely by New York cases, the state ordered a Long Island school to accept unvaccinated kids into its classes and after-school activities.

The Shulamith School for Girls in Cedarhurst says the state Education Department was wrong to twice overturn the school’s decision to bar Ilana and Nikolay Jinjihashvili’s two daughters after the parents sought a religious exemption to the vaccination rule.

The Jewish day school is now asking a federal judge to overturn Education Commissioner Mary­Ellen Elia’s orders, calling them “illegal, void and unenforceable.”

While the current measles outbreak has put the vaccination debate at the forefront of public health, the school is framing the dispute as a First Amendment fight.

“There are schools that have taken the position that under the school’s religious belief, as a matter of Jewish law, students should be vaccinated,” the school’s lawyer, Philip Kalban, told The Post. The parents may have a different and “sincere” belief about vaccinations, Kalban explained, “but they say it’s based on Jewish law, and our position is that Jewish law says just the opposite.”

The First Amendment comes into play because the school argues the state has no business interfering in a religious matter.

The case landed in Brooklyn federal court last week after the family sought to send their girls to an ­after-school art show and fundraiser but were blocked by the school.

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Rabbi Hillel Handler, a Dangerous anti-vaxxer, pro-Metziza b’Peh, anti-Zionist, anti-Women, Pro-Sex-Abuse Cover-up Rabbi on Stage in Rockland

Brooklyn’s kooky anti-vaxxer rabbi is extremist on sex abuse, circumcision — even opposes Israel

Brooklyn’s kooky anti-vaxxer rabbi is extremist on sex abuse, circumcision — even opposes Israel

Rabbi Hillel Handler enjoyed a rare moment in the glare of mainstream media this week when he addressed an anti-vaccination crowd in a heavily Hasidic town in suburban Rockland County.

The member of the Satmar Hasidic sect riled up the crowd of a couple of hundreds of people with a diatribe that accused liberals in and out of government of using a still-spreading measles outbreak to target observant Jews.

Handler called Mayor de Blasio a “nasty German” and claimed it was “in his DNA” to hate Jews.

”Like the Fuhrer, he says: ‘Blame the Jews. They’re contaminating the whole city,’ ” Handler told the Daily News Wednesday.

De Blasio shot back that Handler was spouting “dangerous and irresponsible lies.”

“Rabbi Handler is putting at risk the lives he claims he’s trying to save,” said Miranda Marcy, a spokeswoman for the mayor.

At the rally in Monsey, Handler focused mostly on measles, although he did veer off into an anti-immigrant diatribe claiming that undocumented immigrants pose a more serious health threat.

Little did the crowd or the reporters covering the event know that Handler has a long history of supporting radical causes on the far right-wing fringes of Jewish opinion.

Handler has fiercely attacked observant Jews for reporting child sex abuse to police, claiming such accusations should be handled by rabbinic authorities. He once even defended a rabbi who was convicted of raping his own daughter, saying the girl was lying about the abuse.

Handler also opposed efforts to regulate metzizah b’pei, a controversial circumcision rite that health officials say can spread deadly herpes to newborn boys.

He even opposes Israel’s existence.

“There’s a lot of half-crazies like him in America,” said Alexander Rapaport, who runs a network of kosher soup kitchens and recently recorded a pro-vaccination public service video. “It’s the price of freedom in America.”

Rapaport, who happens to be a neighbor of Handler, shrugs him off as a phony who has no pulpit and no real following.

Others see him as a powerful danger in his ability to link different hateful causes. Shmarya Rosenberg spent several years chronicling abuse and corruption in the ultra-Orthodox world but has since left the blog called Failed Messiah.

“He’s an extremist, and he’s amoral,” said Shmarya Rosenberg. “He’s appears to be a gun for hire in the ultra-Orthodox community.”

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The Hippocratic Oath Should have Precluded a Pediatrician from Suggesting Bad Lots of Measles Vaccine

PUBLISHED WITH PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR OF THEUNORTHODOXJEW.BLOGSPOT.COM

A pediatrician questioned whether Jews were being intentionally given “bad lots” of vaccines that ended up giving children a new strain of the virus….

Despite Measles Warnings, Anti-Vaccine Rally Draws Hundreds of Ultra-Orthodox Jews

Hundreds were in attendance at an anti-vaccine rally in Monsey, N.Y., in Rockland County.
MONSEY, N.Y. — An ultra-Orthodox rabbi falsely described the measles outbreak among Jews as part of an elaborate plan concocted by Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York to deflect attention from “more serious” diseases brought by Central American migrants.
A pediatrician questioned whether Jews were being intentionally given “bad lots” of vaccines that ended up giving children a new strain of the virus. And Andrew Wakefield, the British doctor whose study linking measles vaccines with autism was widely discredited and condemned, appeared via Skype to offer an almost apocalyptic vision of a world in which vaccines were giving rise to deadlier immunization-resistant diseases.
Since the measles outbreak began last fall, the health authorities have embarked on a sweeping and exhaustive campaign, repeatedly urging people to get vaccinated and fighting the spread of misinformation. They have made special efforts in the ultra-Orthodox communities of Brooklyn and Rockland County, N.Y., where the disease has been spreading most quickly.
A pediatrician questioned whether Jews were being intentionally given “bad lots” of vaccines that ended up giving children a new strain of the virus. And Andrew Wakefield, the British doctor whose study linking measles vaccines with autism was widely discredited and condemned, appeared via Skype to offer an almost apocalyptic vision of a world in which vaccines were giving rise to deadlier immunization-resistant diseases. 
“We Hasidim have been chosen as the target,” said the rabbi, Hillel Handler. “The campaign against us has been successful.” 
Since the measles outbreak began last fall, the health authorities have embarked on a sweeping and exhaustive campaign, repeatedly urging people to get vaccinated and fighting the spread of misinformation. They have made special efforts in the ultra-Orthodox communities of Brooklyn and Rockland County, N.Y., where the disease has been spreading most quickly.
But the rally on Monday in Monsey, a Rockland County town about 30 miles northwest of New York City, vividly illustrated how the anti-vaccine fervor is not only enduring, but may be growing: Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews packed a ballroom for a “vaccine symposium” with leaders of the anti-vaccination movement.
Organized by a Monsey-based Jewish group, the event also showed how the movement was gaining ground: Greg Mitchell, a Washington-based lobbyist who represents the Church of Scientology, attended the meeting and addressed the crowd, offering to be their “voice in the public-policy game.”
The gathering was denounced by local elected officials, health authorities and some ultra-Orthodox rabbis, who said the speakers were spreading propaganda that could cause the outbreak to deepen, risking the health of countless people.
The event was held in a large ballroom. As is customary at ultra-Orthodox gatherings, the men were separated by an improvised wall from the women. Speakers were introduced and applauded as if they were celebrities.
The remarks — and the rapt audience — illustrated how the anti-vaccination movement can exploit fear and anxiety within relatively insular communities, especially religious ones, to undercut scientifically sound warnings from health experts.
“They are doubling down and increasing their messaging — capitalizing on fear,” Dr. Jane Zucker, the assistant commissioner of immunization for the New York City health department, said in an interview. “Parents are afraid of who and what to believe.”
Rabbi Handler, a 77-year-old from Brooklyn who said he was a Holocaust survivor, set the tone for the night, claiming that Jews were being persecuted as disease carriers and were being attacked on the street in New York City for sneezing. (The Anti-Defamation League has strongly objected to the appropriation of Holocaust symbols by vaccine critics.)
Mr. de Blasio has issued a public health emergency for four ZIP codes in Brooklyn where ultra-Orthodox Jews live. That decision appeared to have earned him the ire of Rabbi Handler, who described Mr. de Blasio as a “sneaky fellow” and a closet German — “Wilhelm, his real name, was named after Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany.”
(In fact, none of this is true. Mr. de Blasio was born Warren Wilhelm Jr., and later decided to take his mother’s last name as his own after becoming alienated from his father.)
The pediatrician who spoke on Monday night, Dr. Lawrence Palevsky, is regularly cited in pamphlets circulated in New York City that urge women not to get their children vaccinated. His views have no basis in science, experts said. 
At the rally, he talked at length about mutating viruses and falsely claimed that failed vaccines were producing a new strain of measles. Women scribbled into notepads as he spoke. Others filmed his comments, sending them to their contacts on WhatsApp. Essentially, he said, there were no studies available to show how the vaccine affects the human body.
“Is it possible that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine that is somehow being given in this lot to communities in Williamsburg and Lakewood and Monsey, maybe in Borough Park, is it possible that these lots are bad?” he asked, referring to areas in New York and New Jersey with large ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities. 
“It’s fascinating because we’re told how contagious the disease is, but somehow it’s centered in the Jewish community.” 
Dr. Palevsky could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Mr. Wakefield, who was stripped of his medical license in his native Britain some two decades ago for fraudulent claims linking vaccines to autism, accused the health authorities and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of misleading the public. But before doing that, he insisted on his own innocence.
“I wanted to reassure you that I have never been involved in scientific fraud,” he said via Skype from a darkened room, his face appearing eerily white as it was projected onto two large overhead screens.

“What happened to me is what happens to doctors who threatened the bottom line of the pharmaceutical companies.”

Rockland County has the highest number of recorded cases after New York City. But there are other pockets of large outbreaks as well, and not all of them in are in religious communities.
The C.D.C. said on Monday that the number of measles reported across the country rose by 75 last week, bringing the total to 839 in 23 states, the highest number of cases the United States has seen since measles was declared eliminated in 2000.
 
New York City alone has seen 498 confirmed cases of the disease since September. In the rest of New York state, there have been 274 confirmed cases, according to official figures. About 80 percent of those cases were located in Rockland County.

Measles Outbreak and International Problem, In Israel, Health Ministry to Take Dramatic Legal Action

A sign warning people of measles in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community of Williamsburg

HEALTH MINISTRY TO TAKE LEGAL ACTION AGAINST ANTI-VACCINATION DOCTORS

The Health Ministry is expected to take legal action against two doctors who advised thousands of patients to not get vaccinated, according to Israel Hayom. This is the first time that the Health Ministry will have taken legal action like this against doctors.

The Health Ministry referred to the doctors’ actions as “serious negligence.” If the doctors are convicted, they may lose their license to practice medicine, according to Israel Hayom.

The decision to take legal action comes after an investigation published in November 2018 included serious allegations that the Ministry did not deal with some doctors who were openly spreading false information about vaccines and encouraging the public not to vaccinate.

According to Israel Hayom, the Health Ministry called in the doctors for clarification in December because of a suspicion that they spread information which “encourages adults and children not to vaccinate. This is misleading the public and harming its health.” The summary of the investigation was completed this week.

The decision comes as the Health Ministry continues the fight against a large measles outbreak. 4,100 cases of measles have been recorded in Israel since March 2018, according to Health Ministry statistics.

About 96.1% of Israelis were vaccinated against measles as of September 2018, according to the Ministry.

The measles outbreak has become an international issue as well recently. The World Health Organization reported the highest number of measles cases in decades, with 328,560 cases in 2018. This is nearly double the number of cases reported in 2017.

The Health Ministry released a statement on Tuesday, stressing that children must be vaccinated against measles. The first dose should be given at the age of 12 months and the second dose should be given in first grade. Children who have not yet been vaccinated should be vaccinated as soon as possible.

The statement also recommended that those traveling abroad to Ukraine, Georgia, Madagascar, Albania and Liberia, should make absolutely sure that they are vaccinated.

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GET YOUR CHILDREN VACCINATED – Travel Advisory, Ukraine and 34,000 Infected – Measles

Europe measles outbreak infects 34,000: travel advisory

More than 34,000 Europeans were infected with the measles during the first two months of 2019, most of whom are in Ukraine but who inhabit 42 countries in all. In a new report, the World Health Organization warns vulnerable people to get vaccinated — especially if they plan on traveling.

Experts expect the outbreaks to spread if the “response is not timely and comprehensive.”

Measles diagnoses have reached more than 25,000 in Ukraine alone and the disease has killed 13 total among there, Romania and Albania. Outbreaks have also been identified in Thailand, the Philippines and the US.

“Every opportunity should be used to vaccinate susceptible children, adolescents and adults,” said WHO officials, noting that a vast majority of these cases are in unvaccinated people.

In 2017, the European region reached its highest-ever measles vaccination rate at around 90 percent, but experts agree that herd immunity — which describes sufficient disease resistance in a community — for the measles should be closer to 95 percent to achieve relative eradication of the virus. Over the past three years, some countries have lagged in immunization among marginalized and vulnerable groups.

Last month, the United Nations children’s fund released a report revealing that every year, more than 20 million children have missed their measles vaccine for the last eight years.

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Measles in NYC Spreads Outside Community – Sunset Park

Measles spreads to Sunset Park as confirmed cases rise to 466

The measles outbreak has spread to Sunset Park with three non-Jewish individuals, including two public school students, contracting the disease. AP Photo/Seth Wenig

2 public school students among those infected

New York City’s measles outbreak, mostly contained to the Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg, has now spread to Sunset Park as three people outside the Orthodox community — including two students — have contracted the disease.

Neither child was vaccinated, but they were allowed to attend school due to religious exemptions, according to the Health Department. They did not, however, go to school while infectious, and both had spent time in areas rife with measles.

Deputy Commissioner Dr. Demetre Daskalakis sought to assure the community that public school students are not at an increased risk of getting the disease.

“We are confident there is no increased risk of exposure at New York City public schools both because the recently diagnosed children from Sunset Park were not in school while infectious and because of the high vaccination rates of students in these and all NYC public schools,” Daskalakis said.

“This is the time to act. Measles is a highly contagious disease. If you are spending time in Williamsburg, Borough Park or other areas with measles activity in or around NYC confirm that you are immune to measles by looking at your vaccination history or by consulting with your healthcare provider.”

Daskalakis urged anyone living, working, studying or playing in areas with measles like Williamsburg and Borough Park to get vaccinated.

The total number of confirmed cases across the city has risen to 466 — 43 more since April 30 — and an additional 181 since Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency on April 9.

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City Closing Brooklyn Yeshivas for Putting Children and Immune Compromised People at Risk, Measles

City closes 2 Jewish schools for ignoring measles order

The city Health Department shut down two Jewish schools in Brooklyn for failing to submit immunization and attendance records amid the measles outbreak.

The school Tiferes Bnos on Marcy Avenue and preschool Talmud Torah D’Nitra on Bedford Avenue will not be permitted to reopen until the department approves a corrective action plan that addresses the lapses in compliance.

Health officials previously closed five schools – including the United Talmudical Academy’s preschool run by a Williamsburg yeshiva — for failing to comply with the health commissioner’s order.

The order requires yeshivas and child care programs in certain ZIP codes to exclude unvaccinated students and to provide the Health Department with immediate access to medical and attendance records.

All five have been authorized to reopen under Health Department monitoring.

“Schools that continue to disregard our direction during the outbreak will be closed down until they can prove to the Health Department that they will comply,” Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said in a statement.

“The reality is, the longer it takes schools and individuals to comply with our Order, the longer this outbreak will continue,” he added.

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