10th Yeshiva Closed in NY for Vaccine Order Violation – The Measles Epidemic and the Blatant Disregard for Safety

New York City closes 10th Jewish school for violating vaccine order

NEW YORK (JTA) — New York City is shuttering an Orthodox school in Brooklyn because it has continued to admit unvaccinated students in violation of a city order.

The Central UTA Satmar School for Boys, a Hasidic school in the Williamsburg neighborhood, will be closed Tuesday afternoon for violating the stipulations regarding vaccines and vaccination records, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency has learned. It is the 10th Orthodox school in New York City to be closed this year due to the issue, according to a city official with knowledge of the matter.

Williamsburg, which has a large Orthodox population, has been experiencing a measles outbreak since last year that has infected 588 people in New York City. Almost three quarters of those cases have occurred in Williamsburg. The city says the outbreak is largely concentrated in the Orthodox community.

In April, the city declared a public health emergency over the outbreak, mandating people in four Williamsburg Zip codes to vaccinate. The city also announced it would be closing schools in Williamsburg that allow unvaccinated students to attend. Nine of the 10 schools closed thus far are in Williamsburg. The 10th is in the borough of Queens.

In addition, in the past week, the city has issued summonses to 173 people for not complying with the public health emergency order, 68 of whom ended up receiving vaccines or providing proof of immunization.

Orthodox authorities have urged their communities to vaccinate, and advocates of the communities claim that Orthodox vaccination rates in Brooklyn are high.

But according to data shared by the New York City Department of Health, as of the beginning of 2018, only 67 percent of Williamsburg children ages 19 to 35 months had their first dose of the measles vaccine, as opposed to a citywide average of 88 percent. More recent data was not available.

According to data from the State Department of Education, more than 20 Orthodox schools in Brooklyn had immunization rates lower than 90 percent last year. Experts recommend an immunization rate of at least 95 percent.

Rockland County in New York, home to the heavily Orthodox city of Monsey, also has had a significant number of measles cases. Only about 77 percent of the county is vaccinated, according to state data.

In the case of the Satmar school, the city official said, school officials failed to meet deadlines to provide the city with students’ immunization records. When those records were received, investigations showed that the school was still admitting students and faculty who were not vaccinated.

The school has not responded to a JTA request for comment. But a parent at the school told JTA that the issue lies with influential families in the community who do not vaccinate their children and continue to send them to the school, even though the school has asked them not to attend. In general, the parent said, the school encourages vaccination.

“The school endorses it, and they warn everyone to vaccinate, but then there’s people in power that don’t, and then, there’s where the problem comes in,” the parent said. “You have people in power, for example, somebody who gives a lot of money for the yeshiva, or he’s a big rabbi, and his son doesn’t vaccinate… You can send them home for one day, for two days, but, you know, then he’s going to come back… You can’t dismiss him for all.”

The school is not being given advance notice that it is being closed so that school administrators will not falsify documents ahead of time.

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Handler Should be Defrocked – Measles and The Vaccine Conspiracy, The Gospels According to Luke and the Nazi Ties to Medicine –

I attended an Orthodox anti-vaccine rally. Here’s what I saw.

NEW YORK (JTA) — The weirdest part of an Orthodox anti-vaccine conference here was probably when the emcee, a rabbi wearing a black hat and white beard, quoted the Gospel of Luke.

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!” he cried, reciting the Gospels nearly verbatim.

Rabbi Hillel Handler wasn’t referring to the 200 people gathered in the basement of a haredi Orthodox wedding hall in Brooklyn to hear about the alleged dangers of vaccines. Rather, he was talking about the doctors, rabbis and politicians who he says are all hoodwinked by a massive conspiracy orchestrated by drug companies and the Centers for Disease Control to make money off of vaccines.

While the scientific consensus supports vaccination and regards it as a historic boon to public health, the crowd, like the emcee, do not put much stock in that science. Handler and the other speakers charged the CDC and its purported stooges with hiding the dangers of vaccines and destroying evidence that they are harmful. They cited no credible evidence.

“This is all being orchestrated by the drug companies, which are very close to the CDC,” Handler told the crowd in a gender-segregated room at a catering hall in the Midwood neighborhood. “The doctors all march in lockstep with the CDC. The doctors don’t think they’re marching in lockstep. They don’t understand that the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, is a totally corrupt swamp. … They are criminals.”

The rally comes amid an ongoing measles outbreak sparked by low vaccination rates, particularly in the Orthodox community. According to the CDC, there have been 981 confirmed cases of measles in the United States this year. In New York City, according to the city’s Department of Health, there have been 566 confirmed measles cases since September, the highest totals since 1992. The city says most of the cases have involved members of the Orthodox Jewish community.

The city required immunization in heavily Orthodox Brooklyn neighborhoods earlier this year. Large Orthodox organizations have encouraged their communities to vaccinate.

“[C]ountless 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,” reads an April statement by Agudath Israel of America, a leading haredi group. “Indeed, the overwhelming majority of children enrolled in Jewish schools are vaccinated.”

But there are some vocal holdouts.

At the rally held late Tuesday night, organized by an anti-vaccine group calling itself the United Jewish Community Council, speakers cast doubt on established medical opinion and the CDC. The crowd, which appeared to be mostly but not entirely haredi, was receptive to the message and applauded.

One attendee told another that large pharmaceutical companies like Bayer and Merck, which now produce vaccines, had collaborated with Nazi Germany. (Bayer was a division of a larger company that did collaborate with the Nazis, though now it is under different ownership. Merck, originally connected to a German company of the same name, split off into an independent American firm in 1917, before the Nazis came to power.)

“If you had bought a mutual fund in the ’30s, back in Nazi Germany, you would have done phenomenally,” the attendee remarked.

After Handler, speakers included Dr. Daniel Neides, a former vice chairman of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute who resigned last year after writing a column questioning vaccines. (He later apologized, saying he “fully supports vaccination” and was trying to open a conversation about their safety, not question their use.)

But the bulk of the program was led by Del Bigtree, a Hollywood producer without medical qualifications who styles himself as an expert on vaccines. He directed the documentary “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up To Catastrophe.” Last month Bigtree spoke to a similar rally in Monsey, New York, also the home of a large haredi community.

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Rockland’s Ed Day, Ramapo’s Michael Speech, and Rabbi Chaim Schabes – Voices of Reason: The Measles and a Misguided Gathering in Monsey.

To the People Who Organized this Travesty of a Gathering, to the Owners of this Hall Who Allowed It, You Should be Paying the Bills for Anyone who Gets Sick!

To our readers:

If a person carrying the HIV virus knowingly has sexual relations with someone without first informing that person of the risks, it is a crime. HIV is spread through blood transfer and the interaction of certain bodily fluids. It is not airborne and is generally not contagious.

However, a family can choose to not vaccinate themselves or their children for measles and can walk into a crowded Costco or onto a cruise ship, infected with the measles and it is not a crime? The measles is highly contagious, is airborne and does not require a live host to pass from one person to another. Why are the actions of this family not viewed as criminal?

Perhaps the difference is what it takes to spread the disease? HIV requires intimate contact, generally speaking and measles only requires that you go out in public. Is that the difference?

A family that chooses not to vaccinate its children, that then infects others should be held fully and completely accountable for the damage to those who become ill. The measles is life threatening. It has financial implications. It has health implications. It is now costing the United States health insurance industry millions of dollars. It is costing public welfare like Medicare and Medicaid in the tens of millions.

In the year 2000, the Measles was virtually eradicated from the United States.

We have moved centuries backwards and Rabbis, attorneys couching their arguments in fundamental freedoms and wayward knuckleheads named Bigtree are preaching the virtues of anti-vaxing and its already debunked theory of a connection between the vaccine and autism.

What about the fundamental rights of the rest of the population to be able to travel out in public and feel safe. What about new mothers with children who are too young for the vaccine? And what about people who are finding that the vaccines from the late 60’s are not protecting them. And finally, what if the virus mutates, a very real possibility.

The priorities here are upside down and it has nothing to do with illegal immigrants!

Rabbi At Anti-Vaccination Symposium Blames ‘Illegals’ For Spreading Disease

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Hundreds of Orthodox Jewish families gathered in a catering hall Monday night in the Rockland County hamlet of Monsey, where they heard anti-vaccine crusaders claim that inoculations are the real health risk, and that measles can help produce growth spurts and prevent everything from cancer to heart disease.

Dr. Larry Palevsky, who runs the Newport Wellness Center in Long Island, a practice that specializes in “holistic pediatric services,” asked onlookers to question whether there was actually a measles outbreak, or if people were actually catching measles from the vaccine itself. Or, perhaps, doctors have been misdiagnosing other illnesses as the measles.

“Is there a bad lot of vaccines?“ Palevsky asked the crowd. “Is it possible that these lots are bad? Is it something other than the unvaccinated children?”

The symposium, hosted by a group calling itself the “United Jewish Community Council,” was advertised through robocalls and fliers sent around WhatsApp groups. Getting wind of the rally, Rockland County officials sent out a desperate message urging people not to attend.

“This type of propaganda endangers the health and safety of children within our community,” County Executive Ed Day, Ramapo Supervisor Michael Speech, and Rabbi Chaim Schabes wrote in a joint statement. “It is unfortunate that these outsiders are targeting our community and attacking our right of self-determination…We urge our residents to continue to ignore these attempts to exploit our differences and ask that they stand together.”

But the message did little to dissuade hundreds of people from showing up, mostly Orthodox Jewish families from all over the region; some bussed into Monsey from as far away as Brooklyn and Lakewood, New Jersey.

Crowds trickled in at first, but by 8:30 p.m. the ballroom was packed with hundreds of spectators, with women and men separated by a cloth partition. (The podium was in front of the men’s side, while women initially had to make do with a video projection. After some protest from non-Orthodox women there, organizers pulled back the curtain a few feet so women could see the stage.)

Just one of the event’s five speakers, who were introduced as “distinguished personalities” and the “cream of humanity’s crop,” was from the Orthodox community. Rabbi Hillel Handler, who has likened vaccination to “child sacrifice” in the past, told the crowd that according to “medical research,” if you catch “measles, mumps and chickenpox, your chances of getting cancer, heart disease, and strokes goes down 60 percent.”

He also said that Hasidim were being scapegoated by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who he called “a very, very sneaky fellow” and a German.

“The Jews are our misfortune,” he said, bringing up how Jews were stigmatized in Nazi Germany. “We Hasidim have been chosen as the target in order to distract from the virulent diseases that are sweeping through the city from illegals.”

The other speakers were figures from the national secular anti-vaccination circuit, who traded in long-debunked and fraudulent claims that vaccines cause autism or other autoimmune disorders, while painting measles as a trivial childhood illness that can give children a growth spurt or protect them from cancers.

D.C. lobbyist Greg Mitchell took the stage after Rabbi Handler. Mitchell has pushed for such causes as the First Step Act, the criminal justice reform bill signed into law late last year by President Trump. Mitchell, according to a report from the Daily Beast, was booted from those efforts when organizers found out he was also lobbying for the Church of Scientology, and that the church was potentially trying to convert formerly incarcerated people through a nonprofit it runs.

“I will be your voice in Washington, I’ll make it will help you carry your message; I will stand next to you,” Mitchell said, admitting not to know much about the vaccine safety issue and deferring to the expertise of other speakers. “I’m your lobbyist, I’m here to help you.”

Palevsky then questioned the reality of a measles outbreak, while warning the crowd about the measles vaccine. “Hundreds of thousands if not millions of mothers…have witnessed children regressing after they get the MMR…the children stop talking, they don’t look at you, they start flapping their arms, they start banging their head,” he said.

According to New York City and Rockland Health Departments, the vast majority of people who’ve gotten sick with measles have been unvaccinated. In Rockland County, 92 percent of people were either completely unvaccinated or had an known vaccination status, according to the county’s health department. In New York City, 92 percent of children who got sick and 72 percent of adults were unvaccinated as of April 24, according to a city Department of Health advisory sent out to health care providers.

The final speakers were two of the biggest names on the anti-vaccination circuit. Andrew Wakefield, the author of the fraudulent 1998 paper published then retracted in the Lancet that claimed there was a link between the Measles Mumps Rubella vaccine and autism by looking at 12 autistic children, spoke to the crowd via videoconference.

“I want to reassure you, I have never been involved in scientific fraud,” he said. “What happened to me is what happens to doctors who threaten the bottom line of the pharmaceutical companies and who threaten government policy in the interest of their patients and that is what happened.”

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Gwynne Hogan@GwynneFitz

Andrew Wakefield joined the crowd via ominous video conference:

See Gwynne Hogan’s other Tweets

After Wakefield’s study was found to contain factual inaccuracies and ethical violations, investigative journalist Brian Deer revealed that Wakefield had also been receiving payments from an attorney trying to sue the vaccine manufacturer.

Finally, Del Bigtree, TV producer-turned-anti-vaccination YouTube host, addressed the crowd.

“This could destroy our species…They wanna talk about the measles,” Bigtree shouted to the exuberant crowd. “I wanna talk about autism, I want to talk about the greatest epidemic of our lifetime and all the other chronic illnesses that are skyrocketing in this country.”

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