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


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.”

Embedded video

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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Politics, Not…. Well… As Usual – Rockland County, NY, Political Favoritism, Nepotism, Corruption and a DA’s Race

Rockland Democratic District Attorney Candidates release joint statement on Zebrowski campaign



Zebrowski Tries to Boot Democratic Opponents from Election

In an effort to distract from the issues, Ken Zebrowski and his campaign filed objections to the petitions of the only two former prosecutors in the race to be Rockland District Attorney. Zebrowski supporter and neighbor, Ronald Hanna, filed objections to both Patricia Gunning and Victor Alfieri’s Democratic petitions to get on the ballot for the June election. Despite Zebrowski’s self-professed legal experience and skills, even his petition challenges are replete with mistakes, duplications of objections, and frivolous claims. So despite paying out-of-county canvassers for many of the signatures and strong arming Democratic committee members to collect the rest of the signatures on his behalf, Ken Zebrowski is seeking to throw out hundreds of valid Democratic signatures, all in an effort to reduce the field of qualified candidates. In filing these frivolous challenges, weaponizing the very election law loopholes he’s helped shape in Albany, Ken is seemingly displaying a remarkable level of contempt for the very voters whose support he seeks.

“I am not a politician. I entered the race with the hope that the campaign would be about the merits – each candidates’ qualifications, each candidates’ vision for the office,” said Patricia Gunning. “When I announced my candidacy, I had respect for my rumored and announced opponents. Now, I know that respect was misplaced.”

“The Office of District Attorney is not a place for legal lightweights. This is a job that demands experience and expertise,” said Victor Alfieri. “As someone who does not even practice criminal law in his private practice, Ken Zebrowski would need to be taught the ropes and is simply unprepared to be District Attorney. That is why he wants two candidates with real world experience in a courtroom as prosecutors off the ballot.”

“As the first woman to run for District Attorney, Ms. Gunning is clearly a qualified candidate who deserves to be on the ballot.

To continue reading from the Rockland Report click here.

Rockland County, NY- Desperately Seeking a District Attorney who is NOT BEHOLDEN to Special Interests – Mike Diederich



Dear Editor:

Please post.

Taken from LOHUD and including updates and corrections.


Michael Diederich leaves Democratic primary for Rockland DA, will seek third party ballot line

Steve Lieberman, Rockland/Westchester Journal News

Published 6:00 a.m. ET April 8, 2019 | Updated 6:19 a.m. ET April 8, 2019

Stony Point attorney Michael Diederich has dropped out of the Democratic Party primary for Rockland district attorney in an effort to seek a guaranteed third-party line in the November election.

Diederich stood out among the five Democrats for the open top prosecutor’s post by contending he would prosecute schools for the lack of secular education in Hasidic Jewish schools as a potential misdemeanor crime.

Diederich said his decision came as ballot petitions with at least 1,500 signatures were due Thursday to qualify for the June 25 primary. He estimated gathering 1,800 signatures.

He said he would ask the leadership of the nascent Serve America Movement to name him to their ballot line in the Nov. 5 election.

Diederich said his decision came as ballot petitions with at least 1,500 signatures were due Thursday to qualify for the June 25 primary. He estimated gathering 1,800 signatures.

He said he would ask the leadership of the nascent Serve America Movement to name him to their ballot line in the Nov. 5 election.

Stony Point attorney Michael Diederich running for Rockland district attorney in 2019 

He said in his statement he would leave the Democratic Party and join SAM, which came into existence in 2017 and garnered more than 50,000 votes to gain a line on the ballot.

Diederich criticized Democratic and Republican parties, claiming the local leaders seem to sidestep democracy and issues in favor of gaining power. He noted the Republicans have endorsed a Democrat, retired Judge Thomas Walsh, for district attorney, rather than search its ranks for a candidates.

“I support Democratic core values — equality of opportunity and justice,” Diederich said. “But I distrust its leadership and dislike its priorities. Its priorities are not sufficiently pro-democracy and pro-Constitution. … 

“I regard the Republican leadership as even worse. Its leadership seems to reject many basic principles of democracy, such as the need for fair debate on the serious problems we face,” he said.

The other Democratic Party hopefuls filed sufficient signatures to qualify for the primary ballots, according to the Rockland Board of Elections.

They are Walsh with 3,529 signatures; Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski, D-New City, with 6,020 names; retired Judge Victor Alfieri and former prosecutor Patricia Gunning, both with 2,199 signatures.

Walsh’s campaign also filed 2,717 signatures for the Republican line and more than 400 signatures for the Conservative Party line, according to his campaign and the Board of Elections.

Each candidate can file specific objections to their opponents’ petitions starting April 10 in an effort knock rivals off the ballot by reducing signatures to below the 1,500 threshold.

The five candidates are looking to succeed Thomas Zugibe, the county’s top prosecutor from 2007 until January 2019. Zugibe won election to the state Supreme Court in November, succeeding Walsh, who retired at age 70.

The bloc vote from the Ramapo Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox communities has become a political issue in previous elections, as the community’s vote determines the result in countywide and Ramapo contests.

Five Democratic Party candidates running for Rockland district attorney. From left, Victor Alfieri, Michael Diederich, Patricia Gumming, Thomas Walsh, Kenneth Zebrowski. The forum was held at the Louis Kurtz Civic Center on March 1 in Spring Valley. (Photo: Steve Lieberman)

Rockland DA candidates

The five candidates discuss their issues and background during a forum in Spring Valley in March:

Victor Alfieri, a Democratic candidate for Rockland district attorney. 

  • Alfieri, a retired judge in Clarkstown and the County Court, spoke about being a prosecutor and defense attorney during 40 years. Like Walsh, he faced mandatory retirement from the bench at age 70. He said he believes in due process and equal protection of all citizens and he would run the office based on those values. He said he supported bail reform and would establish prosecution teams in major areas of the county to following cases from arrest through grand jury to plea or trial. He supports hiring Spanish-speaking prosecutors and programs for non-violent offenders, as opposed to jail or prison.
  • Diederich, a civil rights attorney and retired U.S. Army judge advocate general, said he would focus on prosecuting all crime and protecting immigrants. He supports bail reform. He said the county’s most significant problem is the insularity of the Hasidic Jewish community and its lack of secular education for children. He’s filed a civil rights lawsuit against the state to impose secular education where it doesn’t meet the law.

Patricia Gunning, candidate for Rockland County District Attorney. 

  • Gunning highlights her experience as a career prosecutor, working on felony prosecutions for the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office and leading the sex crimes unit with the Rockland District Attorney’s Office. She left Rockland to become the first inspector general of the 50-employee state Justice Center for Protection of People with Special Needs, though she lost the job after accusing her supervisor of sexual harassment. She said she’d protect victims from rape and sexual abuse, protect children, and target corruption. She said she’s been in the trenches and her political independence would allow her to “stand up and speak truth to power.”

Retired Judge Thomas Walsh running for Rockland district attorney in 2019 

  • Walsh has emphasized his 42 years as an attorney, with 35 years spent as a judge from the Haverstraw village level in 1983 to the state Supreme Court.  While he has no prosecution experience, he noted he’s handled criminal and civil trials. He said the opioid drug crisis is the county’s top concern. He also cited political corruption and would prosecute crimes “without fear or favor.”

New York Assembly member Kenneth Zebrowski talks about the sexual offender registry loopholes at his office in New City on Wednesday, November 9, 2016.  

  • Zebrowski, who has no prosecution experience, cited his governmental advocacy. He’s sponsored criminal justice reforms, such as lowering the age for people who are prosecuted as adults and reforming bail regulations and lessening draconian sentencing under the Rockefeller Drug Laws. He noes his efforts fighting on behalf of East Ramapo public school students and proposing stricter state laws on housing and zoning enforcement, specifically in Ramapo. His policies and actions have clashed with some Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox Jewish leaders.

FORUM: Rockland District Attorney forum draws 5 Democratic candidates

DA RACE: Democrat Tom Walsh takes Republican line, riling Democrat leadership

DA RACE: Michael Diederich opens DA run targeting Hasidic Jewish education

The Measles and Religious Exemptions, Really? – The Thorson Ruling and Holding the Religious Accountable to the Sick


ARUTZ 7 – Israel

NY county measles outbreak spotlights religious exemptions


Health commissioner supports push to end religious exemptions for vaccinations, says measles outbreak one of ‘most challenging’ crises.


AFP, 08/04/19 11:03
Measles diagnosis

Measles diagnosis

Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, the health commissioner of an outlying New York suburban county, is feeling”overwhelmed.”

Since October she has been waging an uphill fight to quell one of the worst US measles outbreaks in 20 years.

Among her daily battles: having to constantly repeat that the vaccine does not cause other diseases, that it does not lead to autism, and that the practice of using fetal tissue to produce the vaccine ended decades ago.

Pushing back against such “junk science” absorbs a good deal of her energy as she works to educate and persuade the 300,000 residents of Rockland County to cooperate with health authorities and alert them to any new cases of disease.

In 27 years of practicing medicine, Ruppert said, this is “one of the most challenging health crises I have had to deal with.”

As of Friday, measles — officially eliminated from the United States in 2000 — had struck 167 people in this county along the Hudson River, including nine new cases this week.

Among the six regional outbreaks of measles reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the leading public health institute in the US, Rockland County’s is the most concentrated.

And yet the county has not skimped in throwing resources at the problem.

Since October, each case has been systematically investigated to determine how many people have been exposed to the ultra-contagious virus.

Those exposed are then contacted to ensure they have been immunized, and if they haven’t been, they are then vaccinated.

Dozens of free vaccination clinics have been organized around the county — including one Friday in the town of Haverstraw — with 17,654 doses of vaccine administered to date.

The objective is to raise the vaccination rate from the current 72 percent, Ruppert said. A 95 percent vaccination rate is considered necessary to prevent epidemics.

On Monday, county executives will meet with legal and health professionals to identify more possible new strategies to tackle the outbreak.

It comes after the county took the unprecedented measure on March 26 of banning unvaccinated minors from schools and public places for 30 days.

Several public health specialists saluted the county’s decision.

But a dozen parents of public-school students sued the county, arguing that the measure was disproportionate to the danger, particularly as there have been no deaths to date.

On Friday they obtained a partial victory: a judge issued an injunction requiring county officials to drop the ban against any child with a “religious exemption,” at least until April 19.

“Religious exemption”: for many county residents, the words have become central to the debate over the resurgence of measles and the rise of the anti-vaccine movement.

Like most American states — all but three, including California — New York requires a series of vaccinations for school-age children but grants exemptions on both medical and religious grounds.

In Rockland County, the local Jewish community represents about one-third of county inhabitants, including a large number of Orthodox Jews.

That fact places this community at the heart of the vaccination debate, raising the risk of fueling anti-Semitism, said Gary Siepser, president of the Jewish Foundation of Rockland County.


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The Measles – Numbers Continue to Rise, Error in Article as Rockland County, NY’s Judge Thorson Overruled the Anti-Vax Law…

A sign posted at The Vancouver Clinic in Vancouver, Wash., warns patients and visitors of a measles outbreak in January.

Booming measles cases rocket toward record: Up nearly 100 from last week

The number of measles cases recorded across the USA rose by almost 100 last week as the annual total continued its march toward record levels, federal health officials reported Monday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 465 cases have been confirmed in 19 states in 2019, the second-highest total since measles was declared eliminated in the USA almost two decades ago.

The numbers are up sharply from just a week ago, when the total number of cases stood at 387 in 15 states. There were 372 cases last year; the highest total since 2000 was 667 in 2014.

The surge has been fueled in part by the anti-vaccination movement – most people who contract measles have not been vaccinated, the CDC said. If one person has the disease, up to 90% of the people close to that person can become infected, the CDC warned.

Rockland County, New York – State of Emergency on Measles Post -Thorson Ruling

  • Our Day is just getting started...


State of Emergency


We are making progress in the outbreak of measles, the longest in the entire Nation. Our latest numbers show that 17,654 MMR vaccinations have been given since the beginning of the outbreak in October 2018. That number has increased by almost 700 since we declared this State of Emergency. While these numbers are the most recent provided by the state they may not encompass the total given thus far. Doctors have up to 14 days to enter their numbers into the system, so the total is likely higher.


I did not come to this decision lightly but after more than half a year of dealing with the measles outbreak something had to be done. Every action we have taken since the beginning of this outbreak has been designed to maximize vaccinations and minimize exposures, and the State of Emergency was only the latest step.


Our Department of Health must be commended for their hard work and dedication to protecting the public health here in Rockland. Without their efforts, this outbreak could have been much worse. I also want to thank those residents who have responded to the State of Emergency positively and responsibly by going out to get their children vaccinated.


We viewed the State of Emergency as an opportunity for everyone in our community to do the right thing for their neighbors and come together. We are doing everything in our power to end this outbreak and protect the health of those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons and that of children too young to be vaccinated.


Each and every new case is a roll of the dice that could bring on pneumonia, encephalitis – swelling of the brain or cause premature birth which can lead to all kinds of complications even death. We must not allow this outbreak to continue indefinitely. We will not sit idly by while children in our community are at risk.


We recognize that major religious holidays will soon be upon us and we want people to be able to celebrate. We don’t want to see a repeat of how this outbreak started last Fall when we saw people gather together and then fall ill.


That is why we have sounded the alarm and brought this issue to the forefront of public consciousness. We want everyone to be able to return to the normalcy of their lives. It is time that everyone takes proper action to protect themselves and their neighbors; for the health and safety of all of us in Rockland.


Ed Day

County Executive
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