MAILBAG: Sorry I Can’t Attend The Family Chanukah Party, Thanks To My Anti-Vaxxer Cousin


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Dear Cousin Sara,

Chanukah is coming up soon and I have always looked forward to our family getting together to celebrate with yours. Growing up, seeing my cousins and extended family was always a treat. Today it’s a much bigger deal than it ever was. B’h both of our families are growing and have become spread out all over the place, and though it’s difficult for the kids to shlep in from Lakewood, Toms River, Far Rockaway, Monsey and Queens we really look forward to the everyone getting together each year.

As everyone now knows, there’s been an outbreak of measles and many are confused and scared with a lot of misinformation going around. While I insist that my kids and grandchildren get vaccinated, I do know that some in our community have steadfastly refused to vaccinate their kids despite public letters from dozens of respected doctors and pediatricians stating the serious mistake of such a reckless position.

Unfortunately I am told that you are in the minority group that doesn’t believe in vaccinations. While I don’t begin to understand your view, they are your kids and frankly speaking there’s not much I can do about it. However, as we decide whether to attend Bobbies annual chanukah party, I must know if you plan to attend with your kids? Some of those coming are B’h pregnant and are terrified to expose themselves to your unvaccinated children- a legitimate health risk. Others like Aunt Molley have a weakened immune systems and can’t take a chance of exposure. They are all simply unprepared to put themselves in harms way for jelly donuts and latkes. It is important for you to understand that your medical decisions while personal, effect many other people and with so much risk, we just can’t take a chance. So please let us know what you decide. Until you decide to vaccinate your children, it’s either you or us. It can’t be both.‎ I’m really sorry but our health comes first.

I wait for your answer.

Your cousin Chani

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.


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  1. Dear Cousin Chani,
    I know you mean well but one quick question. Did you ensure already that your cleaning help, employer, employees, store workers, friends, and all others that you come in cont with are vaccinated?

  2. Dear commenter yochy,
    Because my cleaning lady told me that her kids can’t attend public school without getting vaccinations, her and the family are fully vaccinated. Plus, her kids don’t come to my house during the cleaning, while my own kids are in school too. Same deal with my employer and employees- nor are my kids coming to the office with me. Their Church leadership haven’t come out against the vaccination, and I shared with them that my synagogue leadership isn’t against vaccinations either. Again, thanks for thinking about me but for the Channuka party we plan on spending several hours together in close contact with each other; playing games together, eating together, cooking and serving food together, sitting next to each other- which can potentially get someone sick. We just don’t have that same type of interaction at ShopRite with complete strangers.
    Best of Luck, hopefully we will meet another year.

  3. > yochy

    Part 1:
    In general it is the younger generation that is not being vaccinated by the parents. The parents themselves are, generally, vaccinates. Even in this case, it is not the adult that bothers the writer as the writer clearly spells out “with your kids”. The unvaccinated children are the concern, not the parent per se. So unless there are serious violations of the employment act going around, all the people you mention in your post are adults and are not the major concern as they are assumed to be vaccinated.

    Part 2:
    The write personally seems to be vaccinated and is not concerned about personal exposure, so personal contac is not the major concern of the writer. The exposure concern is for a list of people who are in a susceptible category (like pregnant or compromised immune system).

  4. If your kids are vaccinated against measles – and presumably every other disease against which one can be vaccinated – then what are you afraid of? Or perhaps the vaccinations do not work, and if that is the case, why should your cousin vaccinate her kids?

  5. @yochy, that has got to be one of the dumbest questions I have seen here. While its true that we dont know if everyone we come into contact with may not have been vaccinated, in this case, “Chani” knows for sure. And since there are pregnant women and babies present, she is 100% correct and justified in her decision. Your response just indicates that you a self centered, inconsiderate boor. Just like those who insist on smoking in front of a bunch of people.
    People like you will find any reason to impose their stupidities on others.

  6. FAKE letter.
    May i add that this is actually very hateful and cruel to put this out there.
    For the record all my kids are vaccinated. and i do think that anti vaxxers are misled.
    now to the point of this letter. this “cousin Chani” claims to be writing to her cousin about her small kids. she also claims to have kids and grand kids. they are also going to Bubbies chanuka party and she has an Aunt Molley… so how old is Chani? are you a young parent with small kids? are you a grandmother that is going to bubbies party? so how old is Bubbie? how old is this aunt Molley?
    this “letter” smells fake and very sad.
    the purpose of the writer is to implant the idea in peoples heads to use the family get together time of chanuka in their fight against the anti vaxxers. not enough to kick them out of school and out of Yussi’s…. lets get families to fight against each other and kick them out of the family party to hopefully force them to see the truth…
    Chanuka is a time of achdus. lets not use it in creating machlokes in families. even if you mean leshem shamaim (saving the world from the anti vaxxers)
    and btw: your “aunt Molley” has a lot more to worry about then an unvaxinated child. someone could have a cold or some other sickness. AND no one gets all their shots until they are teenagers so all young kids are “un-vaxinated” to a certain degree… until they get all their shots…

  7. Children need to be vaccinated. I find it shocking that someone would rely on Torah as a reason to tell people to put their own children in sakana. Doctors don’t pasken shailas; rabbis shouldn’t hand out medical advice.

  8. maybe they can hold the Chanukah party in Philadelphia at the rebbitzen or at Lakewood , great now suddenly all these chachamim who run to their rebbie to ask them what color to paint a house now they rely on the rebbitzens

  9. Dear Cousin Chani,

    I totally agree with you our children’s health comes first!!! No matter what any of those fanatic ant-vaxers say.

    That is exactly why I stopped going to the grocery or bakery, I can’t be sure that all the people there including the store owner is vaccinated.
    Nowadays there are plenty of options for shopping online, the produce is fresh and there is no reason we shouldn’t be doing this for the sake of our childrens health.

  10. Yes cousin Chani, let’s see if you really believe what you say. Instead of focusing on others & trying to get THEM not come, why don’t you just stay away from a place that you consider to be a danger.

    I’m sure you won’t miss the jelly donuts too much.

    … And just to be sure that you don’t come in contact with anyone else who isn’t vaccinated, or is vaccinated, but is still carrying the disease, why don’t you take off from work, fire your cleaning help & please don’t go to Ave J or Clifton Ave. You may come in contact with this SCARY SCARY disease.

    (Or maybe its time to grow up & realize that there’s a big scary world out there. We live with certain dangers every waking moment of our lives and we don’t get to run how others live their lives. Period.)

  11. What a chutzpah that someone would come to a family gathering bringing unvaccinated people! That’s incredibly inconsiderate! Why can’t people become responsible? They’re punishing everyone else due to their meshugas!

  12. Ditto . You walk through the streets of this country you will encounter millions more unvaccinated. In the pizza store in the grocery in the car wash and in the amusement park. When you stop going to those places, you can stop going to family parties. Oh, and just a little overblown. What’s the chance that her in vaccinated kids are a. Going to get the measles (actual cases are low compared to the population… fractions of a percent) b. Give it to your kids who are 95% protected.

  13. Are you aware that recently vaccinated children SHED the virus for weeks after getting vaccinated?
    It says so right on the vaccine insert!
    Recently vaccinated children are a much bigger threat to pregnant and immune compromised individuals.

  14. yochy,

    Who lets their kids or people at risk have contact with their employer, employees, store workers?
    As for cleaning help, you are paying them, if they aren’t vaccinated, you don’t hire them.

  15. If this indeed is a real letter, chances are your relatives will be happy not to come and avoid you and your sick in the head attitude,
    Thank g-d I have no cousins who post their letters to me on jewish news sites.
    You have issues

  16. @Yochy
    FYI the rate of vaccination for Measles in Mexico is 96%. So odds are that any help that were born in Mexico is vaccinated. Check the World Bank data. In fact more than 90% of people world wide are vaccinated so this argument holds no water.

  17. @levs the vaccine is given in 2 doses one at about a year old and one at about 4 years old so you are only fully vaccinated once you get the 2nd dose and even someone that got both doses it is 97% effective so there is still a 3% chance that someone who is fully vaccinated will catch the measles. So yes people should be afraid for their kids that didn’t yet receive the 2nd dose and even for those that are fully vaccinated including themselves, there is still what to be worried about not to mention old or sick people that have a weakened immune system

  18. You might as well start worrying about Purim – make sure not to be in contact with anyone masked…who knows!
    This drama needs to come to an end. It is one thing about kids being in school were they spend time on a daily basis, but this is just over dramatizing.

  19. People who are making fun of this letter forget what was like 100, 200 and 500 years ago with all the plagues that left hundreds of people dead.

    Many people think they are smarter than the medical establishment, and I’m not saying alternate medicine doesn’t have it’s place, but a balance is important, because it is modern medicine that saves countless lives each and every day.

    I can’t believe how incredibly stupid and rishusdig people are to simply decide not to vaccinate because of unsubstiaged claims that vaccinations cause autism.

  20. To quote philosopher: “I can’t believe how incredibly stupid and rishusdig people are…”
    I can’t believe the same about ppl who harass their cousins-or any other yid. Pitting children against children is rishus: CERTAIN shfichas damim. Embarrasing children in public is too. Not like the 1 in a trillion chance an unvaccinated child has of killing another person.
    PS. Me and my child are vaccinated (for better or for worse:-)