On Wednesday, November 21, 2018, 13 Kislev, 5779, a meeting of the Vaad HaRabbonim / Rabbinical Council of Baltimore unanimously declared the following:
We consider it a Halachic obligation for every member of the community – adults and children – to be properly vaccinated according to the standards and schedules established by the medical community as outlined by the CDC. These standards have been responsible for the eradication of many terrible diseases and have significantly improved public health in our country. As we are seeing in the current measles epidemic, ignoring or undermining the policy of universal vaccination endangers the community and is Halachically wrong.
1. Schools, playgroups and shuls should refuse entry to unvaccinated children or adults.
2. Medical exemptions that are based on a specific individual’s medical history, granted by physicians who are wholly supportive of the vaccine program, should be respected. Religious exemptions for people of the Jewish faith should not be respected.
3. Individuals who choose not to vaccinate themselves or their children must avoid public places and group settings of all kinds, as their presence poses a serious risk to the community at large.
We recognize that the fear generated by the anti-vaccine movement has made it genuinely difficult for a number of well-meaning parents to vaccinate their children. We hope and pray that they will be able to overcome these fears and vaccinate, so that we can all benefit from their full and complete participation in our community.
We pray that Hashem grant each and every member of our community health and strength, and bless our community and our nation with peace.
SOME OTHER MEASLES OUTBREAK LETTERS:
RAMAT BEIT SHEMESH RABBONIM
The following letter was released on Tuesday, and signed by HaRav Shmuel Fuerst, the Dayan of Agudath Yisroel of Illinois, and HaRav Yona Reiss, Ava Beth Din of the Chicago Rabbinical Council.
YWN has previously published an audio recording of HaRav Fuerst of Chicago regarding the vaccinations. Rav Fuerst joined the growing list of Poskim releasing Piskei Halacha directed towards the anti-vaxxers, following the measles outbreak which has spread across many Chareidi communities.
Rav Fuerst says he did alot of research into the issue (of vaccinations), and released the following message (audio below, transcribed by YWN):
“Every child must have vaccination shots. And a school should not take in any kids that were not vaccinated because of the Issur of ‘Lo Saamod Al Dam Reacha’ – because another child can catch this sickness. It can be measles, mumps, polio or any of these types of illnesses which are almost completely unheard of, and now we are hearing of them because people are not getting vaccinations.
“If you have a playgroup, you must make sure that all the children are vaccinated. If there is a child who is not vaccinated, you (the playgroup owner) must notify all the other parents, because you are putting them all in jeopardy”.
Rav Fuerst says this applies to children simply going to play at another child’s home. If they are unvaccinated, the other family must be notified.
ISRAELI POSKIM – WHOEVER DOESN’T VACCINATE IS A MURDERER
“Whoever isn’t vaccinated is a murderer” – so reads a Kol Koreh signed by leading Gedolim and Poskim in Eretz Yisroel. The letter was issued in an attempt to curb the rampant spread of the Measles currently spreading through Chareidi communities in Israel, as well as in other communities in Israel and around the world.
The Gedolim who signed the Kol Koreh include: Hagaon HaRav Yitzchak Zilberstein, Hagaon HaRav Shimon Ba’adani, Hagaon HaRav Sriel Rosenberg, Hagaon HaRav Moshe Shaul Klein and Hagaon HaRav Menachem Mendel Lubin.
YWN reported about a letter released by Hagaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, who stated specifically it is the responsibility of every father to make certain his children are vaccinated, bringing quotes from Shulchan Aruch citing the matter of שפיחת דמים, causing loss of life.
HARAV UREN REICH
An audio recording of Hagaon HaRav Uren Reich, the Rosh Yeshiva of Woodlake, is currently viral on social media. The shiur was recorded THREE YEARS AGO, but the words are timely. YWN has confirmed that Rav Reich’s opinion on the matter is the same, and even stronger now than before against the anti-vaxxers.
STATEMENT FROM THE OU AND RCA:
Orthodox Jewish parents, like responsible parents across the United States, overwhelmingly vaccinate their children against measles, mumps, rubella, polio and the other childhood diseases for which inoculations are now almost miraculously commonplace. As in many communities, a small minority of parents chooses not to do so. The ongoing measles outbreak demonstrates how this could bear very serious consequences, not only for their own children but others’ too, especially those medically unable to be vaccinated. The Orthodox Union (OU) and the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) strongly urge all parents to vaccinate their healthy children on the timetable recommended by their pediatrician.
Judaism places the highest value on preserving human life. It is well known that those facing even a potential life or death situation are instructed to set aside the Sabbath and other key tenets of halachic (Jewish law) observance until the emergency has passed. Prayers for good health and for the complete and perfect healing of the ill are an ages-old aspect of Jewish tradition. But prayers must go hand-in-hand with availing oneself of medical science, including vaccination.
There are halachic obligations to care for one’s own health as well as to take measures to prevent harm and illness to others, and Jewish law defers to the consensus of medical experts in determining and prescribing appropriate medical responses to illness and prevention. Therefore, the consensus of major poskim (halachic decisors) supports the vaccination of children to protect them from disease, to eradicate illness from the larger community through so-called herd immunity, and thus to protect others who may be vulnerable.
While the health of children is an important consideration, everyone should consult with his or her religious, medical and legal advisors in determining what actions to take. Nothing in this statement should be construed to add to or detract from rights or obligations created by New York or other state and federal statutes and regulations.
(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)