Williamsburg Satmar Kehilla Condemns Handler’s Remarks at Anti-Vax Event; Rebbe Says Everyone MUST Vaccinate


Recently, hundreds of anti-vaxxers gathered at an event in Monsey. Lacking any legitimate Rabbonim to address the gathering, the audience was privileged to hear from a dishonest conspiracy-theorist claiming to be a Rabbi.

But since Handler was the “Rabbi” at this event, the NY Times made sure to quote him in their coverage of this event. Disgustingly, Handler used inflammatory words about elected officials – such as describing NYC Mayor DeBlasio 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.)

Khal Yetev Lev D’Satmar, the main Satmar congregation located in Williamsburg, issued a declaration – published in today’s issue of Der Yid – condemning in the strongest possible terms the inflammatory, misguided and wrong rhetoric by Rabbi Hillel Handler at the anti-vax symposium. The congregation further declared that the Rebbe has ordered everyone to vaccinate.

This declaration, published in this week’s Der Yid, is an unprecedented rebuke of the anti-vax movement, coming from the largest Chasidic community and publicizing the Grand Rebbe’s directive to vaccinate. It’s also very significant, since some reports depicted Handler as being affiliated with Satmar. In fact, he has no role in the Satmar community.

Below is a full translation of the Congregation’s letter:

Condemnation and Clarification

Regarding the reports that many people gathered to speak in the name of the New York Haredi communities against the laws and government directives regarding health, and especially regarding vaccines to save our kids that the measles the disease shouldn’t spread – Go-d forbid – and we were shocked by the words at this gathering to attack our city government and shaming and fighting words against the mayor of our great city New York full of lies and falsehoods, and they also cause a chilul hashem (defamation of G-d’s name) and his Torah in the eyes of the nations,

Therefore, we are condemning in the strongest terms, and we are announcing that these words are against our position, and it doesn’t represent us in any way or form. To the Contrary, we are obligated to follow the words of the prophet that you should ask for the wellbeing of the city and you shall pray for it, as our holy Rebbe OBM constantly guided us.

Satmar Rebbe of Williamsburg

And to the core of the matter, it’s widely known that our holy mosdos (school system), following the directives of the Rebbe Shlit”a, issued strong instructions that parents must have their children vaccinated in accordance with the city government’s orders and in accordance with the advice of doctors and experts in these matters. The great Beth Din of Yerushalayim Edah HaCharedit also issued a public directive that everyone must – because of the Mitzva of Vnismartem M’eod L’nafshoseichem (the Torah commandment to protect yourself) – to listen to the advice of doctors in order that the measles and other illnesses shouldn’t spread, Go-d forbid. The administration of our schools are standing guard that children that do not have the MMR vaccine should not be in our schools now in accordance with the law and the government advisories.

We are signing with anguish regarding the words that were said and the resulting chilul hashem.

The 17th of Iyar (Ani Hashem Rofechu) 5779.

The Khila Leadership

YWN NOTES: William Handler also claims to speak in the name of Hagaon HaRav Avigdor Miller ZATZAL, when in fact, YWN has confirmed with his children and grandchildren that he does not speak for them in any way shape or form.

The Agudath Israel of America also condemned Handler in a recent statement:

Countless 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.

A recent gathering in Monsey, NY, heavily promoted in Orthodox Jewish areas, featured figures in the anti-vaccination circuit, including a pediatrician who uses “cranial-sacral therapy, homeopathy, essential oils, aromatherapy, yoga, Reiki, meditation, reflexology, and mindfulness”; a television producer who has sported a large yellow star at anti-vaccination rallies; and the author of a paper in the Lancet on vaccines that the publication retracted as fraudulent. The latter lost his British medical license for unethical behavior.

Of particular concern to us were assertions made by a presenter speaking as a rabbi, a long-time agitator on behalf of controversial causes. In the past, the speaker has likened vaccination to “child sacrifice” and, at the recent gathering, he accused New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio of scapegoating Hasidim, being “a very, very sneaky fellow” and of having German heritage.

The speaker also blamed concern over the appearance of measles in Orthodox communities on an effort to “to distract from the virulent diseases that are sweeping through the city from illegals.”

His assertions are nonsense, and his personal attack on Mayor de Blasio is deeply offensive. It is unfortunate that he was allowed to share his imaginings with others.

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)


  1. William Handler also claims to speak in the name of Hagaon HaRav Avigdor Miller ZATZAL How dare you handler put false words in my beloved Rebbe’s mouth. Rav Avigdor Miller TZKLLH’H took excellent care of his health, and everyday single day took a very long walk at lunchtime spanning many blocks, and many people would meet up with him during his daily walk.

  2. This is real leadership! This is what our community needs to hear to counter all the ignorant rhetoric of the anti-vaxxer avoda zarah religion. I could almost convert to become a Satmar chossid!

  3. Funny how having a beard qualifies someone to exploit the title rabbi. There are many askanim who meddle in all sorts of political issues. However, such a position is NOT a qualification to pasken shailos, or to make any determinations of what is religiously responsible. It is a stain on the frum community that such frauds get the microphones to perpetrate their personal inanities on the public.

    Bottom line, the anti-vax baloney is not science, and it is an affront to the Torah to claim it has anything to do with religion. It is nothing more than a conspiracy theory that zero science behind it. It may be a Constitutional right to adopt such ideas, but it is absolute crime to inflict them on anyone else.

  4. Satmar should have gotten their act together sooner, and issued a statement against anti vaxxers before people like Psychopath Handler could besmirch our community by having his comments posted in widely read non Jewish newspapers, and having non Jews think his corrupted views are actually the views of the orthodox community.

  5. So if both R Ahron and R Zalman Leib have now come out as pro vaccine, why are there still pockets of Anti-vaxxers in Williamsburg?

  6. midwesterner,

    These people are not doing because of any religious views. People are scared into refusing vaccines by frauds and the likes who have personal agendas.

  7. To Midwes: There is a punch line from a gentile comedian that answers your question: There are pockets of Anti-vaxxers in Williamsburg because “you can’t fix stupid.”

  8. 147; I fail to see what Rav Miller zt”l taking good care of his health has to do with Mr. Handler speaking in his name.

  9. Im a Vaxer, and what Mr Handler said about DeBlasio and illegals makes no sense, BUT I know Mr Handler for more than 40 years, and what he does and says is with the best of intentions, only wanting to help people. Theres never any personal benefit to him. I doubt anyone can say there is.

  10. @midwesterner Hungarian chassidim don’t blindly follow their Rebbes the way Russian chassidim do. Also, Williamsburg is more than just Satmar. Most of the anti-vaxxers are Bnei Yoel who don’t follow any rebbe.

  11. @2scents
    Not sure about not vaccinating for religious views. Mr Handler told the audience how to get out of vaccinating with religious exemption.
    (Its says in the Torah vnishmartem miod v’nafshosachem)
    Thats one of the things he started with before the doctors and the other british guy spoke.