YWN Editorial: Anti Vaxxers Aren’t The Only Ones Who Lost Today‎

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Photo via David Lombardo Twitter @poozer87

To better understand who and what the broader Jewish community has been up against in the vaccination civil war against measles, one only had to look at those gathered in the NYS Assembly gallery on Thursday. As the final vote was announced, jeers and disruptive screams could be heard from identifiable looking orthodox Jews howling and yelling with some even unloading expletives and threats at members of the Assembly who voted to eliminate the ability to file a religious exemption for vaccination in New York State.‎

It got so bad that one man was even caught on camera  signaling with his hands in a “very unorthodox manner”.

The elected officials below looked on in disbelief and confusion as State Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein was reported to have gone up along with the State police and the Sergeant At Arms to try and calm them down.

An undeniable chillul hashem of epic and  unknown  proportions.

And just as the Assembly voted down the exemption, the NYS Senate did the same, both wading into unknown constitutional territory. How New York got to this moment will be the subject of judicial debates and legal articles but suffice it to say, holding mass anti-vaccination symposiums as city and state officials in Brooklyn and Rockland County grappled with a measles outbreak, was seen by elected officials and a hungry secular media as irresponsible and outright chutzpah.

Certainly it can be said that the defiant anti-vaxxers possess the political savvy of an elephant in a China shop, for nobody hurt their own cause more than they themselves with their outrageous and anti establishment antics. Sadly though, hurting their own cause also means hurting the larger cause of religious freedom, and despite every effort by responsible community leaders to tamp the crisis down, breathless media coverage highlighting the words of the misguided few while ignoring the sane actions of the many was just to much to overcome.

Rightly or wrongly, the militancy and sheer brazeness of the anti-vaccination folks forced the state to step in before someone died.

Today the state legislature and Governor indeed sent that message to those hiding behind the religious exemption that they can no longer count on that protection if peoples health is at risk. What developed is a devastating loss for religious freedom and an assault on the very constitutional  rights that have enabled the Orthodox Jewish community to flourish on these shores. We all lost today thanks to the anti-vaxxers. Based on their past action, we are confident  they don’t care.

For months now YWN has highlighted the activities of the anti vaxxers in hopes that someone in that camp would emerge as the rational responsible voice of reason and stop the madness. Yet as of today no one has emerged, short of the few charlatans who don’t even deserve a dishonorable mention here. And while we have received praise from some for our hard hitting coverage, we have have also received criticism and yes death threats from that corner of the cave. While we can happily live with that absurdity, what we can’t and won’t accept is the outright chillul hashem witnessed today in Albany. Immature and destructive behavior from the very same people who have literally created a cottage industry of mistruths and misinformation. Think we are overreacting?

‎The New York Post reports tonight:

“And these are the religious people?!” The state Capitol turned into a chaotic scene Thursday as both houses of legislature — and eventually Gov. Cuomo — passed a bill that will end New York’s policy of allowing religious exemptions from vaccine requirements.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, the bill’s sponsor, got cursed out and flat-out threatened at one point by opponents of the legislation after it got passed and sent to the Senate floor.

“We’ll be back for you Jeffrey!” shouted one man in Orthodox religious garb, who was fuming in the gallery with others, many of whom had children with them.‎

“Expletive removed!” screamed another person. “Shame!”

Dinowitz and other lawmakers remained calm during the mayhem, but were on edge as they recessed for the day.

“I’m sure the hallways are very dangerous for me right now,” Dinowitz said afterward. “I think it’s very sad that people who are up here in the name of religion were acting anything but. Judging by the way some people behaved and judging by the threats that we heard from some people, it would be prudent to exercise some caution.”

We agree Assemblyman. These few loose cannons do not speak for us or our community and their actions today are contemptible.‎ However it also must be noted that ‎today’s legislative action in Albany is a severe government overreach and deserves to be protested. Today’s bill likely changed the religious liberty landscape for decades to come and we warn the state and it’s leaders to further legislate with caution and wisdom and not bow to hyper-politicized fear mongering that has ruled this entire fiasco.

Still ‎the saddest part remains, the very same anti vaxxers that hold forums, phone conferences and  came to Albany to protest in the name of religious freedom, are some of  the very same people who likely instigated the removal of these very sacrosanct protections in the first place. Actions have consequences. We all suffer. Sad indeed.

YWN Editorial Board

READ MORE MEASLES COVERAGE: 

[NEW DEVELOPMENT: New York Ends Religious Exemption To Vaccine Mandates]

[AND SO IT BEGINS: Sullivan County Locals Verbally Attack Orthodox Jews Over Measles]

[NYC Closes ANOTHER Satmar Yeshiva in Williamsburg Due To Measles; Violations Issued As Well]

[TOTAL BLOWOUT: 50 Anti-Vaxxers Show Up To Flatbush Event, 1,300 Empty Chairs]

[MOST ARE ORTHODOX JEWS: U.S. Measles Count Surpasses 1000; Highest Level in Over 25 Years]

[William Handler Set To Make ANOTHER Chillul Hashem at Anti-Vaxxer Event in Flatbush]

[Message To All Those Attending Anti-Vaxxer Event in Flatbush Tonight: DRESS NICELY]

[SUMMER CAMP CRACKDOWN: Sullivan County Gets Tough on Measles; $2,000 Daily Fines For Violations]

[NOW THIS: Measles at Yeshiva of South Fallsburg & Vishnitz in Kiamisha]

[MAILBAG: A Family’s Nightmare of a Young Child With Measles]

[MAJOR MONSEY MEASLES EXPOSURE ALERT: Satmar, Scheiners, Rockland Kosher, Vishnitz, Chofetz Chaim, Costco]

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

[MAILBAG: Sullivan County Resident Has Message To Jewish Anti-Vaxxers Heading Upstate This Summer]

[MAILBAG: The Measles Crisis Will Reach Unheralded Proportions This Summer]

[NYC Health Dept Closes ANOTHER Yeshiva; Measles Outbreak STILL Growing]

[WATCH: CNN Interviews Hasidic Business Owner From Monsey About Measles; New Cases SOAR in Williamsburg]

[UNPRECEDENTED: Over FIVE HUNDRED Doctors Serving Jewish Communities Across North America Say “VACCINATE”!]

[Hatzolah in NYC Joins Fight Against The Measles Outbreak – GET VACCINATED NOW]

[MEASLES SCARE: JetBlue Flight Quarantined at JFK Airport Over Suspected Measles-Infected Orthodox Jewish Passengers]

[HISTORIC: Satmar Paper “Der Yid” Publishes Editorial in ENGLISH Blasting Anti-Vaxxers]

[Israel: 10-Year-Old Boy Suffers Permanent Brain Damage After Getting Measles]

[WATCH: Trump Urges Vaccinations To Prevent Spread Of Measles]

[US Measles Outbreak is Largest Since Disease Was Declared ‘Eliminated’; 2 Pregnant Women Sickened in Williamsburg]

[MOST ARE ORTHODOX JEWS: US Measles Cases Top 700, Leading to Extraordinary Measures Around The Country]

[HATE: NYC Bus Driver Makes Anti-Semitic ‘Measles’ Remark Towards Hasidic Man in Williamsburg]

[ANOTHER GENIUS: Watch This Williamsburg Anti-Vaxxer “Community Activist” Give Media Interview]

[WATCH THIS: Williamsburg Anti-Vaxxer Mothers Give Media Shocking Interview]

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)




40 COMMENTS

  1. On the next business day perhaps Orthodox Jews should show up with signs there stating that we disapprove the behavior, perhaps even filling up the gallery with people holding huge signs that say we proudly vaccinate our kids
    Some how the askanim can even make sure the media covers it.
    Well written editorial.

  2. Brilliant editorial. A chilul Hashem of unprecedented proportions that shows the insanity of this cult of crazies. The REAL tragedies are two-fold: they put lives at risk… their children’s and others. And in a climate of rising antisemitism, such disgusting behavior reflects badly on all of us.

    It’s time these lunatics are named and shamed. I hope people can identify these thugs – their wives as well.

  3. Kol Hakavod to YWN for coming out against these people. However, they are not crazy, they only know what they’ve been taught. It goes way beyond ignorance of statistics and public health, ודי לחכימא ברמיזא

  4. Does it really need to be explained to the msm that these people are, like the Neturei Karta, a fringe bunch of kooks?
    No one should paint an entire community with the same brush due to the meshigaz of a few.
    (Without getting into the anti-vax debate at all, just regarding the epic stupidity they showcased today.)

  5. Well said. Unfortunately, the misguided anti-vaxxers will not likely understand the consequences of their behavior. While we know the difference is vast, there will be those in the anti-circumcision movement who will be highly motivated by the passing of this bill.

  6. I completely and flatly disagree, this is not an overreach at all.
    The state is not requiring people to vaccinate their children, they’re just ensuring that the places we send our children to are safe. This is their obligation.
    The state has an obligation to protect children, it is for this reason that groups like j witnesses that have legitimate religious beliefs against blood transfusions, or it was always overruled by the state when it comes to the health of children. We completely ignore their religious requirements against blood transfusions and give them to children anyway.
    Should someone claim a religious exemption from giving their child chemotherapy, the state would step in and the courts would require it.
    I think this is long overdue, and should become law of the land.
    personally, I would have no problem if the state requires all children be vaccinated, but that is not what they’re doing. They just requiring that didn’t order to going to schools and camps you be vaccinated and there’s no exemption based on religion.
    There’s no exemption based on religion for paying taxes, or most of anything in this country.

  7. One could be pro-vaccination [ as I have been]
    And still be worried of allowing and applauding government To pass these bills
    As it is a backdoor slippery slope
    give them a foot in the door..

    Furthermore, we are pro-vaxx because wewere afraid of an outbreak understandably
    that is what happens unfortunately And happened
    The medical -government-big Pharma establishment seemed almost relieved there was an outbreak
    they appeared more terrified If there wouldn’t have been

  8. This is conclusive proof that there is not a shred of “religious” in their position. One may be perturbed at a piece of legislation that is against their opinion. That’s an inalienable right. But the freedom that these baalei aveiroh took to cause a chilul Hashem, behaving in ways that make Yiddishkeit look disgusting, performing acts of obscenity and personal threat leave no doubt that Torah and halacha are uninvolved. Shame on them. How dare these resho’im desecrate the kedusha of Klal Yisroel! Torah and Halacha DO NOT HAVE any religious exemption. Claiming that it does is מגלה פנים בתורה שלא כהלכה. I guess pressure brings out the true midos of a person, and we have discovered what this cult really is.

  9. That crazed man giving the finger looks like a grubbe ferd. Chugging along like a horse and picking up his hands.

    And who ever heard of frum women (one of which was probably that grubbe ferd’s wife) screaming and yelling like hyenas in public? What happened to Kol Kevuda Bas Melech P’nima? Those women, like all Jewish wives, should be in the kitchen making cholent for Shabbos. Not parading like men in public.

  10. I dont understand why we all lost they repealed the religious exemption on vaccinations they didnt repeal freedom of religion, its very good they passed this

  11. As far as the above article claiming that removing the religious exemption to vaccinate is a blow to religious freedom, the article is contradictory since it also claims that the anti-vaxxers shouldn’t have advocated against vaccinating.

    If not vaccinating is wrong, at the article implies, what problem is there if there’s no exemption to not vaccinating.

  12. The Rabbis fault, they and school vaad did not kick these kids out in the begining. Bidg deal, they ccould have opened their own school and pronto. And yes rabbis keep ignoring all kind of community issues until it becomes something irreversible

  13. This is what happens when some communal leaders are too ineffectual, conflicted, misinformed, or basically wrong to keep our own house in order—OR when some community members dressed in the frummest garb and speaking in the frummest language have a shaky attachment to Torah law.

    In some ways, this reminds us of the occasional violent episodes caused by kanoim in Eretz Yisrael.

    Ego-driven people whose slogan is “I know better!” can be a menace.

  14. Editor, now you can do some good old journalism and print the names and pictures of all of these masquerading as frumer Yidden.

  15. The author contends that “What developed is a devastating loss for religious freedom and an assault on the very constitutional rights that have enabled the Orthodox Jewish community to flourish on these shores.” This is blatantly untrue.
    Mandating vaccinations has been declared constitutional in 1905 (Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11) in a landmark ruling the court declared “the state may be justified in restricting individual liberty… under the pressure of great dangers” to the safety of the “general public”.

    Regarding the religious freedom aspect, the court have time and time upheld that the first amendment can limit freedoms to practice religion as long as it is acting in furtherance of a “compelling state interest”. Clearly immunizing children from diseases which can cause serious harm or death qualifies for this. See Reynolds v. U.S., 1878; Newmark v. Williams., 1991; Matter of Joseph Hofbauer 47 N.Y.2d 648 (1979)

  16. What happened in the gallery was a terrible Chillul Hashem. There are no 2 ways about it. These so-called Chassidishe ladies publicly showed their stupidity and immaturity for all the world to see. They must have other issues going on with their lives. This behavior doesn’t come out of nowhere.
    I agree with the above commentors that these rebel rousers are only a small fringe of a fringe and in no way represent the Chassidishe community or it’s otherwise tzniusdik women. It was painful to watch the videos of them.

  17. Parsonage is an exemption for leaders of ANY religious order and it’s from the housing costs only. Most importantly and why it is not comparable, parsonage is not an exemption due to religious beliefs, it’s essentially a gift from the federal government.

  18. Jojo is correct. It is very clear that the government has the power to mandate coercive public health measures. The two states that have long banned religious exemptions are both Christian bible belt states — West Virginia and Mississippi. The Christians there don’t seem to be threatened. California joined that list just a few years ago after a list of vaccination rates in every school found many Jewish schools had terribly low vaccination rates. Maine joined the list a few weeks ago and now New York fortunately has been added to the list.

    Jeffrey Dinowitz is my State Assemblyman. I know him. He is Jewish, but not orthodox. Why would he be inspired to consider a religious lifestyle when orthodox Jews treat him in this way?

  19. I disagree with the editorial..it has NOTHING to do with religious freedom…if a religion would say we need to kill for the sake of religion…would that be restricting the religion to not allow them to kill??

    Anti-vaxxers are causing harm to others — that is the issue…nothing to do with religious freedom.

  20. Respectful people act with respect, so you don’t hear or see them in your face. It’s only the disrespectful people who are so visible and loud. And sadly, the media give them all the attention, because they make for interesting content, more viewers, and therefore more ad money.
    These rude people do not speak for the Orthodox community, and they surely don’t speak for the families who have serious issues with vaccinations. Unfortunately, even children with health issues can have a difficult time getting a medical exemption, and this new law now made life even more difficult for these children. The people who have sick children are busy running to doctors and trying to advocate for their children, not yelling rudely in court rooms.
    As usual, the loud one and the fool take all the attention.

  21. Shame on YWN for posting only parts. Can YWN please post ALL talks given by assemblymen that oppose the bill and the reasons they are stating….
    This is a SAD day for Klal Yisroel, very sad. The state has a right on religion. We are giving them the authority to decide on what is a religious issue and what not. Every single person that supports any bill to take away any religious rights, even if you feel it is unwarranted, will be responsible for any further issues Yidden will have pertaining to religion. Bris milah, shechita, end of life issues, this is just the beginning…..
    And don’t think Congress has your best interests in mind, since the same that want to remove religious exemptions and mandate vaccines are also for abortions. Let them make up their minds if they do or don’t care about lives!
    The Shechina is in galus and we need to daven for ultimate redemption, America / NY is becoming an unsafe place for any G-d fearing Jew.

  22. What an abomination! Well, the anti-Vaxxers have shown their true colors. While they pretend to be frum, they clearly are not. Curses?! Threats?! Unbelievable!! And women yelling in public??!! But, the fact that they wear the garb that is typically associated with frum Jews paints us all in a bad light. Now that there are pictures and videos of these people, they need to be ostracized and made unwelcome in their schools, Schuls, and communities – and for that matter, in all Jewish communities in America! What a Shanda! At least take off the clothing that makes people think you are religious Jews!! Wear jeans and baseball caps-much more appropriate for the way you are behaving!

  23. hml wrote “It’s time these lunatics are named and shamed. I hope people can identify these thugs – their wives as well.”

    Mashgiach 1 wrote “Editor, now you can do some good old journalism and print the names and pictures of all of these masquerading as frumer Yidden.”

    I’m sorry to report that both of you, and many others, have failed the test.

    It is indeed hard to maintain awareness that Hashem is running the world . . . but, only all the time.

    Everything in life is a test for sure, and WE ALL need to respond to life events with Yiras Samayim, instead of statements along the lines of:

    – “Hey, get ’em! Let’s expose them! Shame them! And their wives, too!”

    Sounds too much to me like all the splinter groups that existed prior to and during the temple destruction period.

    Well, back then, they failed the tests too. When I see continuation of this same pattern, of sinas chiman, woven throughout the YWN replies to articles, it saddens me.

    I love all of you so much, and my aches for all of you and for myself to finally get it right and pass these tests. After all, it’s getting late in history right now.

  24. What developed is a devastating loss for religious freedom and an assault on the very constitutional rights that have enabled the Orthodox Jewish community to flourish on these shores.

    I agree that it is a loss for religious people, but it is not an assault on constitutional rights. There is no such thing as a constitutional right to a religious exemption from a generally applicable law. Legislatures are allowed to make such exemptions, and it is a long-standing tradition to make them, but the constitution has never required it. It’s always been the legislature’s choice; once upon a time it decided one way, and now it has decided another way.

    I wish it had not done this, and there was no need for it to do this. It could instead have handled it the way the religious exemption from paying social security taxes is handled. You can’t just tell the IRS that you have a sincere religious objection to social security so you don’t want to pay the tax. Rather, the IRS has a list of religious sects that it has verified have a genuine religious objection to social security, and you have to prove (e.g. by a letter from your minister) that you are a member of such a sect. If a sect wishes to be added to the list it must convince the IRS that it has a genuine religious objection.

    The state could have handled exemptions from vaccination the same way. Let the “frum” anti-vaxxers declare that they are not Orthodox Jews but something else,, and convince the Education Department that their objection to vaccination is indeed religious in nature, and then send letters to all their members declaring אין לנו חלק באלקי ישראל ר״ל. Then they can go to public schools without vaccination, because their children should not be accepted into any Orthodox Jewish schools.

  25. eric55 and Joseph, the issue is that there are religions (not ours) that do have genuine objections to vaccination (or to all medicine). While the constitution does not require them to be given exemptions from generally applicable laws, it is a long-standing American tradition to do so. Now they have lost this privilege and are being oppressed; they can no longer send their children to public schools without violating their consciences. That is sad and wrong.

  26. I think constitutionally-minded people have their heads too far into the theoretical by saying this could be a slippery slope. Remember, there was never actually a religious reason. Vaccination is mutar. This was a simple case of people exploiting a loophole to circumvent the law (by the way, atheist anti-vaxxers also claim “religious exemption” because it’s the easiest way to avoid it).

    If people could make up halachos to claim religious exemption, nobody would pay taxes, follow speed limits, etc. The only people who might have a problem now are the Christian Scientists. Not our monkey, not our circus.

  27. Jojo ,et al
    In That Era when The Stated goals of legal government and legislation were For a higher Rigid teleos
    eg blue laws, morality laws, prohibition
    Then Jacobson V Massachusetts made A certain sense within context
    Now when however all that has been trounced With the purported Goals often Quite to the contrary
    Pulling that one out of a hat May well turn into Worrisome disguised precedent

  28. Why cant we also hear the pain in their voices? One woman is yelling: My children are vaccine injured! This mother desperately needs the govt funded special ed schools and therapists to teach her now disabled kids.

    Not only was she a kurban tzibbur for “the greater good” but her poor kids won’t even be allowed into any school from now on as it is almost impossible to get a medical exemption in NYS unless you are immunocompromised.

  29. Those who believe that Jews have a religious exemption are free to keep their children from the schools and home school. In the past religions with true religious grounds have vaccinated their children in the best interests of public health(Anabaptists, 7th Day Adventists) .

  30. אדם ניכר בכיסו בכעסו ובכוסו

    Though I disagree completely with the anti-vaxxers, I would still feel somewhat consoled if they handled all their stuff like mentchen. But their anger here released behavior that indicates their true level of tum’ah. If being upset leads to vulgarity, cursing, and threatening, then we have all learned something about them. I would hope the rest of Klal Yisroel rejects them in every way, from our yeshivos, to shidduchim, to batei medrash. No, I am not looking to harm them. But they are now to be suspected of anything, and that obligates me to protect myself and the rest of Klal Yisroel.

  31. Who here remembers whne AmiLiving gaave fawning coverage to one of these meshugenner antivax ladies? That nutjov let her mother die of cancer! It was in issue 2. Thats what type of crazies these people are.

  32. Faigy,

    If that is indeed the case, I’m surr she can get an exemption.

    On the same note, its worthy to note that 53 did vote against it.

  33. waitingforgeulah, what happy pills are you taking? I’d like some so I can retreat into a fantasy world of sweetness & light & unicorns and stuff.

  34. GAON I wish u were right, but the only way to get a medical exemption is if one is immunocompromised, or if the Dr thinks this person will die (any other side effect doesnt count) from the vaccine. With all respect to Drs, I don’t think any Dr is a Nuvi.

  35. Faigy, that woman is a liar. None of her children were injured by vaccines. So she can scream and yell as loud as she likes, she deserves no sympathy, and certainly no exemption.

    And you are wrong when you claim “any other side effect doesn’t count”. if there is a serious reason to think a child’s health will be harmed by the vaccine they can get a medical exemption. But there must be such a reason, not something made up by insane delusional people, or by wicked liars like Andrew Wakefield yimach shemo.