“Whoever isn’t vaccinated is a murderer” reads a rabbinic letter recently signed by leading charedi rabbis in Israel, according to Yeshiva World News. The kol koreh was distributed after a spread of Measles in the ultra-Orthodox communities in Israel and around the world. Earlier this month an unvaccinated infant died, and more than 1300 people have been infected with a preventable disease. The Gedolim who signed the Kol Koreh include: Rav Yitzchak Silberstein, Rav Shimon Ba’adani, Rav Sriel Rosenberg, Rav Moshe Shaul Klein Rav Menachem Mendel Lubin.
As we have written before, Jewish law requires a person to use the best science and medicine available to care for one’s health and well-being. With that in mind, this recent spate of Measles cases is puzzling. There seems to be some misguided people within the frum community who have fallen prey to the anti-vaxxer narrative and not inoculated their children, thinking they were making the safest choice. They are now endangering themselves, their communities, and the world at large. Orthodox rabbis from around the world are strongly speaking out to try to restore sanity and safety.
Also, according to YWN, Rav Moshe Sternbuch instructed that every father must make certain that his children are vaccinated.” He backed up his ruling with sections from the Shulchan Aruch, explaining that carelessness in this matter would cause loss of life.
On the U.S. front, charedi rabbis are also slamming anti-vaxxers. Rav Shmuel Fuerst of Agudath Yisrael of Illinois joined the growing list of top ultra-Orthodox rabbis releasing halachic rulings explaining the obligation to vaccinate. According to YWN, Rav Fuerst wrote: “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’ [don’t stand idly by your neighbor’s blood]– 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.”
Lakewood, New Jersey, another center of charedi life in the U.S. has not been spared this Measles outbreak. According to the Lakewood Scoop, there are at least 11 confirmed cases of Measles in Lakewood. Local Rabbis have said, “Nobody has the right to endanger others by not vaccinating their children.” Gyms and shuls are shunning members who have not been vaccinated.