Friday, May 31, 2019

Every Day I Say To Myself "I heard It all" ---- And Every Day I Realize I Did Not!

European rabbis call on world body that regulates emojis to add images that represent Jews

(JTA) — An organization of European rabbis has called on the world body that regulates emojis to add images that represent Jews.

The Conference of European Rabbis in a letter to the Unicode Consortium called for new emojis that show men in kippahs and women in head coverings.

In addition to its main function of developing a universal character encoding scheme allowing people around the world to use computers in any language, the nonprofit consortium also selects the emoji icons used by the world’s smartphones based on submissions from individuals and organizations who present their case with evidence for why each one is essential.

“There are emojis of women in the hijab and Arab clerics, and the Jews have been forgotten,” a statement from the Conference of European Rabbis read.

“The need for equality and non-discrimination begins with the small things, which in this case may seem minor but have enormous significance and long-term effects. The WhatsApp application is used daily by millions of citizens around the world, especially the young,” the letter said.

Making emojis more inclusive by including some that look like traditional Jews is a way to make the world more inclusive, the letter said.

“If it is legitimate to present a family consisting of two men or two women, and to present the traditional attire of the Islamic religion, we believe that there is room for presenting Jewish symbols as well,” it also said. “The Jewish religion should not be left behind; it should be brought to the center of public discourse and made equal among the other religions.”


Thursday, May 30, 2019

A child who has been abused doesn’t wear the evidence of abuse as obviously as a child who has been infected with the measles. However, anecdotes are not science, and child sexual abuse is far more prevalent and perhaps more deadly than measles.....

The Danger of a Little Knowledge – Vaccinations and Child Sexual Abuse

As measles rages through major Orthodox Jewish communities, the vaccination debate naturally follows. It is a story of personal anecdote and a presumed expertise versus the scientific method and evidence based medicine. Our ignorance on vaccination efficacy mirrors our ignorance on child sexual abuse, where evidence based scientific studies in immunology (the former) and sociology (the latter) are valued less than our own personal beliefs. The biggest irony is that those who rightfully lecture anti-vaxxers on the value of science are often similarly blind when it comes to child sexual abuse. While many like to blame prominent Rabbis, the fault doesn’t truly lie with them. Rabbis can be blamed for not leading, but much of the fault lies within our own culture.

In fact, this blog post was inspired by reading online debate about vaccination, and noting how similar it was to debate on abuse (including some outspoken abuse defenders mocking anti-vaxxers for being unscientific). Of course, people rarely feel their own position is extreme. Nobody call themselves “abuse-defenders” or “anti-vaxx”.  They try to minimize and gaslight their own positions. Those who oppose vaccination don’t say things like, “Vaccines are poison, a conspiracy, and don’t work”.  Rather, they say:
I’m not anti-vaccination. I just feel there are some vaccines that my child doesn’t need, and I have questions I feel haven’t been legitimately answered.

I’m not anti-vaccination. I just know someone whose kid got autism and I just don’t know if there’s a link, so I want to be careful and follow my own schedule.

I’m not anti-vaccination. But I know what’s best for my own kid and don’t like the government telling me what to do.
Likewise, nobody says, “I love child molesters and think they should be protected.”  Rather they say:
Nobody is more anti-child molester than me! But you have to understand that in this case the allegations aren’t even sexual, and besides, they were all from a misunderstanding that took place 20 years ago. Maybe it was a bit inappropriate but not illegal. I need 100% proof.

I totally think child molesters belong in jail, but since this alleged abuser is not in jail, we have to trust him/her with our kids.  Besides, I know the alleged abuser personally and he/she would never do such a thing! He has done so much good.

I am totally against child abusers. But you have to understand that there is bad blood with this kid and she is a constant trouble maker. And the alleged abuser has kids to marry off. Since we aren’t sure, let’s just keep an eye on him
Am I making a false equivalency? I don’t think so because the same erroneous thinking and pattern of positional gaslighting underpins both arguments.

If you think this post doesn’t apply to you because you vaccinate, ask yourself why you trust the scientific method on measles, but not on child sexual abuse protection. For those who do believe in vaccination but not child safety, ask yourself why?

If we treated measles the way we treat child sexual abuse, here is what we’d say:
  • Teach your kids to be careful around those who have the measles.
  • Tell your kids to learn how not to get infected when they are near measles
  • Request those who get the measles to daven at a different shul where people don’t know they are sick.
  • When someone gets the measles, make sure to point out that he or she went 30 years without getting the measles.
  • Have the Rabbis keep an eye on people with measles to make sure they don’t cough.
  • Assign a shomer so the person with measles can attend community events with the unvaccinated.
  • Tell the child he or she does not really have measles at all, but just a rash, and that they are being reactionary to believe their doctor.
It is impossible to argue with someone when you don’t have a common basis for truth. To enter any argument, we must agree on the validity of the scientific method. Sadly, speakers at frum events on child safety and vaccination often offer tiny morsels of information to their audience. Those dispensing poor advise often have titles like PhD, MD and LCSW, impressing the audience. This leads to the listeners learning “a little bit of knowledge”, and confidently make poor choices for their

The scientific method is a way of thinking, a process where we ask questions, form a hypothesis, test that hypothesis, analyze the results, share the results, and most importantly, continue to study and analyze. Scientific studies are designed to test the success (or failure) of everything from medicine to social programs. They are shared with colleagues for critical review that feeds into new questions and new tests. Evidence based medicine is our term for learning from science, constantly reviewing and questioning our results. It is a continuous process of questioning core ideas and challenging their truth, an idea which can be foreign to any fundamentalist worldview.
In the study of vaccination or immunology, new vaccines can only be declared successful after large studies with thousands of people. There is a closed loop process, where failures are analyzed for root cause and success is constantly questioned to be sure it is real. Scientists know that even success needs to be studied.

To borrow from the Simpsons, there are no tigers in my backyard, but I don’t attribute that to my magic tiger repelling rock. However, there are also few mosquitoes in my backyard which I attribute to my work to reduce standing water. Thanks to science, I can tell you that a lack of mosquitoes is due to my own action, and a lack of tigers is not. While those who oppose vaccination try to insinuate scientists are blind to the natural decline in polio and measles, in fact, proper scientific method means even questioning success.  Studies must test a hypothesis, reduce biases, and most importantly must be repeatable and open to the scrutiny of peer review.

As an activist for child safety in our schools, camps, and synagogues, the same thinking must apply to sociology. When a recent homegrown child safety program came to town, I asked a Rabbi why he was sponsoring it. The answer was an anecdote – that he heard from someone else that it was a good program. I proceeded to follow the chain of “heard from someone else”, and quickly found that just like “vaccines cause autism”, nobody could point to the person who actually studied and approved the program. Everybody just assumed it was effective (and not harmful) because everybody else assumed it was effective (and not harmful).

I figured the person who invented the program might be of some help, so I asked the presenter directly. This person who travels the world peddling a program not only failed to point to scientific studies and peer review, but refused to share the materials at all. Evidence based medicine only works when the evidence is open for peer review. The same goes for sociological problems in our schools and synagogues.  Is it possible this community program only worked to stop child abuse in the same way that a rock can keep tigers away? The organizers would show me no test or study to see if the program actually had a positive impact.

The scientific method is not about test tubes and beakers but solving problems in the real world. You can analyze the base rate of measles in a population before and after a vaccination program to see if it works. In the same way, you can find other metrics in a school setting to see if a proposed program works to reduce child abuse. When a vaccine fails or causes injury, millions of dollars are spent to analyze why and prevent it in the future. What happens when an institution using a homegrown child safety program has a failure? Those millions aren’t spent analyzing the failure, but often on PR and lawyers to protect the institution, and sometimes even the abuser.

If you are going to invite one of the Jewish community safety organizations to your school, ask them about independent research such as that published by Darkness To Light.  You wouldn’t put a syringe in your child full of medicine that wasn’t tested, so why trust your child’s safety to programs that aren’t published and haven’t stood up to scientific scrutiny?

The same community failure occurs when we doubt the stories of abuse survivors, based on our affinity for the abuser or the abuser’s institution. While it can be easy for those not versed in clinical practice and the study of forensic interviews to say, “It’s the kid’s word against the adult”, those who work in the field of child sexual abuse understand child disclosure. A forensic interview is a controlled process to document a report of abuse. Our Rabbis and Principals are not trained to provide these interviews, and abuse policies that require a school director or synagogue Rabbi to evaluate if a claim should be reported to police risk contaminating future investigations.

It should be no surprise that the same Rabbinic Authorities that declare child abuse must be reported first to the School Principal/Rabbi are also the ones on the forefront of questioning the efficacy of vaccines. Many of the communities that are in the news today with measles outbreaks were in the news yesterday with child abuse cover-ups.

But ask yourself – if you believe strongly in the importance of vaccination and deride those who question it, are you committing the same logical errors on child abuse? Relying on lack of police action to defend inaction on child abuse is potentially just as negligent as permitting religious exemptions for non vaccination. In both cases, the law is being followed to its bare minimum, disregarding the value of public health and possibly putting children at risk. While it is true that most states provide “religious exemptions” for not vaccinating in public schools, our private schools (which are supposed to teach us our religion) should not be allowing them! Are they breaking the law? No. Are they putting our children at risk? In my opinion, yes. Our private schools should not have religious exemptions for vaccination.

And oddly enough, statements from clerical leadership use platitudes that could be copy/pasted between vaccination and child abuse. These are not exact quotes but amalgamations of statements I have read on both vaccination and child safety:
  • This is an issue of great concern to us, but we don’t want to do anything unless we are 100% sure.
  • There haven’t been enough studies to prove what you are saying.
  • We oppose people who believe/act this way, but it is very rare in our communities.
  • We are doing fantastically effective things to reduce this rare problem.
  • Those who say we aren’t doing a good job are just anti-Semites who are making the non-existent problem worse.
The truth is, we see more action on vaccination than on child abuse because when it comes to measles, it is harder to shut our collective eyes. A child who has been abused doesn’t wear the evidence of abuse as obviously as a child who has been infected with the measles. However, anecdotes are not science, and child sexual abuse is far more prevalent and perhaps more deadly than measles. It is time our community honor evidence based medicine and the scientific method, and apply it with the same care in all matters to keep our children safe.


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

“The Jewish community is not immune to—and I’ll put it nicely—nuts.” A handful of high-profile leaders, including an influential rabbi in Lakewood, New Jersey, (a nursing home escapee from Philadelphia) oppose vaccination, often offering justifications on religious grounds. Despite warnings from Orthodox rabbis, a recent gathering of anti-vaxxers in Rockland County drew an audience of hundreds, many of whom were Jewish....

Measles Can Be Contained. Anti-Semitism Cannot.

As the measles has spread in and around New York, so has anti-Semitism.

Amid an outbreak largely attributed to the anti-vax movement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention disclosed that, as of mid-May, 880 cases have been confirmed nationwide in 2019, “the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1994 and since measles was declared eliminated in 2000.” Since September 2018, 535 cases have been confirmed in Brooklyn and Queens alone, largely concentrated in Orthodox Jewish communities. Another 247 cases have been confirmed in Rockland County, north of New York City, also largely among Orthodox Jews.

The spread of measles is matched by a twin pathology. Since the start of the latest measles outbreak last fall, the Anti-Defamation League has seen a spike in reports of harassment specifically related to measles, yet another expression of rising anti-Semitism in the U.S.: pedestrians crossing the street to get away from visibly Jewish people, bus drivers barring Jews from boarding, and people tossing out slurs such as “dirty Jew.”

The distinctive demographics of the Orthodox world—lots of babies, tight-knit neighborhoods, frequent international travel—have compounded the recent measles outbreak. But just as the anti-vaccination movement feeds off a handful of fringe outsiders, long-standing stereotypes about Jews have found a new vector in this disease. Rabbis, community leaders, and public-health officials are working desperately to educate people in the Orthodox population who are scared or uncertain about vaccines, hoping to curb the spread of this dangerous illness. The outbreak of anti-Semitism, however, might prove much harder to contain.

Anti-Semites have long associated Jews with disease: Scholars have theorized that Dracula, the titular character in Bram Stoker’s story about a parasitic, deadly vampire who travels from Transylvania to England in search of new blood, might have been crafted to evoke insidious stereotypes of Jews. In New York, a very real public-health crisis has fed the image that Orthodox Jews are insular, ignorant, and against vaccines, when in reality the vast majority of this community—and Jews more broadly—support vaccination.

Rivkie Feiner, a community volunteer in Monsey, a town in Rockland County, told me she’s heard numerous stories of people yelling about measles or making derogatory comments when they see Jews. A man walked by her son in Costco and said, “I guess if I get the measles, I’m getting it here.” One local rabbi told her that during a visit to Rite Aid with his family, a group of teenagers screamed at them from the parking lot, “Hitler should have killed you all with the measles.” Feiner has lived in Monsey for basically all her life, she said, and in the past few years, “there have been more anti-Semitic incidents than in [her] entire life combined.”

The reasons behind the recent measles outbreak are complicated. The New York cases likely have origins in Israel and Ukraine, both of which are experiencing their own outbreaks of the disease. 
CDC officials have traced a handful of October cases in Rockland County to unvaccinated travelers arriving to the United States from Israel. The contagion there, according to the World Health Organization and The New York Times, was likely exacerbated by travelers returning from a pilgrimage to Uman, Ukraine, where some Jews pay respects to the grave of an important rabbi, Nachman of Breslov, on the holiday of Rosh Hashanah. Ukraine is currently experiencing an unprecedented measles outbreak, with 54,000 cases reported in 2018, according to Science magazine.

Orthodox Jews frequently travel back and forth between Israel and the United States, creating opportunities for the disease to spread, especially among unvaccinated people. On a recent press call, Nancy Messonnier, the CDC’s vaccine director, reported that 44 cases of measles have been brought to the U.S. by international travelers this year. More than 90 percent of those travelers, she said, were either unvaccinated or had an unknown vaccination status.

While unvaccinated people seeded the outbreak, the number of small children in Orthodox communities has helped it spread. Aaron Glatt, the chief of infectious diseases and the resident epidemiologist at the South Nassau Communities hospital on Long Island, told me that “even in relatively highly vaccinated communities, if you have a lot of little children under the age of one … you’re going to have an awful lot of young children at high risk for contagion.” The standard CDC guidelines on the measles, mumps, and rubella, or MMR, vaccine recommends that children receive a first dose at around 12 months and a second dose four to six years later. But for young children who might be exposed to the disease, especially through travel, the CDC recommends getting vaccinated sooner: as early as six months, with a second dose just four weeks later. Glatt has been working with public-health officials to share information about these updated guidelines, which could make a big difference in Orthodox neighborhoods with lots of babies.

In addition to his role as a doctor and an epidemiologist, Glatt is the assistant rabbi at Young Israel of Woodmere, a large Orthodox Jewish congregation on Long Island’s south shore. Communities like his are tight-knit, he said, and “unbelievably caring.” But this can have negative side effects: “There are many communal events, where, unfortunately, if somebody’s contagious, there will be tons of opportunities to spread that,” he said. “The nature of the community—so compassionate and close with each other—facilitates the spread of kindness, but also contagion.”

In Brooklyn, where the largest number of cases among the Orthodox has occurred, public-health statistics suggest that vaccination rates are actually quite high, even in two of the neighborhoods that have been hit hardest by the outbreak. According to New York State data for the 2017 to 2018 school year, 94 percent of kids at Orthodox Jewish schools in Williamsburg, along with 97 percent in Borough Park, have gotten their MMR vaccines. (These numbers do not include preschool-age kids, however.) Current vaccination rates might be even higher, given the recent vaccination push in these communities.

Rabbis and other Jewish communal leaders have played central roles in these efforts to encourage vaccination. A number of high-profile Orthodox rabbis have said that according to Jewish law, vaccinating is not just acceptable, it is required, because it protects and preserves life. A prominent Orthodox newspaper, Hamodia, has been running ads encouraging people to get vaccinated. Women in the community have also been working to distribute accurate medical information to Orthodox mothers, who often make medical decisions for their kids. Shoshana Bernstein, a mom in Monsey, collaborated with public-health officials on a handbook called Tzim Gezint—Yiddish for “good health,” often said after people sneeze—which offers culturally sensitive information about vaccines.
Despite these efforts, Glatt said, “the Jewish community is not immune to—and I’ll put it nicely—nuts.” A handful of high-profile leaders, including an influential rabbi in Lakewood, New Jersey, oppose vaccination, often offering justifications on religious grounds. Despite warnings from Orthodox rabbis, a recent gathering of anti-vaxxers in Rockland County drew an audience of hundreds, many of whom were Jewish.

Once a rumor about the danger of vaccines starts spreading, it can be powerful, regardless of a community’s faith background. Members of Orthodox communities are often suspicious of outsiders, including non-Jewish public-health officials, and many don’t have access to the internet to do their own research. People are scared, says Israel Zyskind, a pediatrician in Borough Park who mostly treats the Orthodox. “Patients [who] were previously for vaccinating, or happily vaccinating their child and trusting their pediatrician, are now questioning … whether they should be worried, and should be concerned,” he told me. One young couple I met in Borough Park on a recent visit said they asked their rabbi before vaccinating their children; the father said he often hears men speculate about the danger of vaccines in synagogue after they meet for morning prayers.

All of this is happening at a time when Jews feel under attack. Deadly shootings at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and the Chabad of Poway in Southern California have shaken the country. Several New England Chabad houses, which serve as Orthodox Jewish welcome centers, have recently been targeted with arson; a man threw Molotov cocktails at a synagogue in Chicago. In the very neighborhoods in Brooklyn where the measles is now spreading, more than a dozen Jews have been violently assaulted in recent months. Whether or not they’re Orthodox, the people who are visibly Jewish—because they wear a yarmulke or a wig, for example—are the most vulnerable. “It’s the easiest person to target,” says Evan Bernstein, the New York and New Jersey regional director at the ADL. “People that are overtly Orthodox are being somewhat ostracized because of the measles epidemic.”

The measles has spread among Orthodox Jews for complicated reasons, and the public-health conditions in those communities are nuanced. The thing about anti-Semitism, though, is that it’s not typically compatible with nuance. Vaccines are embraced by the vast majority of Jews and Jewish leaders; anti-vax conspiracy theories are a human phenomenon, not a Jewish one. And yet associations have staying power. With every new case of measles in Jewish Brooklyn, with every photograph of an Orthodox school paired with an article on the outbreak, the perceived connection between Jews and disease grows a little stronger. And no vaccine can eradicate that.


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

TELL NO ONE (2019) | Full Documentary Movie by Tomasz Sekielski | English Subtitles --- Not For The Faint of Heart!

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — One victim spoke out, and then another, and another. A statue of a pedophile priest was toppled in Gdansk, put back by his supporters, and finally dismantled for good. A feature film about clerical abuse was a box office hit.

Poland thought it had started confronting the problem of clerical abuse and its cover-up by church authorities. Then a bombshell came: A documentary with victim testimony so harrowing it has forced an unprecedented reckoning with pedophile priests in one of Europe’s most deeply Catholic societies.

Poland’s bishops acknowledged this week they face a crisis and made a rare admission that they have failed to protect the young. It’s also a crisis for the country’s conservative government, which is closely aligned with the Catholic Church, putting the ruling Law and Justice party on the defensive before Sunday’s European Parliament vote in Poland.

The documentary ”Tell No One ” was directed by journalist Tomasz Sekielski. Before its release on May 11, ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski had described discussion about clerical abuse as a “brutal attack” on the church and portrayed the LGBT rights movement as the key threat to children in the country. But the revelations in the documentary have pushed the party to face up to the cleric abuse crisis. It has vowed stiffer penalties for pedophilia, although its leaders have avoided pointing a finger at the church specifically.

Across the country, the film has triggered soul searching and raised questions, including whether the same bishops who moved perpetrators from parish to parish for years will be capable of cleansing the church. Some wonder if Poland, which is already being reshaped by economic growth and secularization, could eventually follow Ireland, where the abuse crisis broke the Catholic Church’s hold on society.

Crowdfunded and free on YouTube, “Tell No One” has gotten more than 21 million views so far and has prompted a new wave of survivors to come forward. About 150 people have contacted a foundation helping victims of clerical abuse, “Have No Fear.”

 One was an 86-year-old man who was molested when he was 6 and had never told anyone until now.

“He finally understood that he is not alone,” said Anna Frankowska, a lawyer for the organization who took his call.

“A huge tsunami has come, and there is no way this issue can be swept under the rug now,” she said. “It has to be addressed.”

Michal Wojciechowicz, a 54-year-old abused in his youth by a prominent Solidarity-era priest, the late Rev. Henryk Jankowski, sees a “revolution” whose time has come thanks to clerical sexual abuse revelations elsewhere as well as reforms by Pope Francis.

“The Catholic Church had power over people for centuries. We needed to wait for the right time, and this is the right time,” said Wojciechowicz, a writer. “The most important thing is that people are now willing to listen.”

The church has played an inspirational role in Poland, keeping its language and culture alive during a long era of occupation and foreign rule and supporting the anti-communist Solidarity movement in the 1980s. To generations, the church has been an advocate for freedom and a source of solace under hardship, and to many, Catholic faith and traditions are synonymous with Polishness itself.

A Polish pope who is now a saint, John Paul II, was a moral authority and a political hero for opposing communism, but even his legacy is now in question due to his failure to tackle clerical abuse.

Recognition of the problem came slowly at first. A book published six years ago by a Dutch journalist had the accounts of Polish victims and five years ago ”Have No Fear ” was founded to offer victims counseling and legal help. But the last eight months have brought the most dramatic milestones. A feature film about corrupt, abusive priests, “Clergy,” was a blockbuster after its September release.

Then in December, Barbara Borowiecka, 62, told Polish media about being abused when she was 11 by Jankowski, a prominent prelate in Lech Walesa’s anti-communist Solidarity movement in Gdansk, where a monument of him stood.

Borowiecka was encouraged to tell her story by another priest who brought her back to the church after a nearly five-decade break. Before his death in 2016, he made her promise to publicly name her aggressor when she was strong enough.

Shaken by Borowiecka’s story, three activists from Warsaw — Konrad Korzeniowski, Rafal Suszek i Michal Wojcieszczuk — traveled to Gdansk in February and in the middle of the night put a rope around the Jankowski monument and pulled it down.

“There was something in Borowiecka’s story that chilled me to the bone. It was shocking. The length of her isolation, the embarrassment she had to feel, that her own mother didn’t believe her,” said Korzeniowski, a computer programmer. “Even though I was aware of what is happening in the church with pedophilia, it put a face to it, and I was crying.”

They placed children’s underwear, shoes and white lace church vestments on the toppled statue to symbolize his victims’ suffering, then called police to turn themselves in. They also accused Jankowski, the church and society at large for remaining indifferent to his crimes and the venomous anti-Semitism he spread in his sermons.

Poles awoke to news of the toppled statue as the Vatican began hosting a landmark meeting on clerical sex abuse.

Two days later, the priest’s supporters, shipyard workers in Gdansk, re-erected the statue. During a Mass in his former church, the parish priest recalled the good done by Jankowski, who died in 2010. Pressured to act, the city dismantled the statue.

Borowiecka was touched and incredulous that three strangers risked prison — they have been charged with “insulting a monument” though no trial date has been set — to give her the relief she that feels now that the statue is gone. She met them in Warsaw this month, a warm encounter that sealed new friendships.

Days later, “Tell No One” came out, showing victims psychologically destroyed even in adulthood by their childhood abuse, priests caught by hidden cameras confessing to wrongdoing and convicted offenders still working with children.

Sekielski, the director, has been taken aback by the response, which has included new investigations and at least one priest asking to be laicized.

“A mental revolution is happening in front of our eyes. Victims are being called victims and perpetrators called perpetrators,” he told the weekly magazine Polityka.

Suszek welcomed Poland’s new awareness of clerical abuse but disagreed a revolution is underway, saying there is no mass of rebels and fearing instead a wave of emotion that could easily die down.

“If you are about to start a revolution, then you’d better have a plan for the aftermath,” Suszek said. “And nobody has a clear-cut idea about how to deal with the void that would inevitably come about when you remove the institutional church from the public sphere.”


Friday, May 24, 2019

An Orthodox Group Releases Brave PSA Video About Sexual Abuse --- Abuse happens, and it certainly happens in our communities. But it thrives the most, as this organization bravely points out, when we refuse to acknowledge it.

Amudim, the Orthodox Jewish organization that supports Orthodox youth in crisis, just released a powerful video campaign about sexual abuse, produced by Yeeshai Gross — and it’s required viewing for anyone affiliated with just about any faith community.

A mother, father and teenage daughter sit facing an authority figure — a principal, a rabbi, an educator — having a conversation that happens in every community. In each scene, the family is played by the same actors, but each time dressed differently, shuffling identities that we Jews so love to differentiate ourselves between, as Hasidic, as modern Orthodox, as yeshivish, as Masorti.

Headscarf or sheitel or bare head, black hat or velvet yarmulke or knitted kippah — it’s all the same when it comes to abuse:

“This sort of thing doesn’t happen by us. Not in our community.”
“I’ve known him for fifteen years, and he would never do that.”
“If he’s been with us for so many years — why only now did this come up?
“We need one-hundred percent proof!”
“He has a family! Children to marry off!”
“He’s done so much good. This can ruin his life.”
“We don’t air our dirty laundry.”

The look of betrayal on the young girl’s face, the parents’ horrors at witnessing their child being dismissed, the principal’s head shaking — these scenes are far from fiction. They are lifted directly from real life. Anyone who has interacted with abuse victims in a religious community has heard these phrases before, time and time again.

Ask anyone in our community who has been in the unfortunate — yet necessary — position of having to inquire about an abuser, in order to report the crime. The responses are identical, predictable almost: “But his family! But his organization! What he’s done for our people! How dare you!” Listening to a person virulently defend an alleged perpetrator’s Importance In Our Community causes a sense of vertigo. In the back of one’s mind, images flash from the private testimonies that victims have painstakingly divulged: A locked door, an unwanted hand, a lifted skirt, a hand on the mouth.

There is something particularly brave about Amudim’s depiction of these behind-closed-doors conversations. Perhaps because instead of yet another op-ed or tweet calling for reforms, Amudim harnesses the power of art, a tool too rarely used in the Orthodox community to drive change. The choice to portray these secret conversations with little commentary — simply as if we are sitting right there, in those rabbinic offices — is brilliant. Let us hope that this wakes our community up, and most importantly, that the victims among us feel seen.

Abuse happens, and it certainly happens in our communities. But it thrives the most, as this organization bravely points out, when we refuse to acknowledge it.


Thursday, May 23, 2019

Many people around the world have never seen iron lungs, smallpox scars, or the blindness caused by measles. For some, not seeing these physical reminders makes it harder to weigh up the risks and benefits of vaccination....

Experiment Reveals How to Make Nearly 70% of Vaccine-Hesitant People Change Their Mind

A new study has shown it's possible to persuade members of our community who oppose vaccines to change their opinion by confronting them with the costs of their hesitation.

Many people around the world have never seen iron lungs, smallpox scars, or the blindness caused by measles. For some, not seeing these physical reminders makes it harder to weigh up the risks and benefits of vaccination.

Researchers from Brigham Young University in the US surveyed nearly 600 students with diverse positions on vaccination, and found that meeting a person with first-hand experience of a vaccine-preventable illness could provide an opportunity for a rethink.

It's wild that measles is making a booming comeback after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had optimistically set a target for its elimination within the country's borders in the early eighties.

Harder to believe still, that the CDC's goal was actually met in 2000 as experts declared the disease was no longer endemic, meaning new cases would primarily come from abroad.

Polio's story is much the same. In the 1950s, thousands of individuals risked being paralysed by the disease. Thanks to vaccination, this is also an illness few of us will ever encounter in our lifetimes.
While global efforts to wipe out polio have managed to keep outbreaks relatively low, the same can't be said for other vaccine-preventable infections, such as measles and whooping cough.

Where most people were once keen to stick to vaccination schedules, today an increasing number of people are asking if the risks are really worth it.

"Vaccines are victims of their own success," says microbiologist Brian Poole.

"They're so effective that most people have no experience with vaccine preventable diseases. We need to reacquaint people with the dangers of those diseases."

It's a neat idea. There are good reasons to think an emotional reminder of a threat is far more likely to drive home the cost of vaccine hesitation than the cold numbers of graphs and tables.

But the human brain can be finicky when it comes to swapping teams, and our decisions on whether or not to vaccinate can be varied and complex, influenced by cultural forces as well as personal ones.

To test the extent to which an emotional reminder of 'unfashionable' diseases could work, researchers solicited the help of 56 college students who admitted to being somewhat dubious about vaccines in a survey.

Finding students with such a perspective probably wasn't much of a challenge, since they largely came from a part of Utah where vaccine coverage was among the lowest in the country.

An additional 369 students who expressed confidence in the benefits of vaccines also participated for course credits. Both groups included a number of volunteers enrolled in a course that featured content on vaccinations.

The combined sample was randomly divided into one of two groups. One half would interview a person diagnosed with an auto-immune disease; the other would talk to a person who had experience of a disease that could have been prevented by a modern vaccination program.

Both groups asked the same nine questions, seeking details on the type of illness they had, its impact on their lives, their family, and their finances.

The responses had quite an effect on some of the students.

"The pain was so bad that she ended up at a pain management clinic where they did steroid shots into her spine," reported a student who had interviewed a lady with shingles, a persistent effect from chicken pox.

"The pain meds didn't even touch her pain, even the heavy ones. For months, she couldn't leave the house."

A follow-up survey re-evaluated the volunteer's attitudes towards vaccines, while touching on their experience with their interview subject.

Of the 19 individuals who weren't studying vaccinations as part of their college curriculum and who also interviewed somebody who'd had a vaccine-preventable illness, 13 changed their minds in favour of vaccination.

Studies that included information on vaccinations also seemed to help, with all five hesitant students enrolled in a vaccine-related course shifting their opinions.

The numbers themselves aren't exactly earth-shattering, and it's important to keep in mind the study was confined to a rather limited an potentially 'WEIRD' demographic.

But taken in line with the growing pool of research claiming human narratives need to be at the centre of health education, this study shows the role personal story-telling can play in controlling the spread of disease.

"If your goal is to affect people's decisions about vaccines, this process works much better than trying to combat anti-vaccine information," says Poole.

Let's hope one day finding anybody who can tell such a story will be impossible.

This research was published in Vaccines.


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The measles outbreak makes it vital for New York lawmakers to end religious exemptions for vaccinations....

Infecting People Isn’t a Religious Right

The measles outbreak makes it vital for New York lawmakers to end religious exemptions for vaccinations.

It’s no coincidence that measles is spreading across the United States after a decade in which the number of parents claiming exemption for their children from vaccination has grown. The outbreak has been most intense in New York, particularly in deeply insular ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn and upstate that have been vulnerable to misinformation and resistant to vaccination. 

To halt the spread of the disease, bills in the State Senate and Assembly would prevent parents from claiming that their religious beliefs exempt them from legal requirements that their children be vaccinated before going to school. The American Academy of Pediatrics has made the elimination of such nonmedical exemptions its top priority this year.

The legislation would allow exemptions only if a licensed doctor certified that the immunization was detrimental to the child’s health, as is the case in current law.

Action on these sensible bills has stalled, however, just weeks before legislators leave for the summer —  even as the latest cases of the highly contagious and sometimes fatal disease were diagnosed in New York last week. 

While bills in both chambers are in committee, opposition to the legislation is centered on the Assembly, where a bill before the Health Committee has not received a vote and the committee chairman, Richard Gottfried, said it would not until a majority in the Assembly supported it. More disturbingly, Mr. Gottfried said he and other committee members thought the legislation could violate the First Amendment, echoing one of the anti-vaccine movement’s favored talking points — that beliefs about vaccines are protected by the Constitution. Mr. Gottfried said he was still wrestling with where he stood on the issue.

And while Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he opposes religious exemptions for vaccines, last month he hedged that stance, also expressing concern for First Amendment protections.

Religious freedom is important to protect, but the courts have ruled it doesn’t apply here. In upholding a California law that removed religious exemptions, a federal appeals court last year noted an earlier ruling that, “The right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose the community or the child to communicable disease or the latter to ill health or death.”

Mr. Gottfried said he was uneasy anyway. “There are probably several issues where views on the Constitution and constitutional values may differ from what the Supreme Court majority thinks,” he said.

It’s not clear what these concerns are even based on. Faith leaders themselves have acknowledged that the grounds for religious opposition to vaccines are shaky, at best. The Orthodox Union and the Rabbinical Council of America have organized a public health campaign to get parents to vaccinate their children.

Legal mandates are one of the best ways to accomplish that goal. They increase the likelihood that vaccine-wary parents will consult legitimate medical professionals who have the capacity to allay their fears. They provide a crucial counter to the factually vacuous anti-vaccine campaign, which is being waged not only on social media platforms like Facebook, but also in statehouses across the country. And, as recent experience shows, they work: When legislators in California and Michigan strengthened their mandates, vaccination rates in those states went up. 

New York City has declared a public health emergency around the measles outbreaks in Brooklyn and Queens, even closing several yeshivas — and threatening to close others — that did not comply with mandatory vaccination orders. But children throughout New York State remain vulnerable. State Senator Brad Hoylman, a lead sponsor of the legislation to end the religious exemption, said in a phone interview on Tuesday that he didn’t want to wait for tragedy to act. 

Mr. Hoylman is right, and New York’s leaders must not let this legislation continue to languish. The bill could go further — as currently written, it wouldn’t impose any penalties, for instance, on parents who violate the law and send their children to school unvaccinated. Yet, in a state with an urgent public health crisis, this is the best place to begin.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The prayer asks that the vaccines being given “bring health, blessing and redemption, and protect us from suffering and terrible diseases” and asks God to bless the nurses and doctors who provide vaccines with a “long and peaceful life, financial security and success.”

Israeli health advocate pens prayer to encourage vaccination

JERUSALEM (RNS) — In early spring, as the worldwide measles outbreak was raging, an Orthodox Israeli woman wrote a prayer to encourage religious parents to vaccinate their children.

“I’ve come across a lot of people who do vaccinate, but they often feel conflicted,” said the prayer’s author, Hannah Katsman, a lactation therapist in central Israel. “I wrote the prayer to help them see vaccines as a positive thing to be grateful for and not something to fear.”

Prayer Before a Vaccination” was published in English and Hebrew by the Open Siddur Project.

Hannah Katsman, an Orthodox Israeli lactation therapist, has written a prayer on the occasion of vaccination. She wrote the prayer to help parents see vaccines as a positive thing to be grateful for and not something to fear.

The prayer asks that the vaccines being given “bring health, blessing and redemption, and protect us from suffering and terrible diseases” and asks God to bless the nurses and doctors who provide vaccines with a “long and peaceful life, financial security and success.”

Katsman said members of a Hebrew-language pro-vaccination Facebook group, where she is active, urged her to write the prayer as the number of measles cases in Israel and elsewhere — particularly in some ultra-Orthodox enclaves — began to skyrocket. Jerusalem, New York and New Jersey have had serious outbreaks.

“These outbreaks were an impetus,” Katsman told Religion News Service. “Pockets of the Orthodox community were being hit hard,” largely due to the communities’ high birthrates and higher-than-average percentage of babies too young to vaccinate.

Although a small number of rabbis forbade their followers from vaccinating their children, the vast majority of community leaders openly endorsed vaccination.

Katsman, a public-health advocate, also wanted to pay tribute to the health professionals “who are working on the front lines, sometimes under threat,” to eradicate preventable diseases like measles and polio.

She dedicated the prayer to the memory of her brother Dr. Sholom Wacholder, a biostatistician “who was instrumental in the development of the vaccine to prevent cancers caused by HPV.”

This week, an official at one of Israel’s four HMOs asked Katsman’s permission to post the prayer in well-baby clinics throughout the country.

“This is exactly what I was hoping for,” Katsman said. “I also hope the prayer will be translated into Yiddish.”

That language is spoken by many ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Katsman doesn’t expect to change the opinion of the strongest anti-vaxxers.

“My hope is that I can give comfort to those seeking it.”


Monday, May 20, 2019

At the time of his arrest, The CJN reported that Kravetsky’s LinkedIn profile said that he was an instructor at Durham College in Oshawa and previously worked at Yeshivas Binyan Hatorah High School in Toronto as a counsellor, and at Yeshiva Gedolah Zichron Shmayahu as a teacher.

Sex assault charges against Toronto therapist withdrawn

Phil Kravetsky

Criminal charges against Phil Kravetsky, who’s well known in Toronto’s Jewish community as a family mediator and psychotherapist, have been withdrawn.

Kravetsky, who was 51 at the time, was charged in March 2018 with sexual assault and sexual interference with a person under 16 years of age, after police investigated a claim that a child was assaulted in the Lawrence Avenue and Bathurst Street area of the city.

On April 24, those charges were withdrawn and Kravetsky entered into a peace bond for a period of 12 months, according to the Ontario attorney general’s office.

A court-imposed publication ban prevented the identification of the complainant and witnesses.

The College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario’s website lists Kravetsky as being a registered member, with offices in Oshawa and Toronto.

His LinkedIn profile says he’s the owner of Durham Region Family Law Support Services.

At the time of his arrest, The CJN reported that Kravetsky’s LinkedIn profile said that he was an instructor at Durham College in Oshawa and previously worked at Yeshivas Binyan Hatorah High School in Toronto as a counsellor, and at Yeshiva Gedolah Zichron Shmayahu as a teacher.

He was also well known as a Jewish music DJ who would perform at bar and bat mitzvahs, weddings and other simchas.

Kravetsky had no comment on the charges being withdrawn, when he was contacted by The CJN.


Thursday, May 16, 2019

A Justice Ministry official told The Times of Israel in February that police had recordings of Litzman and officials in his office speaking to Health Ministry employees and pressing them to act on Leifer’s behalf....

Deputy minister accused of protecting sex offenders in at least 10 cases


UTJ leader Yaakov Litzman alleged to have pattern of aiding ultra-Orthodox convicts by pressuring corrections officials, Channel 13 report claims

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman of United Torah Judaism holds a press conference after meeting with President Reuven Rivlin, April 15, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman of United Torah Judaism holds a press conference after meeting with President Reuven Rivlin
Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman allegedly helped at least 10 serious sex offenders obtain improved conditions, including home visits and other benefits, by pressuring state psychiatrists and prisons service officials, according to a report Tuesday.

Litzman, who hails from the Gur Hasidic community, has been accused in the past of using his influence to protect Malka Leifer, who has been fighting extradition to Australia for allegedly abusing students at a Jewish school there.

According to Channel 13 news, Litzman is suspected of a pattern of pressuring corrections officials to be lenient with other ultra-Orthodox offenders as well.

Litzman, who heads the United Torah Judaism party and is expected to remain in his post in the next government, has been under police investigation since February on suspicions he sought to obtain a falsified psychiatric report that would have prevented Leifer from being extradited to Australia.

Leifer, a former principal at the Adass Israel school in Melbourne, has been charged in Australia with 74 counts of sexually abusing her students. Her extradition from Israel has been delayed by her claims to be mentally unfit to stand trial.

In March, Channel 13 reported on a second police probe in which Litzman and his chief of staff are suspected of pressuring a psychiatrist, Moshe Birger, to ensure that another imprisoned sex offender close to Litzman’s Gur sect was placed in a rehabilitation program.

Participation in the program can lead to home-visit rights and early release from prison.

A private investigator tagged Malka Leifer as she spoke on the phone, while sitting on a bench in Bnei Brak, on December 14, 2017.
Litzman denied the accusations in February, saying, “I have a lot to say, but I cannot speak about it. It was all for the good of the public, everything was legal.”

In March, he denied wrongdoing in both cases, saying his assistance to Leifer was part of his general effort to assist any citizen who appeals to his office for help, and calling the Birger suspicions “lies and slander that never happened.”

According to Tuesday’s report, Channel 13 has now amassed evidence in at least 10 cases, some of which are reportedly being examined by police, in which Litzman is accused of pressuring state psychiatrists and other officials in the cases of sex offenders.

The offenders include convicted pedophiles and rapists, the report said.

“Litzman and his staff reached the point of actual conflict with relevant officials, which helped lead to tensions between the Prisons Service and the Health Ministry,” Channel 13 said, adding that several psychiatrists who faced the alleged pressure have given statements to police.

Protesters demonstrate on March 13, 2019, outside the Jeursalem District Court during extradition hearings for Malka Leifer, a former girls school principal wanted for sexual abuse in Australia.

Part of the new accusations concern Litzman’s former aide and now freshman UTJ lawmaker Yaakov Tesler, who allegedly pressured the Prisons Service to allow home visits for convicted murderer-rapist Tal Tzarfati while he served a 14.5-year sentence for the killing of a young woman in Tel Aviv.

In a brief confrontation between Hamakor and Tesler in a Knesset cafeteria shown in the Tuesday broadcast, Tesler defended his actions.

“Any appeal I receive from a person asking for help, I don’t ask, are they a sex offender or not a sex offender,” he told the channel’s reporter. “Every request I receive, regardless of who it is, I take care of it.”

There was no immediate response from Litzman.

It is not yet clear exactly how many of the cases involved Haredi convicts, a key factor for Hamakor’s charge that Litzman and Tesler’s actions constitute discriminatory protection of sex offenders due to their religious affiliation.

Leifer is known to have links to the Gur community, having once taught at a school in Israel affiliated with the branch.

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman attends a conference of the ultra-Orthodox Agudath Israel party in the coastal city of Netanya on January 30, 2019.

A Justice Ministry official told The Times of Israel in February that police had recordings of Litzman and officials in his office speaking to Health Ministry employees and pressing them to act on Leifer’s behalf.

Concerns over Haredi community leaders protecting those accused of sexual offenses, including against children, have dogged the case from the start.

Leifer, for example, an Israeli citizen, slipped out of Australia and went back to Israel in 2008, days before allegations of sexual abuse against her surfaced, in an escape plan allegedly orchestrated by officials at the Adass Israel school where she taught.

After authorities in Melbourne filed charges against her, Australia officially filed an extradition request in 2012. Two years later, Leifer was arrested in Israel but released to house arrest shortly thereafter.

Judges deemed her mentally unfit to stand trial and eventually removed all restrictions against her, concluding that she was too ill to even leave her bed.

She was rearrested last February following a police undercover operation that cast doubts on her claims regarding her mental state, and has remained in custody since. The operation was launched after the Jewish Community Watch NGO hired private investigators who placed hidden cameras in the Emmanuel settlement, a Haredi community where Leifer had been living, which showed the alleged sex abuser roaming around the town without any apparent difficulty.


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

A pediatrician questioned whether Jews were being intentionally given “bad lots” of vaccines that ended up giving children a new strain of the virus....

Despite Measles Warnings, Anti-Vaccine Rally Draws Hundreds of Ultra-Orthodox Jews


Hundreds were in attendance at an anti-vaccine rally in Monsey, N.Y., in Rockland County.
MONSEY, N.Y. — An ultra-Orthodox rabbi falsely described the measles outbreak among Jews as part of an elaborate plan concocted by Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York to deflect attention from “more serious” diseases brought by Central American migrants.

A pediatrician questioned whether Jews were being intentionally given “bad lots” of vaccines that ended up giving children a new strain of the virus. And Andrew Wakefield, the British doctor whose study linking measles vaccines with autism was widely discredited and condemned, appeared via Skype to offer an almost apocalyptic vision of a world in which vaccines were giving rise to deadlier immunization-resistant diseases. 

Since the measles outbreak began last fall, the health authorities have embarked on a sweeping and exhaustive campaign, repeatedly urging people to get vaccinated and fighting the spread of misinformation. They have made special efforts in the ultra-Orthodox communities of Brooklyn and Rockland County, N.Y., where the disease has been spreading most quickly.

A pediatrician questioned whether Jews were being intentionally given “bad lots” of vaccines that ended up giving children a new strain of the virus. And Andrew Wakefield, the British doctor whose study linking measles vaccines with autism was widely discredited and condemned, appeared via Skype to offer an almost apocalyptic vision of a world in which vaccines were giving rise to deadlier immunization-resistant diseases. 

“We Hasidim have been chosen as the target,” said the rabbi, Hillel Handler. “The campaign against us has been successful.” 

Since the measles outbreak began last fall, the health authorities have embarked on a sweeping and exhaustive campaign, repeatedly urging people to get vaccinated and fighting the spread of misinformation. They have made special efforts in the ultra-Orthodox communities of Brooklyn and Rockland County, N.Y., where the disease has been spreading most quickly.

But the rally on Monday in Monsey, a Rockland County town about 30 miles northwest of New York City, vividly illustrated how the anti-vaccine fervor is not only enduring, but may be growing: Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews packed a ballroom for a “vaccine symposium” with leaders of the anti-vaccination movement. 

Organized by a Monsey-based Jewish group, the event also showed how the movement was gaining ground: Greg Mitchell, a Washington-based lobbyist who represents the Church of Scientology, attended the meeting and addressed the crowd, offering to be their “voice in the public-policy game.”
The gathering was denounced by local elected officials, health authorities and some ultra-Orthodox rabbis, who said the speakers were spreading propaganda that could cause the outbreak to deepen, risking the health of countless people. 

The event was held in a large ballroom. As is customary at ultra-Orthodox gatherings, the men were separated by an improvised wall from the women. Speakers were introduced and applauded as if they were celebrities. 

The remarks — and the rapt audience — illustrated how the anti-vaccination movement can exploit fear and anxiety within relatively insular communities, especially religious ones, to undercut scientifically sound warnings from health experts. 

“They are doubling down and increasing their messaging — capitalizing on fear,” Dr. Jane Zucker, the assistant commissioner of immunization for the New York City health department, said in an interview. “Parents are afraid of who and what to believe.”

Rabbi Handler, a 77-year-old from Brooklyn who said he was a Holocaust survivor, set the tone for the night, claiming that Jews were being persecuted as disease carriers and were being attacked on the street in New York City for sneezing. (The Anti-Defamation League has strongly objected to the appropriation of Holocaust symbols by vaccine critics.)

Mr. de Blasio has issued a public health emergency for four ZIP codes in Brooklyn where ultra-Orthodox Jews live. That decision appeared to have earned him the ire of Rabbi Handler, who described Mr. de Blasio 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.)

The pediatrician who spoke on Monday night, Dr. Lawrence Palevsky, is regularly cited in pamphlets circulated in New York City that urge women not to get their children vaccinated. His views have no basis in science, experts said. 

At the rally, he talked at length about mutating viruses and falsely claimed that failed vaccines were producing a new strain of measles. Women scribbled into notepads as he spoke. Others filmed his comments, sending them to their contacts on WhatsApp. Essentially, he said, there were no studies available to show how the vaccine affects the human body.

“Is it possible that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine that is somehow being given in this lot to communities in Williamsburg and Lakewood and Monsey, maybe in Borough Park, is it possible that these lots are bad?” he asked, referring to areas in New York and New Jersey with large ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities. 

“It’s fascinating because we’re told how contagious the disease is, but somehow it’s centered in the Jewish community.” 

Dr. Palevsky could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. 

Mr. Wakefield, who was stripped of his medical license in his native Britain some two decades ago for fraudulent claims linking vaccines to autism, accused the health authorities and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of misleading the public. But before doing that, he insisted on his own innocence.

“I wanted to reassure you that I have never been involved in scientific fraud,” he said via Skype from a darkened room, his face appearing eerily white as it was projected onto two large overhead screens.

“What happened to me is what happens to doctors who threatened the bottom line of the pharmaceutical companies.”

Rockland County has the highest number of recorded cases after New York City. But there are other pockets of large outbreaks as well, and not all of them in are in religious communities

The C.D.C. said on Monday that the number of measles reported across the country rose by 75 last week, bringing the total to 839 in 23 states, the highest number of cases the United States has seen since measles was declared eliminated in 2000.

New York City alone has seen 498 confirmed cases of the disease since September. In the rest of New York state, there have been 274 confirmed cases, according to official figures. About 80 percent of those cases were located in Rockland County.

Read more about parents who choose not to vaccinate their children:
New York authorities have used a number of tactics to force people to get immunized, including excluding unvaccinated children from going to schools with low vaccination rates or threatening thousand-dollar fines on parents for failing to vaccinate their children. 

The strategies have been largely successful, health officials have insisted, even though there have been setbacks. 

In Rockland County, for example, a state of emergency declaration in March that banned unvaccinated children from public spaces was challenged by parents and halted after a judge ruled that the outbreak did not legally merit an emergency declaration. 

The county executive, Ed Day, issued a new declaration last month that sought to prevent people who were exposed to measles from being in public places.

Local officials, including Mr. Day and Rabbi Chaim Schabes, expressed outrage in a joint statement at the “outsiders” who organized Monday’s rally and “are targeting our community.”

“Tonight’s event and the misinformation being shared at it runs counter to every statement from the medical experts and elected officials of our county,” the statement read.

“This type of propaganda endangers the health and safety of children within our community and around the world, and must be denounced in the strongest language possible.”

Just one of the event’s five speakers, who were introduced as “distinguished personalities” and the “cream of humanity’s crop,” was from the Orthodox community. Rabbi Hillel Handler, who has likened vaccination to “child sacrifice” in the past, told the crowd that according to “medical research,” if you catch “measles, mumps and chickenpox, your chances of getting cancer, heart disease, and strokes goes down 60 percent.” READ IT ALL: