The measles outbreak in New York is serious, with hundreds of people already infected, and many of these people are located in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn.
Measles is a dangerous disease that we should all be concerned about: Firstly, because it has serious health effects, and can even be life-threatening. Secondly, because it is one of the most contagious infectious diseases — with 90% becoming infected from contact to a measles patient.
Judaism teaches that life is precious and that we are duty-bound to protect it. The Talmud teaches: Saving one life is like saving the world! Yet, unfortunately, some Jews have gotten caught up in the anti-vaxx movement and propaganda, and this is endangering not just one life, but many.
Fines and quarantines are not the answer, rather educating people in the truth about the relative safety of the vaccines compared to the dangers of the diseases out there is. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) website states:
The Jewish principle of Pikuach Nefesh teaches that the preservation of human life surpasses almost all other considerations — and in this case, it is not just your and your family lives, but also all the other people you come in contact with!
This week, I was surprised by some colleagues who asked me what is with these folks in New York that aren’t getting vaccinated? They wanted to know–don’t they care about others?
Honestly, I was really taken aback at the question, but I understood that it was an honest one coming from people who really didn’t understand the insular nature of some of these communities and the misinformation that they were under. And maybe most importantly, they were rightfully concerned, as we all should be, when there is an outbreak and a declaration of a public health emergency.
With the new wave of sick political anti-Semites out there such as Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spinning up hatred (and potential violence) against Jews and Israel, the last thing the Jewish community needs is to be the epicenter of an infectious outbreak. Yes, unfortunately, our enemies don’t need a reason to hate on us, but surely we don’t have to give them one, like ignoring sound medical practices that impact the larger community we live in.
So for yourself, your families, your community, and for all the other innocent people out there who want to be and stay healthy, please get vaccinated; do your part as a good citizen and Jew.
You shall keep my statues…which if a man do, he shall live by them. (Leviticus 18:5)
Getting vaccinated — it is a mitzvah and please G-d, for all, a L’Chaim!