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Anti-Vaccine Pamphlet Targeting New York Parents Cites Leading Orthodox Rabbis

An Orthodox anti-vaccine group is circulating a digital pamphlet that quotes two of the most prominent rabbis in the ultra-Orthodox world, the New York Post reported Tuesday.

“These aren’t just local no-name rabbis,” one mother who identified herself as Breindy to the Post said, according to the paper. “As soon as I saw those names, I knew I wasn’t going to vaccinate my children.”

The pamphlet quotes rabbis Shmuel Kamenetsky and Chaim Kanievsky saying that yeshivas should allow unvaccinated children to attend. Kanievsky is one of Israel’s most revered rabbis; Kamenetsky leads a major ultra-Orthodox yeshiva, and is a member of the rabbinical leadership council of Agudath Israel of America, a major umbrella organization and advocacy group for Orthodox Jews.

Kamenetsky is a longtime critic of vaccines. The Forward reported in 2014 that he had called vaccines a “hoax.”

A historic measles outbreak in New York City has struck ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in Brooklyn, sickening 285 people. A related outbreak has also occurred in heavily-Jewish parts of New York’s Rockland County. On Tuesday, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency.

Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at nathankazis@forward.com or on Twitter, @joshnathankazis

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