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The Schmooze

Dear Kristen Bell’s Husband, Your ‘Measletov’ Pun Is Anti-Semitic

Measles, a disease that had been considered “eliminated,” is at a 25-year-high for numbers of infections in a calendar year in the US.

Over half of the reported cases in the past year belong to Hasidic Jews.

This is a delicate moment for all Jews, who are also facing a rise in anti-Semitism. Ultra-Orthodox Jews in particular have increasingly faced violent hate crimes, especially in New York. Historically, non-Jews have used times of infectious illness to genocide Jewish communities. During the height of the Black Plague in Medieval Europe, hundreds of Jewish communities, blamed for the disease, were mass-murdered.

When a tiny sliver of a minority community bears partial blame for a health crisis, it’s not okay to make glib comments that equate a religious and ethnic group with causing infection and death.

We’re looking at you Dax Shepard, the comedic actor best known for being married to “Frozen” and “The Good Place” star Kristen Bell.

Over seventy-thousand twitter-users have liked a tweet by Shepard targeting anti-vaxxers, which closes off with the cutesy hashtag “measeltov,” a portmanteau of the word “measles” and the Yiddish phrase “Mazel Tov.”

Hey, Dax? Children are ill, and Jews are facing a rising sea of slow-boiling hatred. Could you maybe lay off on the puns?

To be clear, there is no Jewish prohibition against vaccination. Orthodox Jews are generally pro-vaccine, as are Orthodox rabbis. There are slightly lower rates of vaccination among ultra-orthodox Jews than the general population. But assuming anyone in a black hat might be “dirty” or “contagious” is calumnious and hateful, not to mention inaccurate.

The cruel comedy of combining a Jewish crossover phrase, “Mazal Tov” with the name of a contagious illness is something that a sweet liberal celebrity would know not to do to any other minority group. But the Jews, with their funny phrases and crazy blue-and-white scarves, are such safe targets!

Gross.

Large-faced man scores points during public health scare by dunking on terrified minority with subpar word-play? Oh, Dax. This is, indeed, the Bad Place.

Jenny Singer is the deputy life/features editor for the Forward. You can reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny

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