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Brooklyn, NY - Orthodox Conspiracy Anti Vaccination Rally Led By A Hollywood Producer, And A Rabbi Who Quotes Gospel Of Luke

Published on: June 5, 2019 05:11 PM
By: JTA
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Rabbi Hillel Handler, an Orthodox anti-vaccination leader, speaks via projection screen to an anti-vaccination rally in Brooklyn at a Jewish wedding hall, June 4, 2019. (Ben Sales)Rabbi Hillel Handler, an Orthodox anti-vaccination leader, speaks via projection screen to an anti-vaccination rally in Brooklyn at a Jewish wedding hall, June 4, 2019. (Ben Sales)

Brooklyn, NY - The weirdest part of an Orthodox anti-vaccine conference here was probably when the emcee, a rabbi wearing a black hat and white beard, quoted the Gospel of Luke.

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!” he cried, reciting the Gospels nearly verbatim in referring to advocates of vaccination.

The rabbi might have been talking about the 200 people gathered in the basement of a haredi Orthodox wedding hall in Brooklyn to hear about the dangers of vaccines.

While the scientific consensus supports vaccination and regards it as a historic boon to public health, the crowd and the emcee, Rabbi Hillel Handler, do not put much stock in that science. In Handler’s version of reality, doctors, rabbis and politicians are all hoodwinked by a massive conspiracy orchestrated by drug companies and the Centers for Disease Control to make money off of vaccines.

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Handler and the other speakers charged the CDC and its purported stooges with hiding the dangers of vaccines and destroying evidence that they are harmful. They cited no credible evidence.

“This is all being orchestrated by the drug companies, which are very close to the CDC,” Handler told the crowd in a gender-segregated room at a catering hall in the Midwood neighborhood. “The doctors all march in lockstep with the CDC. The doctors don’t think they’re marching in lockstep. They don’t understand that the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, is a totally corrupt swamp. … They are criminals.”

The rally comes amid an ongoing measles outbreak sparked by low vaccination rates, particularly in the Orthodox community. According to the CDC, there have been 981 confirmed cases of measles in the United States this year. In New York City, according to the city’s Department of Health, there have been 566 confirmed measles cases since September, the highest totals since 1992. The city says most of the cases have involved members of the Orthodox Jewish community.

The city required immunization in heavily Orthodox Brooklyn neighborhoods earlier this year. Large Orthodox organizations have encouraged their communities to vaccinate.

“[C]ountless rabbinical figures and leaders, including leading rabbis in the Agudath Israel movement and doctors serving these communities, have repeatedly encouraged vaccination in the strongest possible terms,” reads an April statement by Agudath Israel of America, a leading haredi group. “Indeed, the overwhelming majority of children enrolled in Jewish schools are vaccinated.”

But there are some vocal holdouts.

At the rally held late Tuesday night, organized by an anti-vaccine group calling itself the United Jewish Community Council, speakers cast doubt on established medical opinion and the CDC. The crowd, which appeared to be mostly but not entirely haredi, was receptive to the message and applauded.

One attendee told another that large pharmaceutical companies like Bayer and Merck, which now produce vaccines, had collaborated with Nazi Germany. (Bayer was a division of a larger company that did collaborate with the Nazis, though now it is under different ownership. Merck, originally connected to a German company of the same name, split off into an independent American firm in 1917, before the Nazis came to power.)

“If you had bought a mutual fund in the ’30s, back in Nazi Germany, you would have done phenomenally,” the attendee remarked.

After Handler, speakers included Dr. Daniel Neides, a former vice chairman of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute who resigned last year after writing a column questioning vaccines. (He later apologized, saying he “fully supports vaccination” and was trying to open a conversation about their safety, not question their use.)

But the bulk of the program was led by Del Bigtree, a Hollywood producer without medical qualifications who styles himself as an expert on vaccines. He directed the documentary “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up To Catastrophe.” Last month Bigtree spoke to a similar rally in Monsey, New York, also the home of a large haredi community.

Bigtree led the audience through a text-heavy PowerPoint presentation claiming that vaccines have led to a rise in autism among children — claims that have been rejected by every mainstream medical or public health group. He compared those promoting vaccines to a cult and cited Andrew Wakefield, a British physician who lost his license after promoting the debunked link between vaccines and autism.

In dramatic fashion, the coiffed Bigtree talked about the “exploding cases of diabetes” (linked, in his mind, to vaccines), drawing out the word “explooooding” and shaking his body as if he were reverberating from a bomb blast.

“I know that a lot of people read, ‘Oh, Del spreads misinformation,’” he said. “That’s an opinion. I like to call it missed information. This is the information that the mainstream media establishment doesn’t want you to hear.”

Bigtree, along with claiming that vaccines are harmful to children’s health, aimed to convince the audience that doctors are untrustworthy and unreliable. He claimed repeatedly that we are experiencing “the greatest decline in public health in world history.” (In fact, due in large part to vaccines, global child mortality, a leading indicator of public health, fell from 18.2 percent of children born in 1960 to 4.3 percent in 2015, and a hundredfold since the 18th century.)

“Why should I allow a medical establishment that’s overseeing this great a decline in public health mandate anything?” he said to applause. “They clearly have no talent at making us healthy.”

Over the course of about 12 minutes, Bigtree linked vaccines to the Holocaust and then to child sacrifice. He compared them to Nazi experimentation on unwilling Jewish medical subjects, then to the intentional ritual murder of children, in an effort to debunk the scientific consensus that a critical mass of vaccinated people, or herd immunity, means that even those who cannot be vaccinated for genuine medical reasons will have some protection from getting sick.

“It’s hard to imagine what it would be that would let you accept killing an innocent child,” he said. “What if I presented to you that this would make it worth it? This is the argument, right? Herd immunity. Herd immunity is the reason we’re allowed to kill some children.”

The crowd applauded.



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Read Comments (16)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jun 05, 2019 at 05:14 PM Reb Yid Says:

I guess Handler is like that guy Costello that was recently found try to missionize.

2

 Jun 05, 2019 at 05:31 PM 5TResident Says:

This tippish Rabbi probably doesn't know where that quote comes from - probably thinks its just some idiom floating around the English language. These anti-vaxxers are making a huge Chilul Hashem and need to be stopped.

3

 Jun 05, 2019 at 06:03 PM JonasSalk Says:

They're all kooks. The anti-vac drek was spread by alt-white sicko conspiracy media like Aleck Jones and Sturmer. And the autism 'syndrome' clique, in order to make money. All non-science nonsense. When someone in their family get measles they'll all run for a shot.

4

 Jun 05, 2019 at 08:04 PM curious Says:

Bunch of idiots. I understand Wakefield was paid by prosecution to manufacture evidence that vaccines cause autism. So he took blood from kids at his son's birthday party. This is who we are supposed to listen to? Not me! Shame on these morons for embarassing our community!

5

 Jun 05, 2019 at 08:05 PM Anonymous Says:

Does this handlebar fellow have any true rabbinical credential? Or is he one of the self-made experts? How about Bigfoot? We know he is neither a physician nor a scientist. I can also write a book without knowledge of a subject. But once it's published I become an authority. Is that what anti-vaxxers must stoop to?

6

 Jun 05, 2019 at 08:21 PM lipa101 Says:

this is no rabbi and definitely not Orthodox !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

7

 Jun 05, 2019 at 08:31 PM shortie Says:

Embarrassing!
As a chasidic jew it’s embarrassing!
Couldn’t agree more with comment #3.

8

 Jun 05, 2019 at 08:43 PM RebKlemson Says:

Well by now I'm sure you saw me as the face holding the paper outside that says vaccination is important, stop the propaganda and lies. These people can thank me later for countering their chilul hashem and saving our face and image in front of all those cameras

9

 Jun 06, 2019 at 03:25 AM yosher Says:

Are we judging Rabbis Shmuel Kamenetsky and Malkiel Kotler equally harshly? They are the originators of this fraud.

10

 Jun 06, 2019 at 06:32 AM YITZMGOLD Says:

As children, we all got vaccinated for polio and smallpox. My brother in law did not get the shots and got polio. B"H, he survived, but as a severe cripple for the rest of his life. As for the other "childhood" diseases, we all anticipated getting measles, mumps, chicken pox, German measles, flu, colds. We simply enjoyed the time off from school and got on with life. We never knew that all of these diseases could be deadly. I don't get all of the hubbub of the 'anti-vaxers" except for the vague connection with "Nazi" drug companies. The anti-vaxer "science." is well-propagandized nonsense. In any vent - Alles iz min HaShomaymin. I wish a refuah shelema to all of the anti-vaxers.
Shalom al Yisroel

11

 Jun 06, 2019 at 07:54 AM Normandavid1 Says:

Since when is he a rabbi?

12

 Jun 06, 2019 at 09:07 AM shimonyehuda Says:

Reply to #9  
yosher Says:

Are we judging Rabbis Shmuel Kamenetsky and Malkiel Kotler equally harshly? They are the originators of this fraud.

on this issue, yes, I am judging.

13

 Jun 06, 2019 at 10:32 AM Chasid Says:

Reply to #12  
shimonyehuda Says:

on this issue, yes, I am judging.

What happened with daas Torah?

14

 Jun 06, 2019 at 12:31 PM shimonyehuda Says:

Reply to #13  
Chasid Says:

What happened with daas Torah?

anti vaxxers deny Torah.

15

 Jun 06, 2019 at 01:53 PM The rest of the story Says:

It is not as simple as presented here (I will share some things as I recall, I hope they are accurately reported).

Del Bigtree called attention to the fact that many people get sick in hospitals, G-d forbid, and that there are many deaths from such contracted illnesses. He mentioned the super bug MRSA, but that is just one part of it, of course.

Rabbi Handler recalled his childhood, when measles was viewed as a childhood disease that people were encouraged to get, to thereby gain immunity. He also stated that people who had such diseases as children, later had lower rates of problems from things such as cancer and heart disease.

He asked why there is an explosion of children with various disabilities now (not just autism).

It was pointed out that the amount of vaccinations children get today is much higher than in the past. Charts were shown showing that around 1981, a child, to age eighteen, got perhaps twelve, or maybe it was eighteen, vaccinations, and now they get like eighty one.

I was not there the whole time, but the point is that the medical establishment is not perfect.

It was also stated by speakers that they were not against vaccines, they just were pro-choice.

16

 Jun 06, 2019 at 04:36 PM Anonymous Says:

It is very sad and upsetting to read so many many not just negative but hateful comments.
Many of you have done very little to no reasearch at all into this world that you call ANTIVAXXERS. You rely on the hype of the media and say that you follow your doctors and rabbanim.
Because someone questions a single vaccines safety or efficacy they are immediately labeled an antivaxxer and crazy and are demonized by so many.
Even if you believe that adverse reactions are rare. They are real and can be very serious. Why is it wrong for people to have that conversation. Would you tell a parent that r'l lost a child from a vaccine (rare but has happened) that they must vaccinate the rest of their children?
How many of you are aware that the only legal way to avoid a single vaccine is to avoid every vaccine? A religious exemption is all or nothing. Hepatitis B is primarily an STD. For a parent to decide for their own child that they'd rather not go through the risks of the adverse effects (as rare as they may be) they cannot legally do so.
There are many articles like this one that th3 focus is on attacking the individual. It's easy to label someone as crazy and end the conversation there. But you won't have convinced them of anything.
There is enough negative information that is intentionally being omitted from the media for fear of a person misunderstanding and making the wrong decision. Don't you think it will create mistrust in a person when they find out.......? And jump to the other side?
And for all of you saying that it is a chilul hashem.... the biggest chilul hashem is fellow yidden attacking each other. The biggest kiddush hashem is when a yidden look out for one another...

17

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