The measles epidemic is tearing the Jewish Orthodox community – and its families – apart.
Some parents secretly inoculate their children against the wishes of their spouses, parents abandon Passover celebrations this week to avoid unvaccinated parents, and schools divide campuses based on their medical history.
In the midst of a vaccination campaign in the city brought on by an outbreak of 285 confirmed measles cases, mainly in Williamsburg since October, vacation seder projects on Friday have become a flash point.
Manhattan's father, David, told The Post he refused to attend the annual family reunion because he feared exposing his 6- and 8-month-old children to those of his anti-vaxxer brother.
"It has become a very big family problem," said David. "Apart from my child who gets it, I do not want to be the one who gives it to their child. The virus can be on me. If I hug their child, I can pass it on.
His relationship with his brother was damaged and they even end the phone package that they shared.
"I can not get close to him, I can not get close to his family," he said.
The controversy focuses on weddings.
An Orthodox mother stated that her husband had pressured her to take the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine after the entire family was released from the community and children were chased out of the community. yeshiva.
"My husband does not like pressure – he wants me to give up and give up. I repeat: "They will not stop with a single ROR. The next time something happens – chicken pox – they will require that [shot]. "
His son enjoys a medical exemption for most vaccines because of an endocrine system disorder.
She said that he had been treated as a social outcast in his neighborhood, now free of measles.
"Even people who do not have children are not invited to a Shabbat meal," she lamented.
"I decided to give my son the MMR vaccine despite strong religious and medical reservations," she said, "so that he can reintegrate into society and be considered a threat to no one. "
Some non-kosher and cellular components of the vaccine raise objections among some ultra-Orthodox and even conservative Christian Jewish parents. But the rabbis said unequivocally that the components did not violate the Judaic law because the vaccine is not consumed orally as a food.
Some ultra-Orthodox also spread and believe in misinformation that links the measles vaccine to developmental disorders such as autism, a link that has always been scientifically refuted.
The increase in the number of families who do not vaccinate their children has resulted in deadly outbreaks of measles, a disease that had already been virtually eradicated, worldwide.
Dov Landa, a medical assistant at Precious Health Medical who practiced in Williamsburg and Rockland County, Pomona – "the eye of the storm," he said – saw husbands sneak in when their wives were absent, seeking to "slaughter children" with vaccines. (He refuses unless both parents aboard.)
"It would not be an exaggeration to say that there is a vaccine war in the Hasidic community," he said.
He spoke out against the phone lines put in place by community leaders who warned of the dangers of vaccines. He noted that every respected rabbi supported vaccinations.
"There is a strong one percent minority that creates fear among ordinary citizens," he said.
Landa said the Williamsburg yeshivas separate vaccinated and unvaccinated children from different buildings, bowing to the legal pressures exerted by anti-vaxxer parents whose children had originally been excluded from school.
An orderly rabbi and a practitioner practitioner in Brooklyn – whose family members whose immune system is compromised and can not be vaccinated are threatened by the epidemic – have torn down the anti-vaxxers in his community.
"I hate to misrepresent my religion," he said. "It's the chutzpah to reject the miracle that is medical science. … It's an incredible perversion of the values of the Torah.
"Their objection to vaccination is the same as anybody in any community – they are afraid of autism – but they need something to hold their hat, so they attribute this for religious reasons, claiming that their Judaism prevents them from vaccinating. "
Landa explained that her patients told her that the measles parties would "finish already – to be able to be exposed and go back to school already". At these rumored gatherings, healthy children deliberately mingle with a sick child to contract measles – and in the future immunity.
Once the child has contracted measles, he is immune for life against the disease or its spread. Prove that a child has the disease – with a doctor's note – would exempt him from vaccination.
Some families are trying so hard to claim an exemption that they simulate doctors' letters of immunity by exchanging the children's names.
"They falsify documents," said a Brooklyn doctor whose colleague had been warned by a yeshiva. "He told me," Letters circulate in my name. ""
He has now tightened protocols in his own office. "Now I will not give any more letters, I will only give them a copy of [blood tests showing specific levels of immunity] – they can not be manipulated. I tell the school to no longer accept letters.
Families are also strengthening their safety.
"A friend invited me and my children to the Bronx Zoo during Passover," said Orthodox father of four, Baruch Herzfeld, who recently vaccinated a yearlings triplet.
"No, I do not take my children. Why should I take the risk? "