Thursday, January 24, 2019

An Open Letter to the Jewish Community

An important conversation is needed in the Jewish community in the very near future.

Regardless of where one stands on the spectrum of health-decisions, the vaccine question (mandatory, optional, only beneficial, questionable side-effects) is one which will not be settled in any forum. Certainly not online, in chat groups, or even in person. There are those who feel there is only one side. There are those who feel there are two sides.

Those who vaccinate believe strongly in their position. Those who do not vaccinate believe strongly in their position. There is an insurmountable impasse that no amount of sharing of information will convince the other side to accept or change.

The biggest concerns I have are over the repercussions of the realities just laid out because they are currently impacting the Jewish community, and we must come up with solutions soon, or many Jewish families will find themselves without a community.

  1. We must realize that every Jewish soul is precious, even with a different view of health 
  2. We must realize that every Jewish family is part of our collective family – they and we are all included in Acheinu Kol Beit Yisrael 
  3. We have to come to an understanding of what constitutes a danger to others vs what is not a danger to others 
  4. We have to find a compromise that allows all children to attend school regardless of family health choices (contingent on acceptable answers to #3) 

I know there are people who are willing to have this conversation. A forum needs to be provided so that all fears can be addressed, and compromises and understandings can be reached.

An equally important burden we face is regarding the issue of Sinat Chinam. We all know that “Sinat Chinam” destroyed the Temple. Arguably, it continues to prevent the Temple from being rebuilt. Sinat Chinam doesn’t mean baseless hatred – in most cases everyone has a reason for hating. The Netziv explains that Sinat Chinam is the kind of hatred that either leads to murder or that leads to wanting others to die.

In this circular dispute, which will never end, I keep seeing patterns of behavior, most of which I believe are detrimental to the Jewish community. I have been contacted by people around the country who have been the recipients or subjects of the following:

Lashon Hora, inexcusable Sinat Chinam, character smears, assumption of motivation, name-calling, labeling, the calling for excommunicating others or the active excommunication which has taken place in some cities around the country, turning people into pariahs over their personal and private choices, breaking friendships over these differences, pressure being put on educators, camps, communal leaders to specifically exclude certain families from the community, lack of civility towards others who think differently.

I do believe everyone has everyone else’s best interests in mind and does not believe they are a danger to anyone else. Additionally, no one who truly loves Am Yisrael wants for anyone to get sick or die.

Without hearing different sides and being able to process as much information as is readily available, we will remain at an impasse, incapable of coming to an equitable compromise and reasonable solution to our quandary.

How can we live together, share our communities and infrastructures of schools, shuls and camps, and still view each other as having supreme human and Jewish value?

Can we have the conversation? Neshamas are at risk!


  1. I appreciate your honesty and bravery. I am sad that you took down your wonderful posts on this subject. Unfortunately, your gallant gesture is not matched by opponents on this issue and the vast majority of their vile and vicious comments stand in full view on the internet and elsewhere.

    Thank you for your sensitivity and understanding that klal yisrael must come together on this. With very few standing as leaders and protectors, I don't see an end to this deep and painful fissure without Mashiach. In the meantime, (and I write this with tears in my eyes) those who are woefully misunderstood and attacked are forced to run for cover. Hashem Yishmor.

    Much bracha and hatzlacha to you and your family.