By Larry Gordon

We have always been in favor of children receiving proper inoculation with vaccines as recommended by their physicians. Any claim or suggestion to the contrary is just wrong.

That said, what is wrong with providing a forum for reasonable and intelligent discussion regarding an issue that is very much on our minds collectively, and involves the important decisions we all need to make about the health of our children?

Over the past several weeks, we have devoted space in the 5TJT and to explore what has become a particularly contentious issue in the Orthodox Jewish community. On one hand, as editor and publisher I am thanked profusely by some, and on the other hand we are being characterized as “appalling at best and highly irresponsible at worst,” and partly liable for outbreaks of measles in Israel, Williamsburg, Monsey, and Lakewood, according to one online comment.

Another reader on our website,, wrote, “Thank you, Mr. Gordon, for your honest and unbiased reporting. The only answer in this heated and divisive debate is open dialogue and discussion.”

Another online reader wrote: “Well that’s it for me reading the 5 Towns Jewish Times. Vaccines save lives of the immunized and those who cannot be vaccinated because they are immunocompromised — but who cares about the facts.”

Another reader posted this: “Wow! How refreshing! Thank you 5TJT for bringing freedom of the press back to American culture. We need debate on this issue, it’s been long overdue.”

That is just a sampling of some of the hundreds of letters and comments we received over the last few days about the issue of vaccinations to protect against childhood diseases such as measles and mumps.

The position of the traditional medical community is that vaccines are brilliant scientific breakthroughs that prevent most children from acquiring these diseases and thereby inhibit the spread of maladies that are mostly contagious. Beyond that, having children receive vaccines at a young age also prevents them from spreading these diseases and infecting pregnant women and their fetuses as well as people who cannot be vaccinated for various reasons.

Those questioning the efficacy and true nature of vaccines are often those who have observed their own children or children of relatives or friends who acquired a series of lifelong, chronic illnesses that they trace to occurring as a result of being vaccinated.

The doctors we have spoken with over the last few weeks say tracing vaccines to serious life-altering conditions like autism, Asperger’s syndrome, loss of hearing and other problems has no medical or scientific basis and is unproven. Considering that there is no scientific foundation to these assertions, the position follows that it is completely irresponsible for schools, for example, not to require that all students be vaccinated. Otherwise, they facilitate those who do not receive vaccines infecting others and spreading these once-common childhood diseases that many people endured without any lifelong repercussions.

Since jumping into the fray between pro- and anti-vaxxers, it has become abundantly clear that there is complicated medical science at play here, and I can easily understand why it is the stance of most doctors that laymen and those without any medical background are really not sufficiently grounded to render an opinion on such a complex matter.

After some cursory inquiries, it seems that the nature of the debate between those in favor of the full gamut of available vaccines for children and those opposed is not being debated on an even playing field.

Those endorsing the plethora of illness-preventing vaccines have vast and intensive medical and scientific training and understand the what is involved when vaccines mix with the bodies of young children.

While those opposed to vaccines usually do not have that type of training, their positions are often rendered as a result of personal experience and the hardships of dealing with children who they believe had their development misdirected following what we commonly refer to as “their shots.”

After reading some of the letters, it is somewhat astounding that those who write and seem to be reasonably intelligent people criticize this publication and me personally for what they call aligning ourselves with the anti-vaxxer movement.

That allegation is absurd, and it is this kind of extreme conclusion about our editorial position that brings into question the veracity of those writers. If we choose to provide some newspaper space to opposing positions on a matter, why does it mean that we are automatically identifying or agreeing with that opposing and minority viewpoint to any extent?

Over the years, we have discussed the inadequacy of the shidduch system in our frum communities. We pointed out that there are thousands of older singles — both women and men — who go months and sometimes years without dates. Some writers called for a new and refreshing approach to the matter in order to get a handle on the crisis.

To this, some respond and ask whether we are calling for these yeshiva men and women to start socializing on their own, fraternizing at weekend events and other similar functions, with some suggesting that we are mainstreaming the idea of yeshiva girls frequenting singles bars to meet eligible men. If some in the community are advocating or suggesting these types of things and we choose to air it in these pages, does that mean that we are in favor of unbridled chaos for singles? I don’t think so.

Some shuls are completely against allowing potentially intoxicating spirits into their synagogues at Shabbos kiddush while others feel that wine or whiskey at a kiddush is imperative and that parents need to be more vigilant in monitoring their children’s access to these beverages. If we provide both sides of this debate here, does that mean that we are encouraging excessive drinking and alcoholism? I don’t think so.

When it comes to politics and elections, if we support one candidate over another, or if we allow both candidates to express their different views on policies, that does not mean if the candidate we did not support wins — as has happened multiple times — we cannot work with the winning candidate.

The freedoms of America mean the exchange of ideas and the tolerance of opposing viewpoints. Frankly, I’ve asked several doctors if they would participate in a panel discussion with the author who appeared on last week’s front page, J. B. Handley. So far the answers from the physicians have been a unanimous “absolutely not.” They contend that even discussing the matter with such a personality lends credibility to the anti-vax position.

If you read Handley’s website and book, he is not suggesting eliminating vaccines from the medical-care protocol for children. He is proposing slowing down the process so as to gauge the possibly subtle long-term impact the vaccines are having on our children.

To complicate matters even further, several high-profile rabbanim, such as  Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky of Philadelphia, have advised their followers to not vaccinate if they deem it dangerous based on their knowledge and experience. Some of those rabbis advocate parents taking their children out of yeshivas if need be, and in some cases allow followers to take the yeshivas to court and sue for the right to be exempted from vaccinating their children on religious grounds. Other respected rabbis, including Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, and the Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem M. Schneerson are on record supporting vaccinations.

Though we have not come anywhere near a comprehensive understanding of this issue, let me at least make it clear that my children and grandchildren have all received their vaccines as directed by their pediatricians. The position of the 5TJT is to be a forum for the exchange of legitimate concerns and ideas. Saying that you feel that the conversation is not legitimate does not make it so. I hope that clarifies some things for our readers. We look forward to continuing to be an information outlet on all issues that impact our community. n


  1. Good points Larry. Your article once again created a level playing field for participation and debate on this important issue. It eliminates unnesasary hatred and elevates conversation to an intellectual level. Many parents like JB do more research on vaccines and immunity than your garden variety physician who’s unable to defend his “expert” views in an open debate. Science is never settled, so let’s have that debate.

  2. Thank you Larry

    It is very interesting how this is the one subject one cannot have an opinion on. You may disagree on Global Warming, on multitude of Halachic issues, what Girls Schools should or should not teach, Celebrate Yom Haatzmaut or ignore it ever happened, Negotiate with the Palestinian Authority or stand our ground. We can go on and on. The list is endless, yet the topic of vaccinations is taboo – it is the third rail that no one wants to go near, because as soon as one questions it be it from health point of view or Halachic and Hashkafic, this is the one topic we are not to argue about – done and done. The schools are kicking out our children with no regard to what will happen with their Yidihkeit. The same schools that claim high ground on the health front on the vaccine topic, yet ignore the startling facts in their faces. The same schools that know very well that the real problem in our community is the fact that we have the sickest children in many generations. They ignore the same doctors warning us to stay away from sugar and processed foods, and continue to give out candy like it was going out of style. The same schools that have Soda machines readily available, and then they announce that they are going healthy and replace the soda machine with the Snapple machine – WHAT A FARCE! The same schools that are told by doctors to stay away from too much dough because it is not healthy – they all have a pizza day for everyone to participate. How about a salad day instead? You push out children ripping their lives apart and then blame the parents for not conforming. it is you that are not conforming, since all you need is to have an accepted religious exemption on file and the child is in compliance – the law allows for it, but no – how can anyone in Judaism claim a different view? How can anyone question the doctors? How can anyone question the CDC? I will not get in to the lack of proper safety studies on vaccines, or the abundance of manipulation of the studies, a lot has already been said on that topic. I will also not go in to the corruption and conflicts of interest of the CDC and the FDA, when they are to be guarding us while getting funded by the same industry they must police. All I will do is ask all the readers of this paper to think about it how all of us have been hoodwinked and trained to not even question. That is how millions of Jews wound up in gas chambers – by saying “How can we question the authorities”. I am not saying that anyone has any bad inclination in the industry, I know they do it for noble causes, but .1% is statistically insignificant to them. For the greater good they all say, but they are all businesses that must report to their shareholders that the revenues went up. if they do no do so they loose business and they loose jobs. וְלֹֽא־תִקַּ֣ח שֹׁ֔חַד כִּ֣י הַשֹּׁ֗חַד יְעַוֵּר֙ עֵינֵ֣י חֲכָמִ֔ים וִֽיסַלֵּ֖ף דִּבְרֵ֥י צַדִּיקִֽם. When in doubt it’s the money. All we want is for vaccines to be safe. Nobody wants to suffer pointlessly, but we also refuse to suffer from the vaccines. Most of the people that avoid vaccinations have done a mass amount of research on the topic. This is an educate decision to trust in Hashem in his ways, דְּרָכֶיהָ דַרְכֵי-נֹעַם; וְכָל-נְתִיבוֹתֶיהָ שָׁלוֹם.

  3. Larry Gordon, You and 5tjt have shown real leadership, an open mind, and remember what freedom of speech and expressing opinions is still about. Those who attack you for even letting people talk and warn about the dangers of vaccines, I’m sorry to say have created a FALSE GOD!

    Rav Moshe Feinstein writes this in Mosorat Moshe vol 2 page 3 312, Questioning why to take a vaccine and putting too much faith in Doctors which can turn them into “Avoda Zara”. Worshiping something that is foreign, not true and certainly not Hashem, since Hashem is truth. Not ZARA!
    At LEAST you will be known and remembered as someone genuinely interested in truth and giving it
    a voice.

    By Challenging that Vaccines are safe and effective, which is the PILLAR of western medicine, you challenge the entire belief system that people have placed in western medicine and Doctors. (As Reb Moshe pointed out) I am not saying there is NO benefit and good in western medicine like emergency medicine, orthopedics and others, but anyone pushing Drugs, Vaccines and yes Chemo, without even knowing about natural and healthy alternatives is NOT in line with Hashem, who says in the Torah, “Hashem created the cure BEFORE the sickness.”
    Things like Vitamin C, Herbs, Colloidal Silver, PROPER diet, exercise, “alternative medicine” and more, were all around for thousands of years before illnesses. DRUGS and injecting toxins into your babies bloodstream with a sharp needle were not.

    The same way Pirkei Avot starts Moshe Kibel Torah Misinai etc… – Anshe Knesset Hadola, showing the Mesorah of the Torah so we know WHERE it originated from, We SHOULD ask where did allopathic medicine come from??? Since they DON’T teach this in Yeshiva’s you need to learn it on your own. Start with this:
    then this:
    and this:

    When Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, and the Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem M. Schneerson were alive there were THREE vaccines given, without all the toxins they have today. Autisim did NOT exist in their times, no one was allergic to peanut butter, there was little chronic and mental illness and kids were generally healthy. They got measles and chickenpox all the time and healed perfectly fine with life long immunity. Especially with the had vitamin A.

    Today there are over 72 vaccines recommended by the CDC LOADED with the worst toxins on the planet. There are NO, NO, NO, double blind placebo vaccine safety studies proving that injecting more than one vaccine at a time with the combined toxins is SAFE in any way shape or form!
    NON! Ask Dr. Galtt for one and post a link to it here or create another article.
    And they inject up to 8 vaccines at once! Are our kids Guinea Pigs and lab Rats???

    Also these Rabbis statements were made before the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act which gives Big Pharma “Immunity” from lawsuits. Yes this is the only REAL immunity they have created. More than 1/2 million people have been KILLED from vaccines as reported to VAERS set up by the CDC and millions injured. EVERYONE knows someone damaged from vaccines, they may not make the connections, including most doctors who stopped listening to their patients years ago.

    Unvaccinated kids TODAY are MUCH healthier than the vaccinated. This is the most extreme case of misery loves company (for the parents) or, Big Pharma likes to Sell more DRUGS. NO THANKS!

    Dr. Larry Palevsky, Dr. Toni Bark, Dr Suzanne Humphries and many other PROFESSIONAL Doctors who know 100 X’s more than Dr. Glatt about vaccines, would be HAPPY to Debate the likes of Dr. Glatt or Paul Offit in a civil and public forum. But the Vaccine Pushing Doctors WIMP OUT ALL THE TIME! And SHAME on the community of Baltimore for inviting Paul Offit head vaccine pusher who owns vaccine patents, to come and indoctrinate Jews, without a REAL two sided debate to really inform and empower people.
    The only conclusion is they can NOT defend their positions in the face of the professionals who will debunk them and expose the truth.

    Vaccines did NOT eradicate smallpox and polio this is a MYTH that Big Pharma put out as their Gospel Propaganda to fool Doctors who learn this myth in the schools Big Pharma funds and trickles down to the people through the media outlets in which Big Pharma is their Number ONE advertisers.

    This didn’t happen overnight it has been going on for decades.
    Here are the historic and medical FACTS of what happened to Smallpox and Polio.

    As long as no one was trying to force injecting these toxins into our kids things were sort of fine, although more and more kids got chronically and mentally ill as vaccine injections went up.

    But now that they all want to SHOVE vaccines up our kids A..s, and throw them out of schools, and call US murderers for NOT injecting our kids with these toxins, they have called an all out WAR!

    Unfortunately many Rabbis and leaders are taking the side of the corrupt Big Pharma, rather then just staying the H…l out of it, and saying talk to your local doctors for health advice. Like Kalev’s wife convinced Kalev to stay way from Korach.
    We are NOT getting involved in this and will NOT prevent children from coming to school as long as they look healthy and are not sick. 99% of Rabbis Bowed down to Haman too, and went to the Ball.

    The silent minority are speaking up and telling their vaccine injury stories. They will NOT shut up, and they will NEVER vaccinate again after they saw the damage and death vaccines have caused.
    The ONLY question is will you learn from them? or play russian roulette with your kids and may end up learning the hard way, THEN saying why didn’t I LISTEN???

  4. There is much to discuss and debate about what you have written, there are some good points which I agree with, but there is one point really gets to me every time, and its it totally false:
    “Most of the people that avoid vaccinations have done a mass amount of research on the topic”
    You are implying that that people who do vaccinate have not done this research, which is A) incorrect, B) misleading. Do you think that only people who do the research dont vaccinate? It seems to me that most anti-vaxxers are just repeating disproved and conspiracy theories.
    While I am not a doctor, I do have a science major, I have done my research, and I vaccinate.
    Most of the anti-vax discussion and view come from the minority of people, who have a loud mouth. The vast majority of people do vaccinate and have no issues with it.
    I am all for more information being provided to the public and an open public discussion and thank 5TJT for it.

  5. Science is never static. There is always more that can be learned. There are scientists in different countries who have discovered that aluminum injected into animals travels through the body and can end up in the brains of these animals. There is every reason to believe that aluminum adjuvants in vaccines are ending up in the brains of our children. I have seen many comments posted on different websites, and some ask a basic simple question: Where are the studies that show aluminum injected into our children is safe? I have seen this question but have never seen an answer! Whoever is reading this and believes that vaccines are safe because their doctors have told them so, can you please do us all a favor and ask your doctor for the name of the study that looked at the safety of aluminum in vaccines? And then please post it here. Thank you very much.
    In the meanwhile, here is disturbing info that I found online:

  6. Thank for a well balanced op-ed. I have some comments about what you wrote and the issue in general.

    BIG missing piece here: the vaccine damaged kids and their families! Does their sacrifice and pain mean so little that they are never really mentioned? We keep hearing about the responsibility to protect immunosuppressed children/individuals. Are they larger in number than those damaged by vaccines who actually stepped up to the plate to protect that weaker group?

    We keep hearing epithets thrown at the “anti-vaxxers”. They are ignorant and uneducated laymen and their leaders are in it for the money.

    Let’s take Mr. Handley as a case in point. He is a parent of an autistic child and is donating all the proceeds to 3 Autistic research and support foundations. He never questioned or investigated the issue until his second child was vaccine damaged. He lives with that guilt and pain everyday (as many parents in his situation do). He is trying to spare others. It is well worth a read. If anyone had bothered to read his book, they would have seen that he recommends some vaccines in the end. Closed mindedness and dogma on either end is not helpful. Let’s leave judging others behind us.

    In terms of being laymen, there are more doctors than you let on in this piece that are anti-vax (I prefer pro-safety) than you acknowledge in your article. Many have gone on record for eliminating some or amending the schedule. A sampling: Dr. Tenpenny, Dr. Sears, Dr. Thomas, Dr. Palevsky, Dr. Bark, Dr. Zajac, Dr. Humphries, Dr. Eisenstein, Dr. Mendelssohn, …. to name a few.

    In terms of activists and supporters, a truer statement would be the parents who never thoroughly research this issue are the uneducated ones. Many, many people in the the pro-vaccine safety contingent came to their opinions through tragedy. They either lost a child or had a child injured from a vaccine. They were uneducated before, but boy are they educated now. They don’t stop doing research because their pain never ends. May the rest of us respect their position and never ever know their pain.

    They say the pro-safety group are fear mongering. If it is true of one side, it is certainly true of the pro-vax side. What would you call all the talk about dying from chicken pox? rubella? To all of us who actually had and saw chicken pox, it sounds hyperbolic. The pro vax group has admitted that they can’t give an inch for fear the vaccine program would collapse. That is the definition of fear mongering.

    Science is never settled. It is always evolving. There were always lone scientists doing research that bubbled to the top to change existing science. The medical establishment bled patients, refused to wash their hands before surgery and childbirth and prescribed DES to pregnant women. For inexplicable reasons, many in our science community who do not profit from BigPharma are willing to close their minds to new hypotheses and avenues of research.

    Additionally, I also think bringing up piskei halacha from rabbonim who were niftar is not fair. A new shailoh would definitely have been posed to these men if they were alive today with the new sets of data (list of vaccines, purpose of each, ingredients of each, new research on aluminum, increased schedule, exponential growth in autism…). Would they have ruled the same way today in this brave new world?

    This is not a die hard issue. Many are not anti-vax. They are pro-safety. Do some real safety studies (they do not exist at the moment) and make safe vaccines and the line will form.

    I am merely asking for some honest truth seeking here… all the way around. May this rift in klal yisrael be healed and erased in the blink of an eye.

  7. Larry, I hope you will never apologize for allowing the truth to be spoken.
    There are many, many doctors who support vaccine choice and are advocates for vaccine safety.
    Those doctors who use their degree as a shield to avoid answering tough questions bring down the whole field. Their patronizing, condescending and coercive practices are reprehensible, to say the least. The reason they will not debate is because they do not have answers.
    I myself had an adverse reaction to vaccines when I was a young child. I was a premie by the way, and vaccinated premies were found to be 14 times more likely to suffer neurological issues, according to a study published in the Journal of Translational Science. Vaccines are ruled unavoidably unsafe by the supreme court. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that vaccine safety is not up for discussion, while they are proclaimed unsafe in the highest court in the land. Do not let anyone ever intimidate you into avoiding facing the reality of vaccine damage. It’s up to us to hold people responsible, continuously challenge the system and create a better future for our children where their rights re are never trampled on in the name of what they call science, but is actually a religion. A religion that you must uphold at all costs. Raising a red flag and promoting prevention of harm is considered blasphemy. And let me tell you, anything you are not allowed to question raises a massive red flag.
    I just want to add another point. People regularly point out how bright, focused and healthy my kids are. In fact, none of them has ever had a round of antibiotics. Chasdei Hashem. Our extended family (like most families) are full of neurological and autoimmune disorders. Maybe we just got lucky. Or maybe we chose to learn from experience, follow the money and yes follow the science and put our faith in Hashem, not in a corrupt system.


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