By Larry Gordon

The practice of medicine is best left to doctors and medical researchers. But be that as it may, it seems these days that everyone has strong opinions about medical matters they really know very little about.

Take the issue in the news lately about vaccinations to protect against the spread of diseases like measles, mumps and chicken pox. It is indeed a dilemma, and there seems to be quite a divide — especially in the Orthodox Jewish community — on whether to vaccinate babies and young children.

Most recently, the news has been replete with stories of a measles outbreak in Monsey and just a few days ago in Ocean County, New Jersey, which includes Lakewood. It seemed as though the local new stations were subliminally suggesting that Orthodox Jews were uncaringly spreading the disease due to personal and possibly self-centered motivations, which paid no mind to those who are more medically vulnerable.

J.B. Handley

Though I was not present, I was told that some of our leading Torah sages at last weekend’s Agudas Yisrael convention took up positions both in favor and against vaccinating our kids. I was told that Lakewood Rosh Yeshiva R’ Malkiel Kotler and Philadelphia Rosh Yeshiva R’ Shmuel Kamenetsky came down definitively against vaccinating, while other rabbanim said they are in favor of the practice. Contemporary medical wisdom says that vaccinating young people against diseases like measles prevents the spread of the illness. The underlying premise, then, is that if you are a critic of vaccines, you are for the spreading of these illnesses in children.

Vaccines will likely remain a point of controversy in the community going forward, but the majority of pediatricians practicing in this area strictly adhere to the vaccinations protocol, and very few iconoclastic physicians will break rank on the matter of vaccines.

The other night I happened across a middle-of-the-night radio show — Coast To Coast AM — broadcast on WOR in New York, on the subject of vaccines. The guest on the radio program was JB Handley, author of the new book “How to End the Autism Epidemic.”

Here are some of the facts that I was able to jot down as Mr. Handley was making his presentation on the connection between vaccines and autism. He said that up until 1986, most children were given three vaccinations. If you are old enough, you may even recall their names — polio, MMR, and DTP. The MMR, as the acronym indicates, is the vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella. The DTP is a combination vaccine that is supposed to prevent diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), and tetanus.

Handley, who is described on some medical websites as a “pseudo-scientist” and has a young child who is autistic, said that at present there are 138 different vaccines that can be administered to children. He added that back in the 1980s, the vaccine industry generated about $160 million in revenue, and in 2017, vaccines produced over $60 billion in the medical industry. That does not prove much — other than that vaccines are very good business.

Mr. Handley did not dispute the idea that vaccines impede the outbreak of these illnesses in children. But he added that not enough attention has been directed at other sometimes-serious side effects that create other problems in young people.

A fascinating assertion made by Mr. Handley was that contracting the mumps, measles, and chicken pox as children builds up the immune system, and later in life that can assist the body in preventing more serious diseases like cancer.

Conventional medicine says these conjectures are not scientifically proven, and a term used by doctors is that these claims are “bogus.” But Mr. Handley and the doctors he consults say that they have traced vaccinated children with a plethora of medical problems including learning disabilities and depression.

According to Mr. Handley, in the early 1980s the possibility of having a child with autism or Asperger’s was one in 10,000. Today it is 1 in 35, an astounding and very troubling statistic. Nowadays 54 percent of children in the United States are dealing with some kind of chronic illness. He also said children can be screened to see if they have a physical malady that can be exacerbated by vaccines. Handley said that his research has shown some of those signs in babies are eczema, circles under the eyes, and a bloated stomach.

As a casual observer of these matters, the debate is both eye-opening and fascinating to me. From a halachic perspective, it is a matter of the dictate to preserve your health and your life as commanded in the Torah. The broader question is whether we are doing more good or more damage by acceding to the wishes of pediatricians and other medical professionals by unquestioningly following their directive. The controversy has created pro- and anti-vaxxer groups and has become quite a contentious debate that does not look like it will be settled conclusively anytime soon.

The Holocaust Gene

Linda Burghardt

For the past few years, I have been addressing students at a number of schools in the Five Towns and Queens as part of a project called “Names, Not Numbers.” The program, initiated some years ago by Tova Rosenberg, introduces the Holocaust to eighth-grade students through first-person interviews. Young people around 13 years old have less of a real or palpable connection to that dark period in Jewish history and the impact that experience has had on two subsequent generations of Jewish families.

I bring that up now because one of the things I recently told the students at HANC was that considering that there are a waning number of Holocaust survivors still living, chances are that future classes like theirs will be speaking with and interviewing the children of Holocaust survivors someday.

A few days later, I came across an article written by Linda. F. Burghardt, the scholar-in-residence at the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center here in Nassau County. Ms. Burghardt discusses the physical intergenerational transmission of trauma. That means that those of us who have parents or grandparents who survived the Holocaust may live with the familiarity of the Holocaust as if we were there — even though we did not personally experience it — as a result of our ancestors’ extreme trauma that has been passed down to us and is a real part of our personal composition and even, to an extent, our DNA.

The Burghardt piece cites epigenetic scientists Siddhartha Mukherjee and Rachel Yehuda who say “we were born with physical scars from traumatic events that our parents endured before we were even conceived.” Burghardt adds that their research has found “epigenetic changes in our parents’ genes, such as stress characteristics that cannot be turned off, came to us through biological information passed down genetically and that we have literally inherited the Holocaust.”

It is certainly an interesting and novel approach to a generation of children of survivors who may have wondered from time to time what Jewish life will be like in the future when the last survivors have passed on. This research explains a lot about children of survivors who carry habits, concerns, and practices that their parents or grandparents had as a result of their experiences in World War II that they themselves did not live through. In other words, you did not have to survive the Holocaust in order to be a survivor. n

Read more of Larry Gordon’s articles at Follow 5 Towns Jewish Times on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates and live videos. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome at and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


  1. Larry, I’m sorry but you are just wrong about vaccinations and your column is irresponsible. This isn’t an ‘opinion’ issue; it is a matter of fact. This isn’t an issue of everyone can come to their own conclusion based on personal opinion and evaluation of the current evidence. All should be vaccinated, Jew and non-Jew alike. I don’t decide for myself what Halacha I choose to follow, just as we shouldn’t decide for ourselves whether or not to be vaccinated.

  2. Larry, thanks for this eye opening article. I like to research and ask questions. We should be allowed to ask questions and get answers, but the climate today is to criticize instead of educate regarding vaccination safety and side effects. I personally spoke with my pediatrician who stated that the rise in auto immune conditions in children among other issues may likely be from vaccines and that he advises his grandchildren not to vaccinate or to space out the vaccines. Unfortunately he is afraid to go on record publicly but this is a physician within our community.

  3. Larry, your article was presented fair and factual. In 1986 the Federal government created the Federal no-fault vaccine injury compensation program and permanently disallowed lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers and pediatricians, protecting them indefinitely.

    During its two-decade history, two out of three individuals applying for federal vaccine injury compensation have been turned away empty-handed

    Today, nearly 5,000 vaccine injury claims are sitting in limbo because they represent children who suffered brain and immune system dysfunction after vaccination but have been diagnosed with regressive autism, which is not recognized by the program as a compensable event.

    Obtaining compensation has become a highly adversarial, time-consuming, traumatic and expensive process for families of vaccine injured children, and far too many vaccine victims have been denied compensation. Meanwhile, vaccine makers and doctors have enjoyed liability protection and dozens of doses of new vaccines have been added to the childhood vaccine schedule.

    Many children in our community have suffered from vaccine injuries including Autism, SIDS, seizure disorders and various autoimmune disorders right after receiving a round of vaccines and have been told by their doctors it is purely coincidence. Instead of their injuries being reported to VAERS they are dismissed and only as estimated 1% of episodes are ever reported.

    I encourage parents to read the ingredient list and ask if there have been any long term studies on safety.

    MMR Ingredient list:
    chick embryo cell culture, WI-38 human diploid lung fibroblasts, vitamins, amino acids, fetalbovine serum, sucrose, glutamate, recombinant human albumin, neomycin, sorbitol, hydrolyzed gelatin, sodium phosphate, sodium chloride

    D-TaP Ingredient list:
    Fenton medium containing a bovine extract, modified Latham medium derived from bovine casein, formaldehyde, modified Stainer-Scholte liquid medium, glutaraldehyde, aluminum hydroxide, VERO cells, a continuous line of monkey kidney cells, Calf serum, lactalbumin hydrolysate, sodium chloride, polysorbate 80 (Tween 80), neomycin sulfate, polymyxin B

    I vaccinated my kids but when my daughter handed me material to read on the subject I must say I was surprised and have not been able to get any intelligent answers from my doctors, just the usual dismissive conjecture and ‘drug companies know best’ dogma. By the way when I was a kid it was common to get the measles, everyone got it. The brady bunch even made a hilarious episode about it. Google it, its a real riot!

    Be careful out there


  4. Dear Larry,

    Thank you for your fair open minded reporting. It seems that on this subject there is very little reporting on two sides. It seems that the frum community has been polarized on this subject. Where is the Achavat Chinam? All we see are these relentless attacks on the people who exercise their constitutional right for informed consent. When was the last time you were given a vaccine insert at your pediatrician’s office?. It is a very important subject that requires much discussion and an open mind.

    Nobody denies the effectiveness of some of the vaccines – small-pox in particular eradicated the disease. Effectiveness of that particular vaccine has left people yearning from the elixir of life. Nothing scares people more than the idea of dying to the point that we will blindly trust. We have gotten so used to trusting government institutions that are meant to protect us, that we don’t even look that numerous times the directors and other officials in CDC leave the post only to take lucrative positions in Merck or other Pharmaceutical companies. We don’t investigate that all the research that the universities CDC and FDA conduct are sponsored by the same companies. Do you actually expect them to byte the hand that feeds them? We trust our doctors that are sworn to first do no harm, that we don’t even question them. We don’t realize that they themselves are ill-informed or biased. Unfortunately most of them are blinded and have taken everything that they learned in med school as gospel. There are some exceptions that open their eyes and see both sides of the argument but those are few and far in between.

    Vaccines are the only product produced by the Pharmaceutical companies that rarely if ever go through proper double blind randomized studies. When they do, they are compared to other vaccines instead of saline placebo, or sometimes just the adjuvant, which in most cases is the problem, and not the vaccine itself. There is even major research from a world renowned rheumatologist from Israel Dr.Shoenfeld about Adjuvant induced autoimmune syndrome.

    This year the vaccine production stands to be a $49 Billion dollar industry, with very influential lobby. They account for a large portion of advertising revenue on all the news stations. When was the last time you turned on a TV to CNN or FOX News or MSNBC without getting bombarded with an add for a cure to a disease you did not even know you had, a practice which is forbidden in Europe for prescription medication. To add insult to injury they can;t even be sued for damage, which is something our litigious American society accepted under the threat of them stopping to produce vaccines, since they were going broke from law suits in the 80’s. If you want to get compensated for a vaccine injury you must file a suit in a special administrative court which compensates through a special excise tax which is charged every time a vaccine is administered. I am not saying to throw the baby out with the bath water, but you be the judge if the whole thing adds up.

    Some of the vaccines are not even preventing the spread of the disease – they are just dealing with the symptoms. Polio, Whooping Cough and other vaccines only deal with the symptoms from the virus but not the spread of the virus to others.

    There is so much to write on this subject, but besides all the health aspects – what we are injecting in to our bodies. Aborted fetal lung cells, African Green Monkey kidney cells, to name some. These are ingredients that you would not be able to consume due to kashrus issues, yet we inject them directly in to our blood stream.

    A big Yashar Koach Larry !!!

  5. Larry, thanks for being one of the only voices in the frum community who is actually thinking for himself! Please use your platform to continue to openly explore the many concerns that come along with vaccines.

  6. I get that were told that vaccines are safe and effective. But this does not mean it’s true. the source of all this information is coming from the CDC Pharma funded publications.
    Especially if thousands of people are claiming otherwise. You can not dismiss them all as crazy, many who did vaccinate.

    The Crux of the Halachic problem here is that the Drs. told the Rabbis incorrect statistics.
    The facts are, the last measles death in Israel was 15 years ago. The baby in Jerusalem with Downs Syndrome and heart problems died from dehydration as confirmed by the family, and could have been saved had they seeked help.

    In America since 2000 there have only been 11 deaths (in the past 18 years)

    Even at a time like in the 1960’s when there were 400 deaths out of 4,000,000 measles cases it was still a 0.0001% chance of dying from measles IF you actually get it. 400/ 4,000,000=0.0001% chance not even close to 1-2 out of 1,000
    Yes in third wold countries like Africa those number are higher since they don’t have clean water, proper sewage and lack basic nutrition. So there those number may be correct, just like it was in the USA in the early 1900’s.
    You can NOT apply those numbers to America and Israel in 2018 they are simply not true and very misleading.

    Today when people in western countries like the USA and Israel have clean water, proper sewage and basic nutrition, plus can get lots of vitamin A which is what your body needs when it has measles, dying from a car accident or drowning in a pool or even getting stung by a scorpion is infinity higher.

    NOW compare 11 deaths in the USA in 18 years (less then 1 per YEAR) to 452 deaths FROM the MMR vaccine as reported to VAERS set up by the CDC plus thousands of permanent injuries, and your are MANY more times likely to die from the vaccine and thousands of times more likely to be injured. According to the FDA only 10% of the vaccine injuries are reported to VAERS so you can even 10X’s the already much higher risk from the vaccine.
    Doctors may mean well but are not taught these numbers. The thousands of Doctors who took the time from their busy schedules to research this and realize these more correct numbers, set up their own movement.

    You can not make a Psak based on incorrect information, the Rabbis did not even speak with those from the other side. Plus the fact that most Doctors don’t know what in the vaccines and they are trained try to hide the insert from you, (go try to get one from them) is very suspicious. What are they trying to hide? informed consent means you are informed of what is in a vaccine and read the ADVERSE reactions they can cause on the manufactures insert. This information is not forthcoming from the medical establishment and warrants a thinking person to be extra cautious and seek that information. YOU are responsible for your families heath. No one else.

    Here is the list in ingredients in vaccines, which include many heavy metals, monkey, pig and even aborted baby cells.
    Ask your doctor for long term studies showing it’s safe to inject ALL of these ingredients with many mixed vaccines into your kids at the same time.
    In case your Doctor can’t find the MMR insert here it is, make sure to read it.

    UnVaccinated kids do not pose ANY more risk than vaccinated kids.

    Vaccinated kids are the ones who shed and spread the measles.

    Finally When was the last time you and all the Rabbis and teachers vaccinated? If you are not vaccinated with 72 vaccines recommended by the CDC today and you were vaccinated for MMR it was more than 10 years ago and NO longer effective, so YOU and them are Unvaccinated and are a danger to your kids and society and should not be near people.

    Shlomo W

  7. Larry, our community needs someone with the courage and open mindedness to bridge the rift amongst us! Nice to see a frum newspaper without an agenda. Please don’t let them scare you off!

  8. BSD
    Thank you Larry for doing yourself the favor to open the REAL conversation on VAX. You will soon see how fortunate you are for steering clear of the “Jewish” media “herd mentality” & consider yourself blessed to not join those “pitiFOOLs”.

    Please consider replacing columns that don’t create vitality & moral character with health creation articles by Dr Larry Palevsky and blogs from the WONDERFUL site & mother forum:

    Having the notion (Dr. Siegel) that the laity should mindlessly submit their precious babies to filthy mysterious concoctions being injected into their pure bloodstreams because someone with an “MD” says so – is as delusional as it gets!

    More than 25 years ago – after irresponsibly feeling compelled to vax my 3 older children & NOT the younger ones BORUCH HASHEM! (& suffered unnecessarily with those terrible consequences from “normal” systemic vax inflammation) – then learning from REAL moral doctors and many other MORAL & wise individuals that vax was draconian & deliberately designed to weaken immunity & brain function – not a night has gone by that I haven’t dreamed of how to stop this horrific betrayal & violation of our children by our own doctors & “leaders”. I’ve been speaking about this topic with many influential people in the “Torah observant” communities for YEARS! The bottom line is CLEAR beyond a shadow of doubt – as they say: FOLLOW THE $$$$$$$$! It just takes a “little” compromise of integrity & down the slippery slope we go….sorry-but the truth ALWAYS comes out!

    There is NO ONE today who is emotionally prepared to do the readily available research who won’t conclude that VACCINES are the satanic & diabolical tool of those following in the footsteps of our most infamous psychopathic dictators throughput history. Check out for more hard-to-deny & hard-to-accept truths that we MUST be aware of. Ignorance is NOT bliss but knowledge IS power!

    Let’s embrace the truth, start to truly heal & get ready to greet Mashiach. It’s a bit funny that Italy is leading this evolution to consciousness having thrown out the pHARMa operatives in the govt along with ANY vaccine mandates. Thank you Italy for making this HUGE Kiddush Shem Shamayim! I hope we can empower our true selves and learn from you to do the same!

    Larry – let us all truly follow our ehrliche leaders on the clarion call, “Mee l’Has-m ailay”!

  9. It’ll be a sad state of things if we all went along with the very first suggestion of your article and leave the medical choices to medial doctors and researchers – and didn’t do research of our own to make OUR medical decisions. The united states spends the most on healthcare yet has the worst mortality outcomes of all first world countries. These are public stats, go look them up. When will people wake up and smell the coffee. Capitalism works in our favor on most areas, but with healthcare it’s a slippery slope. Don’t be a doll and criticize those that don’t freely submit to the CDCs schedule. Vaccines cause injuries, that’s why VAERS has paid out over 350 billion for injuries and deaths

  10. Thank you for having the courage to say there is a controversy and that the science isn’t settled. They said DES and thalidomide was safe – need I say more. All anyone on the non-pro-vax side wants is a frank, open and respectful conversation. We are not anti-vax; we are pro-safety. Our beautiful children deserve that. Any hint of questioning is shut down and the questioner is torn to pieces. I salute you, Larry Gordon, for being a mensch.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here