Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Bodily Autonomy and Halacha

Is bodily autonomy a Jewish value?

Freedom of movement and personal choice is at the very core of liberty. The verse etched on our Liberty Bell is a direct quote from Levitcus 25:10 – “You shall proclaim liberty throughout the land” (on the Jubilee year). “Liberty – דרור” is defined by Rashi to mean “one may live or dwell wherever he pleases and isn’t under the jurisdiction of others.” A Hebrew servant who wished to perpetuate his term of indentured servitude was to have his ear pierced by his master. A pierce to his body by the hands of another person was a symbol of his enslaved status and lack of autonomy.

In Torah, freedom and personal independence is a cherished ideal. “’The Children of Israel are Mine, they are My servants’ (said G-d) – and not servants of servants.”

However, the Torah clearly doesn’t advocate unmitigated bodily autonomy.

For starters, if you actively pursue another person to cause harm, you may be bodily restrained. Likewise, if you seek to physically assault, abduct, or inappropriately touch another person, your autonomy is not respected. By attempting to violate the bodily autonomy of another individual, your own autonomy no longer matters.

Of course, the abovementioned laws don’t contradict the paradigm of bodily autonomy. Instead, they augment it. By threatening to interfere with someone else’s bodily autonomy, you’ve temporarily surrendered your own.

[Parenthetically, your bodily autonomy may also be disregarded if you attempt to steel, rob, or trespass, i.e. if you threaten to violate the property of another individual. Perhaps that’s because one’s property or personal space is an extension of his/her own body. Consequently, you may be rightfully restrained or removed.]

Moreover, your personal autonomy may be suspended if you attempt to mortally harm yourself. [2]Judaism expects a bystander to interfere with your ability to do so. “Do not stand over your brother’s blood.” (Leviticus 19:16). Halacha similarly enjoins us to force-feed a person who is refusing to eat, in a situation where his not eating is directly jeopardizing his life, as advised by expert medical advice.

However, here it gets a bit tricky. Someone’s autonomy may not be violated unless the mortal risk to this individual is real and unambiguous. The medical expert must clinically observe patient and determine that the patient is in fact ill. Further, the physician must diagnose the illness, and must confirm reasonable possibility that lack of nutrition might aggravate the patient’s condition.[3] Mere speculation is insufficient.

Force-medicating is similar to force-feeding, provided that a medical expert has diagnosed patient with known life-threatening condition and prescribes a particular curative medicine or therapy.[4]

However, here lies an important distinction. If the medical expert prescribes a procedure that also carries risks of its own, the patient has autonomy to decline, depending on the degree of risk versus benefit

Likewise, a person has autonomy to decide whether to undergo a procedure that will safeguard someone else’s life, even if the risk to himself is minimal and the life-saving benefit to the other is certain.

For example, while it might be laudatory to donate one’s kidney or bone marrow to save another’s life, since there is some risk involved, even if just minimal risk, it must be the choice of the donor. We may not violate someone’s autonomy to save someone else’s life if there exists the slightest risk to the former.[5]

Consequently, halacha does not sanction the violation of personal autonomy by mandating vaccination. Firstly, the individual is healthy and is in no present danger. There is no precedent in halacha for coercing preventative medicinal measures. Secondly, every incision or hypodermic/subcutaneous puncture carries a risk, such as allergic or anaphylactic reaction. Furthermore, each particular vaccine carries risks of its own, including severe injury or death. This is an undisputed fact. Even if the risk is minimal, since there is a risk there must be a choice, unless the case can be made that this presently-healthy individual is in serious risk of contracting and succumbing to a prevalent disease that this vaccine may effectively prevent.

What is the risk factor that might justify overriding the patient’s autonomy is this regard?

Halacha prohibits killing spiders on Shabbos, even though there is one-out-of-a-thousand chance someone might be endangered by the spider falling into his food[6]. Apparently, one out of a thousand is insufficient risk.

On the other hand, one in a thousand is considered sufficient risk elsewhere in laws of Shabbos:

Childbirth is considered a potentially-life-threatening situation. Consequently, we may violate Shabbos for the needs of a birthing mother. However, since the mortality rate is “less than one in a thousand,”[7] our sages were strict and required us to avoid Biblically-prohibited labors on her behalf, but to endeavor to do these labors in an unusual manner that isn’t Biblically prohibited.

Surely if our sages were uneasy concerning Shabbos violation, how much more so we ought to be uneasy with regard to violating the autonomy of the birthing mother by forcing her to accept assistance that she has declined.*

However, if no alternative, the labor may be performed the regular way too. Even less than one in a thousand is considered sufficient risk to override Shabbos. How do we reconcile this law with the apparent contradiction from the law against killing spiders?

It’s quite simple. The spider hasn’t even fallen into the food yet. It’s crawling around elsewhere. One may not kill it, since even in event it falls into the food, the risk factor would be a mere one in a thousand. Conversely, a birthing mother is presently experiencing a condition which can potentially result in death, even in less than one in a thousand, but that present condition allows us to violate Shabbos on her behalf.

The takeaway: if it is indeed true that measles has a mortality rate of 1/1000, it would certainly justify violating Shabbos (and violating patient’s bodily autonomy if called for) once the patient presents with measles! If the individual is healthy, then the potential risk of 1/1000 in the possible event that he might contract measles does NOT constitute valid grounds for violating Shabbos, and certainly not his personal autonomy. Clearly, a healthy individual may decline measles vaccine, since a) he is in no present danger, b) he presently poses no danger to anyone else, and c) there is some risk involved in receiving the injection, even if minimal.

“Public health policy” and “herd immunity” are not factors in halacha, so there is no compelling reason to sanction coercing patient to vaccinate in order to protect others from theoretical disease that he might be more prone to contract and spread based on statistical speculation. 

While it is certainly laudatory for an individual to vaccinate out of concern for others more vulnerable in the community, it cannot be mandated. To do so would be a grave violation of the bodily autonomy of those who do not wish to subject themselves to the needle wound and injection that the vaccine entails.

A few more parting thoughts on autonomy:

The Torah prohibits self-inflicted gashes, tattoos, mutilation, castration, or striking oneself in any way[8]. It does not respect the individual’s right to choose in this regard. Judaism sees the body as on loan from the Creator. Your body is not your own but has been entrusted to you for the duration of your life. You are enjoined to return it intact and without blemish. That’s why the Torah exhorts us “Guard your souls exceedingly well.”[9] We have been granted autonomy to safeguard our body and protect it from unnecessary gashes, wounds, and needle stabs.

The Torah commands us to circumcise our male children on their eighth day of life. The child’s bodily autonomy is not respected in this regard, so we don’t need to wait until he’s an adult to ask his permission. Generally speaking, though, the autonomy of children is entrusted to their parents. That’s why a child cannot go where he pleases and must submit to his parents’ guardianship. This is because a  child is not old enough to live independently. Autonomy is commensurate to independence. However, the child does have a degree of autonomy. No one may inappropriately touch, harm or endanger the child, not even his parent.

If circumcision indeed caused actual harm to child, there would be grounds for the state to interfere and protect the child’s autonomy. However, since Jewish circumcision has been observed for millennia with no known adverse effects, and when performed by a competent mohel, is a benign cosmetic surgery with religious significance, the parents’ wishes must be respected. [FGM, on the other hand, has well-established long-term adverse effects on its victims. As such, state has an obligation to protect children from this harmful practice.]

Once the child reaches a certain age, he may no longer be circumcised without his own consent. An adult male may NOT be circumcised against his will, even in ancient times. Moreover, in ancient times when institution of slavery existed, a Jew was not permitted to own a slave who wasn’t circumcised, but he could NOT circumcise a slave against the latter’s will[10].

Parents may presumably pierce their child’s ear even though she’s not old enough to choose to do so herself since there is cosmetic value and no known risks.

In conclusion, our body belongs to G-d, but He entrusts us with bodily autonomy that we must cherish and safeguard.[11]

In a purely-halachic state, vaccination would most definitely not have been enforced, not even during an outbreak. How much more so in a non-halachic state, we must defend bodily autonomy at all costs. No one may be medicated or vaccinated against their will. A child cannot be vaccinated against his parents’ will. 

Similarly, we may not quarantine or banish a healthy individual from the public simply for not submitting to state’s vaccine schedule. That is also a violation of his autonomy and freedom of movement[12].

We cannot afford to tolerate such tyranny. There’s too much at stake.

End mandatory vaccination.

May freedom prevail.

[1] Leviticus 25:55. Bava Metzia 10a.
[2] Likewise, the Sanhedrin cannot convict a person of a crime punishable by corporal or capital punishment just by his own admission, since a person has no true ownership of his body and lacks autonomy to cause himself bodily harm. See Radvaz on Mishneh Torah, Laws of Sanhedrin, 18:6. Conversely, he is believed with regard to monetary matters, since a person has true ownership of his assets and may cede or destroy them if he wishes. However, see Shulchan Aruch Harav, Choshen Mishpat, Laws of Shmiras Guf v’Nefesh, 14, that it is forbidden to destroy one’s assets wastefully because of Biblical prohibition, “You shall not chop down its tree” (Deut 20:9). In Likutei Sichos vol. 34, page 106-106, the Rebbe points out obvious distinction between the prohibition to cause bodily harm versus causing monetary destruction. In the former, one has no permission to do so to begin with since his body is not his own possession. Monetary assets are his own possession, and technically is entitled to destroy them, were it not for a Biblical commandment bidding him not to. This doesn’t contradict tenet that all belongs to G-d, as explained below.
[3] Shulchan 6 Harav Orach Chayim 618:2, 12 והנסמן שם.
[4] Ibid 328:11.
[5] Radvaz in Responsa 3:625. Cited in Pischei Teshuva, Yoreh Deah 157:15
[6] Shulchan Aruch Harav Orach Chayim 316:23.
[7] Ibid 330:1.
[8] Likewise, it’s categorically forbidden to strike one’s fellow, even if the latter had given permission or requested it, since a person has no jurisdiction to inflict harm on himself. Mishna, Bava Kama 90b. See Shulchan Aruch Harav, Choshen Mishpat, Laws of Nizkei Guf v’Nefesh, 4.
[9] Deuteronomy 4:15. Note “your souls” plural. This indicates that each individual is enjoined to safeguard his own personal health and the health of his children for whom he is responsible, not necessarily the ‘health’ of a community. Of course, all Jews bear mutual responsibility for one another (Sanhedrin” 27b), but the health of others in no way supersedes explicit Biblical obligation to safeguard his own health. “Your life comes first” (Bava Metzia 62a).
[10] Mishneh Torah, Laws of Milah 1:6. Instead, he was required to sell or emancipate a slave who refused to be circumcised.
[11] See Berachos 35b, that although “the world and all that fills it belongs (exclusively) to G-d” (Tehilim 24:1), nevertheless “He gave the earth to the children of man” (Ibid 115:16). He entrusted it with us to safeguard, but unless we acknowledge and bless our Creator, even eating and drinking would have been forbidden.
[12] Of course, a patient with diagnosed contagious illness who poses present and actual risk to others may be quarantined, since his free movement is directly endangering others, as explained above.
* Regarding maternity and bodily autonomy, it must be pointed out that a pregnant woman who wishes to give birth at home must be respected as well, as long as she’s assisted by a competent midwife. Even if there are certain risks involved with giving birth outside a hospital without its modern lifesaving measures, there are also inherent risks in giving birth in hospitals, like increased rate of unnecessary c-section, episiotomy, sleep-deprivation, contagions, etc, risks that don’t exist when giving birth at home. As such, a mother’s autonomy must be honored, and insurance companies ought to be required to cover home births. If the woman has a diagnosed condition that presents actual risk, a risk that increases by giving birth outside of a medical facility, then it may be different. Each case ought to be individually considered, and not viewed in a statistical context of “public health.”

Sunday, September 8, 2019

End of the "Golden Age" for Jews in America?

The "golden age" for Jews in America is now over.

A Jewish child can no longer get a Jewish education in NY State unless s/he submits to the unjust demands of government that violate his/her bodily autonomy. I'm afraid MA will soon follow suit.

This is the death knell for religious freedom in the U.S.A., once known as "Land of the Free" (but sadly no longer).

Is it now time to return to the Promised Land?*

Is G-d calling us home?

* Our sages explained that it was called the "land flowing with milk and honey" since Torah knowledge was freely available to all there. The Torah is compared to nourishing milk and sweet honey ("חלב ודבש תחת לשונך -- milk and honey under your tongue" -- Shir Hashirim 4:11). Sadly and tragically, Torah education is no longer available to all children in Galuth America. Time to return to the "Land flowing with Milk and Honey"?

Thursday, August 29, 2019

What's Wrong with Religious Exemption?

Trigger warning:
My article below challenges the prevalent assumption that the state may mandate vaccination. I am NOT anti-vax, but just anti-coercion and pro-bodily-autonomy. If you find this view offensive or disturbing and would like to continue living in blissful ignorance while the very underpinnings of free society are under attack, then please don't read this:

What's Wrong with Religious "Exemption?"
Mandatory Vaccination and the Nuremburg Code

Part I:

There's something deeply troubling about the whole debate over "religious exemption" from mandatory vaccination.

It avoids the real elephant in the room.

Who granted the government the authority to mandate vaccination in the first place?

What happened to bodily autonomy?

Some point to the fact that the state doesn’t coerce anyone to vaccinate, and as such, doesn’t technically violate anyone’s autonomy.

Of course, this is a specious argument. Mandatory vaccination effectively bars a child from school. Depriving a child of an education is coercive. Education is a right, not a privilege.

For a working single mother, homeschooling is simply not an option. For many couples who both work, staying home to homeschool children condemns their family to indigence. This “non-compulsory” law forces them to choose between vaccination and poverty.

How can free society tolerate such cruel and intolerant policy?

Some folks argue that personal freedoms must be restricted (read: violated) when there's a public safety risk.

Their reasoning: measles can be deadly, and an unvaccinated child is at greater risk to contracting the dreaded disease and spreading it further to others. Since this child arguably poses a risk to the community, they argue, he may be barred from the public whose safety we are trying to safeguard.

The problem is that infringing in individual’s rights in the name of public welfare is risky business. We’re treading on thin ice, constitutionally-speaking.

Let’s first assess the actual risk that this one child poses. She is presently healthy, indistinguishable from a vaccinated child. The fear is that there is a higher statistical possibility that she may contract an infectious disease.

This reasoning might also lead us to conclude that children from ethnicities who have higher incidents of juvenile delinquency may be barred from society too. After all, a student from such ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds surely increases the statistical risk for school violence.

Muslim children may be barred from schools too, since they are certainly at higher risk of radicalization and jihadism.

Where do we draw the line?

Is the threat of measles more lethal than that of school shootings or suicide bombings?

Nevertheless, irrational fear of disease seems to provide excuse to curtail individual freedoms more so than other security or safety concerns.

The loudest voices in our society justify the banning of the unvaccinated due to public safety risk.

Public health outweighs an individual’s rights, they argue.

I'd assume these same people enthusiastically support the NSA recording our conversations and so-called concentration camps at the border, both of which supposedly exist to protect the public.

However, that's not the case. These same outspoken proponents of mandatory vaccination are oddly silent when it comes to the state suspending other civil liberties.

Instead, they often protest these government abuses, yet nod in approval when unvaccinated children are barred from school. 

[Even more inexplicably, they'll clamor for the rights of unvaccinated migrants (and their unimpeded integration into American society) yet advocate sequestering unvaccinated children of U.S. citizens.]

So I ask them: why do you believe individuals are any less entitled to medical freedom than they are freedom of mobility, speech, or expression?

You'll fight for a woman's right to wear hijabs, in spite of conceivable possibility that she's hiding a weapon underneath, but have no qualms forcing her to submit to bodily injection in the name of preventing potential harm to the public!

You deplore "apartheid” policies that exclude Arabs from crossing a border to mitigate security risks, but cheer when unvaccinated children are shunned from the public, banned from school, treated like pariahs and untouchables... all because they supposedly pose a public health risk!

I’ll be the simple son and ask the obvious question: why is this apartheid different from all other apartheids?

When NYC fines people for not complying with mandatory MMR, you cite increased risk of measles from unvaccinated population.  Yet you deplore racial profiling and police's biased attitude towards minorities, even though there's an increased risk of violent offenders coming from that same minority population. 

You have zero tolerance for bias against black people but plenty of tolerance for bias against unvaccinated people.

You’ll champion a woman's inviolable right to consent yet turn a blind eye when teen-age girls are penetrated with an intravenous needle under duress! Poked and force-injected with someone else's bodily fluid (i.e. that of aborted babies, not to mention monkeys and other mammals)!

You’ll stand up for a woman’s choice to kill her 9-month-old fetus but reject her choice to decline the Hepatitis-B vaccine for that same baby one day later!

Why the double standards?

Why are you okay with infringing on individual's civil liberties only with regards to vaccines?

Who gave the state exclusive rights to our bloodstreams!?

It’s irrelevant that there’s a vaccinating majority. Since when do we condone dictatorship of the majority? 

We simply cannot tolerate such egregious violations of individual citizens’ rights. There's too much at stake.

Bodily autonomy is sacrosanct. An individual's right to medical choice is inviolable.

This is the USA, land of the free!

Not only may we not force-vaccinate anyone, neither may we ostracize them for not being vaccinated.

That’s Jim Crow laws revisited.

We may not bar children from schools. It's no different than barring blacks from schools for phony excuse of "keeping the neighborhood safe."

Unvaccinated children are just as human as your own, and they are entitled to an education!

A school that will not accommodate all healthy children should not be allowed to accommodate any children. 

There can be no tolerance for such discriminatory policies in free society.  

So that brings me back to my problem with "religious exemption."

Why does anyone need an "exemption" in the first place?

Any person should be fully entitled to decline ANY medical procedure, no questions asked.

The state may enforce seatbelts, motor-vehicle or aviation safety, consumer protection, etc., but they may not force-medicate healthy individuals. That’s a red line that must never be crossed.

Part II:

Years ago, while we weren't paying attention, the government insidiously usurped our freedoms by enforcing mandatory vaccination policy, while tossing us a conciliatory doggy bone, so-called "religious exemption." That enabled individuals to decline, but for specifically-religious reasons only.  

Shockingly, “non-religious” individuals were never afforded such a “privilege.” Moreover, an individual could only cite uniquely-religious reasons, and was often harassed by his own coreligionists who disputed his right to his own religious beliefs!

Fast-forward to the present. Now we have an outrageous situation in which self-proclaimed religious experts ridiculously profess expertise on every known religion on earth. These so-called spiritual leaders claim that there are no valid religious reasons for declining vaccination ever.

New York state legislators were only too eager to follow suit and eliminated religious exemption altogether, banning some 35,000+ children from school in one fell swoop.

What is the reaction from the freedom-loving people of New York State?

Silence, complacence, and indifference.

Shameful, appalling and deplorable.

Truth is, however, that the population has been unsuspectingly indoctrinated over the course of many years, ever since mandatory vaccination was introduced, even throughout the time that religious exemption had been honored.

Zealous efforts to ensure “herd immunity” have led to “herd thinking.” No one is permitted to question the state-imposed vaccination paradigm. My goodness, independent thinking is viewed as a “public health risk” and suppressed! Anyone who questions the state’s mandate to vaccinate the population is roundly tarred and feathered in the name of “protecting public health.”

Despite their best of intentions, the champions of “public health” have sadly trampled our First Amendment rights in the process.

My friends, it’s time to take back the narrative and reclaim our autonomy.

Your body belongs to you and you alone. No one may dictate what you inject into yourself.

Doctors may encourage vaccination, and surely you ought to consider their advice and possibly comply, but that is YOUR decision and no one else’s.

Yes, it’s possible that if the unvaccinated population increases, some diseases might return.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do about that, short of vaccinating ourselves and your children.

We may NOT vaccinate other people’s children.

If we allow that, then we are no longer a free country, but a police state.

We will have lost everything.

As Patrick Henry famously cried, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
Is measles worse than death?

(Parenthetically, has there been even one death in the recent measles outbreak in the US? 1,203 cases so far this year, but not a single fatality. Please remind me why measles is so dreaded...)

I’d rather deal with measles than with a dystopian police state, the risk we take if we don’t stymie the government’s efforts to restrict our free choice and bodily autonomy.

Let’s review the opening lines of the Nuremburg Code:

The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.
This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion; and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved, as to enable him to make an understanding and enlightened decision.

Vaccination ought to be a matter of “enlightened decision,” not a “forced” decision made “under duress” by “overreaching” government. Barring children from school amounts to coercion and cannot be tolerated.

Let’s all wake up now before it’s too late.

Yes, religious freedom is under attack in the Empire State and throughout the country.

Under the law, religion is defined as “personal, strongly held beliefs,” not necessarily related to organized religion.

It’s no coincidence that our founding fathers enshrined it in the very first amendment.

When government attempts to tamper with it, all freedom is lost. It is the beginning and end to our cherished liberties, and we cannot afford to lose it.

We already began to forfeit our freedoms when we tolerated state-imposed mandatory vaccine schedule.

Religious freedom is our last stand, so to say.

It’s time for every freedom-loving citizen to stand up to defend it, irrespective of one’s opinions on vaccines.

This is not about vaccines. It’s about preserving the essence of who we are as a nation.

G-d bless America, and G-d bless our freedoms.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

15th of Av and Religious Exemption

Happy 15th of Av!
This day is celebrated by Jews worldwide since antiquity. Never before has this special day had as much timely relevance as today, as the fate of religious exemption hangs in the balance.

Why? Let's first consider the five happy events that occurred on this date in Jewish history.
    1. The dying of the generation of the Exodus ceased. Men in their sixtieth year – who were thought to have been doomed to perish in the desert – were forgiven and allowed to proceed to the Promised Land with the new generation. G-d began to lovingly communicate with Israel via Moses once more, after 38 years of not doing so.
    2. Tribes were permitted to marry within one-another. Prior to that date, during the early times of conquest and settling of the Land, a woman who had no brothers was not permitted to marry outside of her tribe, since her heirs would then be members of their father’s tribe. Such a marriage would eventually cause the transfer of land from one tribe to another (see Numbers 36). On the 15th of Av, this rule was repealed, and women inheriting land were permitted to marry men from other tribes.
    3. On this date circa 1200 BCE, the Tribe of Benjamin, which had been excommunicated and alienated from the other tribes due to the incident of the “Concubine at Gibeah” (Judges 19-21), was welcomed back into the community of Israel. Men from Benjamin were once more permitted to marry women from other tribes. 
    4. After the death of King Solomon, the ten northern tribes rejected the kingdom of Judah to form their own breakaway kingdom. Roadblocks were built to prevent citizens of the northern Kingdom of Israel from making pilgrimage to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, the capital of Judah. On this date, 15 Av (in 574 BCE), these divisive barriers were finally removed by Hoshea ben Elah, the last king of the northern kingdom, who opened the roads to Jerusalem
    5. On the 15th of Av (in 148 CE) the corpses of the many thousands of residents of Betar (slain by the Romans after the Bar Kochba rebellion) were finally allowed to be buried by their fellow Jews.

Do you see the common theme here?
Each of these events signified reconciliation and reunification after a period of alienation and estrangement.

  • The generation doomed to die in the desert was forgiven and permitted join the new generation, and Israel was reconciled with G-d once more.
  • The barrier of patrimonial inheritance laws that had once divided the tribes was now repealed, and all Israel could unite through marriage.
  • After years of alienation, Benjamin and the Tribes reconciled and reunited through matrimony.
  • After two centuries of restrictive barriers, Israel could once more join their brethren to the south and reunite with G-d in the Holy Temple.
  • The bodies of the slain Jews could finally be laid to rest in proper Jewish burial, a posthumous reunification with their people.
And now, on the 15th of Av of this year (August 16, 2019), we yearn for reconciliation and reunification yet again.
Sadly, several months back, thousands of Jewish children were wrongly banned from school for no good reason. Due to zealous school administrators and principals, goaded on by city and state officials, these innocent children were alienated from their schools and neighborhoods, treated as pariahs and lepers. Even worse, the state legislature then hastily passed an unjust law cementing these poor children’s fate.
In a flagrant violation of First Amendment rights, the state eliminated religious exemption thereby coercing all residents of NY State to vaccinate or be barred from school… an unprecedented barrier driving a wedge between these children and their peers, marginalizing Jewish families from their communities.
Today, the 15th of Av, we hope and pray for the end of this unlawful alienation of Jewish children.
We yearn for a reconciliation between NY’s Jewish communities and these precious children who suffered estrangement, humiliation, and scorn. 
Let Klal Yisroel reunite once more, and let’s tear down the artificial barriers that divide us into “provaxxer” and “antivaxxer” camps.
Let’s learn to respect one another, and honor each individual’s freedom to his or her own medical choices. In truth, we are one people, bound by an inherent unity that transcend all differences.
Please join me in prayer as we look forward to hearing good news, the return of sanity to N.Y. State and a stay on this deplorable law, and ultimately, its repeal.

The Talmud states: "There were no greater festivals for Israel than the 15th of Av and Yom Kippur.

Indeed, there is no greater joy than when Jews reconcile and unite as one.

בימים ההם בזמן הזה. In those days and in our times.
Celebrate Jewish unity. Celebrate the 15th of Av!