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Williamsburg: How a measles outbreak splits families in this Orthodox Jewish community



"Say you have six children who want to come to the seder with all grandchildren," said Eli Banash, 32, a member of the Orthodox community who works in Williamsburg.

"Grandmother wants everyone to come in. A family did not vaccinate the children Five of them did The five families say," We will not come unless they do not come! "The Passover will make it even more intense."

The Passover, which begins on Friday at sunset and ends on April 27, marks the Exodus story from the Old Testament and is celebrated with large gatherings and solemn meals. Community leaders and health officials, however, fear that the holiday can further boost the spread of the highly contagious disease.

Since October, 359 cases of measles have been confirmed in Brooklyn and Queens, mainly in Williamsburg.

"The concern is that with Passover and more travel, we are putting more people at risk," Dr. Oxiris Barbot, health commissioner from New York City.

Across the country, measles cases have jumped to the second highest level for a quarter of a century. 555 cases were confirmed in 20 states, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Given the long breeding season of the measles, we know this outbreak will get worse before it improves," Barbot said in a statement this week.

A leaflet addressed to Orthodox communities helped to fuel the fear of anxiety Vaccines

In Hasidic Williamsburg, bearded men hurry into long frock coats crowned with black hats. Women in ankle-length skirts push strollers on crowded sidewalks, and husky boys with curling curls roll through streets in streets.

In an island community, where some do not like to come up with ideas, the residents blame the outbreak largely on a hard line minority against vaccinations or anti-Vaxer. The close proximity, in which the inhabitants declare insularity as a means of preserving the identity of the community, has led to increasing tensions in some families, in particular to the preparations for the Passover games.

  A sign warns residents of a measles outbreak in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Blima Marcus, nurse and former president of the Orthodox Jewish Nursing Association, has held small workshops with the nurses in Brooklyn and New Jersey to apprehend members of the ultra-Orthodox community who are afraid before vaccines.

The fears were fueled in part by a fancy, 40-page booklet in orthodox enclaves about the dangers of vaccines. The booklet is aimed directly at the Orthodox community, partly in Hebrew and with excerpts from the Torah or the Old Testament. Nevertheless, Marcus and Orthodox Jewish leaders say that there is nothing in the Jewish law to prohibit vaccination.
  signs warn of the dangers of a persistent measles outbreak in Williamsburg.
The booklet was created by a group called PEACH or Parents Educating and Advocating for Children's Health. Attempts to reach the organization to get a comment were unsuccessful.

"People said it was a Fringe magazine and did not pay much attention to it, but I think what we're seeing now is that it had a much bigger impact than anybody ever realized," Marcus said.

"People Quarrel Every Night"

Burach Kahan, 25, said he had vaccinated his youngest, 9-month-old child, this week. His other two children are vaccinated. He said he founded his own family text group, where most of his 13 siblings can only talk about vaccines and measles outbreaks.

"One of my sisters is very scared," he said. "Most of her friends are anti-vaccines and she's relaying all of her messages, bringing with them vaccines for the regular group (and everyone has been struggling all day and night."

) Holiday quarrel, "he told Shaya Hershko, 22, who had his 14-month-old daughter vaccinated against measles on a Passover family trip to Canada. "Every night people quarrel and the people you argue about are arguing with your partners."

  The outbreak occurs as Jewish families prepare for the Passover.

Williamsburg-based Hershko often argues with his sister-in-law in Orange County, New York. He says she is a follower of alternative medicine and refuses to vaccinate her children.

Orange County had seen 20 confirmed measles cases, while neighboring Rockland County – with 190 cases – was trying to eliminate unvaccinated children up to a judge from public places prohibiting officials from enforcing this rule.

"I have many friends who do not want to fire shots, but I figured a doctor knows better than my friends," Hershko's wife Friny said, 20. "The people who do not give the shots actually become Picked up a bit because schools and everyone are doing a big deal. "

New York health officials said last week that in the outbreak affected area, anyone who did this was not vaccinated against measles or had any signs of immunity who may be fined $ 1,000.

Nurses fight misinformation

On Monday, the health department said a Williamsburg childcare program had been closed "because they were repeatedly denied access to medical and attendance records." Schools and childcare programs are required to keep records on the ground, and uninvited students and staff are prohibited from visiting.

The childcare program was reopened, but health officials said Thursday that four other municipal schools and pre-schools would be shut down immediately because they would not follow the department's instructions.

Marcus and a group of other nurses have researched and disproved any misinformation in the PEACH booklet, and plan to publish soon a refutation that will be distributed in Orthodox communities.

  Children on a playground in Williamsburg, where 294 cases of measles were found.

The nurses also met with mothers in Williamsburg and other Orthodox communities, Marcus said.

"I feel really bad for these women, whose inner instincts of motherhood and protection of their children have been exploited by this movement, and now they feel this heat and feel these adverse reactions and are being attacked for their medical decisions." , she said .

"I'm talking to these women and I say you're trying to use the Jewish law to prevent you from vaccinating, instead trying to harm them on purpose, it's almost as if your child's broke Bones in the hope that it will grow again, it will be stronger, "she said.

"We listen to them and take them seriously in a matter where they are usually mocked," Marcus said.


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