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August 26, 2021 11:40 am
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Dr. Fauci Must Apologize for Comments on Hasidic Jews

avatar by Ronn Torossian

Opinion

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci addresses the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, US January 21, 2021. Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The global COVID-19 pandemic remains an urgent problem, continuing to wreak havoc around the world. It is certain that further complicating the ability to address it is the prevalence of those who don’t receive the vaccine.

It was wrong, however, for Dr. Anthony Fauci to specifically call out Hasidic Jews in a Tuesday appearance on “CBS This Morning.” Discussing the question of a herd immunity threshold, Fauci made a comparison to a past measles outbreak:

You have to get to a situation like with measles, where you [had] 90-plus percent of people [who] were vaccinated, and really got that kind of what we call “herd immunity.” You know what that number is, because when it gets below that number, you start to see outbreaks — like we saw some time ago in the New York City area, with Hasidic Jewish people who were not getting vaccinated.

In a time of rising antisemitism in America, one wonders why a leading government official needs to point the finger at a specific sub-culture of a religious group. Notably, Fauci did not make mention of the New York Times article claiming that only 28 percent of young Blacks in New York City were vaccinated, or multiple studies showing prevalent vaccine hesitancy among African-Americans — a much larger population than Hasidic Jews.

The reality is that countless leading rabbis have discussed the necessity for religious Jews to get vaccinated, including proclaiming religious rulings. In May, as Forbes reported, there were extensive efforts to educate Hasidic Jews on the importance of the vaccine.

Chabad.org, the official site of the largest Jewish organization in the world, writes quite clearly, “Guarding your own health doesn’t only make sense, it’s actually a mitzvah. That means that even if you don’t want to do it, for whatever reason, you are still obligated to do so.” It continues: “Assuming that vaccinating when there is a high risk of catching a disease is similar to fleeing from an epidemic, then it’s mandatory for you to do it, and others can be compelled to do so as well.”

It was wrong for a leading public health official, on national television, to call out Hasidic Jews — and if he did it with any other race or religion there would be an uproar. Dr. Fauci should apologize.

Ronn Torossian is a public relations executive.

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