Orthodox Jewish groups endorse coronavirus vaccine, rabbis follow suit

“It is not a task that we are undertaking to try to convince the anti-vaccine movement,” said OU executive vice president Rabbi Moshe Hauer.

A haredi Orthodox man waits to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 coronavirus in Bnei Brak, a haredi city in Israel, Dec. 21, 2020. (photo credit: GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)
A haredi Orthodox man waits to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 coronavirus in Bnei Brak, a haredi city in Israel, Dec. 21, 2020.
(photo credit: GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)
The Orthodox Union (OU) and the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), two Orthodox Jewish religious organizations, released a statement in mid-December encouraging their community members to get vaccinated. Some American Orthodox rabbis have bolstered the statement.
“It is not a task that we are undertaking to try to convince the anti-vaccine movement,” OU executive vice president Rabbi Moshe Hauer told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA).
“We’re not going to expend efforts to change their mind. We’re going to do positive education to the vast, vast majority of our community that seeks solid, grounded public health guidance.”
According to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the statement included how Halacha (Jewish law) ties into the vaccine: "The consensus of our major poskim (rabbis who make decisions based on Jewish Law) is to encourage us to use vaccinations to protect ourselves and others from disease.”
Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Aaron Raskin of Congregation B'nai Avraham in Brooklyn Heights told the newspaper that he agreed with the statement's sentiment because "the most important thing in Judaism is protecting human life."
He added that the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, was "very much into vaccines."
Rabbi Mordecai Sebrow told the newspaper that taking the vaccine is very important, especially when his synagogue has a significant amount of elderly members.
Rabbi Dr. Aaron Glatt, who is the Young Israel of Woodmere's assistant rabbi and chief of infectious diseases at Long Island's Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital, shared his woes about a small but vocal segment of the community with JTA. While the majority of the community wants to get vaccinated, a "significant minority... will not take the vaccine, no matter what. There's no way to convince them. I can't convince them and I hope God protects them."
Glatt attributed their refusal to get the vaccine to mistrust in government, which is the outcome of hundreds of years of Jewish persecution in Europe. However, he insisted that this distrustful attitude should not be held towards the US government.
"Experimenting on Jewish people is something that Nazis were only too willing to do, so there is a certain hesitancy to work with governments," Glatt told JTA.
He argued that the US government is "interested in the welfare of the Jewish people. They're not out to hurt us."
"People have to realize that what they’re doing does not only impact them, it impacts the community," he concluded.

Ultra-Orthodox
 (haredi) communities in both New York and Israel have clashed heads with authorities over coronavirus since the beginning of the global pandemic, which Orthodox health professionals and community leaders have attributed to misinformation via WhatsApp, a popular form of communication within the communities.