Vaccines have repeatedly been proved safe in extensive peer reviewed medical studies. And they have absolutely and without any question saved millions of lives from diseases like polio and whooping cough. But the myth that vaccines cause Autism or other disorders still runs rampant in the dark corners of the Internet and in some New Age communities. It is also common in haredi communities, and is voiced as fact by leading haredi rabbis, including two top haredi rabbis – Shmuel Kamenetzky and Chaim Kanievsky.
Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetzky is the #2 rabbi in Agudath Israel of America's Council of Torah Sages (i.e., the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah).
Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky is the #2 rabbi in the non-hasidic Ashkenazi haredi Degel HaTorah faction behind the top haredi rabbi, Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman.
…R.B. encountered significant difficulties when she claimed a religious exemption at a local boys’ day school. Before her son began school, she contacted someone at the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, as well as the state attorney general’s office, to inquire about Maryland’s laws regarding religious exemptions.
“They said that the school could not refuse to accept a religious exemption,” she related. “But then school started and the nurse called. She said the school didn’t accept religious exemptions. I told her they had to accept them so she said I would have to speak with the principal.”
R.B. reached out to Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetzky, founder and dean of the Talmudical Academy of Philadelphia, whose wife, Temi, speaks out against vaccinating children. The rabbi wrote a letter on R.B.’s behalf, leading to her son’s principal relenting and apologizing.
When reached by phone, both Kamenetzkys confirmed their belief that vaccinations, not the diseases they prevent, are harmful.
“There is a doctor in Chicago who doesn’t vaccinate any of his patients and they have no problem at all,” said the rabbi. “I see vaccinations as the problem. It’s a hoax. Even the Salk vaccine [against polio] is a hoax. It is just big business.”
Kamenetzky says he follows the lead of Israeli Rabbi Shmaryahu Yosef Chaim Kanievsky, who rules that schools “have no right to prevent unvaccinated kids from coming to school.”
“What about the people who clean and sweep in the school?” argued Kamenetzky. “They are mostly Mexican and are unvaccinated. If there was a problem, the children would already have gotten sick.”…