NY bus driver said to refuse to stop for ultra-Orthodox man over measles surge

‘Measles! Go in!’ driver reportedly shouts at passenger after he catches up with vehicle; authorities open probe, denounce incident as anti-Semitic

A US ultra-Orthodox man crosses the street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York. (Gil Shefler via JTA)
A US ultra-Orthodox man crosses the street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York. (Gil Shefler via JTA)

JTA — US authorities are investigating a complaint by an ultra-Orthodox man who has alleged that a bus driver refused to stop for him at a New York bus stop in Brooklyn over the current measles outbreak.

The man said that the bus driver drove past the stop in the largely Orthodox-populated neighborhood of Williamsburg last week but that he caught up with it after it got stuck in traffic. The bus driver eventually let him on, covered her face with her sweater, and refused to accept the man’s transfer, while shouting “Measles! Go in!” the Brooklyn Paper reported.

The incident was reported to New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Thursday by the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg, which is working with the city to curb the measles outbreak by educating the community and encouraging vaccination, according to The Forward.

“The measles outbreak should not be used as an excuse for antisemitism,” the group said in a tweet.

A second tweet from the group added that: “Facts are, about 95% of the community is vaccinating. We, the Rabbis and community leaders, are working hard to increase it. Not justification to attack the entire community for the shortcomings of a few.”

This picture taken on April 5, 2019 shows a nurse preparing the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine at the Rockland County Health Department in Haverstraw, Rockland County, New York. (Johannes Eisele/AFP)

The incident reportedly occurred several days before New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency over the measles outbreak in Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox community.

There have been 285 reported cases of measles in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community since October, including 246 children. The Brooklyn outbreak has been tied to an unvaccinated child who contracted the disease during a trip to Israel, The Washington Post reported.

Rabbi David Niederman, president of United Jewish Organization, told the Brooklyn Paper that Haredi Jews in Williamsburg are being harassed on the streets with people shouting “Jews, measles” at them.

“The MTA has absolutely zero tolerance for discrimination — we’re taking this issue very seriously and investigating,” MTA Chief External Affairs Officer Max Young told the newspaper.

De Blasio also said that his office has been in touch with the MTA over the incident. “Anti-Semitic discrimination has no place in our city,” he said.

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