NYC authorities threaten to close Brooklyn yeshivas over unvaccinated students
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NYC authorities threaten to close Brooklyn yeshivas over unvaccinated students

Health department takes step after hundreds of measles cases reported in ultra-Orthodox communities in Williamsburg

A nurse prepares the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine at the Rockland County Health Department in Haverstraw, Rockland County, New York, on April 5, 2019. (Johannes Eisele/AFP)
A nurse prepares the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine at the Rockland County Health Department in Haverstraw, Rockland County, New York, on April 5, 2019. (Johannes Eisele/AFP)

JTA — The New York City Department of Health has threatened to fine or even close US yeshivas in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn if students who are not vaccinated against measles are allowed to attend classes.

The crackdown comes more than a week before the Passover holiday, when large and extended Orthodox families gather and when synagogues are fuller than usual.

There have been 285 reported cases of measles in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community since October, 246 of which are children, CBS New York reported Monday, citing the health department.

CBS reported that the “vast majority” of children in the largely ultra-Orthodox community of Williamsburg are vaccinated, but that the disease continues to spread due to how tight-knit the community is. The community’s rabbis have called on their followers public to get vaccinated, according to the report.

Illustrative photo of ultra-Orthodox Jews in the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY (photo credit: AP/Joe Kohen/File)

The health department in December ordered yeshivas and daycare centers in specific Brooklyn zip codes, populated largely with ultra-Orthodox, to exclude all non-vaccinated students until the end of the current measles outbreak. A Williamsburg yeshiva that fell out of compliance in January is connected to more than 40 measles cases, ABC7 New York reported.

On Friday, a New York state judge lifted the state of emergency imposed by Rockland County that would have barred minors not vaccinated against the measles from public places.

The Brooklyn outbreak has been tied to an unvaccinated child who contracted the disease during a trip to Israel, which has recently seen a high incidence of measles, the Washington Post reported.

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