Throughout our holy scriptures, the concept of pikuach nefesh is repeated time and again to stress that we are to safeguard and treasure the holiness inherent in human life. As it says in the Midrash: "Rabbi Acha said: 'People need to take precautions to protect themselves from becoming susceptible to disease.' How do we know this? Rabbi Acha cited the verse, 'The Lord will keep all illness away from you [Deuteronomy 7:15]'" (Vayikra Rabbah 16:8). God works to protect us through covenantal mandate to protect ourselves and one another. Ignoring this tenet of Jewish morality to rely instead on misinformation, deceit, and fear-mongering puts countless children and adults in mortal jeopardy.
It is with great regret that we, the undersigned, write this statement on the need for Jewish communities to vaccinate their children. While we understand that only a minority of Jewish communities around the United States have taken the extraordinary step to refuse vaccines for their children, this reckless behavior cannot stand. Diseases such as measles, whooping cough (pertussis), and the mumps were on the brink of being eradicated from our collective worry. Now, these and other diseases are making a comeback due to parents unwilling to vaccinate their children, putting many at risk of infection. Life is too sacred for a small group to harm the broader community.
That is why Uri L'Tzedek stands with those in the medical, scientific, and religious communities to urge and advocate that everyone must vaccinate their children to protect them from easily avoidable harm.
Therefore, we respectfully call for those who have previously decided to not vaccinate their children to reconsider. We abide by the Torah's call to: "Take utmost care and watch [ourselves] scrupulously" (Deuteronomy 4:9). We call upon community leaders to stop the spread of false information and encourage everyone to protect their children and their community with the simple act of vaccination. And we call upon individuals to think critically and consider their actions carefully and with intent. As it says in the Sefer HaChinuch: "The Torah has commanded us to guard our homes and environs in order that we do not die through our negligence" (Mitzvah 538). Protecting life is essential to seeing the good deeds enacted and made real in this world. Let us continue to build communities that seek the values of a healthy life and a safe public for this generation and generations to come.