Due to advertisements that recently surfaced in the Jewish community, Rabbi Dr. Aaron Glatt – Associate Rabbi at the Young Israel of Woodmere and Chairman of the Department of Infectious Disease and Hospital Epidemiologist at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital – took it upon himself to deliver one of his Motza’ei Shabbos talks that became commonplace during the heat of the pandemic, this time refuting the ads’ talking points. The stream was aired live this past Saturday night via the Young Israel of Woodmere’s platform.

There is discussion that a weekly dose of Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine are methods of prevention for COVID-19. “This is outright ridiculous, incorrect information; it is simply sheker,” said Rabbi Glatt, who then called on naysayers to “look at the overwhelming evidence and official recommendations from the NIH body of super-experts” who don’t recommend the usage of either of those two medications. Rabbi Glatt further states that these shots aren’t effective.

On the point of the vaccine not preventing you from spreading COVID to others, Rabbi Glatt stated, “That’s also ridiculous; the shot absolutely prevents the transmission of COVID,” adding, “it not only lessens the severity of symptoms; it absolutely prevents transmission.”

Rabbi Glatt calls “irrelevant” the fact that the vaccine shot is not yet FDA approved. “It works; it will get FDA approval,” claims Rabbi Glatt, offering, “That is a technicality that is of no significance whatsoever.” Rabbi Glatt noted that the FDA allowed for an emergency authorization to use the vaccine as a method to ensure that the public can get a vaccine produced. None of the vaccine companies wanted to make the vaccine out of concern for being able to defend themselves in a lawsuit. The government in turn created the Vaccine Compensation and Liability Program to protect its citizens.

There are those who report on thousands of deaths and injuries due to the vaccine. Rabbi Glatt call this accusation “absolutely incorrect,” citing the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), the national vaccine safety monitoring system that accepts individual reports of adverse events after any type of vaccination. He says that the system reports everything, like heart attacks or getting hit by a truck, “but that doesn’t mean it’s a causality.” Rabbi Glatt also explained how with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, VAERS isolated a very rare and unusual complication, but that the mRNA vaccines had no significant issues.

On a concern about scientists having grave fertility concerns, Rabbi Glatt announced that these apprehensions are not reported by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, or the New England Journal of Medicine – all leading experts. Rabbi Glatt said these worries stem from a solitary former Pfizer employee who never dealt with the COVID vaccine and is a known anti-vaxxer. “He has a postulated theory that has no substance to it whatsoever, and has been, in fact, not felt to be in any way a concern by the experts in the field.”

There is a pasuk in Parshas Mishpatim (Sh’mos 23:8): “V’shochad lo sikach, ki ha’shochad y’aveir pikchim viysaleif divrei tzadikim,” loosely translated as: Do not take a bribe, as bribes cloud people’s judgment. Rabbi Glatt demanded to know who is being bribed. “Nobody is making money off this from the physician world; we don’t get paid to vaccinate. We – in fact, in the hospital – lose money on vaccines because we don’t charge. The CDC doesn’t get money from the vaccine companies. I don’t get paid one cent for any of the vaccine comments I’ve made, and the vast majority of scientists aren’t involved in research or getting in any way compensated, either through research grants or any other way from doing their usually pro bono vaccination efforts.” Rabbi Glatt used these ideas to refute a claim of Sheiv v’al ta’aseh adif, that one percent of doctors call the vaccine harmful and therefore should be disregarded.

Rabbi Glatt observes that making a broad statement that numerous rabbanim warn strongly of the dangers of this vaccine is “bias incorrect, not substantiated, not substantive,” as the vast majority of rabbis have come out strongly in support of vaccination. Rabbi Glatt also takes aim at the use of children in messaging: “We’re teaching young children who might be reading this, that we shouldn’t be following science and that we shouldn’t be listening to the leading medical experts.”

Rabbi Glatt also called it “wrong and dangerous” to say that pregnant women can safely prevent and treat COVID with hydroxychloroquine, pointing to a piece in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology that notes a slightly increased rate of fetal malformations in the first trimester for those on that therapy. Rabbi Glatt refutes a claim that eight children died from the vaccine, and also said that there was no change in the miscarriage rate per the New England Journal of Medicine.

Rabbi Glatt referenced The Wall Street Journal in regard to the P-1 variant of COVID in Brazil that caused 593 pediatric deaths; in the US, over 300 children died from COVID. “Those are the reasons why children, once the vaccine is available for them, should get vaccinated,” said Rabbi Glatt. Children above the age of 12 currently can get the Pfizer vaccine. Rabbi Glatt announced that his own granddaughters – aged 12 and 13 – have been vaccinated, and that children who are vaccinated for the most part will not have precautions in sleepaway camps, “There’s still enough time to get vaccinated before summer camp. That is something that should be ideally offered to all children above the age of 12.” Rabbi Glatt also offered a CDC update: “In an outdoor setting, even unvaccinated campers don’t need to be masked.”

For those who do get exposed to COVID, Rabbi Glatt noted that only the Regeneron monoclonal treatment is currently advised.

On deaths from vaccination, Rabbi Glatt stated, “The only data that we have specifically linked to the vaccine is the J&J, people that have died because of the complications from the low platelet count, and the clotting.” He added, “There are no statistically increased rates of death and complications with hundreds of millions of mRNA doses of vaccine given. We don’t have people dying from them; nobody has died of anaphylaxis.”

There has been concern about people getting myocarditis or heart inflammation from the vaccine. Rabbi Glatt pointed to a study of young ballplayers that had a higher risk of these conditions than potentially from a vaccine. The rabbi suggested that long-term effects of COVID like heart inflammation and blood clots are more concerning and are a reason to vaccinate.

The Queens Jewish Link will not be taking comments on this topic and suggests directing queries to Rabbi Dr. Glatt (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), or to Dr. Eliana Fine, MD Candidate 2021, JOWMA Founder & CEO, and Miriam A. Knoll, MD, JOWMA President (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), or the JOWMA COVID-19 Vaccine Initiative Committee (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Rabbi Glatt’s full event, including a short but pertinent Q&A, is available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=sICmCc-0WcQ.

By Shabsie Saphirstein