Orthodox synagogue says young member ‘murdered’ by shocking fake news about vaccine

Synagogue furious after 36-year-old ultra-Orthodox man dies from the virus after refusing the vaccination due to fake news it could make him “sterile.”

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Members of an ultra-Orthodox synagogue were furious when they found out a member who died of the coronavirus had refused to get vaccinated because he believed false rumors spread in the community that the vaccine could make him sterile, the haredi news website Kikar Shabbat reported Wednesday.

Avraham Bedman, 36, had existing coronary problems and died this week due to complications from the coronavirus. His synagogue in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramot said Bedman had been “murdered” by fake news in the community and launched a campaign against the people who spread the rumor that the vaccine against coronavirus could make men sterile.

An announcement sent to members of the Mishkan Shraga synagogue said Bedman died because someone had talked him out of getting the vaccine.

“Now, when the blood is boiling, it should be noted that Avraham – who was at a certain risk – refrained from getting vaccinated for fear of harming his fertility,” the announcement said. “The same person who told him this nonsense, and those who distribute it at all, are murderers.”

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The synagogue said that everyone in their community “should use this painful case to arouse and warn of the duty to get vaccinated and prevent the death of adults and young people.”

“He had the opportunity to be vaccinated, already at the beginning of the vaccination operation, because he was at risk, but he said he heard that it might cause him not to be a father,” congregation member Rabbi Yishai Lesser told Kikar Shabbat, adding that “Avraham was a cheerful man full of joy of life.”

Rabbi Lesser said another resident of the Ramot neighborhood is currently hospitalized with the virus because he, too, was afraid of getting vaccinated.

“We must publish and warn against these lies,” Lesser said.

Widely read in the ultra-Orthodox community by those who use the internet, Kikar Shabbat has regularly posted calls from leading rabbis of different haredi communities urging their followers to get vaccinated.

After the Health Ministry released figures showing that members of the Bukharan community in Israel had low vaccination rates, senior rabbis of the community published a letter saying it was a Torah precept for everybody to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Rabbi Zavdia Cohen, senior leader of the community, wrote that the rabbis gave a “a clear Torah opinion on the sacred duty of each and every young man and woman to receive vaccination immediately.”

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“This call is within the scope of Torah and mitzvos [commandments] and … you should not pay any attention at all to those who slander against the vaccine because their words are nonsense and the Torah has already commanded us to heal.”