This is a followup letter, a recently written sequel, by the mother who wrote the previous article.
Dear Beloved Rabbonim, Mechanchim, and Leaders of Klal Yisroel,
It is with great pain and trepidation that I write this plea to the leaders of Klal Yisroel; I am a nobody. I’m just a mother, I’m just a Yid trying to do the best that I can, on a day to day basis to serve HKB H I’m nobody of stature to share my opinions on the recent Coronavirus outbreak. After the tz’ar that my family and I have gone through and are still silently suffering, my husband and I have decided to stay quiet and work on being mikabel the sorrow and grief that has been caused onto us. However, once the death rate continues to spiral out of control, and the government is continuing to make stricter g’zeiros, I feel that perhaps my tz’ar was for a higher purpose Perhaps it s meant to share it with our Leaders, and maybe through that, something constructive can be done to help the rest of Klal Yisroel.
Last year, in November, days before the lichtege chag of Chanukkah, my children were permanently expelled from school because they were unvaccinated. Please read on. This story becomes quite unique, and it would be a tremendous consolation to me if you were to read this until the end. It’s all that I ask for, because up until now, I have never been heard. And that’s all I’ve ever asked for- just to be heard.
My children had a medical exemption and a religious exemption. Both were denied. Not only was this against state law, but ironically the community that I lived in had zero cases of measles. Although my doctor felt that my children are pre-disposed to a life-threatening reaction due to vaccines, the school demanded that only their school pediatrician be the only one to approve of the exemption. To top it off, the community had witnessed the death of a 12 year old girl from vaccines and this was verified by her physician. However, the school refused to acknowledge that and demanded that my children receive not just the MMR but every vaccine, including boosters. That would be dozens of shots.
We asked the school pediatrician to sign off a document that she will bear any legal responsibility if something chas v shalom happens to our children. She refused.
When pleading with the school to work something out, we were told that the administration refuses to communicate with us and we should only contact the school attorney. When attempting to do so, the school attorney told us that he wouldn’t communicate with us unless we had an attorney! To attempt communication, after months of homeschooling, we finally acquired a lawyer who was told by the school that their best offer is they would accept our children if we were to quarantine our children in a self-contained oxygen chamber. I’m not joking. Those were their exact words. I have it in writing. What frightens me now is that with the coronavirus outbreak, it’s uncanny to note how now, many are hospitalized, quarantined, and self-contained…using an oxygen chamber AKA a ventilator…
My children and I suffered tremendously because of this. The entire community joined together, and expelled us from their homes. Our children weren’t allowed into anybody s homes. Some neighbors claimed this was due to daas Torah. Some children, quite similar to today’s efforts at social distancing, physically kept their distance from my children and as my children attempted to approach them, they ran away. My children were physically harassed, shoved, and even hit when attempting to go to B’nos events on Shabbos, being told, “My mother says that you’re a rodef! “
When we tried to ask the menahel who his daas torah was so that we can discuss this, he told us he refuses to reveal to us who his daas torah is. After some research, we found out one of the names of the rabbonim that the menahel is close to and we contacted him. The Rav refused to listen to us nor was he interested in hearing from our doctor. He seemed indifferent to our situation, and he coldly responded his best eitza to us which was, “You want your children to participate in school? Go use Skype.”
And what’s chilling about this is… the rest of klal yisroel s children today are using Zoom or some form of media to connect to school, as they too, have been robbed of face to face, traditional school learning.
We turned to one Rav to the next, but every Rav in our community turned us away. They told us they weren’t going to get involved. One of them was even responsible for suggesting to our son’s playgroup morah to kick us out. We begged him to have a two-way conversation with us regarding this issue, and we offered him to speak to rabbonim and doctors that are knowledgeable in this area. Our pleas fell upon deaf ears, and we were denied any platform to speak.
There were signs posted up outside of shuls, gemachs and mikvaos banning unvaccinated families from entering. The entire community knew it was us. From what others have told me, people posted horrible things about us on social media and we were the topic of discussion, and an object of mockery.
The situation hit its climax when the city s most prominent posek came knocking on our door, urging us to pack up and leave town. My children stood by the staircase, witnessing the scene, listening to him tell us, “People like you are not wanted in a pro-vax town like this.” We asked him, “Move? How can we just pick up and move? Who will pay for a new house? Who will help us? How will we be able to afford life outside of this town?” The rav coldly responded, “I’m sure you’ll find a way, just like everyone else does.”
It was a true Kamtza Bar Kamtza moment for us… and yet the thought seemed to linger in the back of my mind, that if the Bais Hamikdash was destroyed because Yidden were mivazeh one Yid, what will be with Klal Yisroel if thousands of Yiddishe kinderlach are being scorned?
Words can’t describe the pain and humiliation our family suffered as a result of this. My husband and I have fallen asleep, night after night, reciting tehillim and attempting emuna, while turning the lights off and dozing off to sleep with tears staining our pillows. There is no greater pain than watching your precious children, noses pressed onto the window, palm pressing on the glass, watching their friends walk to school in their beautiful school uniforms, and that privilege has been robbed from them… and yet, today, many parents can understand that now, can’t they?
My children have suffered the pain and rejection of other schools in our town refusing to accept us as well. “Go work it out with your school,”they told us. Jewish government agencies have ignored our non- stop calls. We turned to gvirim to help us, but were also rejected. My husband was a yasom, and the both of us were b’alei teshuvos in Kollel. We had no support, no family, no money, no connections.
The community was everything to us, and now we had nobody to turn to. We felt…isolated. And yet today, many are isolated within their homes as if they were in our position, too.
My children have missed out on Chanukkah parties, school trips, a Mother-Daughter Melave Malka, and even beautiful activities such as dressing up in costumes on Rosh Chodesh Adar and making a mock seder for Pesach at school. My daughter even missed her siddur party, and my 3-year-old son has missed a tremendous amount of social play in playgroup which has affected him, tremendously. And yet, today, with the current situation, some parents can nod their heads in understanding…
They have also been openly uninvited from birthday parties, events, and from neighbors’ pools in the summer. Today, during this pandemic, nobody is getting together for celebrations or pools either.
After an entire year of suffering from one rejection and humiliation after the next, summer came, and my children were rejected from camps. After many months of hoping, waiting and dreaming for a summer of normalcy for our children, our dreams were crushed. Our children would not zocheh to be regular kids, running outside with friends, eating freeze pops and splashing in pools- but they would be robbed of a piece of their childhood. And how frightening it is that today, it is uncertain whether or not children will be zocheh to have summer camp this summer…
My husband didn’t know what to say when late at night, he found my daughter’s handwriting scribbled on a blue Post-It stuck on the table where he learns, “Dear Totty, I know I don t say it much, but I feel it in my heart. I’m really sad. I don’t have any more friends because I don’t have shots. I don’t want to live here anymore. I want to move away from here.”
My husband and I have made the decision to move out of the town that we used to know and love so much. We have left with our heads down and with feelings of grief, dejection, and fear of trusting others in klal Yisroel. It’s a pain to live like a fugitive, with the hope of starting new, where nobody knows us.
And yet, the move wasn’t easy either.
Our story was shared with to the residents of the new town we have moved to. The schools that we felt were the most ideal ruchnius environment rejected us, as well, and currently we live in this lonely town feeling like our children are in a compromised school environment. We don t feel a sense of closure, nor do we feel like we were able to fully rebuild.
For the past few months my husband and I would go to sleep at night, sighing in our beds, remembering the strain that it had put on our household, begging Hashem to help us be mochel the Rabbonim and the community. Sometimes, we would fall asleep, without any words either. There’s just nothing to say.
I found myself drained from the constant tefillos and tears I have shed over this to the point where only my heart can express what my neshama has to say, as my words have been frozen. Sometimes I would catch myself davening in the middle of my sleep, for the most part having nothing else to say but “Please, Hashem…”
This entire time I have stayed silent, but Hashem’s message continues to speak louder. Last year, I was unable to speak for myself and nobody has found the words to speak for us. Nobody has heard our silent cry, nor have they spoken for the countless Yiddishe children that have suffered in silence. Will anybody speak today?
The Rabbonim have unanimously made the message clear that the reason for this magefa is lashon hora and sinas chinam. Will any Rav be brave enough to outwardly and openly say that one of the things that has to be repaired is the lashon hora and the sinas chinam that has been spread as a result of last year’s measles debacle?
Perhaps the reason why everyone is wearing masks is because Klal Yisroel s mouths were metaphorically closed last year, and everyone stayed silent as their “brother’s blood was being spilled?” My children questioned me numerously last year, “Mommy, aren’t Rabbonim supposed to be like a father to us?” And I stayed silent. I questioned it myself… where are our Protectors? And perhaps the message can be even clearer by seeing how this magefa is operating It is not affecting the children… because were children are innocent the whole time…. Perhaps the adults are held responsible, as they have kept quiet… They were supposed to be Protectors of the Children, and Safekeepers of the Torah. This virus is mostly affecting men and many Rabbonim, as well- isn’t it their job to uphold Torah. Isn’t it their job to behave as activists and leaders for Klal Yisroel?
The magefa has thrown all of Klal Yisroel out of shuls, schools, and yeshivos. How can the Sattan be machshiv our davening and learning, if Klal Yisroel themselves wasn’t machshiv many families’ davening and learning by expelling us from shuls and yeshivos? (And mikvaos?)
And even more frighteningly, last year, the Jewish world has shown its tremendous loyalty to the health guidelines as recommended by health officials, and yet with today’s pandemic, we are watching many die in the hands of the same doctors and nurses that are so loyal to government recommended guidelines as well. Whatever it was that we fully trusted, has betrayed us…
This year, the Yomim Nora’im was a very painful time for my family After such a painful year, we haven’t received a single phone call apologizing for the way that we were treated. Not from the school. Not from the attorney who told us to quarantine our children in an oxygen chamber. Not from the community Rabbonim. Not from the posek who showed up by our door, telling us to leave town. Not from our community. No public announcement from any Rav who has told us, “Perhaps the wording of my Psak was too harsh…” At least some form of consolation… at least some form of “you are heard…”
Will there be a brave one that can be courageous enough to take a stand for the families that have been shamed, humiliated, betrayed and destroyed?; can someone stop the madness and help these families recover from the trauma that they have experienced?
If according to Rav Chaim Kanievsky, the avoda of today s covid19 pandemic is to work on anivus, can any leader please be humble enough to be open-minded that maybe last year they made a mistake; and perhaps to humbly admit it in public? That this whole pandemic has come to unite Klal Yisroel in realizing that it’s not a vaccine that will save us, but HKB”H? That perhaps this is why Hashem had to send us a virus around the same time of year, and yet this virus has no vaccine, so that we can be brought to our knees to admit perhaps we were wrong? How many people have to die until we are humbled enough to make amends for the irreparable damage that has been done to many of us?
Will someone raise their voices for the sake of the children’s ruchnius, not just for the learning that they have missed out on, but for the injustice their neshamos have received from our own communities? Can someone find a way to reinstate our children’s emunas chachamim and restore our faith in our own people? Can someone be big enough to be a true example of ahavas chinam?
What will we tell our children when we look back at this important time and point of our history? Did we remain SILENT? Or did we rise above?
A Yiddishe Mama Who Wants Moshiach to Come