By Shira Hanau
(JTA) — A longtime Chabad emissary in Massachusetts was fired after months of social media posts in which he railed against pandemic-related lockdowns and mask mandates.
In more recent weeks Rabbi Michoel Green, the Hasidic movement’s envoy in Westborough for almost 20 years, encouraged his followers not to be vaccinated with the new COVID vaccines.
“It’s NOT immunization. It’s pathogenic priming & mass sterilization,” he wrote last week, according to Haaretz.
Anti-vaxxers constitute a small minority in Orthodox communities. In 2019, anti-vaxxers contributed to an outbreak of measles in Orthodox neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Rockland County, New York, that was resolved through vaccination campaigns by government and community groups, as well as barring unvaccinated children from schools.
During the COVID pandemic, in which some Orthodox communities have seen little compliance with mask wearing and social distancing, misinformation about the new vaccines has been spreading for months. Green apparently had been promoting his anti-vaccine views since the 2019 measles crisis, but the posts intensified during the pandemic.
Rabbi Mendel Fogelman, director of the Central Massachusetts Chabad, told Haaretz that Green’s social media posts were “contrary to the organization’s mission and a direct conflict with the sacred task for which he was appointed.”
“It became clear that dismissal was our only choice,” Fogelman said.
Green was dismissed on Jan. 27.
The Westborough area, located about 35 miles outside Boston, “constitutes a second hub of Jewish life in the Central Massachusetts area,” according to the Jewish Federation of Central Massachusetts.