(JTA) — Avraham Bedman, a 36-year-old man from Jerusalem, died of COVID on Wednesday. His fellow synagogue members are blaming his death on misinformation about the coronavirus vaccine.
According to Kikar Hashabbat, an Israeli news site, an email sent to members of Bedman’s synagogue claimed that Bedman did not get the coronavirus vaccine because he was afraid it would cause infertility.
That falsehood has become rampant in Orthodox communities in the United States and Israel, prompting some in communities that prize fertility and where large families are expected to fear the vaccine.
In Israel, despite the high death toll exacted by the coronavirus in the haredi Orthodox community, many have remained hesitant to take the vaccine. A vaccine drive in one haredi Orthodox city will serve cholent and kugel, popular foods typically served on Thursday nights and Shabbat in Orthodox homes, to convince Orthodox residents to be vaccinated.
In the U.S., Orthodox doctors and nurses in recent weeks have worked to debunk misinformation about the vaccine and fertility with fact sheets and information sessions for women held over phone hotlines, but the misinformation has persisted.
Bedman’s fellow synagogue members called those who spread misinformation about the vaccine “murderers” and encouraged others to be vaccinated to save lives.
“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 to not become a father,” a leader of the synagogue, Rabbi Yishai Lesser, told Kikar Hashabbat. “The one who made him afraid is responsible for his death.”