U.S. Chabad Rabbi Fired for Barrage of Anti-vaccine Social Media Posts

Hasidic organization's regional director calls Rabbi Michoel Green's statements, including on COVID-19 jab, 'extremely reckless and potentially dangerous'

Danielle Ziri
Danielle Ziri
An ultra-Orthodox man receiving a COVID-19 vaccine in Israel last week.
An ultra-Orthodox man receiving a COVID-19 vaccine in Israel last week. Credit: Oded Balilty,AP
Danielle Ziri
Danielle Ziri

A Chabad rabbi in Massachusetts was dismissed from his role after posting anti-vaccine content on social media, calling the COVID-19 inoculation a “deadly jab” and encouraging people to “take off the mask. Slow the spread of tyranny.”

Rabbi Michoel Green, a California native, has been serving as a Chabad emissary at the Hasidic movement’s location in Westborough, a town 40 minutes west of Boston, for close to 20 years. He received his termination letter last Wednesday.

In the past few months, Green, who describes himself as “not just anti-vax” but “consistently anti-pharma” on social media, has been posting about the COVID-19 vaccine multiple times a day on Facebook.

“It’s NOT immunization. It’s pathogenic priming & mass sterilization,” he wrote last week. In a Tuesday post, Green also calls the COVID-19 vaccines “experimental injections that might cause death, lifelong injury and infertility.”

Green’s promotion of anti-vaccine messages, a source familiar with the incident told Haaretz, has been building up over a longer period of time, spanning the 2019 measles crisis that hit U.S. Haredi communities particularly hard. Green’s views have become more extreme over time, the source said, and promoting his stance became a “full-time obsession.”

“Lockdowns, widespread panic, masks, double masks, isolation, experimental gene therapy with lethal and reproductive risks, invasive but hardly diagnostic nasopharyngeal swabs and now anal swabs. ... All for a disease with a 99.9% survival rate,” Green wrote last Thursday. “Even Twilight Zone writers couldn’t have imagined such an absurd plot.”

The director of Central Massachusetts Chabad, Rabbi Mendel Fogelman, told Haaretz on Tuesday that Rabbi Green’s activities and statements are “contrary to the organization’s mission and a direct conflict with the sacred task for which he was appointed.

“Some of his public pronouncements were extremely reckless and potentially dangerous,” Fogelman said, referring to Green’s calling into question the integrity of rabbis who follow coronavirus health guidelines. “He was also hostile and offensive to those who did not agree with him.”

Fogelman said that the Chabad leadership was at first “hopeful that this could somehow be resolved and that we all would be able to return our energies to our communal responsibilities.” However, as time passed and Green received multiple warnings, “it became clear that dismissal was our only choice.”

Chabad traditionally does not involve itself in politics, and prides itself on remaining focused on its mission of uniting the Jewish community. It is highly unusual for one of the organization’s rabbis to publically share such overtly political views.

“This was not an easy decision to make, nor was it taken lightly,” Fogelman said. “We wish Rabbi Green and the entire Green family only the best going forward.”

Green declined to comment on his dismissal from the Chabad Lubavitch organization, but when asked about his anti-vaccine stance, he told Haaretz that “after many months of research and correspondence with the world’s foremost experts on medical ethics vis-a-vis halakha [Jewish law], I am still of the position that mandatory vaccine policies are in serious breach of Judaic law.”

COVID-19 policies in their entirety, he added, are “an assault on religion in general and Judaism in particular.”

Green added he stood by the opinions expressed in his social media posts and would continue to “advocate for all those adults and children who have been marginalized due to these unjust policies, and shall continue to advocate for religious and medical freedom.”

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