It’s rare that Jewish organizations across the denominational spectrum in Denver — or anywhere else — find unanimity on anything, but on the subject of vaccination for measles, there are no signs of disagreement.
Of the five Jewish day schools in Denver, at least four adhere to a strict policy requiring measles vaccination for any youths or children seeking admission.
The issue has become an important one in recent weeks as Jewish populations in Israel and the US have experienced significant outbreaks of the disease that carries the potential for serious health complications including, in rare cases, death.
According to a JTA report last week, at least 2,000 Israelis have contracted the disease so far this year.
Health officials in both countries have blamed recent outbreaks in Israel and the Jewish community in Rockland, NY, on individuals who have not immunized themselves or their children through vaccinations.
Among Denver Jews, precautions are being taken at the day school level.
Representing different levels of the religious educational spectrum, both Rabbi Yisroel Goldbaum, principal of Hillel Academy, and Lisa Stroll, principal of the Denver Academy of Torah, and Rabbi Naftali Seidenfeld, Judaic studies principal at Yeshiva Toras Chaim, replied in the affirmative this week when asked by the Intermountain Jewish News whether their schools require measles vaccinations for their students.
The same holds true for Beth Jacob High School of Denver, said that school’s dean, Rabbi Myer J. Schwab.
“We require a full record of vaccinations,” Rabbi Schwab said. “If we become aware of the absence of measles [vaccination], then we make students and parents aware of our policy requiring measles vaccinations for attendance.”
On the other side of town, and representing more liberal sectors of the Denver Jewish community, the Denver Jewish Day School follows the same policy, reported head of school, Avi Halzel, who added that state law mandates it.
“The State of Colorado requires immunization for all schoolchildren, unless the parents sign the personal exemption form or unless there are medical reasons for such exemption,” Halzel told the IJN.
“The Association of Colorado Independent Schools (ACIS) requires that member schools follow state regulations for immunization. Denver JDS follows these policies.”
Chris Leppek may be reached at IJNEWS@aol.com.