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5 Orthodox New Yorkers sign on to a lawsuit challenging the city’s COVID-19 vaccine requirements

(New York Jewish Week via JTA) – Five Orthodox Jewish New Yorkers have joined a suit challenging the city’s vaccine requirements for indoor spaces.
Two of the plaintiffs are rabbis at yeshivas. The suit, filed Feb. 7 in New York, challenges the “Key to NYC” program and a recent Covid vaccination mandate for religious and private school employees. The mandate was opposed by many haredi Orthodox yeshivas and groups representing them, including Agudath Israel of America.

The unnamed plaintiffs allege an “unprecedented abuse of power” in regard to COVID vaccine requirements for indoor spaces in the city. The plaintiffs, who also include a Catholic resident of New York, object to the vaccine on religious and constitutional grounds. 

The Catholic and Orthodox Jewish plaintiffs say the vaccines are derived from research into fetal cell lines from abortions in the 1970s and ’80s, a technology they oppose on religious grounds. Another religious ground cited by the Orthodox Jewish plaintiffs is that “[s]ubmitting to a government dictate that conditions freedom on vaccination is a form of slavery and subjugation” that “violates numerous commandments in the Torah that require one to remember and internalize the great Exodus from slavery in ancient Egypt.” 

The suit was filed by the Thomas More Society, a conservative Catholic nonprofit that earlier in the pandemic represented Orthodox Jews in New York in a lawsuit opposing caps on the number of attendees able to attend houses of worship. In that case, a judge blocked the state from imposing stricter rules on houses of worship than on other businesses.

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