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Protestors against hospital vaccine mandate seen wearing Star of David, Rabbi expresses frustration

Published: Sep. 3, 2021 at 10:29 PM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - At two Quad City protests against hospital vaccine mandates, various demonstrators were seen holding signs that included the Star of David and comparing the mandate to Nazis. This was at UnityPoint Health Trinity and Genesis Hospitals, where over 200 protestors vocalized their disposition towards the hospitals requiring their workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Several demonstrators wore the Star of David around their neck with the word “unvaxxed.” Another sign was seen that said “no jab, no job. Did Nazi that coming.” Temple Emmanuel Rabbi Linda Bertenthal says these comparisons to the holocaust are horrific and hurtful. “The gold stars were to identify the people who were going to be murdered. To reference Nazis? Nazis were murderers! Murder and public health are not the same thing. They just aren’t. They never will be. To compare them really trivializes something that was just terrible in history and should never be repeated and is not being repeated right now!”

“It wasn’t giving people yellow stars because of the choices they were making. They were given yellow stars because of the blood that ran through their veins. There is just no connection to anyone who knows anything about the holocaust.”

Rabbi Linda Bertenthal, Temple Emanuel

Both Genesis and UnityPoint Health Trinity Hospitals have medical and religious exemptions to the vaccine mandate. Rabbi Bertenthal says in her faith, you must protect others, “Judaism teaches that human life, the life of a person in being has precedence over anything. Preserving human life and human health has the highest value.” She says she’s heard others have a concern over potential pork products in vaccines. But from a Jewish perspective, “that doesn’t matter because human life has such a high value! Every person is created in the image of God so every person’s life and the health of that person has inherent sacredness. So, in Judaism, if you take the life of one person or accidentally cause the death of one person, that’s like you destroy a whole world. And if you save the life of one person, it’s like saving a whole world.”

Rabbi Bertenthal says it’s crucial everyone protects those who cannot get vaccinated, like children. At her synagogue, masks are required when there are groups of over 10 people. They also practice social distancing.

“Take into account that public health is actually a thing worth protecting. In particular, hospitals for example have an obligation to preserve the health of their patients and people who come in.”

Rabbi Linda Bertenthal, Temple Emanuel

While not everyone at the protests was wearing the Star of David, Rabbi Bertenthall says all protestors have the responsibility of stepping up and saying that was wrong. “You take on their sin if you see someone sinning and you don’t explain why they’re doing the wrong thing. The people at the demonstration, I would say I feel hurt by all of them.”

Rabbi Bertenthal says she hopes others will learn about this and the holocaust. She adds she always welcomes questions and conversations.

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