Chicago area synagogues spread measles awareness

Jewish communities gathered Friday evening for the traditional Sadar dinner. But as the matzah was passed, so are warnings about the measles outbreak.

The center of the outbreak is an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in New York, where misconceptions about immunization have spread quicker than the virus itself.

"Not only is it ok to vaccinate, it's mandatory to vaccinate according to Jewish law and Jewish ethics," said Rabbi Ari Hart of the Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob Synagogue. "Preserving life and protecting the vulnerable is of the utmost importance in our ancient tradition and still today."

On Thursday, the synagogue posted a policy update regarding the measles outbreak on their Facebook page. It reads in part, "In order to protect the health of those at risk, and minimize their risk of exposure, those who are incompletely vaccinated without a medical exemption will be welcomed back only when their vaccinations are up to date."

"We cannot let anybody in the building who's unvaccinated.  It's a risk that we're just not willing to take," said Agudath Jacob Synagogue board president Debbie Eisenstein. "We are trusting people's words, but we are being very clear about our expectations."

There are nearly 600 measles cases nationwide and there have been 7 confirmed cases in Illinois.