Two Chomedey synagogues operating under the same roof have enacted their own version of a COVID-19 vaccination passport after two individuals made it loud and clear they have no intention of getting the shot.
Congregation Shaar Shalom and the Young Israel of Chomedey share the building at 4880 Notre Dame Blvd. Mike Andradi, the 79 year old president of Shaar Shalom, was beyond alarmed when we spoke. Combined there are 250 families registered as members. The vast majority are over 75.
Two anti-vaxxers, who Andradi said are younger than 50, have been literally striking fear among the members. “We have made it clear that anyone entering our building must be double vaccinated,” he said. “The only exception is for someone who already had COVID. That is considered one shot.”
Andradi said that the two anti-vaxxers refused to listen, maintaining their decision not to get the jab is a matter of human rights. “We have people coming to pray who have compromised immune systems,” says Andradi, expressing concern that someone who is not vaccinated could sit next to a member who is on dialysis.
Andradi and his Young Israel of Chomedey counterpart Issie Baum have reacted to this situation by insisting that each member show them written proof of two vaccinations. This has all been registered on a central list for Shaar Shalom. A Young Israel of Chomedey list is being completed. “Everyone has complied except these two individuals,” Andradi told me.
For Shabbat services on Saturday a security guard has been hired to keep the anti-vaxxers out the building and check that everyone who does enter is on the registry. But these individuals may also enter the premises weekdays.
On Tuesday I spoke to the two men in question. They insist they are not anti-vaxxers, but preferred not to discuss whether they have been vaccinated.
This folks is why COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon. The anti-vaxxers will ensure that the virus continues to spread and kills people. It is precisely why a hardline vaccine passport is needed for people to get in anywhere, from synagogue or church to a restaurant, a sports or entertainment venue and others.
I just got a note from my synagogue in Côte Saint-Luc that an individual who attended Saturday night Maariv and Eicha services in the main sanctuary on July 17 has tested positive for COVID-19. The individual, who has been double vaccinated, was asymptomatic at the time (and continues to be now), and was tested as part of the routine travel requirements in preparation for a scheduled flight. What are the odds this person contacted the virus from someone who was not vaccinated? I would say very strong. It is particularly frightening that two vaccines did not make this person immune.
This does not bode well for the Jewish high holidays in early September.