Front groups: Unmasking JOWMA – the ‘Jewish Orthodox Women’s Medical Association’

by Rabbi Chananya Weissman

In March of 2019 an organization called the Jewish Orthodox Women’s Medical Association (JOWMA) was founded in New York. The cover story is that a 24-year-old medical student by the name of Eliana Fine started it to "support, provide mentorship, and advance the careers of Jewish female physicians and trainees", whatever that’s supposed to mean.

That same month, this nascent organization founded by students issued a "statement on vaccination" that was published in the Orthodox Jewish media. After railing against "false information regarding the safety and efficacy of vaccinations", JOWMA made the following radical declarations:

  1. Non-vaccination is antithetical to the core beliefs of Orthodox Judaism.
  2. There are no religious exemptions from vaccination within Orthodox Judaism.

Naturally, the statement made no mention of the fact that JOWMA was less than a month old, which might have been relevant to the vast majority of readers who had surely never heard of them. No information was included that might cast aspersions on JOWMA’s qualifications to make far-reaching declarations on behalf of Orthodox Judaism. They described themselves as "an association composed of Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Jewish female physicians." As we will see, this is a highly dubious description.

The letter was signed by nine women, including Eliana Fine, a mere student. Not a single rabbi endorsed this statement on "the core beliefs of Orthodox Judaism" and their claim that no one could refrain from vaccinating on religious grounds and still be considered an Orthodox Jew. This is astounding.

JOWMA’s meteoric rise from nothing to a presumed authority on Orthodox Judaism and medical issues continued. Remarkably, the organization that was ostensibly created primarily to advance the careers of Jewish female doctors continued to be obsessed with promoting vaccines.

In May 2019 an article in the Five Towns Jewish Times wrote glowingly about Eliana Fine and JOWMA’s mission "to support, empower, promote, and advance Orthodox Jewish female physicians, both current and future." Then the article reported on JOWMA’s "highly anticipated inaugural event" (highly anticipated by whom?). These previously unknown students had somehow pulled together a conference that was attended by more than 65 presumably very busy physicians, as well as Mayor Alex Edelman and Deputy Mayor Michael Fragin.

According to the article, the program began not with some initiative that would "support, empower, promote, and advance Orthodox Jewish female physicians", as per their mission statement, but an announcement of "the launch of the JOWMA Measles Initiative, wherein Brooklyn residents can contact the JOWMA confidential hotline and schedule a physician to provide free in-home vaccination".

This was done in conjunction with the NYC Department of Health, who apparently could find no better partner within the Orthodox community than a small group of medical students whose mission was something vague about helping Jewish girls balance medical school with marriage.

That’s the cover story, anyway.

Before continuing with JOWMA’s unlikely timeline, let’s take a quick look at their IRS Form 990 for 2019. We see at the top that JOWMA describes their mission as follows: “To support and advance the careers of religious Jewish female physicians through educational, networking and mentoring opportunities.” No mention of aggressively pushing vaccines and issuing radical declarations of Jewish law (though they indicate it in passing later on).

We find the names of the CEO, Secretary, and President of this trailblazing new organization. We also find the average hours per week these individuals devoted to JOWMA. The CEO, Ms. Fine, recorded three hours per week on average, with one hour each for the Secretary and President.

You read that right.

That doesn’t even qualify as a serious hobby. Some people spend nearly an hour a week brushing their teeth.

It seems these three young ladies were nothing more than mascots for JOWMA, pretty smiling faces for the press releases, while others were the real people driving this organization.

Indeed, we later find that JOWMA received $64,831 in gifts and grants in their first year. How in the world did they pull that off? Who would throw tens of thousands of dollars at a few medical students who hardly devoted any time to their little hobby?

In their Schedule of Contributors we find an interesting item. JOWMA had exactly one major contributor (over $5000). It is fair to assume that this sugar daddy was responsible for the vast majority of the money JOWMA received – it’s doubtful they had hordes of people sending them $18. Both the name of the contributor and the amount are listed as “RESTRICTED”. Restricted funds are the result of a donor giving with specific strings attached as to what the donation may be used for (source).

In other words, one mysterious person or entity was essentially funding JOWMA and deciding what JOWMA would really be doing.

Like, say, pushing vaccines on the Orthodox Jewish community?

In April 2019 JOWMA received more favorable press coverage in the Queens Jewish Link. In this article we learn that a Dr. Sherrie Neustein Orzel “helped found JOWMA, [which] aims, in part, to approach public health education in the frum [religious] community by going through the rabbis, helping them understand the importance of vaccines, and encouraging them to rescind previous statements and start encouraging their followers to guard their health through vaccines. They, and doctors and public health professionals everywhere, are struggling to convince certain groups of people to immunize.”

Since when do supposed Orthodox and Ultra Orthodox Jewish women – most of them barely out of college – presume to lobby rabbis to rescind their statements on Jewish law and practice? And since when does this go completely unchallenged in the Jewish media?

This would be a good time to note that JOWMA boasts not a single rabbi on their board, nor makes mention of any rabbinic advisor or rabbinic endorsement. This is an Orthodox organization? This is an organization that is declaring Jewish law on matters of life and death?

In December 2019, Jonathan Rosenblum, a popular columnist for Mishpacha Magazine echoed the concerns of Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America, "with New York State’s removal of a religious exemption for parents unwilling to vaccinate their children." The bulk of the article was devoted to the erosion of religious liberty and parental control. Rosenblum also noted that the HPV vaccine is not particularly relevant for the Orthodox Jewish community, and asserted that the vaccine is not the best option to prevent cervical cancer besides.

JOWMA went ballistic. It was all hands on deck. They and their cohorts bombarded the editors with letters. This received favorable coverage in yet another website that caters to Orthodox Jews, under the title Orthodox Jewish Healthcare Professionals Hit Back At Anti-Vaccine Article. JOWMA’s lengthy responses were republished in full, but the original article did not even receive the courtesy of a link or a verbatim quote so readers could judge for themselves. Hearing both sides and judging for yourself had become a thing of the past.

Ellie Carmody (more on her later) wrote that "the proposed mandate for HPV vaccination is a public health measure and not a religious issue particular to the Orthodox community. Like mandated child car seats and house lead inspections, it is simply about the safety of our children in a world that we cannot predict." This was an eerie foreshadowing of what was to come; "public health" gurus usurping religious freedom, and comparing injecting children with pharmaceutical products to car seats.

Alisa Minkin and Maureen Nemetski of JOWMA slandered dissenters as "anti-vaxxers" and proceeded with the typical, emotionally manipulative propaganda with which we have become all too familiar. Naturally, these "Orthodox Jews" made no reference to Rosenblum’s concerns about religious freedom or parental autonomy. JOWMA had already defined such things out of existence. They were the religious authorities and communal parents now.

Indeed, the Five Towns Jewish Times article from May had already laid bare JOWMA’s intentions: "“We are from the Orthodox community; therefore, we feel a sense of responsibility as physicians and physician trainees to do everything we can to stop the measles outbreak,” JOWMA explained in a statement to the 5TJT. “It’s very important to note that those who are anti-vaxxers within the Orthodox Jewish community are a small minority. The anti-vaxxer campaign has targeted the Orthodox Jewish community with culturally designed propaganda and has unfortunately been successful in a very small number of parents."

Culturally designed propaganda. What would that be? Rabbinic statements? Notice how JOWMA downplayed the number of "anti-vaxxers" – a "small minority" is not very alluring – while stoking fears about their dangerous influence. Speaking of propaganda.

This is also a window into JOWMA’s real mission: recruit easily trusted Jewish women to create culturally designed propaganda.

Indeed, the Deputy Mayor mentioned in the article, Michael Fragin, would go on to produce scripted propaganda videos featuring community rabbis (here is another he produced with the Orthodox Union). It seems a small minority of vaccine activists, receiving money from unknown sources, was accusing others of doing exactly what they are doing. Propaganda 101.

In June 2019, an article by Bat Sheva Maslow of JOWMA in the Jewish Week / Times of Israel reiterated the fact that JOWMA’s stated mission of mentoring sweet little medical students was a threadbare cover story:

"The JOWMA Vaccine Initiative is the brainchild of smart, passionate, dedicated physicians who have a keen understanding of the needs and limitations of Jewish communities. As part of JOWMA’s commitment to community outreach, we partnered with the New York City Department of Health to help curb the current measles outbreak, by establishing a free and confidential hotline for families to schedule in-home vaccinations. Anti-vaxxers designed their propaganda in a culturally specific way to explicitly target the Orthodox Jewish community, particularly mothers. As religious Jewish physicians and physician trainees, many of whom are also mothers, we feel responsible to utilize our unique position to address these issues in a culturally sensitive and hopefully effective way."

In September of 2019, New York City Mayor de Blasio’s office put out a press release declaring the end of the measles outbreak, which, in hindsight, seems like a test run for their Covid-19 measures. It featured a statement from JOWMA, the neophyte, supposedly student-run organization that had quickly turned into a political force.

The press release also stated that "the effect of the recently enacted State law ending non-medical exemptions for required vaccinations is that children enrolled in school or day care will continue to require the MMR and other vaccines unless they have a valid medical exemption…With schools on notice about the new standards, the Health Department will be rigorously enforcing against non-medical exemptions to ensure that students who can receive the vaccine have done so."

No doubt JOWMA was delighted with this, having already declared that "there are no religious exemptions from vaccination within Orthodox Judaism."

We were also lectured by a government health official: "Get vaccinated. It is safe and effective." Of course.

When 2020 came around, along with Covid-19, JOWMA was firmly established as the voice for vaccines and religious policy in the Orthodox Jewish community. It remains unclear their actual merits for such power, but their aggressive propaganda, government support, and incestuous relationship with the Jewish media made it a reality.

In April 2020 a letter appeared on VINnews, another website that presumes to cater to the Orthodox world. Minyanim Restrictions Must Stay in Place” Say 350 Frum Doctors Across the Country: We must remind everyone that COVID-19 can be transmitted asymptomatically and that those who have had COVID-19 may be contagious for weeks, even after resolution of all symptoms. In addition, people who have had COVID-19 may NOT be immune. Any outing from the home must be limited to essential needs and performed with the strictest social distancing regulations. The prohibition on all forms of group gatherings including simchos [celebrations], levayos [funerals], and minyanim [prayer gatherings] must remain in place."

Aside from the science fiction in the letter, we must note that the signatories of this letter is a who’s who of JOWMA people and their ilk. With a wave of their holy sceptre they prohibited religious gatherings of any kind, indefinitely and without exception. Not a single rabbi endorsed this religious proclamation. Rabbis had become obsolete. The ladies of JOWMA and their friends decided Jewish law now.

JOWMA’s website now offers "All you need to know about COVID-19". Their "COVID-19 Task Force" is chaired by… a psychiatrist. I’m not joking! This is quite suitable, since their real aim is behavior modification, not education. The members of this army of Covid-fighters consists of four pediatricians, a gynecologist, and six students, four of them Pre-Med. The only member with any relevant training in the area is the aforementioned Ellie Carmody, MD in the area of Infectious Diseases. As noted, she likened vaccines to car seats and downplayed religious considerations.

This is your Jewish Orthodox Women’s Covid-19 Task Force, the "experts" and authorities for the Jewish people: a psychiatrist, a few children’s doctors, an infectious diseases doctor who is unhinged from reality and religion, and a bunch of kids with a combined total of zero medical degrees.

Once again, no rabbis or rabbinic advisors are to be found.

What better group of people to throw huge sums of money at? An article by the UJA-Federation in April of 2021 stated the following: "Vaccines are vital to helping lift New Yorkers out of the pandemic. Yet some of the hardest-hit communities have serious concerns about getting a shot. UJA-Federation has awarded $588,000 in grants for vaccine access and education to over 90 community-based organizations in New York. For one grassroots nonprofit, Jewish Orthodox Women’s Medical Association (JOWMA), the grant was used to break down vaccine myths."

It’s remarkable that of all the organizations receiving a share of this largesse, JOWMA – this group of young girls, children’s doctors, and usurpers of rabbinic authority – was singled out. We don’t know how much money they received from UJA-Federation (the 2019 tax return is the only one currently available), but it’s fair to assume JOWMA got even more sugar this time.

Speaking of which, where did UJA-Federation get $588,000 to distribute to Jewish organizations for the sake of pushing vaccines? Who’s their sugar daddy? Who’s really behind this richly funded, culturally designed propaganda campaign, using Jewish organizations and their subsidiaries as fronts for their operation?

One thing we know is that JOWMA has been spending enormous sums of money on full-page ads in the Jewish print media. These are not cheap. Mishpacha Magazine, which previously made the mistake of publishing a column expressing concern about religious liberty and the appropriateness of one vaccine, has been running ads from JOWMA regularly. Their editorial policy on vaccines and Covid-19 has, purely by coincidence, come to reflect JOWMA’s “expert” position. The same is true of the virtually all media that cater to the Orthodox Jewish community. If you want to publish a paid advertisement questioning the “established” position, good luck finding someone to take your money. The editors wouldn’t want to offend their big, steady customers.

JOWMA’s print propaganda is full of clever misinformation and technical truths designed to mislead readers to draw false conclusions. A few examples:

One flyer asks “I’m Young and Healthy, Why Do I Need the Vaccine? The Science: COVID-19 infection presents a health risk to everyone. Young people can get seriously ill and even die or suffer long term effects…”

Notice how their version of “The Science” doesn’t actually answer the question. They provide no context, no actual data to indicate that young and healthy people should expose themselves to the serious risks and unknowns of these injections, or that these risks and unknowns are outweighed by actual health benefits. They simply imply that bad things can happen, and therefore everyone should take the shots. Sleazy.

“Can the COVID-19 Vaccine Cause Infertility and Miscarriages? The Science: There is no factual or theoretical evidence that the COVID vaccine affects fertility or leads to pregnancy loss.”

No factual or theoretical evidence? What, pray tell, is theoretical evidence? They are assuming that few people will notice this absurd oxymoron, and will be reassured by JOWMA’s confidence.

“The COVID vaccine has not been tested enough to prove it is safe. The Science: All vaccines receiving FDA emergency use authorization in the United States have been tested in preclinical, phase I, I and III trials to determine safety and efficacy with tens of thousands of participants. As of June 16, 2021, close to 2.5 billion shots have been administered worldwide with over 300 million doses administered in the U.S. alone and safety monitoring is ongoing.”

Here’s another beautiful example of pretending to answer the question while avoiding it completely. Propaganda at its finest! A vague mention about trials and a report of how many shots have been administered does not demonstrate that the shot has been tested enough to prove it is safe, only that it has recklessly been foisted on billions of people. In fact, their acknowledgment that “safety monitoring is ongoing” only underscores that the safety of the shot has not been proven!

JOWMA’s slick attempt to indicate great concern for safety actually demonstrates just the opposite to the discerning reader. Of course, they are counting on the vast majority of readers not being discerning.

Although JOWMA is so confident in their positions, their flyers include the following disclaimer: “This content is for general educational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment about your particular condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.”

In other words, JOWMA is strongly pushing you in a certain direction with life and death implications, but don’t hold them accountable.

Their latest propaganda flyer, just released in lockstep with their establishment patrons, is a list of “fast facts” indicating that the bioweapon is a good idea for children 5-11. On one side we have fear-mongering about “2 million infections”, which sounds much more scary than it is in real life, and potential harm if literally everything under the sun goes wrong in spite of the odds. On the other side we have reassurances that side effects of the shot are rare and mild, and will further reduce their chances of being harmed by an infection that is about as likely to harm them as a piano falling off a passing truck.

If we dig deeper into JOWMA the propaganda gets even more ludicrous. One member of their “task force”, Chana Weinstock Neuberger, was interviewed in April 2021 by Nachum Segal on his long-running radio show that caters to the Orthodox Jewish community. She works for the FDA – no conflict of interest there! The first ten minutes consisted of gushing praise for the FDA, regurgitating over and over again that they work so hard to look out for us and ensure safety. Although the interview was titled “Covid Vaccine Update”, there was literally zero information related to the shot or any concerns associated with it. There was also no explanation for why this shot is necessary when other treatments are available. In fact, Ms. Weinstock admitted that she has very little to do with the vaccine approval process (4-minute mark), before launching into a lengthy infomercial for the FDA.

Even more striking was the following statement by the host at the 11-minute mark: “I want to add, and I’m just making clear to the audience, that because of your position at the FDA the boundaries of this conversation have been very very clearly set. So if I ask something that you don’t want to answer, saying to us that you don’t want to answer it is totally legitimate.” Then he chuckled affably.


Even Chinese-style propaganda is more sophisticated than this.

In another JOWMA interview, Segal and our friend Ellie Carmody made fun of the crazy notion that the shot can cause serious reactions. They had quite the awkward laugh-fest.

In the last few months Nachum Segal has hosted people from JOWMA on nine separate occasions. It is difficult to believe that these segments are so popular that his listeners can’t get enough. More JOWMA! What’s really going on?

JOWMA’s site also contains numerous podcasts. I did not listen to all of them, because there is only so much suffering one can endure, but the title of one caught my attention and I was compelled to listen. It’s called “I’m Not Antivaxx but…With Dorit Rubinstein Reiss”.

I looked up Reiss, and she’s a very…interesting person. Her Wikipedia page states the following about her: “Dorit Rubinstein Reiss is a Professor of Law at UC Hastings College of Law. She has also worked for the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Israeli Ministry of Justice’s Department of Public Law.

“Reiss has become known for her work on legal issues regarding vaccination policies, and she has called for examination of whether parents who don’t vaccinate their children, including those who obtain legal exemptions, should face legal liability. She is also noted for her support of California Senate Bill 277, which cut back on exemptions to vaccination requirements for enrollment in California schools and daycare centers. She has expressed her views in various journals, panels and blogs."

Lovely. Reiss is working hard to abolish any way out of getting injections, and has called for people who even have legal exemptions to be punished. What sort of “legal liability” does Reiss have in mind for dissenters? Prison? Massive fines? The State taking custody of their children? Concentration camps? We aren’t told. But this is monstrous enough without being spelled out.

No wonder JOWMA fawned all over her. As for her creepy efforts to criminalize those who refrain from the shots, JOWMA obliquely stated that Reiss is “active in vaccine advocacy in other ways”. Indeed.

At the 5-minute mark, the host brought up the “anti-vaxxer campaign” and the need to debunk them. At the 7-minute mark, Reiss brought up “conspiracy theories”, specifying Del Bigtree’s Informed Consent Action Network and Robert Kennedy’s Children’s Health Defense organization. She claimed these well-funded content creators present false information and have no expertise (compared to the medical students and mommies at JOWMA?). Reiss dismissed the notion that vaccines cause allergies or autism, like God declaring something and it was so.

In general Reiss did a wonderful job of describing the exact propaganda tactics JOWMA and their ilk use to make vaccines sound safe and effective, but transferred it onto “anti-vaxxers”. Classic; whatever you’re doing, accuse the other side of doing.

Then it got really bizarre. Right before the 34-minute mark the host brought up the “conspiracy theory” that “Bill Gates is trying to do population control”, which she claimed she was unable even to understand. Reiss replied that “in one of his statements, Bill Gates…said something along the lines that vaccines could help with depopulating the planet. They took it and ran with it.”

Reiss then presented quite a novel explanation for this statement. Contrary to the actual meaning of the words Gates said, he meant that vaccines would help children survive to adulthood. If you couldn’t count on that, you would have nine children, with the hope that two would survive to adulthood. Now, thanks to vaccines, you could just have two children and be done with it.

In other words, no need to go through seven needless pregnancies and bury seven children just to wind up with two surviving ones. Even worse, no risk of having all nine children survive when you only wanted two all along. Don’t you get it now? Bill Gates is saving lives. Depopulation apparently means reducing needless pregnancies to produce the same number of children. Oh!

Reiss then noted that Bill Gates was “the really evil Microsoft guy”, but he has “done a lot to redeem himself”.

Don’t you wish you could have someone like Reiss arguing on your behalf?

Several JOWMA favorites, including Naor Bar-Zeev, have links to the Gates Foundation, which shouldn’t surprise anyone at this point. Maybe they were JOWMA’s unnamed sugar daddy? I wouldn’t bet against it.

Do your own background checks on JOWMA people, and you will turn up red flags all over the place. At this point, however, there is enough rotten stuff in the stew to throw out the entire pot.

On JOWMA’s home page they describe themselves as “Providing health education to the Jewish community and supporting current and future Orthodox female physicians.” As we have seen, that is the least of their activities. On a subsection of their IRS form they slip in the following addition: “This purpose is achieved via organization of informative and networking conferences; creating mentoring programs for new physicians; and ad campaigns to create awareness in the Jewish Community about HPV and other life saving vaccines.”

Once again, the discerning reader might wonder what creating ad campaigns about vaccines has to do with advancing the careers of Orthodox female doctors. Then again, prostituting themselves to drug companies seems to be quite beneficial to their careers.

One final observation. In April of 2021, SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University reported that “history was made”. Paige Herman and Miriam Andrusier became the first same-sex couple from Downstate to attend Harvard together. Andrusier is a JOWMA Advisory Board Member.

In other words, JOWMA has more lesbians on their board than rabbis.

As Jewish as a ham sandwich on Yom Kippur.

JOWMA did not immediately respond to a Frontline News request for comment on this article.

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