October 23, 2021

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Miami rabbi and Proud Boy member offering religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccines via email

“There are people who just want the freedom to get vaxxed or not, who don’t want a mandate,” Meza said. “This form we’re giving to Christians, too. A Christian can embrace the message because we quote from the Bible.”

The letter is sent via email after filling out a Google doc form. It quotes the Old Testament, mixed with a lot of gobbledygook about “personal liberty” and “pursuit of happiness,” and defends the use of non-scientific and totally unproven treatments such as hydroxychloroquine, which has shown no ability to fight COVID-19, and ivermectin, a drug commonly used to deworm horses that not only doesn’t cure COVID-19 but has killed at least two people and sent dozens to the hospital. 

Meza joined the Proud Boys last February and has worked on several of their websites. The group self-describes as “Western chauvinists” who vehemently deny being racist or “alt-right.” They insist they are a like-minded organization that is “anti-political correctness” and “anti-white guilt.” 


Within the Jewish community, he’s reviled by many for his ideas about Judaism—particularly around large-scale conversion and proselytizing to non-Jews. 

“He’s a hack,” Rabbi Joseph Korf of Hollywood Community Synagogue told the New Times. “He’s not a rabbi, and if he’s ordained, he’s not recognized by any religious community that I know of.”

According to his website, Torah Judaism International, it’s the only Orthodox organization “in the world that actively encourages Jewish Conversion among the masses” and is “an active counter Missionary organization eager to seek out new adherents from any religious group or secular movement.”

“You haven’t lived through enough?” Rabbi Yaakov Bender, head of Yeshiva Darchei Torah in Far Rockaway, says in a video message created ahead of the Jewish holidays. Far Rockaway, which is home to a large Orthodox community, has one of the lowest rates of vaccination in New York City. “We in the community have to realize that if 99% of doctors say to take the shot, you take the shot. What are we, playing games?”

With over 700,000 Americans dead from COVID-19, when it comes to Meza’s religious exemptions, let’s call them what they are: irresponsible. 

“I believe Judaism says that to save a human life is the greatest thing one can do; therefore protecting those lives and being inoculated is a Jewish mandate. It would be odd for a rabbi to come out and be against it,” Rabbi Jonathan Tabachnikoff of Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami tells the New Times.

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