Brooklyn, NY - The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has launched an investigation after a report that one of its drivers made references to the measles when an obviously Chasidic man boarded her bus.
Rabbi David Niederman, executive director and president of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg said that the incident happened last week aboard a B57 bus. A Chasidic man in his forties was waiting at the corner of Flushing and Franklin avenues when the B57 bus reportedly passed him by. The man ran over to the bus, which was stopped in traffic, and knocked on the door, hoping to board the bus so that he could get to work.
“As he came up the stairs, the bus driver covered her face with her sweater and turned away from him towards the window,” Rabbi Niederman told VIN News. “He put in his fare and asked for a transfer and she responded ‘Go in, measles.’”
The man reported the incident to Rabbi Niederman today, who informed the MTA what happened.
“A municipal employee violated her duties and that to him and he felt threatened,” said Rabbi Niederman.
The incident came several days before Mayor Bill de Blasio announced mandatory vaccinations for Williamsburg residents living or working in zip codes that have affected by the measles outbreak, as previously reported on VIN News (http://bit.ly/2Z1J3ZX). The affected zip codes are 11205, 11206, 11211 and 11211.
Rabbi Niederman noted that the vast majority of Williamsburg’s Jewish community has been vaccinated against the measles. He estimated the compliance rate at close to 96 percent, dispelling the notion that the Orthodox Jewish community does not immunize its children.
“Rabbinical leaders, lay leadership and schools are saying clearly you have to vaccinate,” said Rabbi Niederman. “When the Torah talks about v’nishmarten l’nafshoseychem, guarding our lives and our health, it isn’t a suggestion.”
The mayor took to Twitter today to denounce the incident tweeting, “Anti-Semitic discrimination has no place in our city. We’ve reached out to the MTA about this report and will make sure it is thoroughly investigated.”
A statement released Thursday afternoon by MTA chief external affairs officers Max Young said simply, “The MTA has absolutely zero tolerance for discrimination - we’re taking this issue very seriously and investigating.”