Massachusetts Chabad emissary Rabbi Michoel Green, who was disavowed by the Chabad Merkos L'inyonei Chinuch organization for his public stance on medical freedom issues, has issued a statement relating to the charges that led to the action.
Calling reports of the incident "misleading headlines", Rabbi Green wrote on his Facebook page: "Last week, on January 27th, the outreach arm of the Chabad Lubavitch movement terminated my official status as a representative of their organization, Merkos L'inyonei Chinuch. They also removed our shul from their database of recognized Chabad centers. They did not 'fire' me from my position of rabbi and director of Chabad of Westboro, nor do they have any jurisdiction over our shul altogether. Chabad of Westboro is incorporated as an independent non-profit house of worship, and we have our own board and supporters. We have never received any funding from Merkos or any other Chabad organization anywhere. Our shul will continue to serve our community as we have faithfully for nearly two decades. Our doors are open and ready to serve as always, and all are welcome to participate in our services, events, and classes.
"The only thing that changed is my nominal termination by Merkos L'inyonei Chinuch."
Rabbi Green went on to say: "Their stated reason is my outspoken views on COVID policy and mandatory vaccine policy, not so much my own views which they described as 'radical' (without offering any explanation), but mainly the fact that I have challenged rabbis who adopted exclusionary COVID policies and have questioned their competence. There is another obvious factor that motivated them to take this extreme action against me for merely stating my rabbinic opinion, but I'd rather not elaborate on it at this time. It will be exposed in due time if their ill-advised decision doesn't get reversed."
Central Massachusetts Chabad Director Rabbi Mendel Fogelman told Haaretz that Green’s social media posts were “contrary to the organization’s mission and a direct conflict with the sacred task for which he was appointed.”
“It became clear that dismissal was our only choice,” Fogelman said.
Rabbi Green has issued a challenge to any rabbinic figure to debate the issues in a public forum, but so far, no one has accepted the offer.
Rabbi Green continued: "I have responded to their termination letter (and their one prior warning letter) with a letter of my own, which I will not be sharing at this time. The reason I am contesting this decision is not because of how it affects me personally in the Chabad world or on the streets of Crown Heights. My loyalties never lay with a movement, nor did I ever see myself as a follower of any movement. Instead, I am and will always be a lifelong disciple and emissary of the Rebbe. No one can take this awesome role away from me, as it is inherently who I am. In fact, it is precisely my adherence to the Rebbe's teachings that prompted me to speak out in recent years to advocate for children's education, and in protest of medical tyranny that interferes with our religious freedoms and essential human liberties."
"The reason I contest Merkos' action is because it's not about me at all, but about a much larger issue with far-reaching consequences for Chabad, Judaism, Jewish people worldwide, and all of humanity. In fact, it's precisely out of my devotion to protect the Rebbe's saintly reputation that I am required to contest this move.
"Censorship and suppression of dissent cannot be tolerated in free society. Bodily autonomy and informed consent are sacrosanct. It is a grave departure from Judaic values to engage in such unspeakable behavior, even if one believes there is some perceived societal benefit. To quote the Rebbe, 'the ends do not justify the means.'
"Moreover, we cannot stand by idly while millions of our coreligionists, fellow citizens, and fellow human beings worldwide are pressured or coerced into submitting to an experimental medical procedure that carries significant risks, both known and unknown. Such shocking abuses constitute a grave violation of the Nuremburg Code, and are an anathema in the Jewish faith. The folks at Merkos know this well. Any attempt to condone or tolerate such practice under any pseudo-religious pretext is simply appalling proof that the person's religious values have been subverted. Our Rebbe would be diametrically opposed to such policies, and they know it."
Rabbi Green concluded his post: "It should also be pointed out that this error on part of Merkos does not represent rank-and-file Chabad emissaries worldwide, many of whom are deeply troubled by Merkos' ill-advised actions against me and do not endorse censorship of any kind."