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Odem Theater Pub’s COVID vaccine mandate-Nazi Germany comparison sparks controversy online

Rabbi calls it 'unfortunate'; theater owner apologizes, says it was 'not supposed to be mean' but 'provoke thought'

REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- An email from Redmond's Odem Theater Pub comparing the state's COVID-19 vaccine requirements to the Nazi persecution of the Jews has sparked controversy on social media. 

Johanna Hershenson, a rabbi at Temple Beth Tikvah in Bend, said Wednesday she was disappointed in the entire situation. 

"My gut reaction is that it's just unfortunate,” Hershenson said.

She said the comparison, even if meant to be hyperbole, is not accurate, when it comes to the vaccine. 

"Is nothing like wearing a yellow star,” Hershenson said. “To me, it is like the '90s, when we gave our children chicken pox vaccines before they were allowed to enter kindergarten."

The caption of the image in the theater emailed newsletter asked, "So will we be requiring Star of David yellow armbands issued by the state of Oregon showing your vaccine status for entry? please contact your Hitler youth leader or S-S officer to obtain one."

Odem Theater owner Ted Eady told NewsChannel 21he strongly disagrees with the federal employee vaccine mandate and thinks the government action is too close to Nazi Germany during the 1930s.

"Force people to do something that they shouldn't be able to, and people succumb to that -- that's how we give up our rights, one day at a time,” Eady said. 

Eady said he is fully vaccinated himself and was just trying to start a conversation.

"Not supposed to be mean. It's supposed to provoke thought,” Eady said. 

Eady defended the post but said it wasn’t intended to hurt people’s feelings. 

"It wasn't meant to offend anybody," he said. "I'm sorry that people are thin-skinned, but that may be the era that we're living in right now."

Herschenson said she believes vaccine decisions are made with people's health in mind, but doesn't think anyone should read too much into Eady's post.

"The ridiculous nature of the analogy snaps us back to reality, to make us realize we have something frightening on our hands. It's hard to make decisions for the greater good,” the rabbi said. “We really can do our part if we just get back to that common-sense, one-on-one interaction and not allow ourselves to be so triggered."

Eady apologized to anyone who was triggered or offended. 

"I'm sorry if I offended anybody that's Jewish or of the Jewish faith, that wasn't the intention,” Eady said. 

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus
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Noah Chast

Noah Chast is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Noah here.

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