People closely following Dr. Vladimir Zelenko’s international hydroxychloroquine campaign were shocked to hear about his sudden resignation as one of the only doctors in his hometown of Kiryas Joel, Monroe NY.
“It’s with a broken heart that I have to say this, but I have decided to leave Monroe after almost two decades of working as a doctor, taking care of the community, most recently with this terrible magefah (plague),” he said in a video address.
“Things have happened, and after speaking to my family and my mashpi’im (spiritual advisers) and thinking about what I want for the future, I’ve decided that its time for me to move on,” he explained.
The announcement comes just days following President Trump’s unexpected announcement on Monday that he himself was taking hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic. Trump even referenced Dr. Zelenko as the inspiration for the treatment. It was that medication that took Dr. Zelenko to international prominence after prescribing it to his Covid-19 patients in the close-knit community.
But his decision to leave appears to come from some powerful politicians in Kiryas Joel with a sinister agenda. Dr. Zelenko accused the town’s leaders of orchestrating an array of investigations against him. Zelenko released the names of three of them — Gedalye Szegedin, the town administrator; Mayer Hirsch, a developer and Joel Mittelman, the chief executive of the main health care provider in Kiryas Joel, and Zelenko’s former employer. Zelenko went so far as to blame them for the deaths of 14 residents who died of coronavirus after spreading false rumors about the doctor as well as accusing them of not acting swiftly enough to close the town’s synagogues and schools during the pandemic’s outbreak.
Hirsch has been accused by local residents of bribing NY governor Andrew Cuomo after a group of entities connected to Kiryas Joel gave $250,000 to Cuomo’s campaign. The “donation” came just a few days after after the governor vetoed two bills generated by the Kiryas Joel annexation controversy. Leaders of the community vehemently opposed the bills.
Emily Convers, chairwoman of the United Monroe citizens group, called the sudden campaign cash infusion an obvious payment for services rendered by the governor.
In an interview with the Forward, Szegedin denied all of Zelenko’s accusations, and added that he, Mittelman and Hirsch were mulling legal proceedings against Zelenko for libel.
At the conclusion of his video, Zelenko wished Kiryas Joel residents long life, good health, financial success, and that they should all live to see the return of the Messiah — a customary message among some members of the Chabad Hasidic community, of which Zelenko is a part.