One of Israel's leading ultra-Orthodox rabbis, Chaim Kanievsky, on Monday ordered the reopening of all Haredi girls’ schools despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The rabbi's directive flies in the face of government regulations, which at present only allow children in preschool and grades 1-4 to attend classes. Grades 5 and 6 were set to return on Tuesday and grades 11and 12 next week. There was no date set for grades 7-10 to return.
A letter penned by Kanvieksy's daughter Lea Koldetzki and sent to Haredi school administrators stated that, "the girls are sitting at home and are bored… and the situation for many girls is truly bordering on life threatening."
"My father Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky told me that principals and teachers must do everything to prevent a deterioration for Jewish girls and to open educational frameworks for all girls, with appropriate caution,” wrote Koldetzki, who is seen as close to her father and as a powerful force in the ultra-Orthodox community.
Kanievsky, 92, has previously come under fire for urging his flock to disregard government health regulations and himself has contracted COVID-19.
Koldetzki also said that the rabbi had instructed all female students to recite several passages of psalms after morning prayers.
Officially, senior Haredi rabbis called for the reopening of only male religious schools after the Jewish High Holidays that ended in October, and only those that belong to the Ashkenazi community.
In reality, more and more streams within the ultra-Orthodox community have reopened their learning facilities, including several girls' schools and institutions of higher learning.
Even Sephardic Haredi communities, which were considered to be more in line with government restrictions, have reopened their schools.