אבנים ובקבוקים לעבר שוטרים במאה שערים: שלושה עצורים במקום
Police forces dispersing ultra-Orthodox crowd in Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea She'arim during coronavirus outbreak
צילום: קבוצת מחאות החרדים הקיצוניים
Mazor Chairman Rabbi Shimon Ragovi

Ultra-Orthodox push for closure of synagogues for fear of 2nd virus wave

Leaders seek preemptive measures for sector's crowded communities; 'it's uncomfortable and unpleasant to pray outside in the summer, but it's more pleasant than going to a funeral,' says rabbi

Kobi Nachshoni |
Published: 06.22.20 , 23:39
Rabbis and other prominent figures in the ultra-Orthodox community on Monday called on the government to shutter synagogues once more to prevent a second wave of coronavirus from spreading within the community.
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  • In an interview with the Ynet studio, Rabbi Shimon Ragovi, chairman of the Mazor organization - which offers medical counseling, guidance, and information – voiced a plea to close down houses of prayer to minimize virus fatalities.
    Chairman of the Mazor organization, Rabbi Shimon RagoviChairman of the Mazor organization, Rabbi Shimon Ragovi
    Mazor Chairman Rabbi Shimon Ragovi
    (Photo: Shahar Goldstein)
    "It's uncomfortable and unpleasant to pray outside in the summer, but it's more pleasant than going to a funeral,” Ragovi said. "Saving lives is more important than praying in a synagogue."
    Most infections occur in closed spaces with masses of people together for a long time - this is precisely what happens in synagogues. When you go to a synagogue, you see that a large percentage of people there do not wear a mask properly, and it is also extremely hard to keep a distance of two meters.”
    מתפללים בירושליםמתפללים בירושלים
    Worshippers observing social distancing at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Ragovi adds that many synagogues are simply too small to accommodate worshipers according to social distancing regulations, while others lack proper ventilation.
    Ragovi also stated that many struggle with wearing a face mask during prayers, which may also extend for hours.
    משטרת ישראל פיזרה התקהלויות אסורות במסגד ובבית כנסת בסוף השבוע בלודמשטרת ישראל פיזרה התקהלויות אסורות במסגד ובבית כנסת בסוף השבוע בלוד
    Police disperse prayer group in Lod synagogue during coronavirus outbreak
    (צילום: דוברות המשטרה)
    The Mazor chairman also urged members of the ultra-Orthodox community to return to pray at home or in open places.
    “I think it's a solution that has its share of discomfort, all the more during the summer heat. I did it myself in my own private yard. We had a proper Minyan (quorum of ten men required for public prayer service) according to all the rules. It's fine and you can pray like that. I believe reason must prevail in the end.”
    אבנים ובקבוקים לעבר שוטרים במאה שערים: שלושה עצורים במקוםאבנים ובקבוקים לעבר שוטרים במאה שערים: שלושה עצורים במקום
    Police forces dispersing ultra-Orthodox crowd in Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea She'arim during coronavirus outbreak
    (צילום: קבוצת מחאות החרדים הקיצוניים)
    The austere community was late in identifying the danger of the virus during the first coronavirus outbreak back in March.
    In mere weeks, it became clear that public prayer groups posed a major contagion risk, and areas with high ultra-Orthodox concentrations throughout the nation became virus hotspots.
    As a result, there was a change in trend in the crowded and closed ultra-Orthodox community, which became extremely obedient (excluding a few extremist factions) - until restrictions were lifted.
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