A leading Haredi spiritual leader on Tuesday urged the sector's educational institutions to suspend teachers who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, a prominent figure in the Lithuanian branch of ultra-Orthodox Judaism, is considered one of the world's most revered rabbis and many within his community consider his rulings to require total compliance.
"Teachers and educators who have not been vaccinated must not come to teach," Kanievsky said. "Vaccines are a godsend and must be taken to prevent Bitul Torah [wasting time that could be spent on religious studies] and illness."
Kanievsky made the remarks during a visit of the head of Israel's coronavirus task force, Prof. Salman Zarka, at his Bnei Brak home. Zarka sought the rabbi's blessing for the success of the vaccination campaign in educational institutions and to encourage citizens to get the vaccine booster shot amid an alarming rise in morbidity in the ultra-Orthodox sector.
"Every person should try to watch themselves in every way so as not to infect [others] or get infected… and to adhere to the health regulations," the 93-year-old said during the meeting.
His latest statement carries significant weight as educators enjoy a special social status among the ultra-Orthodox community as those who pass on the word of the Torah to the next generation.
The Health Ministry hopes that the pressure from the so-called "Prince of Torah" would help persuade thousands of educators who were thus far hesitant to get the vaccine.
Meanwhile, Israel on Wednesday logged almost 10,000 new daily coronavirus cases for the second day in a row.
The Health Ministry reported that 9,891 Israelis have tested positive for the virus out of some 150,000 tests carried out over the previous 24 hours, putting the country's infection rate at 6.69% — the highest such figure recorded since the pandemic made a resurgence in Israel.