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Dozens said to attend Netanya Hasidic wedding in violation of virus rules

Ultra-Orthodox educational institutions remain open as lawmakers get ready to increase fines and extend lockdown

Wedding of the offspring's of Sanz and Toldot Ahron Hasidic sects leaders in Netanya on January 21, 2021 (Screenshot)
Wedding of the offspring's of Sanz and Toldot Ahron Hasidic sects leaders in Netanya on January 21, 2021 (Screenshot)

Dozens of people reportedly attended a wedding for the scions of two major Hasidic dynasties in Netanya on Wednesday night, in violation of coronavirus restrictions.

Though the sects of Sanz and Toldos Aharon said they held the wedding in a limited fashion, without all of the faction members present, footage showed dozens of participants.

Most, if not all, were seen without face masks

Since the beginning of the pandemic, ultra-Orthodox leaders have clashed with the government over restrictions on synagogues, religious schools and prayer groups, with numerous reported cases of violations during the current nationwide lockdown aimed at curbing the outbreak.

Police said they dispersed a second wedding in Netanya Wednesday night, handing out fines to the organizers and service providers, including the venue owner.

They had no immediate comment on the Sanz-Toldos Aharon event.

In Elad, a predominantly Haredi city, celebrations were held Wednesday by the Nadvorna Hasidic sect for the Jewish holiday of Tu Bishvat, in violation of the lockdown restrictions.

Meanwhile, dozens of ultra-Orthodox educational institutions were open Thursday, even in mainstream segments of the community, according to the Walla news site.

Other groups in the Haredi community abide by the restrictions. Some Haredi rabbis and political leaders have shut schools, called for health guidelines to be kept, and encourage vaccination.

Coalition whip Miki Zohar of Likud said Thursday morning that the legislation hiking fines for institutions that violate the rules would “pass today in its original form.”

The move to raise the fines is opposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ultra-Orthodox allies, yet they have indicated they will not be voting against it. An unnamed source from one of the ultra-Orthodox parties told Channel 12 news that “they decided not to allow the public discourse to claim that they thwarted the fight against the coronavirus [regulation] violators.”

The original form, approved this week in an initial reading, would fine educational institutions NIS 10,000 ($3,000) for violating restrictions, with the possibility of issuing a closure order to the institution.

Israel has struggled in recent weeks to contain the outbreak, confirming around 8,000 new infections a day on average. The country had 74,821 active cases as of Thursday morning, according to Health Ministry figures.

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