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Cover up

Haredi newspaper photoshops masks onto picture of rabbis meeting

Trick exposed after other newspapers publish original photo of ultra-Orthodox leaders violating government virus guidelines

Illustrative: Ultra-Orthodox men during a ceremony in Meron, near Safed, December 7, 2020. (David Cohen/Flash90)
Illustrative: Ultra-Orthodox men during a ceremony in Meron, near Safed, December 7, 2020. (David Cohen/Flash90)

An ultra-Orthodox newspaper was exposed Friday for having photoshopped masks onto the faces of a group of rabbis who were holding an indoor meeting in violation of the government’s health guidelines.

The widely-read Hamodia newspaper affiliated, with the United Torah Judaism party, included the photo alongside an article about a meeting Rabbi Bezalel Simcha Menachem Benzion Rabinowitz held in his home where he and his followers discussed ways to encourage the ultra-Orthodox public to study Torah in marking the anniversary of Maimonides’ death.

The photo of Rabinowitz, known as the Rebbe of Biala, was printed in several other newspapers, but those outlets used the original version. Ultra-Orthodox journalist Moshe Weisberg noted the difference and posted photos of it on Twitter.

Leaders of the ultra-Orthodox have come under fire in recent months for setting a poor example for their followers by violating public health guidelines or encouraging them to do so.

Ultra-Orthodox papers have been criticized in the past for photoshopping pictures, most notably blurring out, or removing women from images.

The Health Ministry official overseeing action to counter the coronavirus among Israel’s ultra-Orthodox population revealed earlier this week that the community has recently accounted for over a quarter of all the new cases diagnosed, even though it makes up little more than a 10th of the total population.

This week saw several instances of mass weddings going ahead in the community.

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