The head of one of the largest Hasidic sects in Israel has called for the denunciation of anyone who reports violations of restrictions meant to contain the coronavirus.
In a speech carried Sunday by the Hamodia and Hamevaser newspapers, which are linked to the Hasidic Agudath Israel party, Vizhnitz Rabbi Yisroel Hager also vowed ultra-Orthodox educational institutions would not again be shuttered as part of any renewed lockdown measures.
“Cry out bitterly and strongly protest against all those Jews who snitch and inform on other Jews who open schools or hold celebrations,” Hager was quoted as saying. “To interfere with another Jew holding a celebration is an offensive and fundamentally unacceptable thing.”
He said the closing of Haredi schools caused “unbearable spiritual and material damage” and vowed they would not again be closed.
Hager said, however, that the Health Ministry guidelines for fighting the pandemic shouldn’t be belittled.
He also claimed there was discrimination against ultra-Orthodox Jews in the enforcement of the virus rules.
“We’re suffering from persecution and severe incitement,” he said.
Hager himself was caught flouting the restrictions last month while attending a large indoor gathering in Bnei Brak, in violation of a nationwide lockdown.
During the monthlong lockdown, there were reports of widespread violations of the restrictions in predominantly ultra-Orthodox areas and as the limitations began to be eased, many Haredi schools reopened despite being prohibited from doing so.
During the peak of the second wave of the virus, positive test rates among the ultra-Orthodox were substantially higher than among the general population.
There has since been a marked drop in positive test rates in ultra-Orthodox communities, though testing levels have declined significantly as well.