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Herzog hosts interfaith leaders in call for mass COVID vaccination

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

President Isaac Herzog hosts interfaith leaders at his residence in Jerusalem, on November 11, 2021. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
President Isaac Herzog hosts interfaith leaders at his residence in Jerusalem, on November 11, 2021. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

President Isaac Herzog hosts Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Druze and Baháʼí leaders in Israel for a call for mass COVID-19 vaccinations.

Joining Herzog at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem are Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef; Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi David Lau; Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III; Latin Patriarch Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa; President of the Shari’a Court of Appeals Sheikh Abed Elhakim Samara; Druze Community Leader Sheikh Mouafaq Tarrif; Head of the Greek Catholic Church, Haifa and the Galilee Archbishop Dr. Yosef Mata; Head of the Muslim Department in the Interior Ministry Sheikh Ziad Abu Moch; Inspector of Imams in the Interior Ministry Sheikh Jamal Al Obra; and Secretary-General of the Baháʼí Movement in Israel, Dr. David Rutstein.

Representing Israel’s government are Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and COVID czar Prof. Salman Zarka.

“The sanctity of life is a supreme value for religions and the saving of the life of any human being — all created in the image of God — is the greatest religious obligation of all,” the leaders declared.

“Together with prayers to the Almighty, we call on everyone to be vaccinated as soon as possible,” the statement reads.

“The licensed vaccines that have been approved by the most important professional regulatory bodies in the world are highly effective and safe, proven by the notable number of over 3 billion vaccinated people worldwide, and have led to a drastic reduction of COVID-19 infections. In addition, we call on everyone to continue abiding by all the preventive measures demanded by science and medicine, in each place according to the situation.”

“Interfaith cooperation is hugely powerful,” says Herzog. “I think that the fact that this fantastic call is coming out of the Holy Land truly sets an example and serves as a model.”

“COVID does not respect borders,” says Horowitz. “Neither between states, nor communities, nor classes, nor religions. The success of the fight against COVID depends directly on religious leaders standing hand-in-hand, and all along we have seen responsible leadership that sees pikuach nefesh, saving lives, and the value of human life as a leading ideal. I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart, leaders from all the religions and denominations in Israel, for your central role in the national and world struggle against COVID.”

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