For the second time today, thousands pack a rabbi’s funeral in Jerusalem, defying COVID rules

Despite officials saying earlier that many fewer people were expected to attend Rabbi Yitzhok Scheiner’s funeral than the 10,000 who packed a funeral earlier today for another top ultra-Orthodox rabbi, footage from Jerusalem shows thousands crowding in this funeral as well.

The footage comes despite Rabbi Scheiner himself having discouraged large gatherings and urging adherence to the rules.

The day’s first such funeral was of Rabbi Meshulam Dovid Soloveitchik, the head of the Brisk Yeshiva in Jerusalem and scion of the Soloveitchik rabbinical dynasty, who died early Sunday morning at the age of 99.

Ofer Shumer, a senior Jerusalem police officer, told Channel 12 news earlier that “there would certainly have been bloodshed” had police tried to disperse the crowds there.

“We tried to limit the participation,” he said. “We issued fines… about 100… We prevented buses coming from Bnei Brak, Beit Shemesh… In total we stopped about 60 buses.”

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox men attend the funeral of Rabbi Meshulam Dovid Soloveitchik in Jerusalem, January 31, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“Yes, the funeral was large, unwantedly so,” he said. “But remember, the people have a responsibility; their leaders have a responsibility … Ultimately, the police can’t tackle everybody who breaks the restrictions.”

“We prevented bloodshed today,” he said. “If we had acted with force… there would certainly have been bloodshed. I personally saw 1,000 young kids aged 10-14 [at the funeral].”

“The Haredim are not our enemies. They are citizens of Israel, and we have to use the wide range of means available to us in dealing with them,” he said.

“I won’t spill blood in order to enforce the coronavirus restrictions. We won’t spill blood. The police won’t do it.”

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