Major Hasidic sect bans volunteering in paramedics, police
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Major Hasidic sect bans volunteering in paramedics, police

Gur dynasty issues edict prohibiting service in emergency organizations for men under 30, threatens to expel from schools children of those who do

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Rescue and medic personnel, including ultra-Orthodox paramedics, carrying a wounded woman at the scene of where the top floor of a building collapsed after a gas tank exploded in the Gilo neighborhood, Jerusalem, January 20, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Rescue and medic personnel, including ultra-Orthodox paramedics, carrying a wounded woman at the scene of where the top floor of a building collapsed after a gas tank exploded in the Gilo neighborhood, Jerusalem, January 20, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The ultra-Orthodox Gur Hasidic sect has issued a prohibition preventing some of its members from volunteering in paramedic organizations or the police, and has reportedly threatened to expel from its educational institutions the children of those who doesn’t abide by the ruling.

A recent edict banned Gur Hasidim from volunteering with Israel’s largest ambulance service, Magen David Adom, the United Hatzalah emergency medical service, or the police, ultra-Orthodox media reported Tuesday.

The orders, directed at men below the age of 30, refreshed a previous ban against such volunteer work, according to the Hadrei Haredim news site.

In the coming days sect members who have volunteered in the past will be required to sign a declaration that they are leaving the banned organizations — or face the possible expulsion of their children from Gur schools.

The reason given for the ban was exposure to lifestyles that are “inappropriate” for the conduct of Gur Hasidim, the Israel National News site reported. The instructions also noted that over the years some of those who have volunteered for the organizations have experienced a “spiritual descent,” the report said.

MDA and Hatzalah are generally among the first to arrive at the scene of serious car accidents, terror attacks and other incidents.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews adhere to strict modesty codes as well as restrictions against extramarital contact with members of the opposite sex, other than in extreme circumstances. The Gur sect is known for observing the “Takanot” — a set of strict guidelines that define how Gur married couples should conduct themselves, from the mundane to the intimate.

Many members of ultra-Orthodox community — including Gur Hasidim — serve in paramedic groups. Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, who has full ministerial powers, is a Gur Hasid.

Despite the media reports, Magen David Adom and United Hatzalah had not received any official notification from Gur about the ban as of Tuesday morning.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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