Kovid-19 lockdown, Israeli leaders’ confrontation with ultrathrodox over vaccines

BNEI BRAK, Israel – Israel’s attempt to suppress a swirling epidemic has hit a hard-hitting ultrathorodox community that has proved resistant to lockdown and suspicious of the nation’s mass vaccination campaign.

On Sunday, thousands of ultrathrodox mourners attended two funerals of famous rabbis who died of coronovirus. Mourners banned public ceremonies of more than 10 people in a single day, with Israel’s cabinet imposing a strict lockout that included halting all international flights. Thousands of people crowded together wearing black wool hats and suits, many without masks, photos of the event show. Fearing violence, the police moved away from arrest while some top Israeli politicians took over.

“It looks like uneven enforcement,” said Benny Gantz, the defense minister and head of the Blue and White Party. “Millions of families and children are locked in their homes and obeyed the rules, while thousands of fakirs cremate the crowd, most of them even without masks,” he said, Hebrew for ultrathodox Using the word.

Anti-lockdown protests erupted in Bnei Brak and other ultrathrodox cities in the first week of weeks, with ultrathodox men throwing stones at police, burning dumpsters on fire and knocking down street signs and light poles.

Many mourners who came together for the Rabbi’s funeral in Jerusalem on Sunday did not wear face masks.


Ariel Scalit / Associated Press

Israel’s health officials have clashed with Ultraorthodox for taking the Kovid-19 vaccine. While most Israelis have lined up for vaccination, the ultrathodox population has been slow to get on board, with some doubting the vaccine’s safety and others suggesting that the country’s citizens be tested for its efficacy Is being used for

“This is not a commentary. This is an experiment, ”said Engi Mahapud, a 57-year-old resident of Beni Brak, an ultra-orthodox town east of Tel Aviv that has been one of the hardest hit by Kovid-19 in the country. “I’m not ready to be a mouse in a lab.”

Israel aims to have most of its population vaccinated by March and regain the economy, serving as a global showcase to the small nation next to the Mediterranean Sea on how to beat back the deadly virus. But ultrathodox has reduced those lofty targets largely by reducing lockdowns and withdrawing from vaccines.

Israel has about 12% of the ultrathodox population but accounts for about a third of the country’s coronovirus infections. There are currently 68,331 active coronovirus cases in Israel, with about 7,000 new infections a day.

Officers are scrambling to gain the latest control. A British version of the virus accounts for about 70% of current coronavirus infections, with nearly one-third of Israelis receiving their first dose of vaccination. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu banned all international flights last month and lawmakers on Sunday passed a bill doubling the penalty for lockdown violations.

Ultrathodox Jews argued with Israeli police officers in Ashdod last month during protests against coronovirus lockdown restrictions.


Olade Balti / Associated Press

Public health officials say the ultra-orthodox community is particularly vulnerable to fast-spreading viruses. Their large families usually live in crowded apartments and traditionally stay away from electronic communication which helps in obtaining information about vaccines.

Data from Israel’s Ministry of Health suggests that Israel’s ultrathodoxes are vaccinated at a lower rate than other groups. Among the more than 60 people for whom the campaign is the longest open, 85% of all Israelis have taken the vaccine, compared to 78% of Israel’s ultrathodox.

According to Arran Segal, a computational biologist at the Veeraman Institute of Science, UltraOrthodox and Arab cities are lagging behind in their complete immunity to the virus on Sunday evening before the Israeli government due to lower vaccination rates. “This is going to slow down the decline of the epidemic,” Mr. Sehgal said.

Health officials say infections have decreased in ultrathodox communities in recent times, as some leading rabbis have supported vaccination. Efforts are also underway to deal with misinformation and to get residents vaccinated.

In the large ultrathrodox town of Bunny Brac, local authorities have set up a war room. In the oval-shaped, wood-paneled room on the top floor of the city hall, with depictions of important religious figures lining the walls, young ultrathodox sit at a large circular table with large juices of hand sanitizers and phone work. We do. They stare the spreadsheet with information about all those who have been vaccinated or not.

Officials called about 10,000 people who had not been vaccinated – and talked to about 7,000 of them. Around 5,000 said that they wanted a vaccine but could not find one yet. Another 1,500 did not want to be vaccinated either. City officials work to remove any obstacles that come on call.

Those who do not have a ride to the vaccination center arrange one. If vaccine recipients cannot get in touch with their health insurance providers, they also help. And if anyone does not want to take the vaccine, they pay attention.

Avi Blumenthal, who leads the Ministry of Health to Ultra Orthodox, said he and his staff are combing through lists of Israel’s ultrathrodox cities to locate rabbis who are against vaccination, and seek answers Have been. In one example, an ultrathodox community in Jerusalem had low rates of vaccine that many attributed to their rabbi’s alleged antivaskin stance. But when the rabbi was interviewed by health officials, they found out that he was in fact a pro-vaccine – someone had spread rumors that the vaccine was dangerous.

An ultrathodox Jewish man received a coronavirus virus vaccine in Jerusalem last month.


abir sultan / epa / shutterstock

63-year-old Yehuda Shish, who runs four ultra-orthodox schools in Banni Brak and surrounding towns, said she waits until the Rabi people bless the vaccines. “After the rabbi authorized it, I went happily,” he said.

Even with Rabis’s blessing, many ultrathodoxes remain confused about vaccines. 28-year-old Yediya Hassan, who manages a network of WhatsApp groups with 30,000 people, with some members questioning the intelligence of vaccines and coronavirus restrictions, says he won’t take the vaccine, at least for now Because they fear potential risks.

“When it comes to vaccines,” he said, “I think the media in Israel is hiding the truth.”

Some ultraorthodox leaders maintain that while community antitrust can help explain the resistance to vaccines and recent demonstrations of civil disobedience, this antitrust does not violate public health-threatening regulations. “You expect religious men to be more ethical,” said Rabbi Doe Halbertal, a prominent ultrathodox lawyer and commentator. “But when it comes to the biggest test of saving lives, we are failing.”

Israel says it is on track to have all more than 16 vaccinated by the end of March. To understand how the small country has vaccinated its population so quickly than any other, the WSJ visited clinics that are giving shots to young and middle-aged citizens. Photo: Tamir Alterman for The Wall Street Journal

write to Felicia Schwartz at [email protected]

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