Haredim to government: Keep us in lockdown, but let the schools reopen

Each haredi group formulates its own method of adjusting to the coronavirus reality.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Policing in haredi Jerusalem last week
Policing in haredi Jerusalem last week
Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

According to a report on Kan News, senior haredi political figures are formulating a plan for an adjusted return to routine, and hope to gain government approval for it within coming weeks.

The report states that central to the plan will be a form of agreement on keeping haredi areas in partial lockdown, while schools and yeshivas are permitted to reopen. This is roughly in line with recent statements from Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, one of the most respected rabbis of the Lithuanian Torah community.

On Sunday evening, the secretary of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of Agudat Yisrael (a committee formed of representatives from the main Hassidic groups) met with a representative of Degel HaTorah (an organization of Lithuanian haredi communities) along with Rabbi Yehuda Silman, one of Bnei Brak’s senior rabbis. Next week, they plan to launch negotiations with the government regarding lockdown regulations.

Meanwhile, news has emerged that in the Meah She’arim neighborhood in Jerusalem, the Toldot Aharon Hassidic group held Simchat Torah prayers and Hakafot Sheniyot without adherence to social distancing protocols, as did several other Hassidic groups both in Jerusalem and in Bnei Brak. Toldot Aharon is the largest anti-Zionist group in Meah She’arim, but their violations of the government’s guidelines were not blatant – they were careful to prevent any documentation of their conduct, both during and following the festival.

Last week, reports emerged that they had come to an unwritten agreement with the police according to which they would conduct themselves in a low-key manner and the police would not interfere. Police sources denied the reports.

Policing in Meah She’arim was sporadic during the Sukkot festival, with periodic appearances by Yassam riot police and multiple arrests made for “disturbing the public order” with residents alleging that the arrests were arbitrary grabs of people off the street in order to make a “good impression” in the media for the benefit of the secular public. Multiple instances of police brutality were documented.