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Monday, March 16, 2020 

An anti-Zionist Haredi sect keeps its yeshivas open, and at risk of Coronavirus

Of all the religious sources that aren't heeding health guidelines at a time when the Coronavirus still poses a serious problem, it's the anti-Zionist Eda Haredit movement with their yeshivas remaining open:
Several ultra-Orthodox yeshivas have kept their doors open to students on Sunday despite Health Ministry instructions for the public to refrain from gatherings of more than ten people to avoid the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Mir Yeshiva in the ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Yisrael conducted studies as usual in the morning according to students at the institution. However, as studies continued in the afternoon it was clear the central study hall was not full.

Numerous students continued to pass through the hallways, corridors, and other areas of the the yeshiva during the day.

In the flagship Ponovitz Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, hundreds of ultra-Orthodox students crammed into the main study hall to continue their studies.

Video footage broadcast by Kan News showed students at the yeshiva studying in close proximity to each other, in the traditional “chavruta” or partner format where two students study and discuss a particular text together.
So if infections are more likely in that kind of gathering, then they're not doing themselves any favors, nor are they respecting the concept of "pikuach nefesh". Which seems to be the norm in these insular communities.

According to this latest news, some Haredi reps did agree to a compromise:
Ultra-Orthodox religious leaders on Sunday night said Haredi schools would remain open Monday, but said they would divide the students into groups of ten to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the chief rabbis and other ultra-Orthodox representatives on Sunday evening to convince segments of the Haredi community to shutter their schools, after they defied Health Ministry directives designed to contain the virus. All other schools in the country have been shut down by the state to stem the spread.

Following the meeting, Rabbis Chaim Kanievsky and Gershon Edelstein, prominent leaders venerated by hundreds of thousands of followers in the Lithuanian sect, agreed Sunday night to a proposal backed by Netanyahu that would see no more than 10 students learning in a single classroom. Kanievsky last week had ordered his followers to ignore the Health Ministry’s coronavirus restrictions by keeping schools open.
It's regrettable the ultra-Orthodox expect to be made an exception, acting as though learning in their way is far more important than any other. It just demonstrates they don't consider themselves genuine members of society.

Update: in related news, the government's considering closing off the ultra-Orthodox town of Kiryat Ye'arim, where at least a quarter of residents are thought to be at risk of contraction. The irresponsibility in such enclaves is stunning.

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