In what could probably be one of the worst ideas of 2021, thousands of ultra-Orthodox Israelis gathered in Jerusalem over the weekend for the funeral of a prominent rabbi.
The funeral procession for Rabbi Meshulam Soloveitchik, who died at age 99, filled the streets of Jerusalem, while completely disregarding the country’s ban on large public gatherings during the pandemic.
This event has directly undermined the country’s vaccination efforts to bring a raging outbreak under control. Densely packed groups of people gathered around the rabbi’s home, openly ignoring restrictions on public gatherings of more than 10 people. Many did not wear masks.
Thousands of black-garbed funeral-goers walked through the city toward the cemetery where Soloveitchik would be buried. The police had their hands full blocking intersections to traffic to allow participants to pass, but did not take any action to prevent the illegal assembly.
The police had little choice but to allow the massive procession to proceed. According to ABCNews, Alon Halfon, a Jerusalem police official, explained that in such a densely packed environment, with children present, attempting to disperse the crowd would have been “unwise and dangerous.”
So far, the Israel’s Health Ministry has recorded over 640,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and at least 4,745 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Israel has recently been averaging over 6,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus each day, one of the highest infection rates in the developing world. On the other hand, Israel has also vaccinated over 3 million of its citizens, one of the highest rates per capita in the world.
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