“[W]hy can’t the Jewish world, the haredi, ultra-Orthodox world in particular, accept th[e] hard truth [about covid]? Why do some people think that they are different from everyone else?”

“The haredi community believes they are being singled out and even persecuted, in the United States as in Israel, because they are different, because they stand out. They are right. They are being singled out. But not for those reasons. They have thrown the health recommendations out the proverbial window and their number of coronavirus cases has skyrocketed…

The riots I am seeing on television and social media, the open disregard for the law of the land, is the stuff of anarchists and hate groups…”


“I’m enraged, and I’m embarrassed,” writes Micha Halpern.

She also, in her opinion piece, asks why a lot. Why are they doing this? Why is this happening?

Yet Israel’s ultraorthodox, many of them, riot a lot, and have done so for years. Their open disregard for the state of Israel, its laws, and the laws of science, is a well-established, freely expressed, fact. UD thus suggests that perplexity and anger in reaction to this group’s indifference to their own and everyone else’s health comes a bit late in the day. Ultraorthodoxy’s “highest living authority,” whose skeezy money-making prayer schemes and refusal to close schools we have followed on this blog, is apparently close to death, since this absolute fool has gotten himself, along with tons of other people, infected with covid. But he’s in his nineties. He got to have a long life before he infected himself. Because of his selfishness and stupidity, lots of his followers won’t get that.

It’s far too late to scratch one’s head over the sort of subculture that would continue to promote an arrant fraud as their highest moral, spiritual, and intellectual authority. The urgency at this point is to back up their neighborhoods’ lockdowns with police force if need be. When things have settled down, America (Israel too?) will absolutely have to start figuring out how to force these poor fools to educate at least the coming generation in basic cultural literacy . Maybe there’s some hope there.

Senile Fundamentalism in Israel: A Foolish, Fatal, Farce.

One other issue shaking up the Haredi community relates to promises made by its rabbis. During the campaign leading up to the March 2 election, United Torah Judaism released a video in which Rabbi Kanievsky’s grandson says to him: “There is this disease that is spreading in the world that they call corona. Many people in the world have died from it, and thousands of people are sick from it. And many people have great fear that it will reach them. So, people are asking: will voting for United Torah Judaism in the election be a protection for them that they won’t become sick from this disease?”

Rabbi Kanievsky nods his head in approval, and this video became part of the UTJ campaign. Many people who voted for the ultra-Orthodox party have died from corona, and hundreds if not thousands have contracted the virus. This has led to large-scale questioning of the guarantees made by the rabbis, who continue to promise that if people donate to specific charities then they will be protected from corona. The community is now challenging the validity of these blessings, to the point where Rabbi Kanievsky’s son had to go on the defensive in an interview with the ultra-Orthodox website Kikar Shabbat. Rabbi Kanievsky’s son explained the mechanism how this blessing works, saying that once the rabbi has issued this promise, then those whom God decrees will receive the virus will be prevented by God from donating to these charities.

When the interviewer pressed him further, pointing out that people who have donated to this charity are sick with corona, the son then gave a long and difficult to follow response that explained how one can lose the merit and protection because of their sins.

Dispatches from the Corona Capital

A charity run by Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, a leader in the world of ultra-Orthodox Judaism whose group is based in B’nei Brak, also known as the Israel’s “Corona Capital” because of all the infected people there, is running a scam that’s perhaps the worst one we’ve seen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group says that anyone who donates NIS 3,000 (roughly $836) will be granted complete protection from COVID-19 by way of an amulet and blessings.

‘Religiously blinded, socially chained, and medically trapped.’

When the plague’s wrath subsides, and the rest of Israel returns to its routine far from ultra-Orthodoxy’s ghettos, some within the ghettos will ask themselves two questions.

The first question will be how come ultra-Orthodoxy’s highest living authority, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, overruled the government’s order that all educational institutions be shut, and ordered instead all ultra-Orthodox schools and yeshivot to remain open.

… Then they will ask the second question: who maneuvered the ultra-Orthodox community into the cramped ghettos where most of its families live? Why does Bnei Brak, with 23,700 people per square kilometer – almost twice Gaza’s 13,000 – have to be among the world’s 10 most crowded cities?

… Yes, many of his followers, probably most, will not be fazed by their leader’s misjudgment and aloofness, but a critical mass will ask not only how he erred so colossally, but how he made his reckless decision, consulting no one, possessing no relevant knowledge, and overruling a battery of experts.

Once they ask this basic question, ultra-Orthodox Israelis will conclude that their sage was not equipped to make the ruling that 10 days later he was compelled to reverse.

And those who undergo this epiphany will then question everything else they have been made to do, like deprive their children of the general education and military service that threaten their rabbis’ rule of the ghetto they built; the ghetto where, the day corona invaded, ultra-Orthodox Israelis learned they are religiously blinded, socially chained and medically trapped.


That last part – about change – is wishful thinking. A kind of generational mental retardation has been accomplished among these groups; coupled with an embrace of authoritarianism and masochism, it represents one hell of a potent, toxic brew.

But props to this writer for going there – for the language of maneuvering Jews into ghettos. Yikes.

A Serious Reckoning With Israel’s Disastrous Decision to Allow Scofflaw Religious Fanatics to Thrive is Now Underway.

And that’s the only good thing to say about this predictable and pathetic chapter in Israel’s history.

It is not bigotry to suggest that Haredi leaders’ initial disregard for the orders of medical authorities, and their community’s seemingly blind adherence to those leaders, have undermined the painful efforts of everyone else to stem the spread of the virus.

Haredi insularity, Haredi disregard for health authorities during a pandemic, Haredi poverty and population density — all the factors that render them especially vulnerable to the virus, and through them everyone else — are ultimately a choice. There are no external or environmental factors forcing Haredim into their isolation and poverty, only their own cultural and religious commitments. They are therefore not only victims of their current circumstances, but also perpetrators, in the full light of day and of scientific warning.

So, nu?

So don’t hold your breath:

The crisis has sparked a deluge of speculation about the future of Haredi society. Would the rabbis’ manifest and almost wall-to-wall failure to grasp the new situation lead to new skepticism and individualism in the community? Would some question their faith? Would it drive more Haredim to secular education and the job market?

Much of this is wishful thinking on the part of critics who believe their case against the Haredi worldview has just been validated by impartial natural forces. But if that was how religion worked, then as Sigmund Freud once erroneously predicted, there would now scarcely be a religion left on Earth.

Actually, that is the way religion works – for non-cultists. You have your individual life, but you are also part of the body of a church, and you go to certain buildings once a week to worship with people who think the way you do. Ultraorthodoxy, on the other hand, is more of a bizarre hyperexclusive fraternity than a religious body.

To outsiders the term “Haredi” is usually a religious category, but one is hard-pressed to find a specific and agreed-upon theological idea that unites and distinguishes the Haredim. What they share, what defines their society as a distinct subgroup in a broader Israeli and Jewish culture, is a sociological idea.

Indeed, like any reflexively loyalist, outsider cult of no particular theological definition (and therefore no reflective morality outside of what authoritarian leaders tell them), the haredim responded stupidly and viscerally to the pandemic – as they would to anything that comes at them from the outside.

What they are is world-rejectionists; so they did their thing. They rejected the world.

The initial response of Haredi leaders wasn’t a rejection of science, but something less coherent — a stunned refusal, an instinctive rejection of the enormity of what was being asked of it.

It’s hard to think of a more condemnatory judgment of a group of people – a group of people who hold themselves ethically and spiritually superior to everyone else, who pelt with stones eight year old girls and call them whores because their skirts aren’t long enough, and everyone lets them get away with it …

And then there’s this, describing the criminal, er, stunned refusal of a powerful rabbi:

Kanievsky, who would later reverse his position and explain that he hadn’t yet heard about the pandemic when he refused to close the schools, “showed his weakness” as a leader, said [one observer]. “But [in the eyes of haredim] that weakness also reflects his holiness and grandeur, his total investment in the Torah.”

Ya follow? We love him even more because of the pious obliviousness to worldly matters that wiped out our family.

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