Why Close Shuls? Only 3.64% Were Infected in Shuls

YERUSHALAYIM -
Are we heading back to outdoor tefillos? Shacharis outside a shul in Beitar Illit, in April. (Nati Shohat/Flash90, File)

After Health Minister Yuli Edelstein called for the closing of shuls, due to the recent wave of new cases of coronavirus, a closer examination of the Health Ministry data reveals that in the last seven days, only 11 of the 302 corona patient exposures were in shuls.

The first to post the data was Yair Kraus of Makor Rishon, raising the question why the Health Ministry feels the need to close down the shuls.

The release of this data prompted MK Betzalel Smotrich to post a call to the Health Ministry and the Corona Cabinet members: “Hands off shuls and the religious public.

“Less than 4% of recent cases have occurred in the shuls. Adherence to masks is far greater there than anywhere else. If event halls and restaurants can remain open, there’s no reason to close shuls. Tefillah and Torah in the shuls are just as important as the economy.”

Earlier Monday, former Health Minister Rabbi Yakov Litzman (UTJ) sent a letter to the Corona Cabinet, in which he writes that he believes it is the school system that should be closed, since the schools constitute a large source of infections.

“My opinion is that we must close schools, which are the main source of infection,” he wrote. “It’s clear that young children cannot be expected to wear masks and adhere to the proper and necessary rules of hygiene. Therefore, there is no option other than the children remain at home until things calm down.”

The Education Ministry said Monday that the total number of patients with the virus in the school system rose to 1,008. A total of 256 educational institutions are closed, and 23,748 teaching staff and students are in isolation.

Rabbi Litzman added that “at this time, we should place limits on bathing at the beach, and on gatherings in places of entertainment,” noting that the coronavirus guidelines have been violated repeatedly in these places.

Rabbi Litzman also questioned why the government is discussing dividing students into “capsules” in schools, but refuses to discuss implementing a similar process for shuls, especially after the numbers show the low amount of cases in shuls. He also slammed the recent lockdowns in chareidi areas, claiming that other cities with similar infection rates, but which are not chareidi, were not locked down.