Minister Rabbi Litzman: We Will Not Allow Chagim Lockdown

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli police guard at a roadblock on a road in Yerushalayim in April due to the coronavirus. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Housing and Construction Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) said Thursday that he would not allow the imposition of a lockdown on Israel during the chagim.

“There is no chance that we can allow the closure of shuls on the Yamim Tovim. Not on Rosh Hashanah, not on Yom Kippur and not on Sukkos. These are holy days where everyone, chareidi, religious, traditional, and secular people go to shuls and there is no chance of them being closed. The Knesset will be open. [Interior] Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri (Shas) and I will not allow a lockdown during the chagim,” Rabbi Litzman said.

Both Rabbi Litzman and Rabbi Deri are both members of the Corona Cabinet. Rabbi Litzman also threatened that if a lockdown is imposed on the chagim, the chareidi parties would bolt the coalition. “If a lockdown is in need, let’s do it now, but why impose it specifically on the chagim?”

Rabbi Litzman attacked the conduct of coronavirus commissioner Prof. Ronni Gamzu. “One thing needs to be clear, the health guidelines have to be kept and distance maintained to prevent morbidity. But there also needs to be transparency, honesty, logic and uniformity,” he said.

He criticized Gamzu’s focus on preventing the annual nesiah to Uman in Ukraine this year for Rosh Hashanah. “I didn’t know that Gamzu was appointed to be the Uman commissioner. Do you know what he wrote to the Ukrainian President? He wrote to him that he should beware of Jews who will come and pollute the city and import illnesses. How can he talk like this? He did this with no accountability. So I called for him to be fired. He’s the commissioner of Israel and not of Ukraine.”

Discussing the restrictions on shuls, Rabbi Litzman said that “it cannot be that shuls have a limit of 20 people and at demonstrations on Balfour St. 20,000 people are allowed. Everyone must be treated equally. The mass demonstrations have destroyed the instructions to the public and damaged public’s confidence. I’m not against demonstrations. This week there was a demonstration under my house and nothing happened. That’s part of the job.

“But what does bother me is that there is no equality. I have not heard that [Gamzu] wrote a letter to the High Court justices about the Balfour demonstrations that they do not wear masks and do not stand two meters apart, so I demand that there be equality and only with credibility and transparency can we restore public trust and the cooperation of the people to stop the disease.”

It is over a month since the appointment of Prof. Ronni Gamzu as the country’s coronavirus commissioner and he is not making very much headway, with the numbers of new cases staying stable.