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Funerals of 2 Top Rabbis Flout Israeli Coronavirus Directives

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jewish mourners took to the streets of Jerusalem on Sunday, flouting social distancing and other coronavirus regulations to participate in funeral ceremonies for two leading rabbis. In spite of the country’s third national lockdown, thousands gathered to pay their respect to the respected rabbis Meshulam Dovid Soloveitchik, who died at 99, and Yitzchok Scheiner, who died at the age of 98. Pictures of the funerals showed thousands of men, close together, almost all dressed in black hats and coats and many without masks, walking down main Jerusalem thoroughfares. Soloveitchik died following a monthslong illness compounded by COVID-19; Scheiner also died from the effects of the novel coronavirus. Police did not interfere with the public funerals, fueling public criticism among the general public, though media reported that authorities did turn away buses from outside of Jerusalem carrying mourners. According to Israel’s Health Ministry, some 30% of all coronavirus-attributed deaths occurred in January.