Some in Israel Defy Orders for Slow Lockdown Exit
Israeli police arrest an ultra-Orthodox man in Jerusalem on October 5 during a protest against strict coronavirus regulations. (Ahmad Gharbli/AFP via Getty Images)

Some in Israel Defy Orders for Slow Lockdown Exit

Certain streams among Israel’s ultra-Orthodox communities are completely reopening their schools, pushing back against a government directive demanding a slow exit from the country’s second pandemic lockdown. The ultra-Orthodox, whose lives center around group study and prayer, are among the hardest hit by the coronavirus, by far accounting for Israel’s highest rates of infection. Much as business owners have been reluctant to close down and lose income, the ultra-Orthodox consider lost days of Jewish education to be as bad – and even worse – than the health outcomes from the pandemic. While students in other communities – and their parents – wait for a phased reopening of schools, resentment is mounting against the ultra-Orthodox, who strive to push their males toward a lifetime of study rather than military service and work, leaving these burdens for others. As one columnist recently wrote, “The reality of a state-within-a-state may serve some politicians with narrow interests, but it demands a heavy price from all the citizens of the state.”

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