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Will COVID-19 reshape ultra-Orthodox leadership?

Public outrage against the ultra-Orthodox community is palpable in Israel for its members disobeying coronavirus restrictions against large gatherings.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech, alongside Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (C), during a visit to the Corona virus outbreak central response unit at Israeli Ministry of Health in the Israeli city of Kiryat Malakhi on March 1, 2020. (Photo by GIL COHEN-MAGEN / AFP) (Photo by GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP via Getty Images)

The funeral of Rabbi Tzvi Shenkar, head of the Beit David yeshiva, took place in Bnei Brak on the night of March 29. Hundreds of members of the ultra-Orthodox community accompanied the late rabbi on his final journey despite directives by the Ministry of Health that no more than 10 people attend funerals in light of efforts to combat the novel coronavirus. Even Bnei Brak Mayor Avraham Rubinstein attended the ceremony.

A video documenting the gathering soon went viral on social media, sparking furious responses from people holed up in their homes for the past two weeks or longer. The funeral added to a litany of revelations concerning actions by the ultra-Orthodox, many of whom continue to attend public religious rituals and study sessions despite explicit instructions to the contrary. It was only a matter of time before the severity of the situation would be exposed.

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