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Defiant minyan dangerous and shameful

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The advent of COVID-19 has resulted in every one of us having to make sacrifices to keep ourselves, our family, and our community safe. So, it’s with disdain that we read comments in the SA Jewish Report by a group within our community who have flouted the laws of the country, disregarded globally accepted medical advice, as well as the directive of the chief rabbi’s office by hosting shul services throughout COVID-19. They have put their agenda above the real safety of those around them, saying, “Our members are resolutely determined to daven in a minyan.”

We all feel the pain of not being able to attend shul at this time. The chief rabbi and Rabbi Yossi Chaikin have articulated how difficult this has been, but they have recognised what countless religious authorities have voiced throughout the pandemic, namely that sacrifice is called for in terms of the ultimate objective of saving life – pikuach nefesh. The outright arrogance and selfishness of this group has no place in a Jewish community that cares about one another. At a time when infection and death in our community and our country are escalating, it’s horrifying that people would flagrantly ignore measures designed to protect life.

The same edition of the SA Jewish Report contained articles from young people, all of whom have contracted the virus, and who described the agonising horror of what they experienced. Meanwhile, this group chooses to think only of itself. It has always been a religious principle to obey the laws of the country, which this group is disregarding. A true chilul Hashem (desecration of the name of G-d). What an affront to the courageous frontline medical personnel, including many in our community, who put their lives at risk trying to save COVID-19 patients!

The anonymous representative says, “There is no medical reason … to suspend minyanim. That decision was motivated by fear and ignorance rather than prudence.” It remains a mystery which reputable medical experts or epidemiologists this group is consulting. Perhaps it could share its findings. It has been widely documented by medical experts globally that religious houses of worship certainly pose specific dangers, and on numerous occasions have been super-spreader events. At a time when unity is so desperately required, they are electing to separate themselves from the community.

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