Hagaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky instructed all Talmudei Torah in the Chareidi sector to open tomorrow in direct opposition with the government’s instruction to keep schools closed. HaRav Kanievsky instructed that all students from grades 1 through 8 should be learning in school tomorrow, and follow the guidelines inside the schools. The guidelines that the Gadol HaDor stated were students keeping their distances, a smaller number of students per class, and more staff to compensate for the smaller class sizes. Hagaon HaRav Gershon Edelstein, the Rosh Yeshiva of Ponavezh opposed this ruling and stated that the children in this age group should learn via phone.
According to reports in the Israel media, various Chassidic groups are also planning to open schools tomorrow. The Gerrer Chassidus, the largest Chassidic group in Israel has not yet made a decision as to whether they will open schools or not. According to the decision of the government, only daycares and kindergarten’s may open tomorrow, even in “red cities”.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded to HaRav Kanievsky’s announcement and said: “We have a limited number of police officers and inspectors, but we will use them. I call upon the Chareidi leadership not to open schools tomorrow. I also call upon the Chareidi public to keep the regulations. We will maintain the closure around “red cities” and I want to see them all turn “green”. I don’t want to see the infection rate in these cities spread to the rest of the population. While we cannot send a police officer to every street corner, we will do what we must.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz also called on the Chareidi public to follow the virus rules, but didn’t directly mention HaRav Kanievsky. “There can’t be two states here. No group or person in Israel is above the law — no one,” he tweeted.
Gantz called on Chareidi leaders to instruct their followers to adhere to the guidelines, citing “pikuach nefesh”.
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(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)