Israeli leader of Belz Hasidic sect urges teachers in new Brooklyn yeshiva to get vaccinated

Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach, the leader of the Belz Hasidic sect who lives in Israel, urged teachers at a new Belz school being built in Borough Park to get vaccinated.

New York City police officers block hassidic men from entering a synagogue, closed due to COVID-19, in Brooklyn, in March 2020. (photo credit: ANDREW KELLY / REUTERS)
New York City police officers block hassidic men from entering a synagogue, closed due to COVID-19, in Brooklyn, in March 2020.
(photo credit: ANDREW KELLY / REUTERS)

(JTA) — Just days after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a vaccine mandate for employees of private schools — including religious schools — a major Hasidic leader in Israel has instructed his followers in Brooklyn to comply with the mandate.

Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach, the leader of the Belz Hasidic sect who lives in Israel, urged teachers at a new Belz school being built in Borough Park to get vaccinated.

“In the matter of vaccinations against Corona, indeed, it is proper for all staff members to be vaccinated — the men as well as the women, and may it be with great hatzlacha [success,]” Rokeach wrote in a letter, according to local news site BoroPark24.

Rokeach’s instructions for his followers regarding the coronavirus pandemic have at times been contrary to government guidance. Last October, Rokeach refused to close his yeshivas and urged students to continue studying in spite of orders from the government to shut down to slow the spread of disease.

 East Midwood Jewish Center in Brooklyn, New York. (credit: Wikimedia Commons) East Midwood Jewish Center in Brooklyn, New York. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Still, Rokeach has come out in favor of vaccines. Earlier this year, a coronavirus vaccine drive was held at the main Belz beit midrash, or study house where about 1,500 people were vaccinated, according to Yeshiva World News.