Shas fined for giving out charms to protect from coronavirus

The amulets consist of a small card bearing various sentences from Jewish scripture and liturgy with a picture of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and states 'Protection against plague: Corona - and all evils'

Shas charm promising to protect against the coronavirus. (photo credit: YISRAEL BEYTENU)
Shas charm promising to protect against the coronavirus.
(photo credit: YISRAEL BEYTENU)
The Shas Party was fined NIS 7,500 by the Central Elections Committee on Monday afternoon for handing out amulets promising to protect the bearer from the coronavirus and bearing the image of the late Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
The amulets consist of a small card bearing various sentences from Jewish scripture and liturgy alongside a picture of Yosef.
It comes inside of a card holder saying “Protection against plague: Corona – and all evils,” with a sentence from the biblical incident in which Pinchas stopped the outbreak of a plague among the Israelites.
Shas Party activists at its election stands were witnessed proffering these amulets to voters, as well as giving out Shabbat candles also bearing Yosef’s picture and the Shas logo.
A 10-page petition was filed to the CEC by Labor-Gesher-Meretz earlier on Monday when party activists witnessed the distribution of the items in Herzliya.
The petition, clearly prepared ahead of time in the expectation that Shas would continue with its practice of distributing amulets on Election Day, pointed out that the ultra-Orthodox party had carried out similar activities in the April and September 2019 elections, and had been fined by the CEC on those occasions as well.
CEC chairman Neal Hendel accepted the Labor-Gesher-Meretz petition and said that it did indeed violate the law that the distribution of “election propaganda shall not be connected to the giving of gifts."
Hendel ruled that the fact that the amulets did not bear the logo or name of Shas was irrelevant since the distribution of any amulets in connection with an election is forbidden, and instructed Shas to immediately desist from the practice.
The Shas Party said in response that it would respect the ruling, but said that it was “further proof that Meretz, which pretends to be open and ‘liberal,’ is trying to force its lifestyle on a large traditional and religious public that believes in the power of prayer and talismans against evil injuries and disease."


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