Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) school systems have instructed teachers and students 16-years-old and older on Tuesday to receive the coronavirus vaccine ahead of the expected exit from the national lockdown in the coming week.
"In light of a call from the eyes of the community – the Gedolei Yisrael (Torah leaders), the shepherds of the generation – and according to their request, we ask that teaching staff get vaccinated as soon as possible," wrote Rabbi Eliezer Sorotzkin, director-general of Chinuch Atzmai, an umbrella network of haredi schools throughout Israel.
"Principals should contact all teaching staff as soon as possible and request that those who have yet to use their right to get vaccination do so as quickly as possible, so that upon returning to the schools, we will be privileged to conduct studies without notices of 'verified' [cases], God forbid, or quarantines of classes – and staff can regain control of the agenda," added Sorotzkin.
Similar letters were sent specifically to the Talmud Torah and Bais Yaakov school systems. All three letters were approved by Ashkenazi haredi leaders Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky and Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, who have both called on haredim to get vaccinated since the beginning of the vaccine campaign in Israel.
Despite the national lockdown, a number of haredi educational institutions remained open in recent weeks. Efforts by police to close these schools were met with riots in a number of cities, with rioters attacking police, vandalizing a light rail station and torching a bus. Haredi leaders have often claimed that the groups violating coronavirus regulations are fringe groups, while the vast majority of haredim are following the rules.