Police warn hassidic communities not to hold Tu Bishvat celebrations

Senior rabbinic leadership of mainstream ultra-Orthodox community says going to protests riot is forbidden.

Border Police go about coronavirus inspections in Mea Shearim, a haredi neighborhood in Jerusalem. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Border Police go about coronavirus inspections in Mea Shearim, a haredi neighborhood in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The police in Bnei Brak and Jerusalem have warned ultra-Orthodox communities, especially hassidic groups, not to stage tish celebrations this year for the Tu Bishvat minor holiday, as is customary, due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
Tu Bishvat marks the new year for trees and is typically celebrated in the hassidic communities with large celebrations, called tishes, where hundreds or even thousands of hassidim come to rejoice with the rebbe, or grand rabbi of the community who distributes fruit grown in the Land of Israel to his followers.
“The Bnei Brak police command made clear to all the institutions in the city that they must show responsibility to act in accordance with the regulations for their safety, including refraining from Tu Bishvat events and dangerous gatherings,” the police said.
Police in Jerusalem have taken similar steps.
The warning comes against a background of severe riots which broke out in both Bnei Brak and Jerusalem at the beginning of the week over police enforcement of the COVID-19 health regulations, shutting down yeshivas, synagogues and schools.
Following the riots on Tuesday, a statement was issued in the names of Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky and Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, the two leaders of the Ashkenazi, non-hassidic, ultra-Orthodox community, disassociating the mainstream ultra-Orthodox community from the riots and instructing people not to go near the protests.
The riots in Bnei Brak were however largely the work of the extremist Jerusalem Faction group, while those in Jerusalem were carried out by young men from the radical, anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox communities connected with the Eda Haredit association.
Neither group adheres to the instructions of Kanievsky or Edelstein.
The Eda had promised a mass demonstration on Wednesday night in the capital’s Mea She’arim neighborhood, but backed down from that threat however.
Police continued to carry out enforcement against violations of the coronavirus lockdown regulations during the course of Wednesday, including closing down a kindergarten in the ultra-Orthodox city of Modi’in Illit, and dispersing a wedding in one of the haredi neighborhoods of Jerusalem.
At the kindergarten in Modi’in Illit, dozens of protesters confronted the police, blocked the streets, and sought to hinder the departure of the police forces, leading to two arrests and a fine for the kindergarten.
A fine of NIS 5,000 was issued against an ultra-Orthodox school in Bnei Brak for operating despite the lockdown, and shut down a synagogue in the ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo.