Jewish doctors warn many Charedim ‘have become very lax over minyanim’

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Jewish doctors warn many Charedim ‘have become very lax over minyanim’

Letter signed by GPs and hospital consultants before Shavuot said some in the strictly-Orthodox community were not adhering to government guidelines

Inside an NHS hospital
Inside an NHS hospital

Orthodox Jewish doctors have warned the Charedi community to adhere to safety precautions when it comes to collective prayer, saying some were not doing so.

In a public letter issued shortly before the Shavuot festival on Thursday, 13 senior GPs and hospital consultants said: “Many have become very lax over minyanim.”

A minyan is the quorum of ten Jewish adults required for public prayer, and although collective prayer has been banned during the coronavirus lockdown, some groups of Orthodox men have continued to meet to form minyanim.

In their letter, the doctors said: “Until government guidelines change minyanim should only occur where people are standing on their own property, as has been published by the Rabbonim (rabbis) of the Kehilla (community).”

The GP signatories include Dr Yossi Adler, Dr Charlotte Benjamin, Dr Martin Harris, Dr Elisha Kahen, Dr Dina Kaufman, Dr Frazer Rosenberg and Dr Mark Semler.

Other signatories include consultant physicians Dr Anthony Gubbay, Dr Jacob de Woolf, Dr Dean Noimark and Dr Benji Schreiber, together with consultant paediatrician Dr Mike Markiewicz and consultant in public health Dr Jonnie Cohen.

They said: “We need to be careful not to let our guard down too quickly. Being too lax at this stage greatly increases the potential risks to our vulnerable and elderly.”

The doctors warned the Orthodox community that the virus was “still active in the country,” adding: “We are concerned about a possible second wave in London.”

Rabbis have been among those most critical of religious Jews continuing to gather in prayer groups, with Senior Sephardi Rabbi Joseph Dweck hitting out against “black market” minyanim and urging congregants not to attend.

“You have these minyanim, these covert, quiet, under-the-table minyanim, and it puts everything in danger,” he said. “That is very concerning because people are dying.”

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