1000 yeshiva students infected with corona, some allegedly on purpose

High number of coronavirus cases reported as certain schools fail to enforce guidelines and some students infect themselves on purpose.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

At least a thousand seminary students in Israel have been infected with the coronavirus in the past month due to a combination of students infecting each other on purpose and alleged negligence by yeshiva administrators, the Kikar Hashabbat  news website reported Wednesday.

Students returned to studies at the beginning of the Hebrew month of Elul in the lead up to the Rosh Hashana holiday marking the Ten Days of Atonement before the annual Yom Kippur fast.

At the Torah B’Tiferet yeshiva in Elad where some 800 young men were studying in “capsules” where groups of students are supposed to remain separated to reduce infection, 100 students became infected after only one day of classes, the report said.

“My son entered the yeshiva for Elul and I sent him with [reservations], but I knew there were responsible and serious managers there,” one parent said. “But from the beginning, my son told us that something is wrong.”

“There is no supervision of the boys, no one knows what is going on inside the boarding school, and also students who have symptoms are not isolated from the other boys, but stay to sleep in the same room,” the parent said.

A student at the Rina Shel Torah yeshiva in Karmiel said there are about 300 boys there sick with coronavirus, but most of them intentionally infected themselves by sharing a waterpipe with “sick guys with symptoms and guys it was not clear if they were infected.”

The student said the goal was to get sick and recover so that the students begin studying in the fall session “without capsules and in a calm and relaxed way.”

The report cited other yeshivas around the country where students and staff are not following health guidelines and even those who are known to be infected circulate freely without masks. The problems were attributed to the “lack of basic training created between the yeshiva world and the Ministry of Health.”

While the current Health Minister, Yuli Edelstein of the Likud Party, is himself religious, his predecessor at the start of the pandemic was Rabbi Yaakov Litzman of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism Party. Litzman was infected earlier this year after reportedly attending morning prayers at a synagogue despite regulations from his own ministry at the time banning group prayer.