Prominent haredi rabbi calls on followers to vaccinate their children from age five; directive is met by violent threats, harassment.
By World Israel News Staff
A prominent Haredi rabbi and his family have been bombarded with threats after he endorsed vaccination for children from five to 11 years old.
The recommendations of the extremely influential rabbi are generally accepted among his hundreds of thousands of followers.
Bnei Brak-based Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, widely considered the highest rabbinical authority and spiritual leader of the Lithuanian Haredi community, called on his followers to vaccinate their children in late November.
Since then, said his grandson and spokesman Yanky, violent threats have been leveled at the rabbi.
Yediot Ahronot reported that threats, received via telephone calls and text messages, included statements which made the family fear that Kanievsky could be physically harmed.
Promises to murder Kanievsky and rape his grandchildren were among the more distributing threats the family revealed to the media.
Anonymous callers had also said they hoped Kanievsky’s name be erased from a history, a traditional Jewish curse, that he is an enemy (of the Jewish people) and wishing that he will face heavenly judgment.
During the early days of the pandemic, Kanievsky refused to close Haredi educational institutions, while schools in the national religious and secular sectors were shuttered.
His resistance to closing the schools, even after a phone call from former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu asking him to do so, sparked ire among the public.
Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana said in a statement Tuesday that the indictment against Kanievsky was out of control.
“Enough! It is extremely serious that [people] are threatening [one of] the great men of Israel,” he said.
“It should not be possible that rabbis are being threatened in the State of Israel,” he continued.
“On the contrary, we should thank [them] for their mobilization and instructing us to get vaccinated in order to protect us from the pandemic.”