Hundreds attend funeral of religious leader in central Israel, flouting Health Ministry directives

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Hundreds of members of Israel’s haredi Orthodox community attended the funeral of a religious leader despite government restrictions on the number of people who can participate in such ceremonies due to the coronavirus crisis.

About 400 mourners gathered in the central Israeli city of Bnei Brak for the funeral of Rabbi Zvi Shenkar Sunday morning, Ynet reported. The mourners did not follow social distancing rules, crowding the street and the cemetery.

Police forces were present during the funeral but did not enforce limits on the number of people nor social distancing requirements, according to Ynet.

Tel Aviv District Police had requested that the community limit attendance at the funeral, but then agreed to allow general participation after organizers promised people would adhere to social distancing rules, Haaretz reported.

“The guiding principle in this case was a quick end to the funeral and preventing clashes and much larger gatherings that would have escalated the situation,” Israel Police said in a statement to Haaretz.