Thousands of members from the ultra-Orthodox community attended the funeral of Rabbi Yitzhak Scheiner in Jerusalem on Sunday night, in violation of coronavirus regulations.
Earlier on Sunday, thousands gathered to participate in the funeral procession of Rabbi Meshulam Dovid Soloveitchik, the leader of the Brisker Yeshiva in Jerusalem.
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Unlike Rabbi Soloveitchik's funeral, which was mostly attended by people affiliated with the more extreme Haredi elements, Scheiner's funeral was attended by more mainstream Haredi groups and many wore masks. Social distancing was not observed, but the funeral procession was coordinated with the police.
Scheiner died from COVID-19 at the age of 98. He was the dean of the Kamenitz Yeshiva and a member of the Degel Hatorah party’s Council of Torah Sages. The president of the council, Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, has taken a stringent stance regarding the observance of the coronavirus guidelines.
Edelstein did not attend the funeral despite the close friendship and family ties he shared with Scheiner. He eulogized Scheiner by telephone from his home in Bnei Brak.
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Scheiner had also taken a very strict stance regarding the coronavirus guidelines. He received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine a month ago, but contracted the virus before receiving the second dose. His condition deteriorated quickly and he died on Sunday at Hadassah University Hospital in Ein Kerem, near Jerusalem.
In his last public letter, written at the start of the third wave of the pandemic in Israel, Scheiner encouraged the public to observe the coronavirus restrictions and to get vaccinated.
“It’s nearly a year that the Holy One, Blessed be He, has sent to the world a difficult epidemic that is spreading with great damage. Many have been hurt by it and many have died, including great Torah sages and pious ones,” he wrote. “That’s why it is incumbent on every one of us to do God’s will at this time, and... make the proper effort, based on the opinion of the experts, so as not to be harmed, God forbid, and not to infect others.”
Scheiner had also warned against holding mass events. “One must be careful about attending crowded gatherings and the like, which is sometimes typical of celebrations, at which God forbid it’s possible to be harmed or God forbid cause harm; this can also lead to a great loss of Torah study,” he wrote. Regarding the vaccination campaign, he added, “Anyone who doctors think must get the vaccine, which helps prevent infection, is obligated... not to avoid doing so.”