Thousands in Jerusalem Break Through Police Roadblocks to Attend Rabbi’s Funeral

Two arrested at funeral of Rabbi David Feinstein, 91, one of most important Haredi rabbis in U.S., after police fail to prevent gathering held in violation of coronavirus restrictions

Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz
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The funeral in Jerusalem of Rabbi David Feinstein, November 9, 2020.
The funeral in Jerusalem of Rabbi David Feinstein, November 9, 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz

Thousands attended the funeral in Jerusalem Monday of Rabbi David Feinstein, one of the most important Haredi rabbis in the United States, who died at age 91 on Friday. Police set up roadblocks on the way to the Har Hamenuhot cemetery in an attempt to prevent a large gathering that would violate the coronavirus regulations, but the participants broke through the roadblocks.

A number of people accompanying the rabbi’s body on the way to the cemetery confronted police officers and caused damage to a police vehicle, and two of them were arrested, said police.

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Earlier while the funeral was underway, police said they acted to prevent hundreds from attending the funeral and reaching the cemetery, asking them to disperse, follow the guidelines and wear masks. A number of confrontations occurred between participants and police, but the event was relatively peaceful, police added.

At the end of October, thousands participated in the funeral of Sheikh Abu Zain al-Din Hassan Halabi in the Druze village of Majdal Shams in the northern Golan Heights. He was considered to be one of the most important religious leaders of the Druze community. The funeral began at a soccer field in the town, and his coffin was placed there. Halabi died at age 76 from complications from Covid-19, and his body had been taken without authorization from the Ziv Medical Center in Safed. His followers snatched the body from the hospital after it refused to hand over his body because of coronavirus restrictions. Pictures from the funeral clearly show that most of the participants wore masks but did not maintain social distancing carefully.

A month ago, some 2,000 Hasidim participated in the funeral procession of Rabbi Mordechai Leifer, known as the admor from Pittsburgh, which was held in Ashdod with police approval – and ended at the city’s cemetery. The rabbi died from COVID-19 at age 64. During the funeral procession, police officers and Hasidim clashed, and other confrontations broke out at the end of the funeral too, when hundreds refused to leave the cemetery. That same day hundred participated in a funeral in Jerusalem of a Hasid from the Toldot Aharon community. Police arrested or detained 11 people and fined people who participated in the funeral.

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