Why Israel’s COVID-denying Rabbis Have Reversed Course and Are Endorsing Vaccines

The ultra-Orthodox don’t reject science and technology outright. If there are no lockdowns hampering the teaching of their religion, they do the right thing

Anshel Pfeffer
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Anshel Pfeffer

Hundreds, often thousands, of people arrive each day in small Rashbam Street in Tel Aviv suburb Bnei Brak, hoping to receive a few muttered words of a blessing or advice from Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, the most senior leader of the “Lithuanian” ultra-Orthodox community. 

Kanievsky, who will turn 94 in a couple of weeks, is a kindly, almost otherworldly soul who if not for his position at the top of the ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, hierarchy would much prefer being left alone with his Talmud books. But for a few hours each day, his small home is open to all who seek him.

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