Flying rabbis to stop swine flu

By Jessica Elgot, August 12, 2009

More than 50 rabbis took to the skies above Israel to ward off swine flu in the country.

The rabbonim recited tehillim and blew the shofar in an effort to stop the spread of swine flu.

The flight's aim was "to stop the pandemic so people will stop dying from it," according to Rabbi Yitzhak Batzri, whose father David Batzri organised the flight.

"We are certain that because of our prayers danger is already behind us," he added.

Another participant, Rabbi Benayahu Shmueli, claimed swine flu has spread in Israel because of the “immorality and indecency that exists.“

“To my sorrow, many in Am Yisrael are guilty of this” he said.

But in interviews, no rabbi on the flight breathed a mention of “swine flu”, sticking strictly to the more kosher-sounding medical term H1N1, or referring to the virus as “the plague” or “the Mexican virus”.

In April, Israeli Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman led calls for the virus to be renamed “Mexican flu”, much to the horror of the Mexican embassy in Israel, who protested to the Israeli government.

Israel has had three fatalities attributed to the virus and 20 people are hospitalised in a “serious condition”. It is estimated the 2,000 people are infected in the country.

    Last updated: 1:54pm, August 12 2009