A recording has emerged in which a rabbi furiously explains how he shut down a shteibl in Golders Green after he discovered a lack of caution over coronavirus among congregants.
In the audio file, recorded last week, a minister believed to be Rabbi Yehudah Hager called the congregants he threw out of the building “meshugoim [crazy people], turifim! Dangerous people. Ratzchim!”
The speaker said he was the one to close down Beis Hamedrash Beis Yisochor Dov – known as Hager’s – and put a sign on the door saying “absolutely no entry, danger of death”.
Despite issuing guidance on using the shul in accordance with the government’s policy, the voice said that “Yesterday, at least one person I know of came to shteibl […] because he – even though he was supposed to be in isolation – couldn’t be bothered to stay at home, putting everybody there and everybody else in the surrounding areas – goyim, yiden and anybody davening there – at risk.
“I then came today to see what was going on. At 12.30pm people were downstairs in their tallis and davening, people were upstairs in every single room learning bechevrisa together with absolutely no idea what they were doing, absolutely no understanding of how they should be sitting, what they should be doing, if they washed their hands or not. Absolutely no clue.”
The voice added that he went to his father’s house (believed to be head of Hager’s, Rabbi Gershon Hager) to take the keys from him and evict those on the property, and that he had “taken the key away from my father, to make sure he doesn’t give it to any oyberchuchen who wants to go and daven there”.
The speaker continued: “His shteibl was set up over 70 years ago in Golders Green by people who escaped from Poland, because they escaped the death camps. They didn’t come to set up a new death camp in Golders Green.”
The notice on the shul website says it is closed for foreseeable future - in contrast to the general guidance issued last week from the UOHC.
Rabbi Gershon and Hager’s have been contacted for comment.