The Charedi mindset is no excuse for this behaviour

The JC Leader, 29 January 2021


One of the many privileges of living in a free society is that, so long as we adhere to the basic framework that allows us all to co-exist, we can lead whatever lifestyle we wish. One of the many distressing aspects of the pandemic has been the realisation that for some within our society, that adherence is not a given. As laws and rules have been introduced to try to limit the spread of Covid-19, it has been striking how some people have behaved as if these limitations on freedom for the common good were a personal affront that should be ignored.

Throughout most of the past year, there has been a rumbling of anger within the Jewish community at rule-breaking amongst the Charedim, from prayer gatherings that were against the spirit — and often the letter — of the law to a cavalier approach to the wearing of masks and the observance of social distancing in shops.

The mindset behind such behaviour is subtly different. It is not about making a stand or being provocative; those Charedim who are acting as if nothing has changed base their lives on a philosophy which can barely deal with the need for changed behaviour. Whatever the mindset behind Charedi Covid rule breaking, the consequence is of course the same. And last week’s wedding with some 150 guests in a Jewish school lifted this issue to the wider world from being one discussed among Jews. Understandably, the level of anger from our community markedly increased — both at the act itself but also at the worry that it would fuel antisemitism, giving the mistaken impression that it was somehow the Jewish community as a whole that was acting so selfishly rather than a section of a section of it. It is no less profoundly wrong and no less immoral for that.



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