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From: WEBELIAHU DelphiPlus Member Icon3/2/20 8:10 AM 
To: All  (19 of 164) 
 10373.19 in reply to 10373.18 

March 2, 2020

       "Coronavirus was confirmed in an Israeli who was vacationing in Italy and returned on Sunday. The person will be kept under quarantine at the Sheba Medical Center. He reportedly complained of high fever and everyone who came in contact with the person has been contacted and placed under quarantine at home. He had traveled on El Al flight no. 382 from Italy to Israel that arrived in the country on Sunday at 4:10 p.m."

https://www.jpost.com/HEALTH-SCIENCE/Italian-coronavirus-deaths-rise-to-29-number-of-cases-climbs-above-1000-619305

Italian coronavirus deaths rise to 29, number of cases climbs above 1,000

The total accumulated number of confirmed cases had risen to 1,128.

Eight more people have died in Italy from coronavirus, the civil protection agency said on Saturday, bringing the total to 29, while the number of those testing positive for the illness jumped by some 240 over the last 24 hours.

The head of the Civil Protection Agency said the total accumulated number of confirmed cases had risen to 1,128. That figures includes some 50 people who have recovered and the 29 deaths.

Coronavirus was confirmed in an Israeli who was vacationing in Italy and returned on Sunday.

The person will be kept under quarantine at the Sheba Medical Center. He reportedly complained of high fever and everyone who came in contact with the person has been contacted and placed under quarantine at home.

He had traveled on El Al flight no. 382 from Italy to Israel that arrived in the country on Sunday at 4:10 p.m.

Schools and universities will stay closed for a second consecutive week in three northern Italian regions in an effort to contain the outbreak, the head of the Emilia Romagna region said on Saturday.

Stefano Bonaccini wrote on Facebook that besides his own region, educational centers in the neighboring Lombardy and Veneto would remain shuttered on the advice of the government, dashing any hopes of a swift return to normality in Italy.

With an emergency decree passed at a meeting in the headquarters of Italy's civil protection agency, the government adopted special powers to be able to stop people from leaving or entering the affected areas.

Relevant ministers will also be able to halt sports events and school trips outside those areas.

"I've wondered myself why [there are not] so many cases in Italy... and the answer is in the rigorous and meticulous controls our country has adopted from the start," Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said at a late night press conference.

Italy's first victim was a 76-year-old woman who was found dead at her home 50 km. (30 miles) south of Milan on Thursday and tested positive for the coronavirus.

Fashion designer Giorgio Armani said his fashion show on Saturday would take place in an empty theater without any press or buyers present to safeguard their health.

The outbreak originated in Codogno, a small town southeast of Milan where Lombardy's first infected patient, a 38-year-old man now in stable condition, was treated.

"All those who have tested positive are people who on February 18-19 had contacts with the emergency room and the hospital of Codogno," Regional Health Councillor Giulio Gallera said.

Americans should reconsider travel to Italy due to a coronavirus outbreak there, the US State Department said on Friday.

"Many cases of COVID-19 have been associated with travel to or from mainland China or close contact with a travel-related case, but sustained community spread has been reported in Italy," the department said.

 
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From: WEBELIAHU DelphiPlus Member Icon3/2/20 2:37 PM 
To: All  (20 of 164) 
 10373.20 in reply to 10373.19 

March 2, 2020 - Israel's Election For Prime Minister Is Happening Today

        "Israelis in quarantine were asked to come to the stations in private vehicles and not to stop on the way. When they completed voting, they were asked to return straight home. The voters were met by trained paramedics dressed in full head-to-toe protective gear, including gloves and masks. Votes were collected in a specially lined ballot box and were to be counted by election officials also dressed in protective gear."

https://www.jpost.com/Israel-Elections/Coronavirus-polling-stations-prepare-for-voters-619473

Over 70% of 'coronavirus voters' cast their ballots in special stations

“The coronavirus is under control and the Health Ministry is the only one authorized to update the country on the issue."

More than 70% of the 5,600 Israelis who were placed under quarantine due to fear of possible exposure to the coronavirus turned out to vote on Monday at special polling stations set up to allow them to safely cast their ballots.
 
Sixteen special booths were originally set up across the country and scheduled to be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. But long lines and frustrated voters led the Central Elections Committee to open additional booths in Kfar Saba and Tel Aviv and to extend voting time until 7 p.m.
 
Israelis in quarantine were asked to come to the stations in private vehicles and not to stop on the way. When they completed voting, they were asked to return straight home.
 
The voters were met by trained paramedics dressed in full head-to-toe protective gear, including gloves and masks. Votes were collected in a specially lined ballot box and were to be counted by election officials also dressed in protective gear.
 
“MDA volunteers enlisted for the mission, operating at the special polling stations, and will be protected at the highest level, with dedicated anti-infection kits,” said MDA director-general Eli Bin. “Magen David Adom works in full cooperation and coordination with the Health Ministry, the Central Election Commission and other parties, and will continue to do everything possible to assist in the national effort of preventing the spread of the coronavirus in Israel. "
 
When voters arrived, their identity cards were verified and then they were given a mask and a pair of gloves. Their ballot was handed to them in a clear plastic envelope with a disposable pen. 
 
Voters were asked to clean their hands with sanitizer and then wear the gloves throughout the voting process.
 
Booths were portioned so that CEC staff did not come in contact with the voters but could speak to them through a clear, heavy plastic window. 
 
“I want to reassure the public and call again to the citizens of Israel: Vote without fear of the coronavirus,” Health Minister Yaacov Litzman said Monday morning. “The coronavirus is under control and the Health Ministry is the only one authorized to update the country on the issue.”
 
"You don't have to worry about voting due to the coronavirus, this is all nonsense," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday during one of his many Facebook live chats in which he was calling on Likud voters to go to the polls.
 
But the voters who are suspected of coming in contact with the potentially lethal disease did not take their situation lightly. Early Monday morning, one Israeli took a megaphone and screamed “do not treat us like lepers” as he approached the special booth in Jerusalem’s Talpiot neighborhood. 
 
A young man from Thailand told The Jerusalem Post’s sister paper, Maariv, that, "It feels bad and I think the panic is too excessive.” He said he was considering returning home because he was number 430 and number 360 was currently voting.
 
“It takes forever here,” he said. “I did not go to my usual polling station for fear of contaminating others.”
 
But he said he also enjoyed the fresh air, which he lacked after a week in isolation. 
 

“I do not think I pose a risk to anyone,” another voter told Maariv. “This situation is delusional, I will vote and come home. I think this all got a little blown out of proportion.”

 

 
From: WEBELIAHU DelphiPlus Member Icon3/4/20 8:26 AM 
To: All  (21 of 164) 
 10373.21 in reply to 10373.20 

March 4, 2020

https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/El-Al-cancels-European-flights-as-coronavirus-hits-airline-hard-619501

El Al cancels European flights as coronavirus hits airline hard

"As a result of special circumstances due to the coronavirus incident, we have been forced to make commercial adjustments on certain flights."

El Al canceled a series of flights to European destinations on Monday, citing the need for “commercial adjustments” due to declining demand caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“As a result of special circumstances due to the coronavirus incident, including instructions and recommendations made by the Health Ministry to the public, we have been forced to make commercial adjustments on certain flights,” the airline said. “In this context, we are offering alternatives for travel on other flights. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience."

Passengers scheduled to fly on several flights to destinations including Vienna, Budapest, Brussels and Frankfurt were among those affected by the cancellations.

Bearing the brunt of the outbreak, El Al is preparing a plan to layoff up to a thousand of the company’s 6,300 permanent and temporary staff. Last week, the airline said it expects revenues to drop by $50 million to $70 million. between January and April as a result of the outbreak.

The carrier has already canceled all flights to China, Hong Kong and Italy, and is facing falling demand across its network. The scheduled launch of a nonstop route to Tokyo on March 11 has also been postponed. In an initial move to cut costs on Sunday, El Al fired 50 trainee pilots and an additional 14 pilots waiting to begin their training at the company.

According to Health Ministry instructions, a two-week home quarantine period is required from all Israeli nationals who visited Mainland China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau, South Korea, Japan or Italy in the last 14 days. Last week, the Health Ministry called on Israelis to reconsider all foreign travel.

At an emergency meeting on Sunday, El Al workers union chairman Sharon Ben-Yitzhak told employees that Israel’s response to the coronavirus outbreak had dealt “a deathblow to the aviation sector.”

Describing the company’s workforce as “soldiers of the country,” Ben-Yitzhak called on the government – which holds a “golden share” in the airline – to support the livelihoods of thousands of Israeli households.

El Al announced on Sunday it would allow all passengers scheduled to fly to and from Europe during March to change or freeze their tickets until July 31 without incurring fees.

 

 
From: WEBELIAHU DelphiPlus Member Icon3/5/20 8:37 AM 
To: All  (22 of 164) 
 10373.22 in reply to 10373.20 

March 5, 2020

           "In a letter sent to employees on Wednesday, Usishkin said El Al has faced crises in the past, but that “the challenge presented to us this time is one of the most complex and difficult.”

https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/El-Al-to-fire-1000-workers-due-to-coronavirus-impact-619750

El Al to lay off 1,000 workers due to coronavirus impact

The cost-cutting measure has been taken to "ensure the future" of the company.

El Al intends to lay off 1,000 permanent and temporary staff in the coming days, the airline said on Wednesday, as it rolled out a series of cost-cutting measures implemented to “ensure the future” of the company. The figure represents almost one-sixth of the airline’s entire workforce and comes amid a severe decline in revenues as a result of the novel coronavirus outbreak. In addition, company executives and directors will be subject to a 20% wage cut, taking effect retroactively since March 1.

“I am determined to do everything to ensure the future of the company and to act with courage, openness and fairness,” said El Al CEO Gonen Usishkin following an urgent meeting with worker union representatives. “This is a difficult day for us, and the steps that we have decided upon are taken with a feeling of pain combined with responsibility and personal example.... The move is part of a series of steps being taken to enable the company to overcome the crisis and emerge from it stronger.”

Announcing that it would “eliminate all nonessential expenses at this time,” El Al said it would immediately halt the training and recruitment of all new employees until further notice.

El Al said it expects revenues to drop by $50 million to $70m. between January and April due to the outbreak, resulting from a “significant drop” in demand and wide-ranging travel restrictions imposed by the Health Ministry.

On Wednesday, the ministry said citizens returning from Germany, Spain, Austria and Switzerland will be required to enter two weeks of isolation. Similar instructions have already been issued for travelers visiting mainland China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Macau, South Korea, Japan and Italy. Last week, the ministry called on citizens to reconsider all plans to travel abroad.

The airline has canceled all flights to China, Hong Kong, Thailand and Italy, and postponed the long-awaited launch of a nonstop route to Tokyo scheduled for March 11. Numerous flights to European destinations have been canceled this week as the company makes “commercial adjustments” to accommodate falling demand.

In a letter sent to employees on Wednesday, Usishkin said El Al has faced crises in the past, but that “the challenge presented to us this time is one of the most complex and difficult.”

He also highlighted measures implemented by Israeli authorities to contain the coronavirus outbreak that he said were unique in severity. New restrictions announced on Wednesday are likely to generate further financial challenges for the company.

Despite statements from public officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Histadrut labor federation chairman Arnon Bar-David, stating their intentions to offer assistance to the company, Usishkin said “nothing has been agreed at this time.”

The El Al workers union reacted angrily to Usishkin’s letter, saying that they were “amazed” to receive it while still in the midst of negotiations with representatives from the Histadrut and the government.

“It is important for us to make it clear to employees that workers representatives and the Histadrut have not agreed to any dismissal of employees, and we urge the management of the company to not make unilateral decisions,” the workers union said in a statement.

“We urge employees not to pay attention to the letter from the CEO and wait for updates and instructions from worker representatives. We promise: El Al is home for all of us, and we will do everything we can to save it.”

Despite the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on El Al and Israeli companies from a variety of industries, the Bank of Israel’s Monetary Committee concluded at its weekly discussion on Wednesday that “there is no evidence of a significant macroeconomic impact on the Israeli economy.”

Should the virus be halted within months, the committee said, the global economy is “expected to recover relatively quickly.” If the crisis persists and preventive measures in Israel become more serious and persistent, however, the committee said that “there is expected to be a significant economic impact.”

 

 
From: Leah (muppetmel1) DelphiPlus Member Icon Posted by host3/6/20 11:25 AM 
To: WEBELIAHU DelphiPlus Member Icon  (23 of 164) 
 10373.23 in reply to 10373.22 

https://nypost.com/2020/03/06/rabbi-at-new-rochelle-coronavirus-synagogue-has-tested-positive/?fbclid=IwAR0_gm0tukv4Q9ayIiy7tYYZ5n-gOhvxI0xY_TzByOUW65DCYdVTrdJh-0U

Rabbi for synagogue at center of New York coronavirus outbreak tests positive

March 6, 2020

The rabbi of Young Israel in New Rochelle — the synagogue at the center of a Westchester County outbreak — has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a tweet early Friday by Yeshiva University.

Rabbi Reuven Fink teaches two undergraduate classes at the university’s Washington Heights campus, and has been in self-quarantine after being in contact with a congregant who had previously tested positive, the tweet said.

“We have reached out to his students and recommended as a precautionary measure to self-quarantine until further notice,” read the tweet, which was signed by the university president, Dr. Ari Berman.

At least one Yeshiva University student is known to also have contracted the virus — the 20-year-old son of New Rochelle resident and Young Israel member Lawrence Garbuz, a 50-year-old lawyer who works in Midtown Manhattan.

Garbuz’s wife and daughter are also sick with the virus.

The Garbuz family belongs to the synagogue, where this week’s services were halted and members who attended a bar mitzvah and funeral in late February have been asked to self-quarantine until at least March 8.

 

 

 
From: WEBELIAHU DelphiPlus Member Icon3/11/20 8:29 AM 
To: All  (24 of 164) 
 10373.24 in reply to 10373.20 

March 11, 2020

https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/national/coronavirus/israel-announces-2-week-quarantine-for-all-overseas-arrivals-to-combat-coronavirus

Israel announces 2-week quarantine for all overseas arrivals to combat coronavirus

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his government has decided to place anyone arriving from overseas into quarantine in a move to contain a growing coronavirus outbreak. Netanyahu announced the 14-day quarantine on Monday after consultations with Cabinet ministers and senior health officials.

“This is a difficult decision, but it's necessary to protect public health. Public health comes before everything else,” Netanyahu said.

The Jerusalem Post reports that the measure takes effect immediately. Netanyahu said the “decision will be valid for two weeks.”

The decision comes weeks before the busy Passover and Easter holiday seasons.

As of Monday, 39 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the country, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins.

 

 
From: WEBELIAHU DelphiPlus Member Icon3/15/20 8:32 AM 
To: All  (25 of 164) 
 10373.25 in reply to 10373.20 

March 15, 2020

         "Though there wasn’t a physical minyan, the quorum of 10 people required to say certain prayers, Rabbi Weiner realized that “in the virtual space we were well above a minyan.”

          RABINO (Rabbi in name only) Weiner heads a Reform (non-observant of God's laws) congregation. Notice the "10 people." The required forum is not 10 people, it is 10 JEWISH MEN, above the age of 13. It is specific. God told Avraham he would space Sodom if there were 10 righteous "people." THERE people means people, but God's rules for Jews are not the same. Rabbi Weiner wants to protect his congregation from the coronavirus, by sending his Sabbath service out live on the internet, and have his congregation watch. Not only is this not righteous, not only is this forbidden by God, but it is sinful for anyone who participates. Far better to hold your own private service at home that be involved with Rabbi Weiner's service, even without a minyan.

https://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Synagogues-are-getting-creative-amid-the-coronavirus-outbreak-620524

Synagogues are getting creative amid the coronavirus outbreak

The synagogue hasn’t been holding any services for 10 days due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed 21 lives in Washington state and thousands around the world.

On a typical Friday, some 200 people show up for services at Temple De Hirsch Sinai, a Reform congregation in Seattle. But last week, there was no one in the pews as Rabbi Daniel Weiner welcomed Shabbat in the synagogue’s smaller sanctuary. Instead, some 1,500 people watched Weiner lead the prayers on their computers.

The synagogue hasn’t been holding any services for 10 days due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed 21 lives in Washington state and thousands around the world. Though there wasn’t a physical minyan, the quorum of 10 people required to say certain prayers, Weiner realized that “in the virtual space we were well above a minyan.”
 
“It felt unusual but I think we are all in vastly unusual circumstances,” he told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Monday. “We are all kind of rewriting how we do things.”
 
Indeed, Jewish communities around the world are engaging in the same kind of rethinking as the coronavirus spreads, turning long-standing communal practices into potentially dangerous behaviors. Synagogues are reconsidering every aspect of their offerings, from whether to hold services to how to serve food to exactly how congregants should encounter ritual objects.
 
The changes are being made rapidly, with limited and shifting guidance from health authorities, and different communities are coming to different conclusions. What’s clear, however, is that the epidemic could have long-lasting consequences for communal Jewish life.
 
Ordinarily, the worshippers who attend Friday evening services at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, an unaffiliated synagogue in New York City, are asked to touch each other during the Hamotzi, the blessing over the bread. But the synagogue sent community members an email on Monday instructing them to “instead focus on our spiritual connection.”
 

 
From: WEBELIAHU DelphiPlus Member Icon3/15/20 8:59 AM 
To: All  (26 of 164) 
 10373.26 in reply to 10373.20 

March 15, 2020

        "Regarding other practices, Lau said anyone required to be in quarantine is “totally forbidden” to leave quarantine to pray in a minyan."

https://www.jpost.com/judaism/Halachic-handbook-for-the-coronavirus-pandemic-620597

Halachic handbook for the coronavirus pandemic

Here's what to do in circumstances where Jewish customs and rituals might increase the chance of exposure to, or spreading, of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Since so much of Jewish practice is communally based, inevitably questions have arisen about how to act in certain circumstances where some customs and rituals might increase the chance of exposure to, or spreading of, the novel coronavirus.

One such concern is immersion in a mikveh, or ritual bath, which many religious women perform once a month as required by Halacha. Some religious men also immerse on frequent basis, although this is a custom and not an obligation as it is for women.

Since public mikvaot are under constant supervision by mikveh attendants, there should be no concern for women not in quarantine to continue to perform this practice, Chief Rabbi David Lau wrote last week. However, anyone in quarantine should postpone their immersion until their quarantine ends, he said.

The same applied for men, although if a mikveh was dirty, immersion should be avoided, Lau said.

On Wednesday, the Srugim website reported that a men’s mikveh in the Tekoa settlement had been closed because a man who is currently quarantined immersed there recently, and the women’s mikveh has also been closed.

The yoatzot website of the Nishmat advanced Torah study institution for women has issued guidelines saying that mikvaot should continue to operate as usual but adhere scrupulously to regulations for filtration and chlorination, while preparation rooms should be thoroughly cleaned before another woman enters.

A woman with symptoms of illness should not use the mikveh without consulting a healthcare professional, while anyone in quarantine should not use the mikveh until the end of the quarantine period, according to the Nishmat guidelines.

Regarding other practices, Lau said anyone required to be in quarantine is “totally forbidden” to leave quarantine to pray in a minyan (quorum of 10 men).

To avoid spreading and widening exposure to the virus, he said people should stop kissing or touching mezuzahs, and synagogues should be well ventilated and ensure there is clean, fresh air.

“In these days, where sadly we see the spread of a terrible disease, there is doubt that one should not kiss mezuzahs or even touch them,” Lau wrote.

The Conference of European Rabbis (CER), the principle Orthodox rabbinical association for Europe, has ruled that if a person does not feel well, they should refrain from attending synagogue, even if they have to say the mourner’s kaddish prayer.

People should not kiss mezuzahs, prayer books, communal prayer shawls or Torah scrolls, it said.

Hand sanitizers should be placed in public places such as synagogues and schools, CER said.

 

 
From: WEBELIAHU DelphiPlus Member Icon3/17/20 8:47 AM 
To: All  (27 of 164) 
 10373.27 in reply to 10373.20 

March 17, 2020

          "Netanyahu said that he had been given the green light by the Justice Ministry to use Intelligence tracking tools to digitally monitor coronavirus patients without asking them, which the prime minister admitted Saturday night infringes on personal privacy. But he argued that by using these means, “we will be able to see who they were with, what happened before and after [they were infected], and we will be able to isolate the coronavirus and not the entire country."

https://www.jpost.com/HEALTH-SCIENCE/WATCH-LIVE-Netanyahu-addresses-Israels-plans-amid-coronavirus-panic-620971

Israel plans to use counter-terrorism tools to stop spread of coronavirus

Culture and leisure spaces to close down as COVID-19 patients near 200.

Israel is going to use counter-terrorism technologies to track coronavirus carriers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday as the government enacted new restrictions including the closure of all restaurants, cafes and theaters, and called for offices to have employees work from home.

“We are at war with an enemy: the coronavirus,” the prime minister said, “an invisible enemy.”

Netanyahu said that he had been given the green light by the Justice Ministry to use Intelligence tracking tools to digitally monitor coronavirus patients without asking them, which the prime minister admitted Saturday night infringes on personal privacy. But he argued that by using these means, “we will be able to see who they were with, what happened before and after [they were infected], and we will be able to isolate the coronavirus and not the entire country.

"We are one of the few countries with this capability, and we will use it,” he said. "We must do everything, as a government and as citizens, to not become infected and not to infect others.”

It was later clarified that these tolls would not be used for enforcement or monitoring of isolation guidelines.

As the number of coronavirus patients in the country neared 200 at press time, the government rolled out further restrictions that would go into effect Sunday morning. Kindergartens, nurseries, daycares, all special education learning centers and all recreational and leisure establishments will close. Workplaces will remain open, but staff will be asked to work from home. Gatherings will be limited to no more than 10 people.

According to the Education Ministry, aside from preschool students, the results of this new restriction mean that more than 160,000 special education children, at-risk students and students who are in boarding schools will not study. And the prime minister stressed the importance of personal hygiene and that people stay a minimum of two meters apart from one another.

“Anyone who has a fever, or a fever and coughing must stay home,” Prof. Siegel Sadetzki, head of public health services in Israel said Saturday. “They definitely need to be in isolation - and this means in isolation even from the people they live with at home.”

In response to the closure of cultural establishments, Minister of Culture Miri Regev encouraged these places to look for ways to operate online.

“Culture and art have a key role in national resilience and morale, and the Ministry of Culture and Sports, which I chair, will support such activities,” she said in a video statement. “Anyone with an initiative in this field is welcome to contact us and we will review it with the intention of allowing as many artists as possible to take part and make art available to any home in Israel.”

 

 
From: WEBELIAHU DelphiPlus Member Icon3/17/20 8:49 AM 
To: All  (28 of 164) 
 10373.28 in reply to 10373.20 

March 17, 2020

        "Jewish law requires that that Jewish men and women immerse in a ritual bath before going up to the Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism, in order to purify themselves and failure to do so is considered a serious violation of Jewish practice...He also recalled the incident from the Book of Samuel II in the Bible, where it is recorded that King David purchased land on the Temple Mount and built and altar to God there to stop the spread of a plague which had killed 70,000 people in the ancient Kingdom of Israel."

https://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Chief-Rabbi-Health-Ministry-instructions-are-Halacha-620987

Temple Mount visits ongoing despite closure of male mikvas

‘There is direct connection between a plague and the Temple Mount, as recorded in the second book of Samuel, says spokesman for Temple Mount activist groups

Despite the closure of mikvas, ritual baths, for men due to the coronavirus outbreak, Jewish visitors continued to ascend to the Temple Mount on Sunday morning after finding immersion alternatives. 
 
Jewish law requires that that Jewish men and women immerse in a ritual bath before going up to the Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism, in order to purify themselves and failure to do so is considered a serious violation of Jewish practice.
 
Following the announcement on Saturday night by the Religious Services Ministry that all mikvas for men, who unlike women are not required by Jewish law to immerse on a regular basis, were being shut, concerns were raised that Jewish men would effectively be barred from the Temple Mount. 
 
Jewish activist groups have however recommended that those who wish to ascend to the site should immerse in natural springs or the sea, which are considered natural mikvas in Jewish law and can be used for purification purposes. 
 
There are several natural springs in the Jerusalem region, including the Shiloah spring close to the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount itself, the Lifta spring close to the Givat Shaul neighborhood, the Sataf spring close to the village of Ein Karem, and the Ein Lavan spring close to Jerusalem’s Malha neighborhood. 
 
On Sunday morning, 42 Jewish visitors went up to the Temple Mount, compared to 35 on the same day last year, and did so in groups of ten, in accordance with instructions from the Health Ministry for the public to refrain from gatherings of ten people or more. 
 
Asaf Fried, a spokesman for an association of Temple Mount activist groups, said that Jewish visitors to the site were reciting psalms and prayers for the health of those sick from coronavirus and for the success of the country’s efforts to stop the spread of the disease.
 
“We are always insistent that we want much more than visitation to the Temple Mount, we want to build the temple, but at this time we hope very much that we will be able to pray at the one and only site God ever instructed the Jewish people to pray,” said Friend. 
 
He also recalled the incident from the Book of Samuel II in the Bible, where it is recorded that King David purchased land on the Temple Mount and built and altar to God there to stop the spread of a plague which had killed 70,000 people in the ancient Kingdom of Israel.
 
“There is a direct connection between a plague and the Temple Mount, as is recorded in the second book of Samuel. The Temple Mount is where God promised to hear our prayer, and all Jews turn to the Temple Mount wherever they are in the world when they pray,” continued Fried. 
 
On Saturday night, the Chief Rabbi's office announced Saturday night that the instructions published by the Health Ministry are to be followed closely, saying that "all health-related instructions are today's Halacha (Jewish Law)."
 
The office reported they are holding discussions with professionals regarding weddings, minyans (prayer services with ten or more people), funerals and other issues, adding that any decision would be reported once it is made.
 
The Chief Rabbi called upon all Jews to follow the Health Ministry's instructions and to give their thoughts and prayers to stop the pandemic.
 
"Following discussions [Health Ministry director Moshe Bar Siman Tov] held with Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef and [Religious Services] Minister Yitzhak Vaknin, it has been decided to shut down all mikvehs (ritual baths) for men starting tomorrow morning," the ministry said.
 
"The announcement applies to all mikvehs for men, both public and private."
 

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