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Blood on rabbis’ hands, Haredi emergency chief says after mom’s COVID death

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Yehuda Meshi-Zahav waged an uphill battle for virus vigilance in the ultra-Orthodox community. But even his mother didn’t listen — and held a party that led to her infection and death.

Meshi-Zahav says that rabbis have “blood on their hands” for the death of his mother, Sarah, on Monday. Because of their disdain for COVID-19 rules, his cautious voice didn’t stand a chance when she decided to hold a family Hanukkah party.

“She was a healthy 80-year-old, with no medical background, and the virus took her. In the morning, I said Shema with her, and later in the day, she died,” he told The Times of Israel this week.

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In October, Meshi-Zahav, the head of the ZAKA emergency response organization, rang alarm bells about Haredi conduct in an impassioned Times of Israel interview. He said then that the authority structure within the community meant any warnings or portrayal of the seriousness of the disease would fall on deaf ears so long as top rabbis stayed silent.

Now, it’s personal.

“I work with death every day,” said Meshi-Zahav, whose volunteer organization works to remove the bodies of COVID-19 victims and others to be prepared for burial. “But nothing prepares you for the sense of loss when it’s your own family.” Yehuda Meshi-Zahav (center) at the funeral of his mother........

© The Times of Israel

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