RABBIS, communal leaders and politicians have joined together to urge members of the Jewish community to “do the right thing” after reports emerged this week of illegal gatherings taking place across Melbourne.
As well as the engagement party – which Victoria Police Commissioner Shane Patton said would earn each adult attendee a fine of $5500 – The AJN reported on Saturday night that a number of illicit minyans have been held in breach of lockdown rules.
The Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV) told The AJN it knows of no mainstream rabbis or congregations who have been involved.
Urging the community, together with the Melbourne Beth Din, “to comply with all government restrictions without exception and to follow the relevant health instructions”, the RCV added, “For the removal of any possible doubt, this includes all illegal gatherings including for prayer.
“We implore anybody considering flouting the law to refrain from doing so. We unreservedly condemn such actions, which bring risk and shame to the entire community.”
Expressing its “strong disappointment” at the actions of a “small group of people in our community”, Jewish Community Council of Victoria president Daniel Aghion stressed, “The majority of our community has done the right thing, just like most Victorians, and continue to do so.”
He added, “The only way we can protect ourselves and our loved ones, is if we act together.
“If you know of or are concerned about exposure events in the community, you must contact the authorities immediately.”
— Josh Burns (@joshburnsmp) August 16, 2021
In a joint statement, Labor MP Josh Burns and Liberal MP David Southwick said, “Our message to those who have attended, or hosted gatherings is to please cooperate with public health authorities, to come forward and get tested and isolate to protect yourselves and to protect the entire community.”
The MPs added, “Every Melburnian is exhausted and desperate for this lockdown to end. But the quickest way to end this lockdown is for people to do the right thing – follow the rules; get tested and isolate if they’re symptomatic or have been at an exposure site; and get vaccinated if they’re eligible.”
In NSW, meanwhile, senior dayan of the Sydney Beth Din Rabbi Moshe Gutnick issued a stern warning to abide by lockdown rules.
“When the government makes health directives, designed to protect and benefit the entire community, there is a halachic imperative to abide by those rules,” he said.
“There is no justification to have a minyan if that minyan is in defiance of health regulations.”