Yesterday, together with photos (below ) I posted this comment on Facebook: “IsraelBNews: Shuls to be blamed for expected spike in corona cases…”

Arieh Kovler responded:

At this point, this post is straight-up propaganda

1. We know that the virus spreads in aerosols now, and not just via respiratory droplets.

2. We know that indoor spaces are *much* bigger risks for infection than outdoor spaces. Like, maybe 20-50 TIMES the risk.

3. We know air-conditioning can help spread the aerosols in closed indoor spaces.

4. We know singing and chanting loudly produces more respiratory droplets and aerosols, increasing infectiousness by another factor of 30 or so.

5. We know masks have much less effect on aerosols than on respiratory droplets.

So we know the indoor capsule system for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur doesn’t actually work. Even if everyone wears masks and keeps distance, some people who went to Rosh Hashana services are going to catch Covid-19. Some of them are going to die, and some of them are going to infect others.

This will be all the more the case for Yom Kippur.Meanwhile, the global evidence is that outdoor transmission from protests is very rare. You might WANT it to be true that the outdoor protests are super-infectious, but data worldwide doesn’t seem to be bearing that out. Sorry!

Ultimately, we’ll see in the numbers. Are you saying the protests are full of people from Bnei Brak, Beit Shemesh, Netivot, Elad, Modiin Ilit, which is where we know the virus hotpsots are? Or the various Arab towns?

My response (Benjy Singer) to Arieh is:

  1. To say that the type of behaviour we see at Balfour is not corona-dangerous is not correct. I have heard enough doctors say that the behaviour we see on Balfour – kissing, hugging, shouting, singing, dancing – holding hands, sitting on top of each other etc. IS highly problematic and CAN cause the virus to spread. Since when do we take risks when it comes to life and death? Do people behave like this when attending shul??
  2. Furthermore, masks are often not worn properly and certainly social distancing is not practised. You need to enforce the MOH regulations equally – otherwise Israelis won’t keep to them. That’s how Israelis are.
  3. ‘Democracy’ does not override the health and welfare of society – citizens in society also have democratic right to feel protected and safe and that their health is not being threatened by the irresponsible behaviour of others. In the 1930s in Europe, dictators like Hitler came to power through democratic means – democracy and the good of society doesn’t always come hand-in-hand.
  4. Why put the police in danger? Looking at the coverage, police are forced to drag demonstrators around etc. and indeed, police have been infected at these demonstrations. Are police infected when checking shuls are keeping to the MOH regulations??
  5. It has been proven that infected people are attending these demonstrations, as well as demonstrators are putting off their phones so they can’t be traced – is that acceptable?
  6. I personally only daven outside, however, from I have seen (admittedly I have only seen shuls in the dati leumi community I live and not charedi ones) shuls are VERY safe and keep stictly to the rules – both with regard to masks and social distancing. It’s impossible to daven in them unless you have registered.
  7. Finally, certain sectors will daven indoors even if it’s forbidden – so as that’s the reality – it makes more sense to allow them to daven indoors with restrictions – than ban them with no restrictions. The government and police need to deal with the reality and come up with real solutions.

Photos below: 2 from Balfour demonstrations and the bottom 2 from a shul in Alon Shvut preparing for Rosh Hashanah davening.

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