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Podcast: Yehoshua Pfeffer on How the Coronavirus Prompted Him to Rethink the Relationship between Haredim and Israeli Society

February 11, 2021 | By: Yehoshua Pfeffer

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In the last week of January 2021, thousands of Israeli haredim protested and rioted in Bnai Brak, a predominantly haredi city located east of Tel Aviv. The rioters were angry at the government’s efforts to enforce a lockdown―not Israel’s first―meant to suppress COVID-19. Several days later, over 10,000 haredim congregated to mourn the passing of an eminent rabbi, again in violation of the lockdown. For all the frustration that Israel’s haredim feel, their refusal to comply with the lockdowns has generated an equal measure of frustration and resentment among non-haredi Israelis.

Haredim make up a significant part of Israel, and the Coronavirus has brought long-simmering tensions between them and the rest of the Israeli public to a boiling point. This week, Mosaic Editor Jonathan Silver speaks with the Rabbi Yehoshua Pfeffer, a haredi leader and the editor of the Tikvah’s haredi publication Tzarich Iyun, to explore how his community might repair their relations with their fellow Israelis. In a recent essay, one discussed here, Pfeffer offers a framework for good citizenship, rooted in traditional religious sources, which he hopes can serve as the foundation for a renewed ḥaredi civic virtue.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.

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More about: Jewish Political Thought  • Religion and State in Israel  • Tikvah Podcasts  • Zionism