A JOINT statement has been released condemning an ultra-Orthodox breakaway group who have allegedly been flouting COVID-19 restrictions.
State Liberal MP David Southwick and Federal Member for Macnamara Josh Burns, together with Jewish Community Council of Victoria president Jennifer Huppert and Rabbinical Council of Victoria president Rabbi Philip Heilbrunn, have lambasted the behaviour of the sect as “reprehensible” following claims its members continue to meet to pray, despite current COVID-19 regulations that prohibit religious worship beyond five persons for broadcasting purposes.
The group are a part of the shule known as Beis Medrash Veyatzev Avruhom – who broke away from Adass Israel over a year ago – and have been reported in The AJN on several occasions throughout the pandemic when they allegedly exploited loopholes in regulations in order to continue running illicit minyanim. It is understood the group are now operating under the name of ‘Chazak’, with the guise of providing group therapy sessions – a ploy that follows the Victorian government’s stage three restrictions which allow gatherings for up to 20 people for support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
One witness shared, “They are there every morning, and every night – sometimes two groups of 20 people each morning; and two groups of 20 people each night.
“But it’s a cover. Once they get in the building, they daven.”
“And if confronted, they quickly disappear out the front and back doors.”
The AJN understands Victoria Police have visited the site on multiple occasions in response to the concern and outrage of local residents and shopkeepers.
The group’s leader, Motty Fixler, did not answer The AJN’s calls.
Community leaders stated, “The Victorian Jewish community has zero tolerance for those who ignore the law and put lives at risk – behaviours that are in absolute contravention to Judaism’s most basic tenets.
“Victorian Jewish community leaders fully support Victoria Police and the Department of Health and Human Services in working to ensure that all Victorians comply with COVID-19 restrictions.”
The statement continued, “The vast majority of the Victorian Jewish community have been abiding by the restrictions put in place. Together with all Victorians, we will continue to do all we can to ensure we can reduce the cases of COVID-19 in Victoria as quickly as possible.”