Coronavirus: Ultra orthodox Jewish community holds mass gathering amid ban

Jewish community leaders and politicians have slammed members of a Melbourne ultra-orthodox community for allegedly holding breakaway religious services of up to 50 people in contravention of a mass gathering ban.

Video has emerged of worshippers entering a makeshift synagogue at a residential address on Glen Eira Road in St Kilda East on Wednesday night, after all synagogues and places of worship in the city were shut down to comply with federal government measures.

In the footage, taken about 8pm on Wednesday, worshippers can be seen entering through the gates of a home which has lights set up in its backyard, where it is understood they attended a minyan – a prayer gathering of 10 Jewish men.

As part of stage 2 restrictions announced by the National Cabinet on Tuesday night, mass gatherings including places of worship have been banned.

The Australian has spoken to two pedestrians who observed the gathering on Wednesday night, who said police did not show up to the address despite making three calls complaining about the gathering.

“There must have been about 50 people that came and went over the hour,” one said.

“I’m Jewish and I’m absolutely furious they are behaving like this, putting the lives of the entire Melbourne community and beyond at risk.

“We called the police three times and they never came.”

Read the article by Elias Visontay and Tessa Akerman in The Australian.