An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man preparing for Yom Kippur in Jerusalem. (Menahem Kahana)

Jewish leaders denied bid for exemption on holy day

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish leaders lost a bid for a lockdown exemption that would’ve allowed worshippers to gather on the “holiest day of the year”.

Health authorities have ­refused a request from Melbourne’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community to celebrate their holiest day of the year in person.

Nine Melbourne-based rabbis and seven medical providers called on Daniel Andrews to allow them to observe Yom Kippur with small gatherings, after authorities gave the green light for a Thai boxing event.

Yom Kippur – which begins at sunset on Wednesday – is described as the “holiest day on the Jewish calendar”.

The community leaders – which represent up to 1500 families who observe the Torah – on Monday called to be allowed to run services at synagogues, subject to density quotients and with groups limited to 10 men plus those running the service.

They said gathering would be held outdoors where possible, with pre-registration, Covid-marshals, masks and ­social distancing all in place.

The leaders even said the services could be limited to inner-east postcodes – including 3162 covering Caulfield, 3183 (Balaclava) and 3185 (Elsternwick and Ripponlea) – with low case numbers.

But the Health Department said chief health officer Brett Sutton could only provide exemptions to the limits on public or private gatherings if they related to end-of-life events.

“We know how tough lockdowns are on all Victorians – but we all have to play our role in keeping case numbers low and protecting our health system for everyone who needs it in the coming months,” a department spokesman said.

Read the article by Mitch Clarke in the Herald Sun.