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Access_open Solidarity, Religious Freedom and COVID-19

The Case of the Ultra-Orthodox Sects in Israel

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2021
Keywords Social solidarity, COVID-19, Religious freedom, Cultural defence, Ultra-Orthodox sects in Israel
Authors Miriam Gur-Arye and Sharon Shakargy
AbstractAuthor's information

    The article discusses the tension between social solidarity and religious freedom as demonstrated by the refusal of the ultra-Orthodox sects in Israel to comply with COVID-19 regulations. The article provides a detailed description of the refusal to comply with the regulations restricting mass prayer services in synagogues and studying Torah in the yeshivas, thus interfering with the ultra-Orthodox religious life. The article suggests possible explanations for that refusal, based on either religious beliefs or a socio-political claim to autonomy, and discusses whether the polity should be willing to tolerate such a refusal on the basis of the cultural defence. The article concludes that despite the drastic restrictions on religious life caused by the social distancing regulations, and the special importance of freedom of religion, reducing the pandemic’s spread called for awarding priority to solidarity over religious freedom, and the enforcement of social solidarity legal duties – the social distancing regulations – on all.


Miriam Gur-Arye
Miriam Gur-Arye is the Judge Basil Wunsh Professor of Criminal Law, Faculty of Law, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Sharon Shakargy
Sharon Shakargy is a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Law, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Lukas van den Berge
Lukas van den Berge is assistent professor of legal theory at Utrecht University.
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