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Israeli chief rabbi calls for prayer against flu

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli chief rabbi has called for a day of fasting and prayer in response to the spread of swine flu.

The call by Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar to make Thursday a special fast day was publicized Tuesday on Israeli radio stations, including Army Radio. Amar also called on the public to increase its Torah study.

Amar, along with Rabbi Tzion Boaron of the High Rabbinical Court, said in an open letter to Israeli and world Jewry that in light of the fear that the virus could become a worldwide plague, Jews must "follow the custom of our forefathers and cry out unto God."

The Amoraitic sage Rav Yehuda declared a fast day during a similar epidemic.

Four cases of swine flu in Israel have been confirmed; one remains hospitalized.

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