(JTA) — Two top Sephardic rabbis in Israel called for a day of fasting and prayer to combat the swine flu.
Shlomo Amar, Israel’s chief Sephardic rabbi, and Ovadia Yosef, a former chief rabbi and the spiritual leader of the fervently Orthodox Shas Party, said in a joint statement on Aug. 13 that Aug. 19 should be reserved for prayer. They blamed the spread of swine flu on public sinning.
Israel has recorded hundreds of cases and eight deaths due to the disease. Amar and Yosef also cautioned the public to maintain strict standards of hygiene.
Earlier in the week, a coalition of rabbis and doctors advised against kissing mezuzahs to stem the flu’s spread. Amar directed followers to air-kiss mezuzahs instead, Ynet reported.