In an attempt to persuade Israelis to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, a number of public figures in the country—among them Chief Rabbi David Lau, Bnei Brak Mayor Rabbi Avraham Rubinstein and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi—chose to be inoculated publicly on Sunday.

Lau was vaccinated at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, along with United Torah Judaism faction leader Knesset member Yitzhak Pindrus.

Shaare Zedek director Professor Ofer Merin said, “This is a very special day and a major milestone for us and our staff. I’m happy that you’ve realized what is obvious to us—that the vaccine is safe and wonderful news for us all.”

Lau responded: “With God’s help, we have gotten here, after months of the coronavirus raging, there is a vaccine available that can help contain the virus. Everyone who can be vaccinated against the virus according to a doctor’s instructions needs to do so. COVID is a certain danger, compared to minor concerns about side effects. … We will pray and hope the Lord stops the pandemic quickly, and we can go back to our regular lives soon.”

Pindrus said that “we have come to dispel doubt, and show there is no reason to be afraid to get the vaccine, and as the chief rabbi said, there is no doubt that side effects are less of a risk than the virus. I hope that the public will follow the opinion of the leaders and go get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Bnei Brak Mayor Rabbi Avraham Rubinstein was vaccinated at the head branch of the Leumit healthcare provider. Rubinstein has participated in the rabbinical call to the haredi public to get the vaccine.

Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef issued a letter on Sunday, stating: “I am calling on our brethren in the Holy Land to follow doctors’ instructions. Allow them to heal us. … Now that we have learned that a vaccine has been found that prevents COVID, and all the necessary trials were conducted and experts say that the vaccine is effective in stopping the pandemic and is not danger—each and every person must be vaccinated in accordance with doctors’ orders.”

Religious leaders weren’t the only ones who chose to be vaccinated on camera on Sunday—following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lead on Saturday night. The head of the IDF also chose to be vaccinated publicly.

“This past year, the army has done everything it can to protect operational capability,” said Kochhavi. “The vaccination campaign is a real development that will allow Israel and the IDF to get back to routine sooner. I am calling on all IDF soldiers and commanders to get vaccinated, and serve as a personal example on this important issue.”

The IDF will begin vaccinating its personnel next week at 17 vaccine centers deployed across the country. Logistical preparations are already underway. Vaccines will be administered by teams of medics, overseen by registered nurses and a team of medical staff.

Each soldier or officer who receives the first dose will be alerted by text message when it is time for the second jab to complete his or her vaccination.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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