Professor Roni Gamzu, state-appointed project manager of the coronavirus crisis, apologized, in a Facebook post published on the eve of Yom Kippur, for failing to prevent a general closure, and for the requirement to pray outside the synagogue during the High Holidays. 

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"In this time of forgiveness – I will apologize to every citizen in the State of Israel for my failure to prevent the full lockdown; for every person whose livelihood has been harmed; whose life has become more difficult; for every person who must give up the ability to see his extended family and friends," he wrote.

Gamzu also referred to his public conflict with leaders in the ultra-Orthodox community: "A special apology to the Haredi public, who saw my statements and decisions as harming its community and its customs. Everything I said, recommended or decided, stemmed from my attempt to prevent loss of life in every public in Israel."

"I am sorry that we are required to pray "Kol Nidrei" tonight in conditions of lockdown and reduction of congregation size, as will probably be the case in Jewish communities all over the world," he added.

Gamzu thanked the medical staff who "work nights and days to provide the best treatment with endless dedication and investment," and asked the public to adhere to the guidelines for wearing the mask and keeping their distance.

On Sunday, Gamzu visited the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya and said that despite the shortage of manpower, there is "an excess of dedication and spirit of action in the team and exceptional leadership." At the hospital, more than 100 patients are hospitalized in four corona wards as of Sunday. 

Doctor Masad Barhum, director of the medical center, said during the visit: "I closed two internal medicine wards, a geriatric ward and the only rehabilitation ward in the Galilee. We can convert one more boarding school to the corona ward. I can absorb ten more patients, but other patients will be neglected, and of course there may be more damage done as a result of the constant limitations of the staffs’ scope.” 

To see the full text of Gamzu’s apology on Facebook, see below.

Hello all. 

Yom Kippur is a time for soul-searching and personal, social and national introspection. I, too, am engaging in some soul-searching of my own.

The holiday season itself is characterized by gatherings of various kinds: prayers, family meals, entertainment and recreation. This says honestly and clearly that in any case and at any level of morbidity, we were required to tighten restrictions during this period and there was no escaping it. I am sorry that we are required to pray "Kol Nidrei" tonight in conditions of lockdown and reduction of congregation size, as will probably be the case in Jewish communities all over the world; This is a necessary order, unfortunately, to avoid loss of life. 

"In this time of forgiveness – I will apologize to every citizen in the State of Israel for my failure to prevent the full lockdown; for every person whose livelihood has been harmed; whose life has become more difficult; for every person who must give up the ability to see his extended family and friends;  to every person who had to give up freedom and recreation. 

I apologize to every person in Israel, secular, traditional, national-religious and ultra-Orthodox, for the period of Tishrei – Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah, which are a special and sacred period, to be mainly outside the synagogues; that the joy of the days of Sukkot and Simchat Torah will be limited this year. 

A special apology to the Haredi community who saw my statements and decisions as harming its community and its customs. Everything I said, recommended or decided, stemmed from my attempt to prevent loss of life in every public in Israel.

As someone who has worked for many years in the public health system and believes in it, I know that all of us in the hospitals work day and night to provide the best care with endless dedication and investment, and I am grateful for the preparation of all the medical staff wherever they are! On this occasion, I would like to thank the dear Ichilov employees – I am proud of you for your outstanding work and I miss you.

We still have a lot of work ahead of us even during the closure: to continue to build and strengthen both the system of breaking the contagion chain, and the the local authorities’ system of management – by the Home Front Command. We must continue to improve information and strengthen the public's trust in the ability of all of us collectively and individually to defeat the coronavirus.

Israelis: In the days when we are all required to reckon with ourselves – I ask each and every one of you to take personal responsibility for our health and adhere to the guidelines of wearing a mask and keeping your distance …. We have no other choice!

Easy fast and may you be written in the book of life, 

Prof. Roni Gamzu