The Hasidic Jewish community won its case against the state: they will be able to meet at 10 per room of a place of worship rather than 10 per building, the Superior Court of Quebec has just ruled by specifying the scope of a government decree that will apply to all religions.
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“Curbing the pandemic by limiting all types of gathering and preserving the capacity of hospitals and caregivers to take care of all sick people, whatever their illness, is an extremely important objective”, underlined Judge Chantal Massé, in however, giving reason to the Hasidic Jews who asked for more flexibility in order to be able to practice their religion according to their beliefs.
Following clashes between the faithful and the police in recent weeks, the Council of Hasidic Jews of Quebec and three congregations asked the court to suspend a decree limiting religious gatherings to 10 people per place of worship.
However, despite the government’s opposition, the judge ruled in their favor, so that from now on, they will be able to meet at 10 per room provided that each room has “independent access to the street without sharing a common space. with the other rooms ”.
This decision, explains the magistrate, comes from an administrative interpretation of the term “place of worship”, which includes “any room of a building of worship” having an independent space.
The Hasidic Jewish community also pleaded for freedom of religion, but this argument was rejected by the judge at this stage of the proceedings, considering that the public interest in the field of health was more important than the right to freedom of religion. religion.
For all religions
The judge also clarified that her decision did not target only Hasidic Jews, but all believers of other religions. But she still wanted to send them a clear message.
“If the tribunal had a single message to send to the applicants and to the entire Hasidic Jewish community they represent, as well as to all the believers who will benefit from this decision, it would be to urge the rigorous respect for the rules of law that are sanitary measures, however restrictive they are, as long as they must be presumed valid, she said. This is a requirement of life in a society of rights. “
In a statement issued just minutes after the court’s ruling, the Council of Hasidic Jews said it was “relieved” by this outcome.
“We believe that this court ruling will allow all those who feel the need to pray to do so under acceptable conditions,” said community representative Max Lieberman, while adding that they would respect all sanitary measures. imposed by the state.
The Council of Hasidic Jews of Quebec said it was very satisfied with the judge’s decision. “Judgment allows us to pray in a safe way,” said Abraham Ekstein, one of its members at a press briefing.
He ensures that the Council will “sensitize the community to respect all health instructions,” continues Mr. Ekstein.
“We will continue to pray for the well-being of our community and of all Quebecers and are working very hard to ensure that the well-being of all is respected,” he concludes.