Jewish Worshippers Allegedly Flouted Melbourne's Lockdown by Posing as Alcoholics Anonymous
Melbourne Police issued more than 100 fines after a series of Rosh Hashanah services were held in breach of COVID-19 public restrictions on 7 September.
Jewish Worshippers gathered to celebrate the Jewish New Year in Melbourne, Australia, on Tuesday breaching local COVID-19 restrictions. Local MP David Southwick claims they have been posing as members of an Alcoholics Anonymous mental health group for months, before police cracked down on the group.
Around 30 people gathered for a celebration at the orthodox Adas Israel Synagogue in the south east of Melbourne on 7 September. When Police arrived at the site, they guarded every exit to catch the worshippers as they left, but some confronted the law enforcement agents, and others escaped over the roof.
Six worshippers were reportedly fined $5,452 for breaching lockdown. Southwick dubbed those worshippers "untouchable for months" as they were pretending to be a mental health group.
"My understanding is they were operating under an AA-type meeting and mental health group that allows you to have 10 people congregate at a time," the Herald Sun cited the politician as saying.
Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier urged Jewish worshippers to follow lockdown regulations during the new year celebrations, which have just passed, and services for Yom Kippur (or the Day of Atonement), which falls next week and is considered the most important religious festival in the Jewish calendar.
Another illegal prayer group which had gathered for the Jewish New Year was also shut down by police from an apartment above the Ripponlea IGA supermarket, not far away from Adas Israel Synagogue. Once exposed, worshippers and their supporters also confronted police and reportedly abused law enforcement and accused media and health authorities of anti-Semitism.