Leaders of Israel’s religious communities gathered at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem to issue an interfaith call for people to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

President Isaac Herzog was joined by Israel’s Jewish chief rabbis, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Latin Patriarch, the president of the Muslim Shari’a Court of Appeals, the Druze community leader and the Secretary-General of the Baháʼí Movement in Israel, as well as the health minister and the government’s Covid coordinator.

“The sanctity of life is a supreme value for religions and the saving of the life of any human being – all created in the image of God – is the greatest religious obligation of all,” the religious leaders declared.

President Isaac Herzog, center, government officials and Israel’s religious leaders call for mass Covid vaccinations from Jerusalem. Photo by Koby Gideon/GPO

“Together with prayers to the Almighty, we call on everyone to be vaccinated as soon as possible. The licensed vaccines that have been approved by the most important professional regulatory bodies in the world are highly effective and safe, proven by the notable number of over 3 billion vaccinated people worldwide, and have led to a drastic reduction of Covid-19 infections.”

This historic summit was convened in collaboration with the Jerusalem Impact Vaccination Initiative, founded to foster professional and interfaith collaborations in Israel and elsewhere.

Public health expert Inon Schenker, founder of the initiative, said: “President Isaac Herzog is the first head of state in the world to underscore the role of religious leaders in collaboration with public health experts and authorities to combat Covid-19. Today’s declaration and seminar emphasize Jerusalem’s experience in vaccinations, which countries and organizations around the world will now enjoy.”

Herzog added, “Interfaith cooperation is hugely powerful. I think that the fact that this fantastic call is coming out of the Holy Land truly sets an example and serves as a model.”

This week, the Israeli government decided to begin making the Covid-19 vaccination available to children ages five to 11.