Judge Denies Hasidim’s Request for Curfew Exemption

Gavel court ruling
Photo by Bill Oxford/Unsplash

The Council of Hasidic Jews of Quebec is considering its options following a Superior Court judge’s rejection of its request that the province’s nighttime curfew be delayed by 2-1/2 hours for the communities the organization represents.

Justice Brian Riordan decided that granting the communities the right to be out past the curfew’s 8 p.m. start would endanger public health during the COVID pandemic.

Council filed the legal action on March 12 in anticipation of the return to daylight saving time on March 14 when clocks were advanced by one hour. The later nightfall will make it impossible for Hasidic Jews to complete their evening prayers in synagogue in time to make it home before curfew, the Council argued.

Forcing Hasidic Jews to forgo obligatory prayers impedes their religious freedom, it claimed.

In a statement, Council vice-president Max Lieberman said, “We are studying the judgment with our lawyers and will react in due course after weighing all our options.

“The Council invites all our members from the different communities to respect the government decrees, as we have done since the beginning of this terrible pandemic, having always in mind the common good.”

Riordan ruled that “to permit some communities to override (the curfew) would put public health in peril” and “would create a precedent that the court is convinced would result in deaths.”

Fines for breaking the curfew range from $1,000 to $6,000, plus administrative fees.

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