BNEI BRAK (VINnews) — Gen. (Res.) Roni Noma spoke about his experiences as the “sheriff of Bnei Brak” during the period of COVID-19. Noma addressed a conference organized by the Gesher association for connecting different parts of Israeli society.

Noma described the situation in Bnei Brak, which was taken over by the army after a significant number of residents were infected with coronavirus. “There was a lot of suspicion between us and the Chareidim in Bnei Brak. The point when the ice was broken was during the preparations for Pesach, that is where I felt that the government bodies needed to understand that we  were dealing with a different city with different requirements. It wasn’t just (removing) sick people, there were lots of executive bodies, we needed to do Biur Chametz (removal of Chametz) by gathering it from all of the apartments so that there wouldn’t be public gatherings like every year, we needed mutual trust. It was a huge logistic operation, they didn’t trust and the soldiers didn’t understand. The moment they saw and heard people coming to help, the ice was broken.

Noma spoke about what he experienced: “I want to believe that the Chareidi public is more open today. We need to be careful and humble when speaking about the future. It depends  on how we act. If we will be patronizing and say that “we told you” it will cause the opposite reaction. If on the other hand there will be a mutual feeling on all sides that they need to be open to the needs of the others, we will succeed in strengthening society. The differences need to be maintained, they are not the problem. I have undergone a journey on which I can say with certainty that I am aware today of things I didn’t know before and therefore I am much more respectful and appreciative of these dear people who live there. They really want to contribute and to be part of us.

Noma said that “I wouldn’t run to try and draft them. Those who want to can enlist, if we act wisely this crisis will change us into a wiser, more cohesive and more ethical society.”

Noma said that on Israel’s memorial day he was in Bnei Brak: “I listened to the speeches, I saw flags, I felt something else which gave me renewed optimism. It was something I had not seen and not felt before.”