Top Rabbi Gives Orthodox Jews Permission to Travel on Shabbat to Escape Hurricane Irma

The Times of Israel reports: An influential Ashkenazi rabbi said Jews may travel on Shabbat to escape Hurricane Irma, a category 5 storm that is expected to hit Florida over the weekend. But some Jews in flood-prone areas are determined to ride out the storm, their rabbi said.

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, who receives thousands of followers annually at his home in Bnei Brak, Israel, from various ultra-Orthodox communities around the world, issued the call in an interview with a follower, that one of his aides filmed and posted online Wednesday.

Kanievsky’s ruling came as people in parts of three Florida counties faced mandatory evacuation orders Thursday and officials in two other counties issued voluntary orders to leave in advance of Hurricane Irma, a storm that could create one of the largest mass exoduses in US history as additional evacuations are announced. Orthodox Jewish law permits the violation of Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest, in life-threatening or otherwise severe emergencies.

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