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Date: 12/08/09

Shofar, Shogood...

I honestly don't know how to react to this:

Flying rabbis fight swine flu

And no, you weren't the only one to misread the headline. My first thought was...

Mock photo of a rabbit with wings

"A group of rabbis and Jewish mystics have taken to the skies over Israel, praying and blowing ceremonial horns in a plane to ward off swine flu.

"About 50 religious leaders circled over the country on Monday, chanting prayers and blowing horns, called shofars.

"The flight's aim was "to stop the pandemic so people will stop dying from it", Rabbi Yitzhak Batzri was quoted as saying.

""We are certain that, thanks to the prayer, the danger is already behind us," added Mr Batzri."

Just in case you thought that this was a piece of collaborative surrealist fiction between, say, Beachcomber, Woody Allen and Monty Python, there are even photographs:

Picture of a rabbi blowing his horn on a plane

"I don't think much of the in-flight entertainment, do you? I mean, an Eddie Calvert soundalike competition?"

Of all the various categories of woo in the world, a bunch of strangely-dressed men chanting gibberish at 10000 feet to ward off a virus must be somewhere near the top of the league. It certainly makes the Hare Krishnas look rational.

And given that Israel is far nearer to being a theocracy than a democracy (rabbis blessing the killing of children in Gaza, for example), I suppose the plane didn't fly over the West Bank or Gaza for fear that they might accidently cure an Arab.