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Flying rabbis fight swine flu

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Rabbis and Kabbalah mystics recite prayers to ward off swine flu

A group of rabbis and Jewish mystics has 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 in Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

The flu is often called simply "H1N1" in Israel, as pigs are seen as unclean.

SWINE FLU
Swine flu is a respiratory disease thought to spread through coughing and sneezing
Symptoms mimic those of normal flu
Good hygiene like using a tissue and washing hands thoroughly can help reduce transmission

Eating pork is banned under Jewish dietary laws.

According to Israel's health ministry, there have been more than 2,000 cases of swine flu in the country, with five fatalities so far.

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

Television footage showed rabbis in black hats rocking backwards and forwards as they read prayers from Kabbalah, a form of Jewish mysticism which counts the singer Madonna among its devotees.

The shofar is the horn of a ram, and is used to mark major religious occasions in Judaism.



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