Tags: Coronavirus | Israel | Ultra | Orthodox | coronavirus | lockdown

Israel Fears Ultra-Orthodox Flouting of Virus Rules Could Prompt Another Lockdown

Jewish feast of "Tu Bishvat"
Ultra-Orthodox Jews of the Belz Hasidim take part in the celebration of the Jewish feast of "Tu Bishvat" (or Tree New Year) on January 25, 2016 in Jerusalem. (Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 22 October 2020 03:58 PM

As Israel begins to come out of its second nationwide lockdown, health officials are fearful that the ultra-Orthodox Jews’ skirting of the rules could cause the virus to spread and even force another shutdown.

The Wall Street Journal reports that while most businesses and schools are closed, large gatherings banned, and masks are required, religious neighborhoods have reopened their seminaries and schools.

The ultra-Orthodox make up about 12.5% of Israel’s population and have accounted for as many as 65% of infections in the country in the first wave of the virus and more than 40% in the current second wave, according to a study based on the Ministry of Health data by Eran Segal, a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

But the population hasn’t experienced as many deaths, which is prompting neighborhoods to reopen. The death rate per 1,000 individuals in the ultra-Orthodox community is about half the rest of the country, according to government data.

“After eight months of not doing what we’re told to do by my government, we’re still alive and healthy, so there’s no reason to close the Torah institutes,” one ultra-Orthodox man in his 20s told the Journal.

Segal warned that “if the yeshivas will open up again, we are likely to see another outbreak.”

Israel isn’t the only one struggling to convince the ultra-religious to cooperate with health measures. According to The Wall Street Journal, London and New York officials have also tried to get the ultra-Orthodox to adhere to virus mitigation measures.

This week, preschools, child daycare centers and some businesses were allowed to open. A rule limiting citizens to stay within one kilometer of their homes was also lifted. Despite government requests to stay shut, a 92-year-old spiritual leader, who has coronavirus, opened educational institutions, The Journal reports. 

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As Israel begins to come out of its second nationwide lockdown, health officials are fearful that the ultra-Orthodox Jews' skirting of the rules could cause the virus to spread and even force another shutdown...
Israel, Ultra, Orthodox, coronavirus, lockdown
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2020-58-22
Thursday, 22 October 2020 03:58 PM
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