Dramatic jump in morbidity in the ultra-Orthodox sector: “Very worrying data”


The number of verified patients in the ultra-Orthodox cities and neighborhoods has skyrocketed significantly in the past week, and according to officials in the Ministry of Health, the reason for this is Rosh Hashanah prayers and selichot stands.

In the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods of Jerusalem, there was a jump in the number of patients, as well as in Bnei Brak, Beitar Illit, Modi’in Illit and Elad, where thousands of patients were registered, most of whom were verified in the past week.

A few hours before Yom Kippur, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon issued a public call, which he called an emergency call. “The data flowing to us from the hospitals is very worrying. We see the severe outbreak that came as a result of the Rosh Hashanah prayers, and are appalled at the thought of the additional outbreak that may come as a result of the Yom Kippur prayers.”

The Ministry of Health has made significant efforts to prevent prayers in synagogues. Along with activities among the influential rabbis in the Lithuanian and Hassidic communities that led to a certain change, the ministry issued cars for the neighborhoods and called on residents to heed the instructions.

Despite the Ministry of Health’s request, the ultra-Orthodox rabbis refrained from publicly reading not to pray in synagogues en masse, among other things, apparently from understanding that such a reading would not be accepted by the public, and contented themselves with issuing instructions to keep distance and wearing masks. Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, the greatest of the ultra-Orthodox-Lithuanian generation, issued an order for everyone in the risk group, including older people, to pray at home.

But despite the chants, there were those who endangered the public. Hours before the beginning of Yom Kippur, police were called to a synagogue in the Kiryat Yuval neighborhood of Jerusalem due to a verified patient who violated the instructions and came to pray there, at the risk of the worshipers. The patient, who is supposed to be in home isolation, was fined NIS 5,000 and borrowed back to his home.
Haredim at the Western Wall, in Jerusalem, about two weeks ago (photographers have nothing to do with the news) // Photo: Oren Ben Hakon
The fear of infection is expected to continue in the coming days, after thousands of yeshiva students return to their homes after about a month and a half in the educational institutions. In recent months, particularly high numbers of patients have been recorded in yeshivas, but these have become a kind of Corona hotels, thus preventing the massive infection. The boys will now return to their homes in the red cities, which could exacerbate the crisis.

Maj. Gen. (Res.) Roni Noma, who is in charge of the ultra-Orthodox sector at the Ministry of Health, issued a statement in which he clarified that “according to the agreement with the meetings in the capsules arrangement with the ultra-Orthodox desk, tests were performed “Corona or ‘follow-up meetings.’

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