How to cope with the hesitation of ultra-Orthodox Jews to comply by social distancing rules

New York’s Haredi Jews play with Passion

Of?cials in Israel and New York are facing a common question, says Shmuel Rosner: how to cope with the hesitation of ultra-Orthodox Jews to comply by social distancing rules. Covid infection rates in Haredi communities have”skyrocketed”, owing both to demographic factors (they have big families and live in densely populated regions ) and the behavior of individuals. Suspicious of any interference with their communities that are closed, some Haredis in both Israel and New York have refused to close down schools, in accordance with local law, also have insisted on attending funerals in massive amounts, leading to clashes with authorities. Many have refused to wear masks and have evaded testing; many collect regularly in crowded synagogues. These communities are”playing ?re”. Their version of decided”isolation” was very capable of sustaining them over the years. But today they’re no longer a feeble minority, but instead a thriving, fast growing and more noticeable presence. Their obvious ?aunting of rules — and especially those pertaining to public health — risks prompting a backlash. As one who wishes the Haredi well and admires their values, I regard”recent occasions with a growing feeling of apprehension”, and I am not alone in that.

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