Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Ultra orthodox Jews from the Karlin (Hasidic dynasty) praying and following social distancing rules outside their shul in Jerusalem, on August 10, 2020.

By Hanan Greenwood

Although the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Israel has dropped over the course of the country’s second lockdown, a Health Ministry team charged with outreach to the insular haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community reported on Tuesday that more than 50 percent of COVID-19 patients aged 65 and over hail from the haredi sector.

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Health officials believe that most of the elderly haredi patients contracted the virus at public prayers during the High Holidays.

The new data is somewhat startling, as haredim comprise approximately 12 percent of the general population and only a small fraction of the population age 65 and over.

The report, which was published in haredi media outlets, tells members of that population: “They are the ones that devoted themselves to us all their lives! They are the ones who were there for us day and night, taught us, brought us up, gave to us and worried about us. They are our mothers and fathers! Let’s try to follow the [public health] regulations, for us and for them.”

The outreach team said, “The figure we reported makes it clear that despite the prevailing sense that the elderly are kept safe, and that the young people take care of themselves because they are afraid of infecting elderly family members, the numbers speak for themselves and should be especially worrying to our public.”

For the first time, the haredi team has adopted a slogan: “Haredim follow the rules. We uphold the sanctity of life.” The new slogan is intended to emphasize that despite the erroneous impression given by some media outlets, most of its populace adheres to Health Ministry regulations.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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