The New York Times reported this week that “New York threatens Orthodox Jewish areas with Lockdown over virus.” The Times reports that, facing a worrying spike in coronavirus cases in Orthodox Jewish neighbourhoods, New York City health officials began this week carrying out emergency inspections at private Jewish orthodox schools.
NY State officials released statistics showing that the positivity rate in some Orthodox Jewish neighbourhoods had grown to anywhere from 3 percent to 6 percent, significantly more than the city’s overall rate of between 1 percent and 2 percent. This means that Covid 19 spreads within the Orthodox Jewish community at a rate about 3-6 times higher than other New Yorkers.
Those who follow the spread of Covid amongst the Jewish community aren’t surprised by these findings. Back in April the Jewish press admitted that “British Jews are overrepresented by a factor of eight in their country’s death toll from COVID-19.” Surely this overrepresentation should have been an alarming bit of information. Yet this fact was hardly covered by British press for reasons I suspect you can guess. The Times of Israel, however, attempted to offer some explanation for the anomaly. The Israeli outlet referenced the failure “to observe social distancing protocols at some Haredi Orthodox synagogues and institutions…People are touching the same surfaces, the same siddurim (prayer books).”
The Jewish State that performed very well in limiting the virus in the period from March –May and saw few deaths, is now the reddest country in the world, ahead of all other countries in its Covid 19 infectious rate. Presently the Jewish State identifies between seven to nine thousand new cases a day, a number that is much higher than Britain’s which has a population six times that of Israel.
Israeli police detain ultra-Orthodox Jewish men during scuffles as police enforce a partial lockdown against coronavirus in Jerusalem. March 30, 2020Credit: RONEN ZVULUN/ REUTERS
Earlier this week the Jewish State released a demographic study of Covid 19 case distribution within different segments of its population. The data revealed that while in the general population the rate of positive tests has not yet exceeded 10%, among the ultra-Orthodox the percentage of positive tests is no less than 26%. More than a quarter of Israel’s Orthodox Jews tested are ‘infected.’
What is it about Orthodox Jews and corona? This question can be addressed from a theological point of view, why is God tormenting his favourite and most dedicated matzo-balls, turning their society into a covid hub?
Of course it is possible that God is acting as he has throughout the Jewish past, and is punishing his chosen children for one reason or another. Orthodox Jews are fatalistic about their fortunes, and accept their deity’s master plan for the world. Back in March, at the peak of the Covid 19 crisis an Israeli Rabbi expressed these ideas in the clearest form. In a peculiar video that some may interpret as a parody, the Orthodox Rabbi urged his followers not to worry about the corona virus as “the benevolent father looks after his children”… “The corona,” he said “is for the Goyim not for the people of Israel.”
Another explanation for the high rate of infection among Orthodox Jews is that the almighty actually uses his much-loved sons and daughters as distributors of the virus, most probably because God, being reasonable and scientific, doesn’t believe in Fauci’s or Bill Gate’s vaccine fantasies. By this logic, God must also believe in herd immunity. If the notion and the science of herd immunity is valid, the Orthodox Jewish community is closer than any other group in approaching such protection. Under this theory of Covid 19, the Orthodox Jews may not be ‘the Light onto the Nations’ but actually the “Light unto the Covid.”
There is also a scientific and social explanation for the growing saturation of Covid cases within the Jewish community. It appears that, in general, Orthodox Jews refrain from social distancing and/or refuse to wear facemasks. They do not take the Covid hysteria very seriously. This can be explained. Haredi Jews follow their religion in the strictest possible manner. They are devoted to their own legalistic code (Halacha Law). When there is a conflict or even a clash between the Jewish law and the civil laws of their host nation, Jewish Law is prioritised and, if necessary, the civil law is ignored. For example, that is the reason Orthodox Jewish institutions do not see themselves as obligated to follow any ‘gender equality’ LGBTQ or other current ‘multicultural decrees.’
The same applies to Covid 19. The Orthodox Jews follow their own religion, and strictly observe the laws of their not so merciful God. Anthony Fauci, Bill Gates and Neil Ferguson will have to work much harder on their credibility before the Rabbis notice their existence!
An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish man reads a billboard poster on how to sneeze properly and avoid spreading COVID-19. Jerusalem, March 29, 2020Credit: AFP
Of course, due to their religious culture and the clannish nature of the Jewish orthodox ghetto as well as their characteristic extended family cell and cross generational environment, Orthodox society is prone to spreading Covid amongst themselves. They are clearly disproportionately infected which seems to be a great concern to the people who live around them and feel threatened by this fact.
The practical meaning of their rate of infection is that the Orthodox Jewish quarters in the USA, Britain and, of course, Israel may soon be the safest places as far as Covid 19 is concerned, as these communities that are suffocated with cases are closer than anyone else to herd immunity. The likelihood of this peculiar result is supported by the fact that despite the rapidly rising number of cases within the Orthodox community, the rate of Covid death is dropping to statistically infinitesimal proportions. The meaning of it is that this society appears to be reaching the necessary collective immunity. Maybe we can stop looking at Sweden that is clearly doing well at the moment and start to look at the Jewish ghetto as these segregated religious communities have a very interesting Covid story to tell.