Jewish leaders fear ultra-Orthodox Jews have missed isolation message
Many in UK community, two members of which have died of coronavirus, rarely engage with media
Jewish leaders are concerned that messages about the risks of Covid-19, and the need to isolate and keep social distance, are not reaching pockets of the ultra-Orthodox community who rarely engage with the media and have limited access to the internet.
Two members of London’s ultra-Orthodox community died of coronavirus at the weekend, the Board of Deputies of British Jews said. But in Stamford Hill, an area of north-east London with a large Haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, population, some synagogues are still open.
The Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations circulated guidance at the end of last week saying women, children and “elderly and weaker men with health disabilities” should not go to synagogues, but it did not extend the advice to healthy men. Schools and places of religious education should shut, the guidance said.
Almost all synagogues have been closed for more than a week, with many livestreaming services and celebrations. Kosher shops have put social distancing policies in place, and synagogues and other Jewish organisations have stepped up efforts to provide assistance to elderly and vulnerable people.
Rabbi Avrohom Pinter, who lives in Stamford Hill, said most people were heeding the messages about physical distancing. “The issue I’m concerned about it is that the government is, to a certain degree, abdicating responsibility. People need to be told.”