This is not anti-Semitism. It is an understanding that every sick person has the power to infect others. Private homes, public gatherings, these are spreading events. There should be some accountability, particularly in areas where the numbers of sick to healthy are legitimately rising.
Charedi reporter at centre of a storm
There are two men at the centre of the febrile Brooklyn street demonstrations by strictly Orthodox Jews, protesting against a coronavirus crackdown by the Democratic governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, and his mayoral colleague, Bill de Blasio.
One is homegrown local Harold “Heshy” Tischler, host of a populist pro-Trump radio programme, now facing a court case on charges of inciting a riot and unlawful imprisonment.
And the other, improbably, is a softly-spoken Orthodox Jew, Jacob Kornbluh, born and brought up in Stamford Hill, London and now a political reporter for the Jewish Insider website, a national Jewish publication rather than a Charedi, local, one.
Since the beginning of the pandemic — and Kornbluh himself fell victim to the disease early on — he has been one of the loudest voices calling for the strictly Orthodox community to observe the rules of masks and social distancing. He has lost both relatives and friends to the virus.
But last week matters turned ugly when a crowd of mainly young men and boys — apparently urged on by Tischler — turned on Kornbluh and began screaming “moiser” — “traitor” — in his face. Though there was no actual physical violence, Kornbluh, 39, requested and received a police escort to his home in the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Boro Park, where he lives with his wife and five children.
He and his family now have to deal with intimidation on the street and on social media, directed at Kornbluh for apparently “siding” with the mayor and the governor, and for pressing charges against Heshy Tischler. “As a reporter, I never want to be the story”, says Kornbluh, “I always want to be the one presenting the accurate facts, the government guidelines and so on. Unfortunately there’s so much misinformation and miscommunication”. He is as critical of the mayor and governor for “failure to reach out to the community and educate about the virus”, as he is of the community for flouting the regulations.
Public service is central to Kornbluh’s family. His father, Isaac, ran for local council in Stamford Hill and was one of the founders of the area’s Hatzolah and Shomrim groupings, forming tight bonds with police and hospital authorities. Jacob, the fifth of seven siblings, told a Haaretz webinar this week that his memories of home life included his father “being almost never there” on Shabbat or even seder night, because of being on call for emergencies. “My father was always pretty vocal about his core mission, to save lives”, Kornbluh told the JC, “that’s how I grew up, and that’s how I feel”.To continue reading in theJC.com, click here.
***Journalist, governments, secular Jews, and non-Jews the world over are all wondering the same thing:Why are the coronavirus case counts higher in hareidi neighborhoods and communities?
Reposted with Permission of Frum Watch
Some like to point to the difficulty practicing social distancing with large families in cramped quarters, while others like to point to the lack of science education and general secular knowledge. Still others point to the hareidi communities refusal to put on hold its communal way of life. We would like to share with you the real reason behind the lackadaisical commitment to, if not outright rejection of, the social distancing guidelines in the hareidi community.
The answer is one word – WORK (or the lack thereof).
Let us explain. Never before in the history of the Jewish people has a Jewish community rejected the notion of the male members of the community working for a living. From the Bible to the Mishna to the Talmud — through the times of the later codes of Jewish law — husbands and male members of the Jewish community always have worked to support themselves and their families. In ancient times, some chopped wood, some made clothing, while others were shoemakers and blacksmiths. The Jewish marriage document, the Ketubah, itself attests to the importance and obligation of the husband and father of the household to support his wife and children.
However, this all changed when Rabbi Aaron Kotler, a Lithuanian yeshiva dean, arrived in the US and founded the Lakewood yeshiva and kollel in 1943. Rabbi Kotler believed and Rav Karelitz, the Chazon Ish, in Israel agreed that the secular work place was no place for a frum hareidi male. The temptations were too great; kefirah (heresy) was rampant – and besides, the hareidi world needed Torah scholars, not Torah businessman. This Torah Only theology spawned what we now know as the “kollel for life” model, where the male members of the community learn Talmud for life, while their wives and daughters support the household.
This new order is unprecedented in the annals of Jewish history. For the first time ever, we now have in Lakewood, Bnei Brak, and Jerusalem entire communities of men who don’t work for a living. Naturally, without working men, the community ultimately has become reliant on the income of the wives (usually working part-time), government welfare, and gemachim (community charities).
An ultra-Orthodox health pioneer has expressed intense frustration at coronavirus disobedience, and said it’s bringing hatred on his community and fanning the flames of anti-Semitism.
Yehuda Meshi-Zahav hauls body bags of the COVID-19 deceased, but even the warnings he delivers after carrying out this gory work fall on deaf ears, he said.
His organization ZAKA, a medical aid and rescue nonprofit, has helped some 1,800 God-fearing Diaspora Jews killed by the coronavirus to fulfill their dying wish, transferring them from planes for eternal rest in Israel’s sacred soil, he said. He also personally retrieves bodies of Israelis who have died.
But he is astounded that nothing he can say or do — whether talk of the body bags, Israel’s dizzying coronavirus stats shared in Yiddish, or personal stories of those who died — can convince the slice of the Haredi community that is insistently noncooperative in the battle against the coronavirus to change its ways.
Meshi-Zahav spoke to The Times of Israel on Sunday, at the end of the Jewish holiday season, amid numerous reports that mass gatherings had taken place among Israeli Haredim in defiance of coronavirus rules.
These included celebrations for Saturday’s Simhat Torah festival, held despite statistics indicating that ultra-Orthodox Israelis, around 12 percent of the population, are catching the virus out of proportion to others. Hospitals are heavily populated by Haredim, while some members of the community are being treated by a program to give breathing support at home, without knowledge of the authorities.
“I explain to people that others are looking at them, and saying that we’re in this situation because of Haredim, and that the 12 percent is infecting the 80-plus percent, and that ‘you’ are ‘stealing’ the breathing machines,” Meshi-Zahav said. “And I say that this hatred is terrible, but what people see is the continuation of singing, dancing, public prayers, and simchas [celebrations] — as well as continuation of protests.”The Times of Israel, click here.
Disobedience born of poor leadership
It’s a misconception to assume that Haredi refusal to follow virus rules is driven by disrespect to others, he said, arguing that it stems from a misguided desire to retain religious routine at all costs. In his view, strong and determined leadership could fix this with a clarion call insisting that the religious imperative to save life comes above all, but there is no such leadership on the horizon.
He said there are large parts of the Haredi community where coronavirus rules are carefully followed, and there are rabbis who encourage this. And he stressed that disproportionately high virus rates among Haredim don’t reflect disobedience alone, but to a large extent also circumstances, like large families and cramped conditions.
Yet he is worried that a notable minority is breaking rules, which causes infection to spread, and lamented: “People don’t understand we’re all in the same boat. It’s like the story of the people who drill a hole under their seat in boat, saying it’ll only affect them, but of course, it affects everyone.”
Meshi-Zahav is particularly concerned by the fact that Haredi disobedience has an international element. In New York’s Haredi community, where virus rates have been high, there have been some very visible expressions of disdain for restrictions, including angry protests against coronavirus shutdowns.The Times of Israel, click here.
Groups of protesters gather in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Borough Park to denounce lockdowns of their neighborhood due to a spike in COVID-19 cases on October 7, 2020 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)
And he believes that the situation in Israel and New York is playing into the hands of anti-Semites. “If Jews are saying the things I mentioned about each other, of course others will say them,” he said. “They will take the symbol of a man in Jewish dress, and connect it to the coronavirusTo Continue Reading the Times of Israel in its entirety click here.