Israel | Mind, Body & Spirit

1 in 3 residents of Israeli city Bnei Brak tested for coronavirus are positive

JERUSALEM (JTA) — One in three residents, or 34 percent, of the mostly haredi Orthodox city of Bnei Brak in central Israel who have been tested for the coronavirus are positive.

The high percentage of positive tests reported Tuesday by the Health Ministry compares to 6 percent in Tel Aviv and 10 percent in Jerusalem.

There are 505 confirmed cases of coronavirus among residents of Bnei Brak compared to 568 in Jerusalem, which has a population five times higher.

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, who is haredi Orthodox, said that he proposed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Arye Deri to impose a total lockdown on Bnei Brak to stem the spread of COVID-19.

“The situation there is horrible,” Litzman said, according to Ynet. “Every day we stall, we put lives at risk.”

He rejected accusations that the haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, community was flouting government rules regarding coronavirus.

“You cannot accuse an entire public of the actions of several rogue groups here and there,” Litzman said. “Ninety-nine percent of the public listen to the state and the rabbis.”

In recent days, high-profile haredi rabbinic leaders have called on their followers to follow government restrictions, including against praying in a synagogue with a minyan.