Israel

Haredi rabbinic leader calls on followers to pray alone

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, a prominent leader in the haredi Orthodox community, called on his followers to pray alone without a prayer quorum. The ruling on Sunday came after a steep rise in the number of coronavirus cases in Bnei Brak, a mostly haredi city in Israel,… Read more »

The coronavirus hasn’t stopped immigration to Israel

Israeli travelers enjoy a celebratory arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, March 23, 2020. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Aviva Karoly, an attorney originally from Queens, New York, and her husband, Tzvi, were raised in religious Zionist homes and always dreamed of living in Israel. In preparation, the couple had sent their 6-year old son Adi to a Hebrew-speaking preschool. They also put off purchasing… Read more »

The real reasons coronavirus is spreading in my Hasidic community

JERUSALEM (JTA) —  A vicious rumor has been making the rounds: Hasidim are neglecting to take the coronavirus pandemic seriously because we are selfish. But as someone born and bred in the Satmar community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, who now lives in Jerusalem and writes for Yiddish publications, I can… Read more »

Why Jewish communities are keeping mikvahs open amid the coronavirus outbreak — for now

Women's mikvahs in Israel, like this one in the settlement of Alon Shvut, are still open. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

NEW YORK (JTA) — When the rabbis of New Jersey’s suburban Bergen County took the bold step of shutting down almost all facets of communal Jewish life last week, they left the doors of one institution open: the women’s mikvah, or ritual bath. That pattern has been repeated in… Read more »

Saying Kaddish from balconies and fasting: How Hasidic Jews are responding to the coronavirus

Chabad children in Argentina study in the movement's online school in 2007. During the new coronavirus outbreak, the school has offered guidance to other Jewish schools transitioning to remote learning. (Courtesy of the Nigri International Shluchim Online School)

NEW YORK (JTA) — One of Avi Webb’s favorite times of the week is Sunday morning, when he takes his children to morning prayers at his synagogue and stays for a lesson on Hasidic thought. His kids play at an arts and crafts table while he studies. Webb is… Read more »

‘We’re not scared’: Some haredi Orthodox Jews in Israel are ignoring coronavirus social distancing rules

Some of the students at a haredi boys school in Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet, just west of Jerusalem, where classes are still being held, March 18, 2020. (Sam Sokol)

BEIT SHEMESH, Israel (JTA) — “Do you want trouble?” the Hasidic man asked, leaning toward me intimidatingly. “Are you threatening me?” I asked, turning to look at the lean man in a flat black hat and long caftan. “No. But if you stay here, everyone will come and there… Read more »

‘I’m mentally preparing for a few months’: Meet an Israeli doctor on the coronavirus front lines

Dr. Elli Rosenberg, right, with colleagues in the coronavirus unit of Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva, Israel. (Courtesy of Rosenberg)

(JTA) — When it became clear that the COVID-19 pandemic would reach Israel, Elli Rosenberg was one of a small number of medical professionals at the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva to answer a call for volunteers to treat the sick. Rosenberg, a clinical immunologist who works as an… Read more »

Arab-Israeli parties just recommended Benny Gantz to be prime minister. Here’s why that’s historic.

Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List, left, with other party members at the party headquarters in the Arab-Israeli city of Shfaram, March 2, 2020. (David Cohen/Flash90)

(JTA) — Amid all the justifiable focus on the coronavirus and its consequences, there was major political news in Israel this week: Benny Gantz, the Blue and White party leader, was tapped by the president to assemble a government coalition — bringing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu closer to his… Read more »

Jewish Agency sending teen emissaries back to Israel, and to quarantine

(JTA) — Earlier this week, the Jewish Agency for Israel said it was committed to keeping its emissaries in the United States, even as other groups brought theirs home amid the rising coronavirus crisis. But on Friday morning, with schools and synagogues across the country shuttering in an effort… Read more »