Mind, Body & Spirit

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 »

For Italian Jews, the ‘smell of death’ is all around

A cyclist protecting himself from the coronavirus passes in front of a synagogue in Turin, Italy, March 18, 2020. (Stefano Guidi/Getty Images)

(JTA) — At least twice a day, Micol Naccache breaks down in tears over what the coronavirus is doing to her city of Milan and its Jewish community. A high school teacher and mother of two, Naccache describes herself as “an optimistic person.” But she is struggling to stay… Read more »

On Sunday, the rabbi logged on to Zoom: A bride and groom were waiting

Jalna Silverstein and Asael Papour are married in New York, March 22, 2020. (Courtesy of Silverstein)

(JTA) — Before everything changed, Jalna Silverstein and Asael Papour were planning a wedding much like many other Jewish nuptials on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. They had a band and caterer lined up, a ceremony planned for the synagogue where Silverstein grew up and all the little… Read more »

The Bonds of Life: Remembering those we lost to COVID-19

We’re creating space to mourn Jews who are lost to the coronavirus at a time when Jewish mourning practices are nearly impossible to observe. If you’ve lost someone dear to you, we invite you to share their story with us using this form. Maurice Berger, 63, was a noted… 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 »

I’m a pediatrician who sees kids with coronavirus every day. It’s changed my whole way of life.

Health care providers wear protective equipment, like gloves, but some still get the coronavirus. (Getty Images)

NEW YORK (JTA) — I am a pediatrician who for 15 years has practiced in a medical office in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We serve the local Hasidic community and see a variety of other patients from Brooklyn, the Lower East Side and Queens. When the coronavirus emerged… 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 »

Jews in the United Kingdom prepare for distancing as Britain adapts to coronavirus

Philip Carmel, seen outside a Jewish cemetery in Russia during a work trip in 2018, says "the only difference between the United Kingdom and Italy is that we’re three weeks behind them.” (Cnaan Liphshiz)

(JTA) — As the coronavirus forced the shutdown of many synagogues in the United States and beyond last Shabbat, many British Jews celebrated the day of rest as usual. At the time, their government was taking a far less restrictive approach even as the leaders of other countries shut… 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 »

Former leader of Milan Jewish community dies of coronavirus

(JTA) — Michele Sciama, a former secretary-general of the Jewish Community of Milan — the city’s local Jewish communal life organization — has died of the Covid-19 coronavirus. Sciama, known to his friends and family as Micky, was 79 when he died Monday morning. He is survived by his… Read more »

From ‘Spock’ greetings to chopstick Torah pointers, synagogues are getting creative amid the coronavirus outbreak

To minimize the spread of germs, congregants at Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley are using disposable chopsticks in lieu of a shared yad when reading from the Torah. (Courtesy Alan Sokoloff)

(JTA) — On a typical Friday, some 200 people show up for services at Temple De Hirsch Sinai, a Reform congregation in Seattle. But last week, there was no one in the pews as Rabbi Daniel Weiner welcomed Shabbat in the synagogue’s smaller sanctuary. Instead, some 1,500 people watched… Read more »

‘It’s separating families’: How the unprecedented coronavirus lockdown is affecting Italy’s Jews

A man and woman stand outside the Milan Cathedral with protective masks and sanitizing gels, Feb. 23, 2020. (Andrea Diodato/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

(JTA) — The outbreak of the coronavirus in northern Italy forced Claudia Bagnarelli to make a painful choice. “To keep visiting my 94-year-old mother, I needed to stop seeing everyone else in my life,” Bagnarelli, a Jewish ballet teacher from Milan, said Monday. To avoid the risk of infecting… Read more »

Tucson, Phoenix are best cities for sunshine

It’s no surprise to us who live in the Sonoran Desert that, on average, we enjoy 286 sunny days a year in Tucson — while the U.S. average is 205. Old Pueblo residents can get ample doses of vitamin D while those in the Pacific Northwest are depleted. We… Read more »