Skip to main content

Ultra-Orthodox in Israel hit hard by coronavirus

Ahead of Passover, and with the coronavirus spreading in Israel, the ultra-Orthodox are instructed to avoid family gatherings and praying in groups.
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - MARCH 31: Israeli police troops detain an Ultra Orthodox Jewish man as they enforce a partial Coronavirus lockdown in the Mea Shearim nighborhood on March 31, 2020 in Jerusalem, Israel. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to many countries across the world, claiming over 30,000 lives and infecting hundreds of thousands more. (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images)

Until the coronavirus hit, Shlomi Philip worked as a bartender at a popular Jerusalem night spot. With the bar shuttered, he now devotes his time to volunteering with Israel’s emergency medical teams testing for COVID-19.

Philip, the eldest of 15 children, is the only member of the family living outside the ultra-Orthodox Midi’in Ilit town. As such, he is the one who provides his parents and siblings with information about the coronavirus spread and the required precautions. Like many ultra-Orthodox families, Philip’s family does not have a television or internet and is completely cut off from the secular world. In recent days, cars fitted with loudspeakers have been making the rounds of ultra-Orthodox towns and neighborhoods, exhorting residents, in Yiddish and Hebrew, to stay home, and citing rabbis’ edicts that defying authorities’ orders to self-isolate and avoid congregation endangers others and is therefore a sin.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.