Coronavirus: Crisis Strikes Jewish Communities in New York

  • Thousands of Chassidic and religious Jews have become infected by Coronavirus.
  • The close contact between them has created tremendous numbers of infected persons even a large percentage of their community.
  • Many Israeli students live in Crown Heights and were told to return home to Israel.

The State of New York is in an emergency crisis from the coronavirus. All non-essential workers are directed to work from home. All non- essential gatherings are temporally banned. In New York City, there have been 43 deaths and over 5,600 cases of coronavirus. The religious Jewish communities in New York City and Upstate New York have been hit particularly hard.

770 Eastern Parkway Brooklyn the home of the Lubavitch Chassidic movement.

New York City, and Brooklyn in particular, is one of the centers of Judaism in America. In Brooklyn there are four major religious Jewish communities, in Williamsburg, Boro Park, Crown Heights, and Flatbush. In all of these communities, the synagogues have been closed. The Hassidic leaders in New York have shut down institutions after a call with the White House.

President Donald Trump advised them to adhere to administration guidelines tackling coronavirus. The call came after 100 people in the Boro Park neighborhood in Brooklyn came down with the virus. The numbers have grown rapidly and are out of control. All the major leaders of Judaism were on this call, including communities upstate in Monsey, New Square, and Monroe.

In Monroe, where several thousand Satmar Chassidism live, the chief Rabbi of the village, a 73-year old man, has contracted the Coronavirus. Chassidic families are affected by the lockdown, housing large families and children of all ages. The spreading of the epidemic was not watched over in the beginning, and in these communities, the people live closely.

Family gatherings in synagogues, wedding celebrations, and other functions occur in large numbers. Members often dance together and eat at the same tables. The close contact between them has created tremendous numbers of infected persons even a large percentage of their community.

A Chassidic gathering in New York.

Boro Park, located in Central Brooklyn, is the home of many sects of Chassidic families, with many synagogues, wedding halls and day schools. Also in Boro Park, the numbers of infected has reached high percentages because of the closeness of religious Jewish life, praying together in numbers, and sharing their facilities with their community. 

Crown Heights, the center of Lubavitch Chassidism in the world, has also closed all their synagogues. The people have been instructed to stay home. Several of the leaders of the community, elderly men, and senior citizens are in critical condition and need a quick healing with the help of God. Williamsburg and Flatbush are also highly populated by religious Jews, and the numbers of infected in these communities are a much higher percentage than throughout all of New York.

Many Israeli students live in Crown Heights as well. When the schools were closed, and because of the difficulties attending to their needs, the principals of their schools requested that they go home to Israel. A group of 100 students were taken by El Al airlines to Israel. When they arrived in Israel, they were immediately placed in two-week quarantine and tested for Coronavirus.

The hotels in Israel are used for people which need quarantine. Over sixty of these students tested positive for Coronavirus and were transferred for treatment in the major hospitals in Israel. The large percentage of these students who were discovered to have corona indicates the tremendous problem which exists in these Jewish communities. God should have mercy on these families and bring an end to the virus.

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David Wexelman

Author of 5 books on the internet on topics of Jewish mysticism, managing two websites.

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