How Coronavirus Sparked an Open Season of Hate for Haredi Jews

When higher rates of coronavirus infection and morbidity in Haredi towns and neighborhoods were first reported, many of us Haredim knew what was coming. 

When the bubonic plague ravaged Europe in the 1300s, identifiable Jews were seen as less likely to contract the infection – and may well have been, due to their frequent, religiously mandated hand washing.  The larger populace, though, concluded that the Jews were poisoning Christian drinking wells. Then came a wave of brutal torture, forced confessions and massacres that decimated entire Jewish communities.

>> N.Y.C. mayor threatens 'Jewish community' with arrests over coronavirus violations

Ironically, today, Haredim have been particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and are being blamed once again. Not, this time, for causing the contemporary plague (though there’s been that too, on social media and in public confrontations; Jew-hatred knows no logic). 

Now the charges against religious Jews are about different alleged crimes: not acting quickly enough to close schools and shuls, disdaining medical knowledge and advice; and blindly following leaders who cannot be trusted to make proper choices.

And so dawned, as we expected, a new open season on Haredim.  

People enjoy the beach amid the novel coronavirus pandemic in Huntington Beach, California on April 25, 2020AFP

Yes, some Haredi communities did not recognize the virus’s virality as quickly as they now wish they had. But shuls and yeshivot occupy a singular place in such communities, and their shuttering was traumatic.