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Israel's ultra-Orthodox Jews Face Coronavirus Devastation. They Need Face Masks

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Coronavirus is spreading faster in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods than anywhere else in Israel.

In Bnei Brak, Israel’s largest ultra-Orthodox city, 35 percent of coronavirus tests have come back positive.

The many reasons for this include a lack of social distancing enforcement, crowded living conditions, and a dearth of information that is both scientifically sound and presented in a manner that the majority of the community is able to comprehend.

Israel has allowed members of the ultra-Orthodox community to forego basic education in the subjects that are crucial to understanding the threat of COVID-19.

A population that knows no science is not equipped to comprehend the threat of a virus. And a person who has never learned basic math cannot be expected to understand the graphs about flattening the curve. When a population that regards its religious leaders as infallible are told that the Torah will protect them and that the secular law enforcement agencies are Nazis and anti-Semites, there is no motivation to comply with orders. It is easy to underestimate the risk of the virus, if you have no way to grasp it.

Of course, it hasn’t helped that the Yaakov Litzman, Israel’s minister of health, believes that this is going to end with messianic intervention. It hasn’t helped that some rabbis have insisted yeshivas and religious schools stay open when secular schools across the country have been closed for weeks.

And during a time when the lines between health and defense are........

© Haaretz