The latest Jewish coronavirus updates: El Al downsizes, services move online and more
March 13, 2020
NEW YORK (JTA)—The spread of COVID-19, a new coronavirus, is reshaping Jewish communities. We’re collecting the news flowing in from across the globe here.
(If you want to skip the minute-by-minute updates and just understand the broad ways that Jewish life is changing because of the coronavirus, we’ve got you covered here.)
As always, we want to hear from you. Have questions or tips? Email us.
2:50 p.m. Quarantine tally in Israel rises: After Israel added new travel restrictions, the number of Israelis estimated as being under quarantine because of their prior travel has risen to 80,000.
2 p.m. Options for synagogue-goers under quarantine: Some synagogues are canceling services—or having them canceled, in the case of one suburban New York Orthodox congregation attended by a coronavirus patient there. And some synagogue-goers may be wary of large gatherings right now.
So a crowd-sourced list of synagogues offering livestreamed services could be a useful resource.
Participating in Shabbat services via livestream won’t be possible for Orthodox Jews, for whom a strict interpretation of Jewish law precludes using technology during the weekly observance. But Orthodox rabbis have advised that anyone who is under quarantine can use a livestream to fulfill the requirement to hear the story of Esther read aloud on Purim, a holiday when using technology is allowed.
11 a.m. First cases documented by the Palestinian Authority: Cases have been confirmed in the West Bank, where more than 3 million Palestinians live. The Palestinian Authority has barred foreign visitors for the next two weeks and closed some major tourist sites, including the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
The P.A. is working with Israeli health officials to contain the spread of the disease there, The Jerusalem Post reports.
8 a.m. El Al downsizing as travel restrictions mount: Israel’s national airline is laying off workers, citing reduced travel because of the coronavirus. The airline has been in a financially precarious state for years, and travel restrictions imposed by the country’s Health Ministry have led to lower-than-projected ticket sales this winter.