Pregnant woman, 33, dies with swine flu

JERUSALEM (JTA) – A 33-year-old pregnant mother of 10 became Israel’s 23rd death related to swine flu.

The woman, who was 39 weeks pregnant, died Sunday during an operation to remove her fetus, which had died in utero.

Two days earlier, the 22nd Israeli death related to swine flu was a 49-year-old man who had serious medical problems.

The deaths come on the heels of guidelines issued by Israel’s Health Ministry for the religiously observant to help them avoid contracting swine flu in religious institutions.

The guidelines, issued Sept. 10 in advance of the High Holidays season, advises observant Jews to avoid kissing the hands of venerable rabbis, as well as Torah scrolls and prayer books. They are told also to avoid touching their hands to their face or mouth after shaking someone else’s hand, according to Dr. Eitan Hai-Am, the ministry’s new director-general. One may kiss one’s own phylacteries, prayer book or prayer shawl, according to the ministry.

The advisory did not mention the custom of kissing a mezuzah.

Flu sufferers should stay home from their synagogue or yeshiva until they are healthy, the advisory said.

In addition, those with flu symptoms should avoid food preparation and their dishes should be sanitized after use.

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