NEW YORK (JTA) — Like the rest of the world, the Jewish world is reeling as the novel coronavirus spreads. We’ll be tracking the latest developments here.
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Communal religious life is adapting.
- In Milan, an epicenter of infection, houses of worship were ordered closed. That meant a scaled-down celebration for one bar mitzvah boy, whose party was supposed to have 600 people but instead was for family only. (A Syrian Muslim donated a tree in the boy’s honor after reading our story.)
- In the United States, many synagogues are taking a wait-and-see approach. Here’s a dispatch from the Bay Area.
- Some Jews have a tradition of kissing the mezuzahs on their doorposts. They’re being told to stop.
Purim and Passover are approaching.
- Many synagogues and communities are rethinking their plans for Purim, the one-day holiday that is traditionally celebrated with festivals and large gatherings.
- Some 130 kosher-for-Passover resorts around the world are watching their reservations closely. A few in Italy had already canceled by early March.
- With fewer Israelis than usual expected to travel this year, some are concerned about a local shortage of matzah.
A cluster of cases involves New York Jews.
- Several Jewish institutions are closed, at least one person is in the hospital and several others are quarantined amid an outbreak centered on an Orthodox attorney who lives in suburban New Rochelle and works in Manhattan. Follow our coverage here.
Schools are closing and adjusting.
- Three schools in the greater New York City area — SAR Academy, Westchester Day School and Westchester Torah Academy — closed temporarily. So did Yeshiva University. All had ties to the New York outbreak.
- Some of those schools switched to online courses during their closure — a move that has some Jewish educators excited about opportunities for rethinking the contours of Jewish education.
Travel is affected.
- The 18,000-attendee AIPAC conference for Israel supporters in early March went on as planned. But at least some attendees had previously been in contact with someone who was later diagnosed with the coronavirus.
- The Auschwitz Memorial and Museum has called on organizers of trips to the historical site to refrain from bringing visitors from countries affected by the coronavirus.
Israel reacted early and firmly.
- Israel opened special quarantine voting sites for the national election on Monday. But some workers, fearing disease, have declined to open ballots from those sites.
- Tighter travel restrictions mean that as many 80,000 Israelis are living under home quarantine.