Why Did Haredi Jews Get Hit Hard by COVID-19?

Why have ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) communities in both Israel and the U.S. been hit especially hard by the coronavirus? To answer this, we’re busting some myths about Hasidim and uncovering how the pandemic is shaking things up in some of the world’s most conservative Jewish communities. After watching the video, use the prompts below to learn more and get your students thinking.

  1. Which of the following Jewish groups are not represented in the Haredi population?
    • Litvak
    • Hasidic
    • Reform 
    • Sephardi
  2. Which two countries do the majority of Haredi Jews live in?
    • (USA and Israel)
  3. Which of the following countries does NOT have a major community of Haredi Jews?
    • Australia
    • New Zealand
    • France
    • Canada
    • Belgium
    • United Kingdom
  4. Which of the following facts are NOT true about the Haredi community?
    • Haredi Jews typically have large families
    • The Haredi lifestyle is strongly communal
    • Some Haredim try to avoid using the internet
    • There are no Haredi influencers online
  5. What is a pashkevil?
    • Posters printed with local news in some Haredi communities
    • An app for Haredim without internet access to follow the news
    • A Yiddish word for the internet
    • Somebody who lives a pious life
  1. Why do you think many Haredi Jews do not trust secular authorities?
  2. Haredi Jews, much like the rest of the Jewish community, had to adapt many of their traditions due to the pandemic. Did your family make any adjustments to Jewish traditions because of the virus? How did that impact you and your family?
  3. According to the video, why do you think the Haredi community has been hit harder by the coronavirus than others?
  4. Why do you think many Haredi leaders had difficulty closing synagogues and schools?
  5. What do you think is the best way for governmental authorities and Haredi leaders to build trust to protect Haredi communities in the future?
  1. After thousands of Hasidic Jews attended a funeral for a leading Rabbi in Brooklyn, New York mayor Bill de Blasio controversially tweetedMy message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed. I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period.” This tweet led to outrage from the Jewish community of New York. Do you think this tweet is offensive? Why? If so, how would you have worded it differently?
  2. Watch an episode of the hit Israeli show “Shtisel” with your students (found on Netflix). After watching the episode, ask your students to discuss the following questions:
    • What was the most surprising thing you learned about the Haredi community from watching Shtisel?
    • What were some of the pre-existing assumptions you had about the Haredi community?
    • Did your perspective change on this issue in any way? How?
  3. Give your students the following article about Haredim and Israeli society to read and then utilize the classroom tips found near the end of the piece.
  4. Give your students our Kahoot on “Why Hasidic Jews Got Hit Hard by Corona!”

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