Brutal Coronavirus Rates Among the Benighted: Looking on the Bright Side.

Paysach Freedman, a Jerusalem-based Haredi rabbi who runs a crisis helpline, said that the reality in his community has been dire, but suggested that it should be kept in proportion. “There isn’t a feeling that there’s a plague with people dying on every street.”

Could be worse, man!

The distinguished virologist Peter Piot gets to the heart of the covid matter.

Without a coronavirus vaccine, we will never be able to live normally again. The only real exit strategy from this crisis is a vaccine that can be rolled out worldwide…

Today there’s also the paradox that some people who owe their lives to vaccines no longer want their children to be vaccinated. That could become a problem if we want to roll out a vaccine against the coronavirus, because if too many people refuse to join, we will never get the pandemic under control.


Ignorant, belligerent anti-vax cults present a real, ongoing challenge to civilization.

Keep those Chadors, Niqabs, and Burqas Coming!

We’ll boil our women to death yet.

At the twilight of a long life of crime…

… when you have finally, at a very advanced age, been hauled into a courtroom for decades of deeply evil activity, the thing to do to finish out your incarceration-free run is to plead dire physical debility. Judge, I’m an old man! Jail would kill me! Have mercy.

The ploy frequently works. You’re surprised? UD has blogged about people – not even very old people in some cases – whose lawyers successfully convince authorities that whoops their client was just about to curtail his atrocities himself cuz of the following twelve life-threatening diseases that have suddenly engulfed him. Here’s a note, your honor, from a real live doctor I know, attesting to every one of them, and then some.

In the case of Rabbi Eliezer Berland, flight was his initial – and remarkably picaresque (if you have a free afternoon, you might enjoy following his multi-national, violent, on-the-lam itinerary) – response to some earlier charges against him (he likes to rape people). Now he’s back in court, charged with

defrauding his sick and elderly followers out of millions of shekels with miracle cures, including the administering of [Mentos] to cancer patients…

[H]undreds of people filed a police complaint against him for selling prayers and “wonder drugs” to desperate members of his community, and for promising families of handicapped individuals that their loved ones would be able to walk and families of convicted felons that their loved ones would be freed from prison.

His lawyer’s poignant account of a man diseased and in no condition to go to prison drew the following response from the judge:

Give him a Mentos.

Lakewood “It Takes a Village to Welfare-Pillage” New Jersey has, in the person of one of its prominent rabbis, protested…

… coronavirus restrictions in a lawsuit against the state’s governor. This pious town, always in the news for endemic welfare theft, anti-vax militancy, failure to educate its children, and now of course failure to observe virus containment laws, has just had it. It’s just had enough of government meddling in its wonderful way of life. This is going all the way to the Supreme Court!

Lakewood: Proud to be One of New Jersey’s Coronavirus Hotspots!

Donald Trump, Israeli Edition.

Israel’s criminally negligent health minister sits down for a chat. Excerpts.

I have a kosher, ‘stupid’ phone – not a smartphone. I have no TV at home and no internet connection. I don’t think that’s a problem. On the contrary – I’m not distracted by the smartphone so I have more time to handle urgent things... I’m proud of the fact that I’m technologically disconnected.

Q: [M]aybe you decided to leave [your position] because of the growing criticism leveled at you.

I can’t comment on all the lies in the media. Like the story about IKEA being allowed to reopen stores, which some claimed I approved because the owner is a Gerrer Hasid so he’s a Gerrer donor. It’s nonsense. I’ve had no dealing with him and he’s not a Gerrer Hasid. Besides, how would I know if he’s a Gerrer Hasid? It had nothing to do with me.

Q: So why were they allowed to open stores so early in the lockdown exit process?

The Finance Ministry pressured the Health Ministry – but not me personally. I knew nothing about it and no one asked me. No one even talked to me about it.

Q: How is it possible that the health minister knows nothing about it?

The media has to decide, once and for all, if they want me to listen to the professional advisers [in the ministry]. When I don’t – they [the media] criticize me. If I do – they also criticize me. Enough! I knew nothing about the IKEA opening yet some newspapers made it their headline. Why? To mud-sling. If I weren’t Haredi no one would care.

Q: So the criticism is because you’re Haredi?

Without a doubt. The moment I became popular – I was named one of the most popular ministers in the government – they began coming after me.

What about the criticism that in the press conferences with Netanyahu and Health Ministry Director Moshe Bar Siman-Tov the reporters could barely hear you, that you were stuttering and quoting the Torah instead of talking about the virus?

There are anti-Semites who saw me with a shtreimel [ultraorthodox hat] and that’s what bothered them... Some reporters are anti-Semites. They can’t stand to see a Haredi minister succeed... Everywhere I go, people respect me and wish me well. It’s only the media that does the opposite.


… [The health minister] maintains he still doesn’t know exactly how he [himself] became infected with the coronavirus.

I assume it was at the office or in one of the meetings we held with various officials, but the reports that I violated directives for prayer services are false. I can’t really comment any further because there’s an ongoing lawsuit on the matter,” he said.

Shmuel Rosner, a distinguished Israeli commentator…

… lets his imagination run wild, and imagines an ultra-altered ultra-orthodoxy. Shouldn’t the fact of their decimating themselves via a vicious virus they – whoops! – didn’t hear about because they think the rest of the world stinks and they never listen to it… shouldn’t that lurid fact prompt some serious thought about their suicidal folkways?

[Perhaps they might reconsider their monolithic] tendency to trust elderly rabbis on questions regarding which they have no clue

This is a time when there is no external enemy, social trend or abusive regime harassing the community. The Charedi way of life is the enemy.

… The ultra-Orthodox are used to getting odd looks and to having a negative image. But they’re not used to their customs being the enemy. Who is that enemy? The rabbi that irresponsibly dismissed the orders of state officials. The tzadik who insisted on having a minyan of 10 at the synagogue. The funny guy who belittled strange laws of distant government men in suits.

[M]aybe when the plague is over, Charedi society will no longer be the same. Maybe the Coronavirus will be like the fall of the Charedi Berlin wall. In other words, the plague is a good reminder that the world can turn on a dime. Charedim live in the world, they are part of the world. Change is not beyond them.

But this ain’t the way they think. The enemy is the evil godless haredim, whose viral suffering is god’s punishment for their evil godless ways. God will stop punishing them when they double down.

Ultra-Orthodox people [unlike non-ultra-orthodox Jews] do know Jewish law and therefore when they transgress religious laws it is seen as an intentional act for which divine punishment is much more severe. “The ultra-Orthodox who sin do not do so unintentionally and therefore [God’s] attribute of justice harms the ultra-Orthodox much more,” reasoned [the highest-ranking ultraorthodox rabbi in Israel].


The voice of the ultra-orthodox:

It’s scary, but it’s true:

So do what the Good Book tells you to!

‘I’ve had friends admit they’re feeling new levels of self-hatred after seeing news reports of packed Jewish funerals in the NY area. “They are making a bad name for us all, breaking the rules and wearing clearly Jewish garb to top it all off,” they tell me.’

Breaking what rules? They’re following rules – the only rules that matter to them.

‘Rules’ like you need to vaccinate your kids, you need to educate your kids, you can’t steal from the welfare state, and you have to quarantine are … nothing.

Sensible Talk About Why Some Ultraorthodox are So Dangerous Right Now.

[Illegal ultraorthodox] gatherings have led to disaster. Williamsburg, Borough Park and Crown Heights (the three major Hasidic neighborhoods in Brooklyn) have experienced horrific death tolls. Other Hasidic Jews and I have heard of weddings and other mass gatherings followed shortly by a rash of infections and deaths.

This is a systemic problem that won’t go away just by pointing out that other areas of New York have had moments of people gathering, or that they are a minority within the community (both of which are true, but have little relevance in a discussion about communal dynamics).

Many leaders were slow to act, and even when they did, it has been clear that they were unwilling or unable to stand up to the extremists in their communities who refuse to listen.


You can keep throwing it all at the wall – antisemitism, it’s just a few extremists, how ’bout those spring breakers doing it too, we have to gather outside cuz our apartments are stifling, we didn’t get the memo cuz we’re too pure for any form of communication with the outside world, our rabbi said fuck that, if I don’t keep going to the ritual bath my husband won’t fuck me and we can’t get me pregnant, etc. etc. Go ahead and throw it all at the wall. You’re still killing yourselves and others and deserve all the condemnation coming your way.

If at first you don’t succeed…

amplify, amplify again.

‘The Haredim are believers in ways that we are not. In this case, it killed many of them. But whether we, or they, are living in closer fidelity to tradition remains to be seen.’

But it isn’t only romantic suicide, lad; it’s romantic homicide.

Throughout yet another opinion piece urging us to admire the haredim and castigate ourselves because we’ll never be the Jews they are, the writer stresses only the self-harm the haredim generate by breaking virus containment laws. It killed many of them. Yes, and continues to do so.

And, because they’ve carried the virus to the rest of us, it is killing many of us.


The writer doesn’t see. His argument seems to be that because the haredim believe divine promises to the point of communal decimation, they deserve a kind of backhanded admiration, rather in the way one has to admire the fervor of Mad Mike, even if his belief that his steam-powered rocket would make him famous rather than dead was flawed.

The Ultraorthodox: Our heroes!

UD loves to chronicle the high-minded excuses some Jewish studies professors offer for the sickening irresponsibility of many haredim amid a pandemic. Here’s her current favorite.

Dartmouth Jewish Studies professor Susannah Heschel contends that, for many Jews, the restrictions “brought to mind times when religious persecution closed down synagogues.” In this sense, she said, the Haredi response “is a sort of defiance and affirmation of Jewish identity combined.”

Let other Jews learn from our defiant and affirmative Jewish identity; and let the world catch the virus we’re so nobly helping spread.

Nu, you could forget that for a very long time the ultraorthodox have been among the most powerful voting blocs in New York City; but viral containment restrictions in that same city understandably send us right back to a horrific world of synagogue closures.

Many Jews, like UD, whose own Jewish identity is thoroughly denied by the ultraorthodox establishment, are rightly appalled. Not least because ultraorthodoxy is far from Judaism’s definitive form. It represents one iteration of the faith, and a rather recent one at that.

Continuity is the biggest ultra-Orthodox myth. Their belief [is] that their way of life is the thousands year-old Jewish tradition, and that all Jews in all time aspired to… study Torah their entire lives. Of course, this is an invention. 

The Haredi ideology of voluntarily closing their community off from the world is about 200 years old and came about as a reaction to enlightenment and emancipation. The practice of every man studying Torah all day, every day, only exists from the mid-1950s when the concentration of most ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel and the U.S. allowed them to live while learning, at poverty-level, but to live, in welfare societies.

‘Whatever you think of the media, it’s hard to argue with this: the haredim comprise just over 10% of Israel’s population and constitute over a third of all corona cases in the country. The Israeli army is deployed in their cities, like Bnei Brak, although most of the inhabitants don’t go to the army. Our soldiers are distributing food parcels to the ultra-Orthodox, on our tax dollars, although many of the recipients have never worked, nor paid taxes.’

Commentary, Jerusalem Post.

Somewhat Schizy, But the Guy Gets the Important Stuff Said.

It’s one of those more in sorrow than in anger pieces, but let’s concentrate on the anger.

The ultra-Orthodox are the victims of their own sociology. Many of the massive [coronavirus] deaths in the ultra-Orthodox community are, in large measure, self-inflicted. Many of them have no internet. They only listen to their rabbis. Their knowledge of what is going on beyond the pages of the Talmud is seriously limited…

This is what I want to say to them.

How dare you?

How dare you, my brothers and sisters, sacrifice your communal gains on the altars of your own stubbornness and/or lethal lack of knowledge and/or your cultic overdependence on your rabbis?

How dare you squander Torah this way? How dare you willingly let more Jews die?

How dare you endanger the lives of your fellow citizens — yes, rebbes, civic responsibility is a traditional Jewish value.

Far vus, I say in their native Yiddish: For what?

Because something is happening here and you finally know what it is. Don’t you, Mr. De Blasio?

To paraphrase Dylan.

Mayor Bill de Blasio lashed out at Hasidic residents of the Williamsburg section in Brooklyn late Tuesday night after personally overseeing the dispersal of a crowd of hundreds of mourners who had gathered for the funeral of a rabbi who died of the coronavirus.

Hey, maybe now that the mayor has been willing to lash out, he could turn to Hasidic noncompliance with childhood vaccinations… Or, hey! How ’bout them education standards!

For decades, the communities have largely been allowed to evade government oversight, thanks to politicians who have enjoyed their support as one of the state’s most powerful voting blocs. The price of that support has been largely paid by Orthodox children.

As in, they get measles and coronavirus and as a special bonus are unemployably ignorant. What will it take, observers have wondered for years, for city and state government to lash out? And now we have our answer.

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