By Shira Hanau
One in 73 haredi Orthodox Jews in Israel over the age of 65 has died of COVID in the past year — more than four times the number in the same cohort of the general population — according to a new report.
The report by Shomrim, an Israeli investigative journalism nonprofit organization, found that 1.3% of haredim over 65 had died of COVID, compared to 0.27%, or 1 in 373, in that group of the general population.
The numbers reported by the nonprofit are slightly higher than those of the Israeli Ministry of Health, which found that 1.2% of the haredi population over 65 had died of COVID. In December, the Israel Hayom newspaper reported that 1 in 132 haredim over 65 had died of COVID based on data from the Health Ministry.
Shomrim attributed the disparity to the ministry’s decision not to count deaths in cities with mixed populations of haredim and nonharedim toward the haredi total, which Shomrim did.
Shomrim also cited a study by Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute of Science finding that 1 in 100 haredi Orthodox Israelis over 65 died of COVID, compared to 1 in 350 in the general Jewish population.
Regardless of the disparity between the numbers used by Shomrim and the Health Ministry, the death rate among Israel’s haredi Jews makes clear the degree to which the community has been impacted by the coronavirus, even as large parts of the community continue to go about their lives as usual and refuse to wear masks or socially distance.
The deaths of the community’s elders has apparently not changed that behavior. After two major haredi leaders died of COVID within hours of each other in Jerusalem earlier this month, thousands still attended their crowded funerals, with few wearing masks.