Corona and the Jewish Holidays Gili Yaari /Flash90

Corona and the Jewish Holidays

Corona and the Jewish holidays just don’t seem to mix well. Everyone wants to be with family and friends, but how can Israel cope with it all and what is the government doing?


Israel is now twelve days into its second lockdown since the initial appearance of COVID-19 in the country last February. Almost everything is closed—restaurants (deliveries are allowed), wedding halls, and other shops that have been declared as not essential—and gatherings are limited to just ten in closed space and twenty in open areas.

Two of the main issues discussed when Israel’s coronavirus cabinet met to decide on the extent and limitations of the High-Holiday lockdown are those surrounding protests and religious gatherings. For some, the right to peacefully protest is the trademark of democratic society. It serves as the “holy of holies” of democracy. For others, the right to freely pray in their synagogue—particularly during the high holidays—is no less of a holy sacrament and equally considered a staple of democracy, especially for one that is Jewish in nature.

Many issues in Israeli discourse are quickly framed in left-right dichotomies and the current discussion surrounding protests and prayer are no exception. The protests are widely portrayed as...