A terrifying mob on Mount Meron last weekend in Israel was horrifying and dazzled. More than 40 people were killed in a mass movement as those in the back did not understand that they were being strangled in front of them. The victims are Jewish pilgrims who, with this pilgrimage, were already taking great risks.
We expected the number of believers to reach 10,000: ultra-Orthodox Jews – Haredim, Hasidim and others – who pray and live their faith, close to each other. They would meet at the Lag Baomer, an annual religious festival, in the mountains between Lebanon and the Sea of Galilee. A sacred place, this is Mount Meron, where a second-century Sufi rabbi is buried.
Last year, in the worst case of the epidemic in Israel, police managed to stop believers in their tracks. There’s no doubt going through another course this year: the number of congregants is expected to rise to 100,000 from 10,000, and they say it’s still good: in normal times, their number rises to 400,000.
Everything in this drama is overwhelming: the crowd gathers in the middle of the night towards a very narrow exit; People who start slipping, falling, and pushing still, after all. The investigation will say more than that, but many in Israel believe that it allows a lot to be transferred to the ultra-Orthodox community.
ZEAL Epidemic and Religious
Israel is managing its exit from the epidemic well. So much so, that, earlier in April and before almost everyone else, the requirement to wear masks abroad was lifted and schools reopened completely. We give as much injection as possible and today about 56% of Israelis are fully vaccinated.
Hereditary immunity remains elusive, however, and public health officials have looked at the planned rallies in Monteeron with a dim view. Thousands of people, very few masks, no physical distance: fertile land par excellence.
This, especially since the ultra-Orthodox, their large families, their mixed lives and their voluntary isolation from modernity, have been hit hard by Covid-19. In Israel, 28% of the infections are found in their communities, while they represent only 12.6% of the population.
Political heavy weight
If they manage to escape personal instructions and group restrictions, especially manage to interview tens of thousands while the variables give specialists nightmares, it is because they have occupied a useful place in political life.
The main coalition that represents them – the United United Torah Judaism Party – has allowed right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to remain in power through thick and thin for decades.
Conversely, Netanyahu refused, in addition to generous funding for rabbinical schools, to force society to submit to the deprivations associated with the Coronavirus. As a result, the Militants go their own way, taking extreme risks and finding themselves in trouble, with little help. A tragedy at all.
Israel and its Haredi
High birth rate
- Ultra-Orthodox women give birth to, on average, 6.6 children each.
- The average among secular women in Israel is 2.2 children.
- Roughly 60% of Haredim are under the age of twenty.
A constantly growing society
As a percentage of the population of Israel …
- 1930: 2%
- 2019: 12.6%
- 2030: 16%
- 2065: 30%
A society plagued by an epidemic
One in every 100 ultra-Orthodox believers over 60 in Israel has died from Covid-19.