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Coronavirus briefs from around the Jewish world

By JTA staff

(JTA) – As the Ledger went to press on Monday, March 16, news about the spread of COVID-19, and developments in the fight to defeat it, were coming fast and furious. Here are the latest updates from Jewish communities in the U.S. and around the world.

Prominent rabbi in Israel is defying shutdown order: Chaim Kanievsky, a haredi rabbi in Bnei Brak, an Orthodox suburb of Tel Aviv, has urged his followers to continue to study in yeshivas, or religious schools, despite a countrywide decree shutting schools. On Sunday, Israeli police and health officials visited his home and homes of other rabbis in the area, according to the Times of Israel.

Netanyahu’s criminal trial delayed: The coronavirus crisis is delaying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial. The trial had been set to begin this week.

Online opportunities skyrocket as Jews stay indoors: Eliana Light, a Jewish singer-songwriter who, like so many artists, is staring down months of canceled gigs because of the coronavirus, staged an online concert with some of her colleagues that drew viewers from around the world. The concert was one of countless impromptu get-togethers uniting Jews online.

U.S. teens being airlifted home from Israel: The entire student body of URJ Heller High in Israel, a high school affiliated with the Reform movement, will return to the U.S. on a chartered flight, along with dozens of students from other Israeli programs for American teens. 

Netanyahu tests negative for coronavirus: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and those who serve in close proximity to him have tested negative for the coronavirus, according to a statement from his office.

Immigration to Israel rolls on: Despite the coronavirus, two dozen new immigrants were scheduled to arrive from the United States, according to Nefesh B’Nefesh, an organization that coordinates immigration. The Jewish Agency for Israel, which supports new immigrants, has produced a short movie called “Making Aliyah in Uncertain Times” that explains how people can move to Israel despite a requirement that anyone arriving from overseas undergo a two-week quarantine period. About 170 people have moved to Israel so far this month, the agency said.

French Jewish leader has coronavirus: The president of the Jewish community of the French region of Alsace and of the city of Strasbourg, Maurice Dahan, is infected with the coronavirus and is in serious condition in the hospital, the Zichron Menachem organization posted on Facebook. Dahan is the head of the French branch of the Israeli organization, which provides support to children with cancer.

Crown Heights schools closed: All Jewish schools in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York were closed as of noon on Friday after three cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the community. The city’s public school system was shut down followed by shutting down on Monday.

Teaneck, New Jersey, residents called on to self-quarantine: Teaneck Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin said the 40,000 residents of the townshiop should self-quarantine. The number of coronavirus cases in the city with a large Jewish population rose to 18 by Saturday night, the most cases in Bergen County. The decree follows a decision Thursday by the area’s Orthodox Jewish rabbis to bar virtually all communal Jewish activity.

Auschwitz site closes to visitors: The Auschwitz Memorial and the site of the former Nazi camp closes to visitors. The announcement comes on the heels of the decision of the Polish government to close all museums and cultural institutions, as well as schools and universities, through March 25 in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Main Photo: Women wearing protective masks pay a visit to the nearly deserted Western Wall in Jerusalem, March 12, 2020, after Israel has imposed some of the world’s tightest restrictions to contain the COVID-19 coronavirus disease. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images)

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