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COVID update from Israel

Documenting the effect of coronavirus crisis on world Jewish community

The National Library of Israel has created a Jewish Community COVID-19 Archive, to document the unprecedented impact the coronavirus crisis is having on Jewish culture, tradition, law, and society around the world. The archive will be made up of materials known as “ephemera items,” because they are not generally intended to be preserved long-term.

Haredi rabbinic leader tells his followers to pray alone

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, a leader of the Lithuanian haredi Orthodox, has issued a ruling calling on his followers to pray alone, without a minyan, or quorum of ten men. The ruling comes after a steep rise in the number of coronavirus cases in Bnei Brak, a mostly haredi city in Israel, and following a funeral early on Sunday morning, March 21, for Rabbi Tzvi Shinker, attended by hundreds of people in violation of Health Ministry directives allowing 20 people at a funeral.

Russian-Israeli billionaire donates $3 million to Israel to fight coronavirus

(JNS) Russian-Israeli billionaire Yuri Milner donated $3 million through his Milner Foundation to three Israeli institutions working to combat the coronavirus pandemic, the foundation announced on Tuesday.

The money will go to Israel’s emergency service Magen David Adom, which is launching an innovative project to reduce the number of people visiting clinics; Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, to support research efforts dedicated to developing treatment for COVID-19; and the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Ichilov Hospital to fund its intensive-care unit that is treating coronavirus patients.

The donation was carried out in cooperation with Israel’s Consul-General to the Pacific North West in San Francisco, Shlomi Kofman.

Milner, an Israeli citizen living in Silicon Valley who founded the Milner Foundation with his wife, Julia, said about the donation, “This is an investment in the present and the future. In the short term, it’s a way to increase the intensive-care unit capacity in Israel and relieve pressure on doctors, and in the longer term, it will support the search for a cure and help develop a new system of virtual medical treatment.”

He continued, “In the face of global threats like this, science, technology and innovation are our best hopes. Israel is a leader in those fields, and I hope this initiative can both make an impact on COVID-19 and also become a model that can be replicated by other countries.”

Israeli athlete runs marathon at home under lockdown

(JNS) Israeli marathon runner Gazcho Fanta decided to continue his training regime while under a government-enforced lockdown related to the coronavirus by running a 26-mile race in his living room, Ynet reported on Wednesday.

Fanta, who holds the Israeli record for the 50-kilometer (31-mile) run, completed the marathon while running from one side of his living room to the other. He finished in 3:50:14 hours with some 5,349 laps around the room at an average pace of 5:27 minutes per kilometer.

He was inspired to take upon the challenge after seeing a video online of a man who ran a marathon on his porch.

“It was quite a challenge,” said Fanta after his run. “I wanted to show people that even if you can’t run outside, you can still do it at home … it’s all in your head.”

“The first 20 kilometers were crazy-hard, but I know I had to do it, and after a while got used to the furniture and the walls. What helped was that I had music playing in the background. I was starting to hallucinate, but I knew I had a goal. There were moments I told myself, ‘Why am I doing this?’ ”

Nevertheless, the athlete acknowledged not being satisfied with his completion time.

“At the marathon in Berlin, I crossed the finish line after 2:20:16 hours,” he said. “If the lockdown continues, I’m going to need to do this again to improve my time.”

Trump lauds Netanyahu on forming unity government, response to coronavirus

(JNS) President Trump phoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to congratulate him on being next to lead the upcoming unity government with Blue and White Party rival Benny Gantz, in addition to discussing the Israeli’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19). “Today, President Donald J. Trump spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel,” according to a readout from the White House. “President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu discussed the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic, and the President thanked the Prime Minister for his strong action to stop its spread.”

The call occurred the day after Gantz became Knesset speaker, all but ensuring a unity government where Netanyahu would remain prime minister for at least the next 18 months. Gantz is expected to become foreign minister and, after the 18-month period, prime minister.

Netanyahu and Trump also talked about the virus that has wreaked havoc through the world.

“The two leaders agreed to cooperate closely to combat the virus and minimize its global impact,” according to the White House. “The president and the prime minister also discussed critical bilateral and regional issues.”

Currently, the United States has the most cases of the virus worldwide with 100,717, while Israel has 3,035. There have been 1,544 deaths in the former and 12 fatalities in the latter.

Main Photo: Israeli runner Gazcho Fanta completes a marathon in his living room while on coronavirus lockdown. Source: Screenshot.

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