Photo: Flash90

Mass prayer in Jerusalem against coronavirus

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has emphasized that the government is taking every possible precaution against the outbreak of coronavirus, even though there has to be a single identifiable case in the country.

“Against expectations, as of now we do not know about any infections in Israel,” he said, acknowledging “Of course, there is this possibility, but it has not yet happened even though – according to media reports – the first case has already reached Egypt.”

The Premier thanked Health Minister Yaakov Litzman and his team for their ongoing evacuation plan regarding 12 Israeli passengers aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship when the 2-week quarantine ends on Wednesday. Netanyahu said after returning home, the travelers would remain in isolation. He also confirmed that “in accordance with a Japanese government decision” 3 Israelis will remain hospitalized in the Asian nation, although “We have sent a doctor to help them, and of course, we are all praying for their well being.”

In a very public display of the Israeli Prime Minister’s words, hundreds gathered at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City to participate in a mass prayer to keep COVID-19 at bay. The service was an initiative of local rabbis and Jewish community leaders, that attracted Jews and Gentiles alike, in a joint appeal to God to alleviate suffering from the potentially deadly disease. Safed Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, said those stricken with the virus “are really not far from our hearts, we feel their pain, we feel the distress of the people who are sick, who are in quarantine, who are fearing – and we are opening our hearts more and more so that God will pity them and fill them full healing.”

Visiting-Chinese exchange student John Zo expressed gratitude for the prayer, saying that he very much appreciated the gesture at a time when some people “are very sensitive” over the virus and afraid of getting too close to Chinese people. “But the Rabbis, the Jewish People,” he said, “did not say ‘No’ to China, so I think it’s a very friendly action.”