European Jewish Association

Coronavirus heavily impacts French Jewish community, ZAKA buries victims

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Peretz, head of ZAKA France, alerted the Jewish community, saying that “we are counting bodies, and you are still debating the quarantine measures.”

As of Wednesday night, France reported that 11,539 people were hospitalized after testing positive for coronavirus and 1,331 people  died from the virus, including some Jewish people.On social media, including many Facebook groups, a list of French Jews infected with the coronavirus was published and is being updated almost daily, people urging the community to pray and read tehillim for them.

In a recent statement, ZAKA claimed that many victims from the coronavirus in France are Jewish and that the organization’s volunteers are burring Jewish victims every day. Rabbi Menachem Mendel Peretz, head of ZAKA France, alerted the Jewish community, saying that “we are counting bodies, and you are still debating the quarantine measures.”

“We are in difficult times, we have a very hard job as we take care every day of the Jews who died as a result of the virus,” he added. “It is very difficult to describe the situation with what we face here every day.”
Rabbi Peretz said that important Rabbis from the community are among the victims.”Last Saturday, Rabbi Touboul, head of the Beit Hanna and Chaya Mushka schools in Paris, some of the largest Chabad schools for girls in Europe, died suddenly,” he said.

“We worked to fulfill Rabbi Touboul’s will to be buried in Israel. We were able to reach an agreement with the Israeli Ministry of Health, we received very strict instructions on how to treat the deceased according to Jewish law and the Health Ministry guidelines in order to bury him in Israel.”

Rabbi Touboul was buried on Tuesday at the Mount of Olives Cemetery in Jerusalem.

ZAKA’s French head also added that tonight, a French aircraft will land at Ben Gurion Airport, carrying three coffins with the bodies of Jews who died in France from the coronavirus to be buried in Israel.

Among them will be Rabbi Hamou, a major rabbi and community leader of the Mekor Chaim community in Paris, who fought for his life for about a week in the hospital.

In the statement ZAKA begs the Jewish community in France, in Israel, and around the world, to stay home.

“Please, for your own benefit and for your families, apply the Ministry of Health guidelines to stay home, to stay alive,”  ZAKA said.

Actualité Juive, a major Jewish newspaper in France, asked in a recent report if the Jewish community is over-represented among those infected with the coronavirus in the country.

“There was, without any doubt, a certain skepticism in the community,” recognized the Chief Rabbi of France Haïm Korsia. “At first, people may have thought that the risk could not exist in their immediate family,” he added.

But today, the Jewish community has realized the emergency of the situation and the importance of staying at home, according to Actualité Juive.

The article was published on the JPost