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El Al Halts Flights, Israel Restricts Seders, Yeshiva Produces Face Shields
Coronavirus 2020

El Al Halts Flights, Israel Restricts Seders, Yeshiva Produces Face Shields

Israel's El Al aircrafts are pictured on the tarmac at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, on March 10, 2020 amid major restrictions on travellers from several countries. (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)
Israel's El Al aircrafts are pictured on the tarmac at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, on March 10, 2020 amid major restrictions on travellers from several countries. (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

The Jewish Week introduces “The Stream: What’s Going On In NYC This Week — Online.” The Stream will be updated with new events and online resources regularly throughout the coronavirus crisis.

El Al stopped all flights to and from Israel Thursday night, until April 4, the Israeli airline announced. The company said it made the move after a sharp decline in demand, out of concern for passenger and staff health, and out of the need to reduce costs until the end of the coronavirus outbreak.

The death toll from Covid-19 in Israel reached 10 and the number of people diagnosed with the disease exceeded 3,000 as of Friday.

In a statement, El Al said it would continue to operate rescue flights for Israeli nationals from destinations around the world, in accordance with requests made by the Foreign and Defense ministries. The airline will also continue operating cargo flights to and from Israel, including the use of passenger airliners.

Israelis will be barred from celebrating Passover with family members who don’t live in the same home as they do, the Health Ministry’s legal adviser has ruled. This includes persons living alone.

“You will have to stay in the house and make the holiday dinner with the nuclear family,” said Uri Schwartz. “Unfortunately, [this means that] people will be alone on Passover and the seder night.”

The ruling was coordinated by former Jerusalem Rabbinical Court Chief Rabbi Eliyahu Abergel, and was focused on ensuring that elderly members would not feel obligated to risk their health in order to attend their family seder.

The American Jewish Committee is canceling the AJC Global Forum, slated for Berlin on June 14-17. It would have been the first time the organization’s signature annual event took place in Europe, and only the second time outside the United States since AJC’s founding in 1906.

Kohelet Yeshiva High School in Merion Station, Penn., has begun fabricating special protective face shields for medical professionals who are on the front lines battling COVID-19. The shields are produced on the school’s 3D printers. Kohelet’s first batch of the protective face shields were delivered this week to front-line doctors in the Philadelphia community, as well as to Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood.

“Helping those in need is central to our mission as a Yeshiva Day School and the need for personal protective equipment right now is overwhelming,” said Rabbi Gil Perl, head of school. “We’ve had requests for the protective face shields pour in from doctors as far away as New York.”

The school is accepting donations to cover the cost of production. Donations of supplies (PET-G Acrylic .020 or .040, Polylite PLA, moleskin padding, button-holed elastic) can be arranged by emailing

A Perfect Taste, a kosher catering company in the Boston area, and Avi Shemtov, chef and owner of nearby restaurant Simcha,

have combined to provide hundreds of grab-and-go meals from the parking lot outside Simcha, the Times of Israel reports.

With business at their firms declining, they decided to give the food to families of children whose school is cancelled by the coronavirus threat.

“All kinds of people showed up,” Shemtov said, adding that many volunteers came from the local Jewish community. “Families with schoolkids, elderly people. My son’s school bus driver, who had been laid off, offered to drive lunches to people.”


Israel’s first designated hospital for treating coronavirus patients opened its doors Thursday. The Sharon Hospital in Petach Tikva was converted into a 200-bed facility in less than two weeks after all its patients were transferred to other hospitals, and the 1,400-strong staff received training in treating coronavirus patients and self-protection against infection with the disease.

The hospital, part of the Rabin Medical Center complex, has 40 mechanical respiratory ventilators and four ECMO life support machines that replace the function of the heart and lungs.

Tikkun Olam Makers (TOM), a global humanitarian project based in Israel, has created a clearinghouse for various prototypes and products related to Covid-19. Some TOM communities are creating databases of 3D printers to be able to print once a product design is finalized, and others are working on testing and improving current designs.

More than 100 Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) scientists and graduate students are volunteering to increase blood sample testing for Covid-19 at the Clinical Virology Lab at Soroka University Medical Center in Beer-Sheva. The biology/biomedicine lab volunteers include professors and doctoral students in BGU’s Faculties of Health Sciences (FOHS) and Natural Sciences. The lab, managed by Prof. Yonat Shemer-Avni, in BGU’s Joyce and Irving Goldman Medical School, is currently testing more than 400 samples per day.

Says Avishay Edri, a Ph.D. student in the BGU Shraga Segal Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Genetics who initiated the project: “Although I’m an Ebola researcher, I recognized that the coronavirus blood sample process was understaffed and proposed enlisting trained BGU volunteers to find and isolate as many COVID-19 carriers as possible.”


The Orthodox Union’s Women’s Initiative will offer livestream seminars on “Seder Ideas and Inspiration” in the coming weeks. On Sunday, March 29 at noon, Raisel Freedman will discuss “Changing Faces at the Seder.” The topic of Chani Tannenbaum’s presentation at noon on April 5 will be “The Surprising Roots of Yitziat Mitzraim,” the exodus from Egypt.

UJA-Federation will hold a webinar on “A Pandemic’s Effect on Public Health” on Monday at 4 p.m. Medical professionals will discuss the origins and global impact of the coronavirus crisis.

Hashomer Hatzair and its Camp Shomria will sponsor a Virtual Kabalat Shabbat on Friday at 5 p.m. To participate call (646) 558-8656.

Congregation Shaarei Tefillah in Newton Centre, Mass., has started a Seder in a Box project for people who are unable to shop for their Passover necessities because of coronavirus restrictions. The project, initiated by Rabbi Benjamin Joseph Samuels, offers home-delivered “full fixings for 2 people for one Seder,” at no cost for people who cannot afford to pay, prepared by a kosher caterer, to people unable to obtain what they need for the Pesach meals.

UJA-Federation of New York has compiled a guide to help the Jewish community find advice, resources and volunteer opportunities for learning during the virus outbreak. UJA and the Jewish Board also have listings of volunteer opportunities.

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