So far (as I write) there have been 458 British Jews known to have died from coronavirus. However you crunch the numbers, the Jewish community has suffered a disproportionately high toll given its size.
But you wouldn’t know it from the behaviour of some among us. An irate shopper complained to me yesterday after a visit to one London kosher store. Although the notice on the door clearly specified that only five people were allowed inside at any one time, at one point there were seven. People were entering regardless of the social distancing instructions.
She may have been unlucky and her visit coincided with those of an unusually high number of people unable to read or count. When I contacted the owner, he said they were doing their best to maintain the rules and most people were compliant, but a few simply wouldn’t pay attention.
He said that on one visit to the shop, he had had to stop people himself from trying to go in when the stipulated maximum were already there. He was surprised — and so was I — that some of the worst offenders were those in older age groups who were more at risk if they contracted the virus.
I remember when the distancing rules were first introduced visiting one street with a lot of kosher shops and being impressed with the patience of people queueing in an orderly manner outside as they awaited their turn. If someone strolled past unaware of the new measures, they were politely called back and apologetically obliged.
I don’t know whether recent talk of easing the lockdown has made some people complacent or they imagine that somehow buying kosher gives them dispensation from the rules. But their ignorance or selfishness is a hazard to others.
They ought to be reminded that there’s no point in buying kosher if you are going to act treif.