The JC

The JC Letters Page, 5th February 2021

JC readers share their views

January 15, 2021 17:10

Similarly terrible

I As a retired GP I find the grim and tragic statistic of 783 Covid deaths within our community, as reported last week, a shocking reality to contemplate.  This is against the backdrop of just over 100,000 Covid deaths nationwide.

In the early months of the pandemic you reported an excess of deaths within our community over the numbers expected as a proportion of the UK population.  Estimates ran from twice the expected rate to 5 times that rate.  I argued at the time that this was a gross exaggeration based on erroneous statistical manipulation. 

The Jewish population in the UK is somewhere between 0.4 and 0.5%. If 100,000 UK Covid deaths are reported, one might expect deaths within our community to be between 400 and 500, not 783 as stated.

20% of UK Jews live in Barnet , Greater London (Board of Deputies estimation). Over the last week the Covid death rate in Barnet was 361 per 100,000, whereas the UK average was 270 (from ONS study).  In other areas Hackney was 295, Redbridge 396, Harrow 420 and Brent 508.

So, in the most densely populated Jewish areas of London alone, accounting for 3/5 of the UK Jewish population, the Covid death rate is higher by a factor of very nearly 1.5.

Other UK regions where the Covid death rate is above the national average include Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Southend and Bournemouth, all areas with a sizeable Jewish population. 

Also of note is the fact that the median age in the UK general population is 40 years (ONS) whereas for Jews it is 50-54 years (Board of Deputies).  

It is estimated that the greater number of deaths in the older age groups from Covid would give rise to a further 15% rise amongst Jews.

If we revisit the expected Covid deaths within our community and multiply that figure of 400-500 by 1.5 to take account of the fact that the vast majority of Jews in the UK live in the high risk areas noted above, and also factor in the increase due to average age, we end up with an estimate that is very close indeed to the grim reality of 783 deaths.

I therefore maintain that as a separate religious or ethnic group we are no more prone to the ravages of this disease than the general population. 

Let us hope and pray that with the successful roll out of the vaccination programme this horrific disease is brought under control, and we can devote our statistically inclined brains to counting births, bar and batmitzvahs and weddings.

Dr Neil Joseph
Manchester M8


Two communities 

“Two nations; between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets; who are formed by a different breeding, are fed by a different food, are ordered by different manners, and are not governed by the same laws.”

Disraeli in his novel Sybil was talking about the rich and poor but he could equally have been talking about mainstream Jewry and the Charedim.

Richard Cohen 
Loughton IG10 


The real chillul Hashem

I do not think that Mr Kraus (Letters, 29 January) understands the meaning of chillul Hashem. I read his letter with despair.

The JC is published once a week, but every other newspaper here in England and around the world published this particular news item for a number of days. Every radio station delivered this bulletin on the hour, and every TV station did the same. This is where chillul Hashem was caused in the wider world, and I was ashamed.

And if this would have been neatly swept under the carpet, as Mr Kraus would have preferred, would it have miraculously stopped our funerals?

Malkie Benmayer
London NW4


The recent anti-social and reckless behaviour by a small, but very visible, group of Charedim, has put the spotlight on the wider perception of “strictly Orthodox”.

The clear flouting of rules is but a small insight into a lifestyle that eschews contact with the outside world, or at least that is but one feeble excuse.

It cannot excuse a plethora of health and safety infractions, or OFSTED’s concerns over some Charedi schools’ narrow curriculum - ignoring LGBTQ issues and demonstrating a scant regard for community cohesion.

Most lately I have been teaching remotely and, whilst my JCoSS students find my fumbling techy skills highly amusing, they have been learning about Pikuach Nefesh, and how Judaism will set aside halachic constraints to ensure that life can be saved. 

They were horrified that there are those who profess orthodoxy, who can be so blatant in their dereliction of this key principle of saving souls, and especially in the midst of a pandemic.
Their youthful enthusiasm for defying hypocrisy and promoting belief in a Judaism that celebrates life is an uplifting thought for those who seek to break the most fundamental tenets of faith.                                                                                                                                        
Laurie Rosenberg
Woodford Green IG8

Understanding support 

Much as I enjoy Miriam Shaviv’s world and Jewish viewpoint (How can Orthodox Jews still support Trump, 22 January), she, as well as most Europeans, misunderstand that sector of American Orthodoxy who supported Trump’s administration.

Of course his support of Israel played a big part. But I have yet to hear anyone here express admiration of Trump as a human being or his way of expressing himself. 

However, just as in the UK, Jewry feared the extremes of Corbynism so here there is palpable anxiety within the Orthodox Jewish community about the direction of the country in the hands of the hard Left if it comes to dominate the present political dispensation. 

Precisely because it seeks to impose its cancel culture world view and shibboleths, intolerantly on everyone else. 

People love to talk about unity, so long as it is on their own terms. Words are fine but actions count. We shall see. I hope I am proven wrong.

Jeremy Rosen
New York

Disgusted of... 

Aimee Belchek, who sets up blind dates (I’m a Lockdown Yente! January 29), mentions a fictitious Tom from Tunbridge Wells who is isn’t Jewish but who tries his luck on JSwipe.  The impression is given that Tunbridge Wells is the most unkosher of places.  

This is unfair. As the thriving Jewish Small Communities Network has highlighted, Jews can be found where you least expect them.  

We here in the local Jewish community are Disgusted. 

Anne Goldstein
Tunbridge Wells, Kent


January 15, 2021 17:10

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