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Mexico community shuts down

    In Mexico City, all 12 Jewish day schools are closed and synagogue services have been reduced from large congregational gatherings to smaller minyanim as the 40,000 strong Jewish community follows its government’s advice on preventing the spread of swine flu.

    Yom Ha’atzmaut celebrations scheduled for Wednesday, hosted by Israel’s ambassador Yosef Levine, were also cancelled.

    Many community services have been stopped and the Jewish Sports Centre in Mexico City is closed, along with all kosher restaurants.

    Rabbi Gabriel Frydman, of the Beth Israel Community Centre, said: “Here in Mexico City we’re in the middle of it all. Naturally, we’ve brought in measures to reduce large crowds and, sadly, we have cancelled a few services. We have also stopped all our afterschool clubs and lessons.”

    So far no weddings, bar- or batmitzvahs have been cancelled, but there is a wedding planned at the centre next week which may have to be postponed.

    Rabbi Frydman added that he, along with most of his congregation, is attempting to protect himself by wearing a face mask.

    Ninety-six per cent of Jewish Mexicans live in Mexico City, but many are now fleeing to their country homes to escape swine flu.

    Another local rabbi said that synagogue pews were empty on Shabbat. “The Jews are panicking just like everyone else,” said Rabbi Yosef Mayzlesh.

    Rabbi Frydman said: “I can’t say there is a link between keeping kashrut and swine flu, as according to the government and official scientists, the epidemic is not connected to food.”

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