Coronavirus in Israel: Passover Curfew Posted by on Jun 2, 2020 in Uncategorized

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Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) is one of the most important Jewish religious festivals.

Jews have celebrated Passover since about 1300 BC, following the rules laid down by God in the book of Exodus. Preparations begin weeks ahead. The ritual feast called Seder Pesach marks the beginning of the of week-long-holiday. In Seder Pesach multigenerational families, relatives, and friends gather around their large family table to commemorate the Israelites’ liberation from bondage in ancient Egypt. They enjoy traditional food and beverages, and observe all the symbols and ceremonies of this special evening.

This year, the holiday of Pesach was celebrated from April 8 to April 16, 2020. Seder Pesach was observed at sunset on Wednesday 8 April. But this time, there were no large tables and no guests. Israelis were already confined to their homes for almost a month due to the coronavirus lockdown (הֶסְגֵּר). Public venturing further than 100 meters from home was banned. Gatherings were restricted to only two people. All social activities were conducted through the phone and the computer.

In order to make sure people wouldn’t break the lockdown directives for Pesach holiday, traditionally a festival of freedom and community, a full nationwide curfew (עֹוצֶר) was declared. The government tightened the general lockdown with additional restrictions (הַגְבָּלוֺת). All travel between cities was banned from Tuesday evening until Friday morning. And from Wednesday afternoon until Thursday morning, residents had to remain at home with no visitors allowed. The pandemic requires us to change our way of celebrating, Prime Minister Netanyahu said. The public was inquired to hold the traditional meal only with those confined together in the same house, forcing  thousands of elderly people to spend the holiday alone, without their children or grandchildren.

We don’t want people moving around from one family to another on Seder night, said the Minister of Interior (שַׂר הַפְּנִים). Thousands of police officers were deployed throughout the country to enforce the curfew. About 1,400 IDF soldiers helped at checkpoints at city borders and surprise checks on highways. Helicopters and drones were deployed, too, to ensure (לְהַבְטִיחַ) Israelis were adhering to the restrictions.

Israel gets ready for the curfew in the next article:

For the first time a live Seder was broadcast on TV. Channel 12 produced a special show called The Large Israeli Seder, celebrating Pesach Eve with the viewers. Videos of celebrities feasting at their home were broadcast during the evening. Among them, a certain video led to public criticism (בִּקֹּורֶת): the video of Prime Minister Netanyahu holding the Seder with his son, who shares an apartment with his girlfriend. Sources said the son had slept in the Prime Minister’s Residence in the past month. But many still thought that the Prime Minister (רֹאשׁ הַמֶּמְשָׁלָה), who has repeatedly beseeched (לְהַפְצׅיר) young people not to hold the traditional meal with their elderly parents, should have set an example.

Two days later, news about Israeli President Rivlin flouting the regulations (תַּקָּנוֺת) were published. Rivlin hosted his daughter, her husband, and their two children for the Seder and the holiday. Everyone in the family had tested negative for coronavirus before being confined together. The public expressed outrage over the violation (הֲפָרָה) of restrictions and also over the virus tests, as many Israelis’ requests to be checked had been denied. The 81-year-old president (נָשִׂיא), who had undergone pacemaker implantation three years ago, resources explained, has been assisted by his children during weekends and holidays since his wife passed away. I understand the harsh responses, and wish to apologize, he said.

Three more top officials were noted by the press to have celebrated the Seder with relatives: party leader Avigdor Lieberman, Minister of Immigration and Absorption (שַׂר הָעֲלִיָּה וְהַקְּלִיטָהYoav Galant, and Knesset Member Nir Barkat; prompting outrage among the public who followed the instructions (הַנְחָיוֺת) and let its elders sit alone around an empty table on a such important holiday.

For advanced Hebrew reading check out this article.


Text vocabulary

Prime Minister = רֹאשׁ הַמֶּמְשָׁלָה

President = נָשִׂיא

Minister of Interior = שַׂר הַפְּנִים

Minister of Immigration and Absorption = שַׂר הָעֲלִיָּה וְהַקְּלִיטָה

Lockdown = הֶסְגֵּר

Curfew = עֹוצֶר

To ensure = לְהַבְטִיחַ

To beseech = לְהַפְצׅיר

Restriction = הַגְבָּלָה

Instruction = הַנְחָיָה

Regulation = תַּקָּנָה

Violation = הֲפָרָה

Criticism = בִּקֹּורֶת

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