As the psalmist writes:
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you. May peace be within your walls, and prosperity within your palaces.” For the sake of my brothers and my friends, I will now say, “May peace be within you.” For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good. (Psalm 122:6–9)
The Jewish people need our prayers at this time for many reasons. Here are several of the concerns we can take before the throne of grace today.
Most Israelis are worn out by the stress of repeated lockdowns. However, in addition to this stress, the Haredim feel as if they are being targeted by the more secular Israeli government and by non-religious Israelis. The Jerusalem Post summarized in a report some months ago,
Almost six months into the coronavirus restrictions, many in the Haredi sector feel anger, frustration and resentment. As with the Arab sector, the rate of infection, sickness and death is relatively high, resulting in suspicion, avoidance and accusations from the general public.
As you can see, tensions are also running high among the more than two million Arabs living in Israel, where infection rates in some villages were very high. But, like the Haredim, the Israeli Arabs and Palestinians feel targeted.
The following statement from one Haredi Jewish man expresses the frustration he felt because of the virus and the conflicts between religious and secular Israelis:
“For the past few months, I have been praying three times a day outside, among the cars in the parking lot, amid the noise and pollution, in the sun and heat, careful to socially distance from other worshipers. Is that contempt of the rules? Of course not. Seculars cannot renounce the convenience of takeout, yet they expect me to renounce prayers?”
Just last month, because of the concerns over reinfection, the Israeli government initiated its most severe lockdown for three weeks, and the Haredi community was unable to observe the Jewish high holidays together with their community. This was an incredible hardship for this ultra-religious community as some could not even be with their families; children, grandchildren, and those with whom they usually hold large family dinners, which are anticipated for the entire year.
This most recent lockdown exposed and further sparked division within Israel. There have been major protests against the government, mostly by secular Israelis, though some Haredim participated. Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who is also the next prime minister (according to the plan for a unity government worked out after the last election), expressed his hope for national unity amidst protests and the desire to pray publicly—all within the context of the latest national lockdown. The newspaper Ha’aretz reported:
Gantz said the battle is not between the protesters and the religious public, referring to the friction caused over the issue of tightening lockdown restrictions. “This virus doesn’t attack only Haredim or Arabs, this has nothing to do with the right or the left. When a protester shows understanding for a worshiper and vice versa, both of them will help to beat the virus.”
This desire for Israel’s national unity certainly expresses the heart of God Himself, the One who covenanted with our father Abraham creating the Jewish people!
 Peggy Cidor, “Coronavirus and the Haredim,” Jerusalem Post, August 19, 2020, https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/coronavirus-and-the-haredim-639224.
 Haaretz, “Israel Breaks Daily Coronavirus Infections Record with 9,200 New Cases,” Haaretz, September 25, 2020, https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/coronavirus-israel-live-pandemic-czar-nauseated-by-decision-on-full-lockdown-report-says-1.9175585.