Praying for the Haredim During the COVID-19 Crisis
Thank you for your willingness to pray for the Jewish people. What I would like to mention to you today is a real need and concern for so many of us, and it has to do with our outreach to the Haredim, which is the Hebrew word for “God-fearing ones.”
You may recognize the Haredim—these are the ones who wear visibly religious Jewish clothing, such as black coats, hats, and beards; the women wear long skirts and headscarves, or a wig called a sheitel. Haredi parents have many children and live in New York neighborhoods such as Crown Heights, Williamsburg, and Borough Park as well as other places in the United States such as Lakewood, New Jersey; Monsey, New York; and the Fairfax area of Los Angeles; and Bnei Brak and Mea Sharim in Israel. These ultra-Orthodox Jewish people are dying at a rate two or three times that of other Jewish people.
It is a profound concern for the Jewish and the Messianic Jewish communities.
You might ask: Why so many Haredim are dying of COVID-19?
The Los Angeles Times said the following: “Among the haredim, cultural factors such as big families, crowded living conditions and a bone-deep devotion to communal religious rituals have set the stage for a swift spread of the virus,” and I would add a lethal spread, “fueled by the community rabbis’ traditional resistance to outside authority.”
This is an excellent summary.
Allow me to explain further.
The Haredim believe it is God’s will that they gather together with others for worship and prayer.
For example, Jewish men pray three times a day in a minyan (gathering of ten men required for prayer) at a synagogue, Yeshiva (religious school), or various other places. It is part of the Haredi lifestyle to pray together…and you cannot blame them for wanting to do that because they believe this group prayer is God’s will for their lives.
Also, the Haredi community is what we might describe as dense, both in numbers and community engagement.
The average number of children among the Haredim is very high. Haredim families average six or seven children but might have as many as ten children or more. Haredim mostly live in poorer areas, with many of them squeezed into two, three, or four bedrooms at best. Imagine a family of twelve or more living in a two- or three-bedroom home! The children also attend religious private schools called Yeshivas, which are often overcrowded in urban areas in Brooklyn, Israel, and other Haredi communities.
The Haredim believe they should obey God rather than man.
To tell the Haredim that they are not allowed to bury their dead in a traditional Jewish manner, or not to have a planned (and usually very large) wedding is hard for the community to accept. To be told that they cannot gather at a synagogue is unacceptable to this community whose very communal life and worship are melded together and form the soul of these people. The Haredi view civil authorities as secular and inherently hostile to their Hassidic values. The Haredim would far more listen to and obey their rabbi than the mayor of a city.
Community is everything to the Haredim, as you cannot be Jewish alone. The Haredim do not even have a concept of a “lone Jewish person.” Religious Jews establish communities wherever they move so that they can get kosher foods, have jobs that allow them to be off on the many holidays that they observe, schools for their kids, and matches for their young men and women. Living in community is a must!
So, please pray for the Haredim. They are trying so hard to please God, and yet, they do not know the Lord personally. The Haredim are waiting for the Messiah to come, and it is our joy to tell them that He has, and His name is Yeshua. These beloved ultra-religious Jewish people are so very insular and restricted in their lifestyle and mentality, and now they are getting COVID-19…we must pray for them.
We also need to understand the Haredim better. Love always seeks understanding. So rather than seeing the Haredim as “those strange people,” it is imperative to love this community and to treat them like human beings. When you meet them, talk to them. If they do not want to talk to you, do not think that they are unfriendly. They believe that they should stay unstained and unspotted from the world. Therefore, because you are secular in their minds, they will stay away from you. They are not unfriendly; they just believe that the Lord wants them to remain separate.
Then finally, encourage the ministry of Chosen People Ministries to the Haredim. We are beginning a new online campaign as many Haredim believe that plagues are a sign of the coming of Messiah. We have that in common to some degree because Jesus said there would be plagues as part of the birth pangs of Messiah in Luke 21. So, encourage us in our ministry, pray for us, support us, and let us know that you care about the Haredim—that would be very appreciated.
Let us pray:
“Abba, Father, we pray for the Haredi community. We pray that You would reach down into the community, touch their lives, draw them to Yourself, and reveal Jesus the Messiah to the Haredim. Lord, we ask You to do what man cannot possibly do, to save them physically, and to save them spiritually. They are precious people. They are the people that Paul spoke of in the book of Romans, “…they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.” So we offer these prayers to You in the great name of Jesus, Yeshua, our Messiah, who is our risen Savior, who crushed death beneath His feet, and will one day return in power. Thank You, in the name of the wonderful Messiah, Amen.”
Thank you, God bless you! We appreciate you so much!
 Noga Tarnopolsky, “Ultra-Orthodox Jews Hit Disproportionately Hard by Israel’s Coronavirus Outbreak,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-04-07/ultra-orthodox-jews-hit-disproportionately-hard-in-israels-coronavirus-outbreak.