Twenty-two UK Jews have died after contracting the coronavirus as of Tuesday, according to figures released by the Board of Deputies.
The Board of Deputies gathered information from the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, the Federation of Synagogues, the United Synagogue, the Joint Jewish Burial Society and Liberal Judaism.
The number of fatalities in the community accounts for close to 5 percent of the confirmed national death toll, which was 422 as of Tuesday morning.
Jews make up 0.5 percent of the UK’s population and have a median age in England and Wales ranging from 50 to 54, according to the last census, which was carried out in 2011.
The Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor William Stern died at 85 after contracting the virus, according to reports from the strictly Orthodox community. Stern, who came to Britain as a refugee, survived the Bergen-Belsen Nazi concentration camp.
He took control of Britain’s largest private sector landlord, the Freshwater group, in the 1960s, and launched the Stern Property Group. But his empire collapsed in the 1974 crash with debts of about £143m. In 1978, Stern was personally bankrupted with debts of about £118m.
A 97-year-old woman, Rina Feldman, is also understood to have been a victim of the virus. A third seriously ill member of the strictly Orthodox community is believed to be in intensive care in Manchester.
The figures show “our community is not immune” to the pandemic, the Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl said on Wednesday, as she urged the public to follow governmental guidelines and stay at home.
“The coronavirus outbreak is a devastating national and international tragedy and these figures show that our community is not immune. Our hearts go out to all those who have lost loved ones and those who are caring for the sick,” she said
“There is no higher value in Judaism than preserving life, so please, do everything you can to follow the government’s guidelines and stay home unless you absolutely cannot.
“For our part at the Board of Deputies, we care about communities large and small and we are doing all we can to maximise the continuity of Jewish life through this process and ensure we can celebrate a happy and healthy Pesach. We will get through this, but it needs everyone to play their part.”