Italian Jews on virus alert
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Italian Jews on virus alert

10,000 Jewish residents of Milan and the surrounding area hit by the city-wide bans on public gatherings

 The Jewish community of northern Italy has said it is not immune to public disruption, following hundreds of cases of confirmed coronavirus in the area.

Among those nursing the wounds of cancelled get-togethers was Ruben Golran, whose family had planned events for 600 people for his barmitzvah, while fewer than 10 out of 100 attended another boy’s brit milah.

They are some of the 10,000 Jewish residents of Milan and the surrounding area hit by the city-wide bans on public gatherings, which has led to community centres and schools closing.

“It’s such a strange, unusual situation,” said Claudia Bagnarelli, founder of a Jewish school. “Everyone is a little shocked. One day they said the schools are closed and parents have to deal with it.”

With the situation worsening this week, families and communities were preparing to cancel their Purim celebrations, as representatives described the strange ghost town atmosphere and families’ coping strategies.

“A few people meet in apartments just to make the minyan, but there are no people from outside,” said Milo Hasbani, the president of Milan’s Jewish community.

Rabbi Shmuel Hezkia, a mohel in the city like his late Afghan-born father, said the lack of tourists was particularly felt.

“Italy and Milan live on tourism, people who go out and spend, and unfortunately that’s missing,” he said.

“You can feel they’re missing.
We feel that this Shabbat there won’t be a kiddush, or guests to invite on Friday night.”

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