Hasidic underground during lockdown

Hasidic underground during lockdown

I have tried, since the start of the pandemic, to make sense of Covid-19 in the Hasidic community and to share my findings here. I have found the official narratives to be mistaken at best and blatant propaganda at worst. I have tried, when possible, to record and report on what I was seeing about this extraordinarily unusual world, where the majority of the population is extremely young and where Covid precautions were very often ignored. Here I wrote a summary of these events, and you’ll find many reports throughout the year. And as the fall cycle will ramp up, I am sure there will be plenty to look into again.

An additional phenomena that I have been documenting, and which I find very interesting, is the community’s various methods of subversion of Covid protocols.

Note: I want to make it clear that I do not share this to criticize the community; in fact, I fully support the community’s ingenuity in navigating life while the government vastly infringes on civil and religious rights.

One way in which they did this, which I already wrote about, was by telling people to get tested only if they were “100% healthy”. This was a way to get the community’s ratio of negative-to-positive tests to go down, so as to avoid a “red zone” designation and a shutdown. Another demand was that people wear masks in public when outsiders see, so as to avoid inciting the gentile wrath and their agitations toward closures. The mask requirement here was explicitly only to avoid school closures. These measures are meant not to avoid the virus but to avoid governmental infringement.

Another pattern of subversion seen quite often, and this reflects the long, deep history of Jewish religious quiet defiance of anti-religious edicts, is to send signals to community members that shops and institutions are open, while officially declaring these places closed. I’ve collected a handful of examples of these, and I’ll translate the Yiddish so you can understand how this works.

English: We are closed! For appointment and pickup, please call.

Yiddish: We are open! The entrance is at the side door.

This person is obviously not Hasidic; notice that his earring is a cross. He is obviously hired by the community. He is wearing a mask and holding a box of gloves, and a necklace with a Yiddish sign. This he presumably can’t read but it’s written so that community members, and only community members, can read it.

Yiddish: The sheriff is in the neighborhood. Please, let’s make a good impression.

Yiddish: The shop is open! The door is closed because of the police.

This is obviously in Israel. It says in Hebrew, English, and Arabic that the place is closed.

In Yiddish: In and out and close the door!

The English notice informs the visitor that the shop will be closed until further notice. The Yiddish says “the door on the right side is open”.


This is clearly a picture of a linen shop or hardware store, but there are loaves of bread and cereal on the shelf (very unusual). The tweet reads: “All the shops in Boro Park are now selling bread and milk, so as to not be shut down.” Presumably this way they are “essential” as “groceries.”

In Montreal, the restrictions allowed for 250 in a theater and 25 in a synagogue. A simple printout on the sect’s letterhead transformed this synagogue into a space for 250 practitioners.

There are many, many more of these. I’d love to document them for posterity, so please send your finds my way! The lesson from this is this: if a public refuses to comply then this substantially limits the powers of its government. Because in the end, the Hasidic community largely got its way over the last year and a half, and it probably will largely get its way with vaccine mandates, even though the community has among the lowest vax rates in NYC.


Year in Review: Hasidim had similar Covid outcomes despite opening

Sharing a glimpse into the city during Covid

Covid test? Only if you’re 100% healthy!

Coronavirus in the Hasidic Community

Post A Comment