Looking back at “Corona-times” memes

Looking back at “Corona-times” memes

Here’s a joke from March 2020: “US has just confirmed 2 million cases of Corona JOKES… One million of them are in bad condition.”

Horrible news. Well, it gets worse, because I’m about to explain some of these Corona jokes, and that, as you know, is fatal to the life of jokes.

It’s inevitable, though, because I want to share with you a sampling of these “Corona jokes” and contextualize them. These jokes were the memes and quips that circulated wildly during the early days of Covid — what the Hasidic community generally called “Corona-times” — and reflect the unique way the Hasidic community dealt with the early lockdown. I’ve tried to document the going-ons of the Hasidic community during Covid, for instance by blogging about the underground during lockdown, the community’s methods of subverting targeted shutdowns and playing the system, and what my impression was after the first wave and after the first year. This post, which I am sharing now at the two-year anniversary of that historic time, is a collection of viral memes that were circulated within the Hasidic Twitter and internet sphere, and they contain many inside quips at the challenges of the lockdown. In contrast to the mainstream memes of banana bread, Netflix and chill, pajamas all day, Zoom calls for everything, the Haredi Jewish memes revolved around the difficulty of being cooped up with the family, the endless boredom, the surreal Passover experience, the increase in superstitious beliefs, and the self-deprecating digs at the community’s violations of Covid guidelines. I’ll translate these memes and try to explain them, so they may be recorded for posterity.

Part 1: Bored large families at home.

There are a lot of jokes about going out of your mind while the whole family is cooped up at home, getting on each others’ nerves. For the Hasidic community, staying home was incredibly difficult not only because TV, internet, and movies are forbidden, but also because there is a degree of socialization of childcare — where the children are in the care of the school system and adjacent programs for the majority of the time. School closures meant the disruption of this vital family support system, hence, all the inside jokes about being terribly bored and annoyed with everyone in the family.

“Do you know of a charity organization that accepts used clothing? with kids inside…”

“Tonight at 8:00, all singles and divorcees will go out on the balconies and clap and show support to all who are married!”

“I’m really starting to feel for Noah and the ark. Cooped up at home with a bunch of animals that need constant feeding.”

“Day 5 of quarantine: I’ll never complain about a three day holiday again.” Three day holidays occur when a 2 day holiday ends at the start of shabbes or vice versa, and results in 3 days of not being allowed to go online, work, drive a car, and so on. It’s an exhausting stretch, but obviously, 5 days of quarantine is worse!


“Charity opportunity: anyone going from the kitchen to the dining room that can take a small package?” This is obviously a play on the posts that look for people to take packages between Hasidic enclaves. The joke is (obviously?!) how small the world has gotten, that going between rooms is now a considerable distance.

“Up to now I thought that corona is the sickness. Now I’m finding out that lying in bed all day is the sickness.”

“Now is the time to count pomegranate seeds to see if they indeed have 613 seeds.” This is about the legend that pomegranates have the same number of fruit seeds as the number of commandments in the Torah. Mind you, for much of my life I didn’t think much of it and accepted this as fact.

“My friend in Israel has 16 children. He has to give again eight of them because you are not allowed to have more than ten in the home at once. If anyone wants to take some of them until spring, please get in touch.”

“There are now two days of the week: shabbos and not shabbos” This is more on the monotony and disorientation, but at least there were two days! We here in the rest of the world had just one day: not shabbos.

“I think I’ll remove the door from the fridge. It’s just in the way…”

“Since we had nothing to do this morning, we set the shabbes table… Even the challahs are already ready. As it turns out, we already washed for bread and started to eat the fish… Now we are debating if we should bring in the soup or wait until shabbes… We’ll see in a few hours what we’ll do… Meanwhile, I’m drumming on the table with a spoon and fork…”

Part 2: It’s a sign the Messiah is coming!

During those intense early days, when weddings were held in warehouses and streets and dining rooms, everyone knew someone in the hospital or critically ill, the entire community was in panic, the natural interpretation of these exceptional times was that those were the end times. Specifically, the final moments before the Messiah comes and redeems the Jewish people from their exile and returns them to the land in Israel. Several memes goofed off on the palpable serious moment that is the end time.

“I knew that before the Messiah comes there will be great wars, but I didn’t know it would be in my house.”

“Every time before the Messiah comes, the following things happen.” This is being funny about the many times that people had been convinced this was the real moment for the Messiah.

“When the Messiah will come, he’ll point with the finger [at the people who heeded the commandments/were good] because he won’t shake hands. #Messiah’stimes”

Part 3: Corona-times Passover

The time between the holiday Purim and the holiday Passover roughly coincides with the most intense “Corona-times” epoch. Passover preparations usually take months and it’s one of the most intense holidays, with periods of light cleaning, intense cleaning, closing off parts of the home, covering things in foil, making special foods, school vacations, shopping, and more. This annual pattern was thrown into disarray with the lockdown, as people prepared for a very unusual Passover. Several of the memes riffed on that.

“I’m starting to teach the children about Passover, but I got stuck. Kadesh, when the father comes home from….?” The chant continues with ‘synagogue’ but synagogues were closed…

Elijah the prophet visits on Passover — and he’s generally invisible. Not this year…

Zoom Flume is a popular amusement park, and the intermediate days of Passover usually involve visits to the amusement park. Except not in 2020. This is the Corona times version of that.

“I told my kids today they can’t go out on the porch, we will leave it for a Passover trip.”

“Jewish irony; Passover canceled because of the plague.”

4. Some rules are meant to be broken

There were quite a few memes that took stabs at the Hasidic community’s violation of the Covid requirements. Even as schools were shut and lives were completely disrupted, Hasidim were still organizing prayer groups, attending funerals, and shopping for Passover. This earned the community an enormous amount of criticism, including from Hasidim online.

“Dear, can you join us for prayers?”

“You want to know why the Jews were able to leave Egypt? When Moses said to the Jewish people ‘and you should not leave the doorway of your house’, the Jews said ‘if you say stay home, we’re definitely leaving.'”

“The whole world is now an airplane. The gentiles sit glued to their screens while the Jews are organizing prayer quorums.” [The prayer groups, during corona-times, are illegal social gatherings…]

That’s all the jokes I have for today. What did you find funny? What funny meme do you remember that I should add to my collection? Let me hear your thoughts!

1 Comment
  • Leah
    Posted at 13:59h, 14 April Reply

    Fantastic roundup!

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