Is COVID-19 the 11th Plague? Israel hit by coronavirus
Just in time for Passover - Tourism takes a beating
This is not the traditional Passover story we are used to reading at the Passover Seder; this one might be even darker. In these unprecedented times, the COVID-19 coronavirus has hit Israel just in time for the holiday of Passover. What makes this night different from all other nights? Just about everything, says Tourist Israel , calling COVID-19 the 11th Plague.
Although we might not be experiencing frogs, lice, and locusts during this year’s Passover, the COVID-19 pandemic may very well be called COVID-19 the 11th Plague. For those fortunate enough to avoid getting sick, they’re likely dealing with a slew of other misfortunes which are direct consequences of the pandemic. Among them are unemployment, school closings, and unpaid leave.
Tourism in Israel has faced an especially brutal blow. While Israel saw a record-breaking 4.55 million tourists in 2019, 2020 won’t be so lucky. The “11th plague” has hit home hard and has tarnished every hope of 2020 being a big year for tourism.
Tourism is one of Israel’s biggest contributors to its economy. Passover is an especially popular time to travel to Israel, being one of two peak months for tourism, outside of October, when the Jewish high holidays take place. It’s a special time to be in Israel, when pita bread is swapped out for sheets of matzo alongside hummus, and rows of chametz (non-Kosher for Passover foods) are blocked off at the supermarket.
Passover is also a popular time for domestic tourism. Israeli families take advantage of school holidays and days off from work to travel around the country. Hotel bookings are normally through the roof during this time and filled to maximum capacity.
With the health crisis continuing to take a toll on businesses in Israel and tourism, most hotels have had no choice but to shut their doors. Those that have not done so yet, remain virtually empty and are sure to close in the near future. Governmental orders become more stringent on a weekly, or sometimes daily basis, as life continues to be less recognizable, and the future more unclear.
So, what will Passover 2020 hold?
With a large percentage of the world’s population currently on lockdown, it’s hard to know, but the show must go on. While many families won’t have the opportunity to break the matzo with people outside of their household, they can use the popular Zoom video conferencing service to keep that special familial bond aflame. In an unprecedented ruling, Senior Orthodox Rabbis have approved the use of the service, despite a strong prohibition against the use of electricity over holidays.
An Orthodox family singing “ma nishtana halayla haze mikol halyelot” translated as “How is this night different from all other nights?” over Zoom is just about as ironic as it gets.