The Jerusalem Municipality said Tuesday that it is working with its Arab and ultra-Orthodox (haredi) populations to provide proper information for managing the coronavirus breakout.
As both sectors tend to shun or distrust the mainstream media, distributing information comes with unique challenges. The ultra-Orthodox population, in particular, has come under fire for failing to take the directives of the Health Ministry seriously.
For Arab residents of east Jerusalem, the municipality said it distributed tens of thousands of flyers with the public health guidelines written in Arabic. It also maintains a broad network of digital channels targeting them, with an Arab-language website, pages and groups on Facebook, WhatsApp, and Telegram, as well as SMS messages to 80,000 Arab residents. Informational videos are also being distributed, and information is being published in the local Arab media, the municipality said.
In the ultra-Orthodox community, the municipality said it is working on several levels to transmit and explain health directives. Advertisements are being taken in the haredi media, and messages are transmitted through the alternative radio channels popular in their communities. Leaflets have been distributed to mailboxes in haredi neighborhoods with hygiene instructions and information for recognizing and treating COVID-19. Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion has been giving interviews explaining the situation to the haredi press, and the municipality offers a telephone line offering essential information in Hebrew and Yiddish at 02-5001333.
Furthermore, as is common in the haredi streets, cars with loudspeakers are traveling through each neighborhood with special announcements tailored for them in Hebrew and Yiddish. Residents are being asked not to leave the house, not to pray with a minyan, to hold small private Passover Seders, and not to burn chametz publicly ahead of Passover.