Prominent national-religious rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu has called for Israelis to join him at the Western Wall on Sunday afternoon for a mass prayer rally on behalf of those infected with the coronavirus.
Eliyahu, the head of the Community Rabbinical Association and chief rabbi of Safed, is organizing the gathering together with the Israeli branch of the Orthodox Union, an American Modern Orthodox synagogue network.
“As the sons of the patriarch Abraham, we have an obligation to everyone created in the image of God. The job of the Jewish people is to pray for the good of the entire world,” he said in a statement calling for people to gather Sunday at 4:30 p.m. at the Jerusalem holy site.
“The fact that our prayers have a huge impact requires us to pray for peace and good in the world,” he continued, referring to the Jews as a “light unto the nations.”
It is traditional for Jews to gather for public prayer during times of illness, drought or other dangers.
The coronavirus has spread to more than 24 countries and prompted sweeping prevention measures from the Chinese government, including a lockdown of cities with a combined population of more than 60 million.
The overall death toll from China’s epidemic jumped to 1,665 on Sunday after 142 more people died, although the number of new cases dropped for a third consecutive day.
In Japan, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said that an additional 70 cases were found on the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship for a total of 355.
Among those were three Israelis, the Health Ministry said in a statement. It added that several other Israeli passengers were being tested for the virus. Health Minister Yaakov Litzman said Israel was sending a doctor to help treat the Israelis.
Entering the weekly cabinet meeting, Litzman added: “We are negotiating with the Japanese regarding the return home of all the other [Israelis]. Our working premise has been that corona will arrive and we have made all the preparations.”