A rising death toll in the coronavirus crisis is forcing a change in Jewish and Muslim burial and mourning traditions in the Holy Land.
In Israel, Jewish dead are normally laid to rest in a cloth smock and shroud, without a coffin. Now, the bodies of coronavirus victims are taken for ritual washing – performed in full protective gear – wrapped in impermeable plastic.
They are wrapped again in plastic before interment.
“Feelings are very much mixed,” said Yakov Kurtz, who works for Chevra Kadisha, the main group overseeing Jewish burials in Israel. “We don’t know what to expect, we don’t know how many dead we will have to tend to. There are many fears.”