Jewish burials in the UK between March and May were more than double the number recorded in the same period last year, revealing the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on the community.
According to data collated by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the largest Jewish burial boards carried out 811 funerals from March to May this year, compared with 358 in 2019, an increase of 127%.
It said the figures suggested the Jewish community had suffered 2.5 times as many deaths as a result of the pandemic than the non-Jewish population.
The Office for National Statistics said earlier this month that the mortality rate from Covid-19 was higher for Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Sikhs than for Christians or those of no religion.
It said this was partly because of the “different circumstances in which members of these groups are known to live; for example, living in areas with higher levels of socio-economic deprivation and differences in ethnic makeup”.
However, Nick Stripe, the head of life events at the ONS, added: “After adjusting for the above, Jewish males are at twice the risk of Christian males, and Jewish women are also at higher risk.”
Jewish males had a mortality rate of 187.9 deaths per 100,000, compared with 92.6 deaths per 100,000 for Christian males.
For Jewish females, the rate was 94.3 deaths per 100,000, compared with 54.6 deaths per 100,000 for Christian females.
Muslim males had the highest rates of death involving Covid-19, with 199 deaths per 100,000 for men of all ages, and 98 deaths per 100,000 for women.
Celebrations to mark the Jewish festival of Purim, which took place in early March, are thought to have contributed to the spread the virus in the Jewish population. Large numbers of Jews attended synagogues and celebratory events involving singing and dancing during the holiday.
Some ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities, which rarely engage with the media and have limited access to the internet, were slow to heed advice on physical distancing and self-isolation for those with symptoms.
Marie van der Zyl, the president of the Board of Deputies, said on Tuesday: “The reopening of some synagogues this Shabbat will come as a relief to many of us, as some aspects of our Jewish way of life return to normal.
“But as these figures show, we have disproportionately lost loved ones, friends and family as a community. It is critical we follow government guidance and caution going forward to save lives.”