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April 8, 2020 11:26 am

Morocco’s Tiny Jewish Community Hit Hard by Coronavirus, With 11 Dead

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

A general view shows an empty street following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Casablanca, Morocco, March 20, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Youssef Boudlal.

Morocco’s tiny Jewish community has taken a major hit from the coronavirus pandemic, with 11 members from the community of less than 2,000 people dying of the disease so far.

Most of Morocco’s once-thriving Jewish population fled the country beginning in 1948, moving largely to Israel and France.

The Israeli news site N12 reported on Wednesday that the latest community member to be taken was Yemin Peretz, 74, who passed away on Tuesday at a hospital in Casablanca, a week after his wife Simone and son Ari died of the virus. Ari’s wife Pascal Peretz is also in serious condition and is on a respirator at a hospital.

The four victims are relatives of Israel’s Labor party leader Amir Peretz.

“The blows fall on us one after the other,” a member of the Casablanca Jewish community said. “Almost every day there is a funeral for someone from the community who died from corona.”

“We have not yet recovered from the death of Ari and Simone, and yesterday the father Yemin also passed away,” he added. “They were the mainstays of the community, contributed greatly and helped a multitude of people. We pray that Pascal will survive.”

“We’re also such a very small community,” he said.

It is believed that the heavy toll is the result of a large Purim party attended by hundreds of people who had also been at a wedding a few days before with a person infected with the coronavirus.

The president of the Jewish community sent a letter to all members telling them not to leave their homes during the Passover holiday.

A community member said that Morocco’s king and government officials have been extremely helpful in aiding the community during the crisis.

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