Reality dawned slowly, painfully. In mid-March, it suddenly became clear that the novel coronavirus that first ravaged China, and then parts of Europe, was becoming a global pandemic. Five months later, the death toll remains staggering.
On Aug. 20, Chabad.org published “Each Person, a World,” a memorial page paying tribute to the 1,200 Jewish victims of COVID-19 from around the globe, and includes links to obituaries of many. While there are undoubtedly unknown names missing from the list, the project is the most comprehensive Jewish one of its kind and will continue to be updated.
“There was a feeling early on that this wasn’t just going to blow over, but then came this deluge of death within the worldwide Jewish community,” recalls Motti Seligson, director of media relations for Chabad.org. “When we started seeing message after message stating Baruch Dayan HaEmet (‘Blessed Are the True Judge,’ traditionally affirmed when receiving the news of a death), it was just overwhelming.”
Various segments of the Jewish community have been hit at different times – some earlier and some later, but none have been immune. Month after month, the death toll has mounted. Holocaust survivors, victims of Soviet oppression and war veterans, rabbis and laypeople, community leaders and teachers, Torah scholars and professionals, parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. Lost to an unseen enemy.
Of course, COVID-19’s deadly toll is a tragedy that has transcended religion, ethnicity and nationality, and the Jewish community joins with people around the world in mourning the loss of all life. Even now, months later, parts of the globe continue to battle the deadly virus, and the world continues to pray for an end to this plague
From the beginning of the pandemic, the team at Chabad.org has worked hard to help individuals cope with loss, putting out numerous articles and videos on death and mourning. Among the initiatives has also been its Coronavirus Quarantine Kaddish Service, a special free service allowing anyone around the world without access to a minyan to input the name of a deceased loved one and have the Kaddish prayer said for them.
Yet Seligson still felt something had to be done to memorialize those who have passed. Each and every person lost to the COVID-19 plague represents a full life, a world unto itself. Especially as the numbers tragically grew, Seligson knew that every single name had to be recorded for posterity.
“This plague touches every part of the Jewish community without distinction,” says Seligson. “A Jewish memorial for the victims has to do the same. We are one people.”
If you have lost someone dear to you, or know someone who has, we invite you to share their story here.
To read the entire article, visit chabad.org.