By Chava Ewa & Yekutiel Bornstein
Last Updated 7/20/2020 at 11:00 AM
Jerusalem: A recent spate of COVID-19 infections has drawn suspicion of health department officials as several young religious men infected with the virus are insisting that they have not been participating in illegal minyamin, shiurim or attending weddings, but have in fact, caught the virus at a local gym.
A GYM in Jerusalem? What’s next? Actual Nightlife? At first, we thought it was an urban legend (much like the affordable apartment in Nachlaot or all those high-paying jobs where you don’t need to speak any Hebrew). But upon further investigation, we discovered that indeed there was a gym and that it has been a hotbed of COVID-19 infection.
We asked Yossi D, a young Charedi man from Bayit VeGan, how he found himself in a gym in the first place. “My Hebrew isn’t so good, I saw a sign that said “חֲדַר כֹּשֶׁר” and thought it was something religious… kosher room, right?”
Yossi described how he had the virus for days but didn’t realize. “I was a bit tired, feverish, and the food had no taste. It took a long time for me to notice because I’m Ashkenazi and I’m kinda used to it.“
In order to get all sides of the story, The Daily Freier stopped by the gym (which is now closed but somehow doing classes over Zoom. It’s complicated.) and we were greeted by Sasha, the burly ex-Soviet fitness coach. “Yossi? Yes, he is good kid. But I had to yell at him when he smoked cigarettes in between sets on the incline bench. Also, he kept asking where the coffee machine was.“
The Daily Freier asked Sasha if the Fitness World could accommodate a group of people who had their own lingo, were distrustful of outsiders, and strictly observed a long list of rituals.
Sasha put down the kettle bell, thought for a moment, and replied: “You mean like CrossFit?“