US government hires ultra-Orthodox hasidic singer to raise virus awareness

Hasidic star Shulem Lemmer will work with federal health officials to get coronavirus messages to Jewish communities.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The U.S. government has reached out to a popular ultra-Orthodox Jewish singer in order to raise awareness of the dangers of the coronavirus in Jewish communities, Shulem Lemmer said in a tweet Wednesday.

“I was approached by the @HHSGov to help bring awareness of anything Covid-19 related to the Orthodox Jewish community & beyond,” Lemmer tweeted, saying he would be interviewing Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Dr. Brett Giroir and that his fans should tweet back to him “with any questions or concerns, and we will do our utmost to address them.”

Lemmer, who hails from the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, belongs to the Belz hasidic sect and is the first born-and-raised Haredi Jew to sign a recording contract with a major record label, Universal Music Group.

After studying at the the Belzer Cheder in Borough Park, Lemmer moved to Israel where he studied at the Mirrer Yeshiva in Jerusalem. He has been singing since he was 10 years old. After signing the recording deal he began appearing at major league baseball and basketball games to sing the national anthem and God Bless America.

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Earlier this week New York City health officials issued a warning that new clusters of coronavirus infections were emerging in several city neighborhoods that are home to high concentrations of Orthodox Jews.

“We have observed heightened rates of COVID-19 in many neighborhoods with large Orthodox Jewish populations,” city health commissioner David Chokshi wrote in an e-mail to Orthodox Jewish news outlets.

Massive outbreaks earlier this year that killed over 700 members of the Jewish community were in many cases traced back to gatherings at synagogues.

Lemmer said when the record company first contacted him he thought it was a joke, but the deal went through under his conditions.

“We were able to get a line in the contract that I can say no to anything that doesn’t agree with me halachically [according to Jewish law],” Lemmer told the Jew in the City website.

“Music can reach people everywhere and help them connect,” Lemmer said. “Not only in the Jewish world, but different people from all different religions and different backgrounds say it [my music] inspired them.”