Orthodox Jewish Communities and COVID-19: At the Interface of Faith, Medicine and Technology

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Orthodox Jewish communities do not shun medicine even though they believe that the ultimate process of healing is divine and that medicine is just one way in which God provides humans with the necessary means of healing. At the same time, orthodox Jewish community life is highly segregated and is dependent on high levels of social interaction- be it in the synagogue, the study house and at life cycle events such as weddings, funerals and other festivities. While most orthodox communities obeyed the social distancing regulations and lined up to receive vaccination, there were significant groups, especially amongst the Ultra Orthodox communities, known as Haredim, which expressed an unwillingness to undertake these restrictions because of the impact on community life. As such, many orthodox communities in Israel, North America and London had high rates of infections and fatalities in the early stages of the virus. There developed a tension between groups who obeyed the restrictions and those who did not, each arguing that their adopted policy was the correct one to undertake from a religious point of view, and as declared by their own specific Rabbi religious leaders. In many cases, the holding of mass attended events at a time when this was forbidden brought about a high level of criticism both within the Jewish community and beyond, and even led to new incidents of anti-Semitism practiced against the community. In addition, the emergence of the localized prayer spaces gave rise to a new micro geography of ritual observance.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCOVID-19 and a World of Ad Hoc Geographies
Subtitle of host publicationVolume 1
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783030943509
ISBN (Print)9783030943493
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Haredim
  • Jewish fundamentalism and medicine
  • Orthodox Judaism
  • Ritual spaces

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Medicine


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