The Jewish Approach to Community and how it Shapes Pandemics
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Undergraduate honors thesis / Opt-Out
The Jewish approach to community has guided its actions and governed its results in pandemics throughout history. The famous concept from Pirkei Avot 2:4 of “ אַל תִּפְרשֹׁ מִן הַצִּבּוּר ” translated as “do not separate yourself from the community,” has promoted this value within the Jewish people and helped maintain tight-knit communities over centuries. Jews value community and run them differently from the general public, which has often affected the population’s actions and outcomes during times of widespread disease. While their social norms during other health issues were advantageous — as they promoted good hygiene which is believed to have contributed to Jewish success — social interactive customs of today did not have the same effect. The current COVID-19 pandemic differs from prior pandemics because Jewish customs and culture now became detrimental to community public health, having the opposite effect than in the past. .... Pandemics and epidemics are an integral part of human history. This essay will discuss the origins, signs and symptoms, and Jewish immunity in pandemics and epidemics such as the Black Death, Spanish flu, tuberculosis, and coronavirus, as well as specifically focusing on the Jewish practices during these outbreaks. The Jewish population was often subject to antisemitism during times of widespread diseases and illnesses, and, as a result, were involved in initiatives to increase public health and help end the pandemics, especially within their communities. While society has come a long way in its scientific research and infectious disease knowledge, it is also important to learn from the past to see what was done well and what mistakes were made so that we can react better as these issues inevitably arise in the future. (from the Introduction)
Berger, E. (2022, April 28). The Jewish Approach to Community and how it Shapes Pandemics. Undergraduate honors thesis, Yeshiva University.
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