The Scientist, the Therapist, and the Conspiracy Theorist: Three Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic Within the Ultra-orthodox Jewish Revival Movement in Israel

Asaf Sharabi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article examines the responses of three rabbis to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Israel and the distinctive approach and strategy expressed by each of them: (1) rational-scientific, (2) emotional support, (3) resistance and distrust. The first two rabbis maintain that they trust the medical institutions and the government, whereas the third rabbi evinces distrust, expressed through conspiracy theories. These different approaches can be explained by their dispositions prior to the pandemic, which were exacerbated by the Coronavirus. Hence, COVID-19 served as more of a reflecting phenomenon than an agent of change. Analyzing the dispositions of the three rabbis can show us how they are related to two significant forces of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries—science (rational-scientific and resistance and distrust) and psychology (emotional support). Psychological discourse has been used to promote public health. On the other hand, the scientific discourse has been used to promote adherence to government and health ministry directives, as well as to oppose those directives.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Religion and Health
Early online date15 May 2024
DOIs
StateE-pub ahead of print - 15 May 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2024.

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Psychology and religion
  • Religion in Israel
  • Science and religion
  • Teshuva movement

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