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During the COVID-19 pandemic, the ultra-orthodox Jewish community attracted media attention for non-compliance with public health mandates, including masking and avoiding large gatherings. More recently, questions have arisen concerning ultra-orthodox Jewish hesitancy to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This talk will explore the experiences of Hasidic Jews in the New York area during the pandemic, based on in-person research conducted in the summer of 2021. You will hear true stories from a community that was disproportionately affected by the pandemic at the earliest stages, when doctors knew very little about treatment and prevention, and healthcare services were most overwhelmed. The lecture will explore the following questions, among others:
Heather L Munro recently completed her doctorate in Anthropology at Durham University. While there, she was also associated with the Centre for the Study of Jewish Culture, Society, and Politics. Her thesis is entitled Identity, Religion, and the State: Haredi Politics and Social Change in Israel. Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Israel, it examines the relationship between the state and religion, and the formation of ultra-orthodox Jewish identity in resistance to secularism and nationalism. She is currently working on several short projects focussing on the ultra-orthodox Jewish experience of the pandemic, and ultra-orthodox Jewish attitudes towards public health mandates and vaccination.