COVID-19: Jewish orgs launch platform studying plagues in Jewish history

The coronavirus pandemic has shaken the world to its core, upending many of the normal daily routines in society worldwide. But this is not the first disease that has plagued mankind. In fact, history has seen humanity struggle with disease outbreaks on many occasions. And Jews are no exception.This is the focus of the “Plague Project,” a new online platform launched by six Jewish organizations, who have gathered 30 videos from speakers across various disciplines on how Jews have coped with plagues throughout history.Speakers include the Washington Post‘s Seven Zeitchik, who discusses plagues in Hollywood; Brooklyn Museum curator emeritus and Egyptologist Dr. Edward Bleiberg, who lectures on the famous 10 plagues that struck Egypt in the Bible, and the Graduate Theological Union, Berkley’s Dr. Deena Aranoff, who discusses Jewish households in the pandemic.Of the six organizations involved, five of them have collaborated together in the past. Just last summer, these organizations – consisting of the Oshman Family JCC, jewishLIVE, Judaism Unbound, 929 English and BINA: The Jewish Movement for Social Change – worked together to create the Akedah Project, an online platform for the Rosh Hashanah holiday that centered on the biblical story of the Binding of Isaac.They will also collaborate again in the future for another project, titled the “Megillah Project,” according to Oshman Family JCC’s associate director of Jewish Content Zoe Fertik.The project is also part of a larger initiative between the organizations to make an online Jewish learning hub.

“Plagues play an important role in Jewish learning and Jewish history,” BINA deputy director Nir Braudo said in a statement. “Meaningful Jewish learning always links our past with our present – and future. Which is why, every year, we discuss biblical plagues and bring them into context in our lives and communities. This year, when Jewish communities across the world experience the pandemic in their own lives, we are launching a project with our partners that allows our communities to engage with the timely subject of plagues both in history and in contemporary times with a collection of expert speakers.”The project isn’t the only one that seeks to understand how the global Jewish community has coped with the pandemic. Back in April 2020, the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research began a new initiative to gather and compile stories of Jewish life during the pandemic.To learn more about the Plagues Project, visit:

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