Jonah Profile picture
16 Oct, 14 tweets, 3 min read
Haredi (traditionalist Orthodox) Jews in NY are being singled out rn, bcs the outbreak includes many Haredi communities & bcs of widespread non-compliance w/ masking & distancing. But the approach is inflammatory, stigmatizing & non-productive. Here’s what to do instead.🧵[1/12]
First, it’s not about excusing or accusing: It’s about public health. Everyone is responsible for masking & distancing! To help that happen, we need to identify risk factors, wrap-around social & economic needs, obstacles to compliance & care--and find creative solutions. [2/12]
Everyone already emphasizes what makes Haredi Jews different. But almost no one is stepping back & asking, what risk factors do the hardest-hit communities have in common socially & economically? [3/12]
Socio-economic factors: dense housing makes it harder to distance, plain & simple. Communities in denser housing (larger families, lower income, &/or urban), have been ravaged by the virus. Many Haredim live in dense housing. Why is that never the lede? [4/12]
Another is having to go work in-person. People who must work on-site are more exposed and have been among the hardest-hit by the virus. Most Haredim have jobs that can’t be done remotely (and btw, most Hasidic men work, rather than study, full-time.) [5/12]
Sub-communities (w/ denser housing, lower-income, on-site workers, high sociality) already ravaged by the virus may say, “Most of us got sick already, & ppl relaxed masking in the summer but cases didn’t go up.” We need public health messaging that addresses this directly.[6/12]
It’d be easy for someone like me, who works remotely and lives in less dense housing, to be shocked by non-compliance w/ distancing & masking--these are crucial life-saving measures! Yet, I’m not in the shoes of someone who’s in daily close proximity with dozens of people. [7/12]
It’d be easy for someone like me, who works remotely and lives in less dense housing, to be shocked by non-compliance w/ distancing & masking--these are crucial life-saving measures! Yet, I’m not in the shoes of someone who’s in daily close proximity with dozens of people. [7/12]
Let me go a step further. A few people in my close circles have had the virus, but most haven’t--baruch Hashem! My experience is a privileged one. There are health centers in NYC that reported 50% or higher positive rates for antibodies in May. [8/12]
Messaging: non-compliance is more likely in the absence of comprehensive, medically-informed public-health messaging from non-gvt community leaders. This has been true of many Haredi communities during the fall surge (unlike the spring)--& is true for many Americans. [9/12]
A political factor: many Americans tragically believe the virus is “fake news.” Many of POTUS’ adherents follow suit, including many Haredim. His campaign allegedly robo-called Hasidic Jews to go protest social distancing restrictions, further inflaming the situation. [10/12]
Singling out Haredi Jews means singling out a vulnerable minority. Last year there were a record number of antisemitic assaults on Haredi NYers. They’re subjected to daily harassment. They need more allies from those of us committed to fighting scapegoating of minorities. [11/12]
Risk of exposure, & public health behaviors like masking & distancing & staying outdoors are all influenced by a wide variety of socio-economic, political, and religious factors. We need nuance & sensitivity to work effectively with impacted, oft-targeted communities. [12/12]
PS yes, religious sociality (e.g. group prayer) is a v significant COVID-19 risk factor in many communities, including Haredi! But let's not miss the forest for the trees. Haredim are whole, complex humans, & public health solutions need to treat them as such, for everyone's sake

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More from @JonahNYC

7 Oct
Followup thread: I’ve been talking to epidemiologists & health justice activists. Here are some tips to destigmatize Orthodox Jews, particularly Haredi (traditionalist Orthodox) Jews, & to address the greater COVID surge in NY, which includes some Haredi neighborhoods: [1/8]
1) Pay attention to unsexy risk factors like dense housing--Haredi Jews have similar lower-income & family size profiles to many COVID-vulnerable PoC NYC immigrant families & so need similar whole-family, community-partnered rapid testing like was piloted in Sunset Park. [2/8]
2) Religious extremism might not be the lede. Political context: Half the country is dangerously not masking. Only *some* of the BK clusters are heavily Orthodox--but *all* are heavily pro-Trump. As explained in this editorial by @LienaZagare. [3/8]…
Read 8 tweets
6 Oct
It’s time to talk about antisemitism against Orthodox Jews, particularly Haredi (traditionalist Orthodox) Jews. How Orthodox Jews are getting blamed for the rise in COVID in NY, and why that’s bad for all of us. It’s time to destigmatize: Thread. [1/9]
First: Orthodox, particularly Haredim (traditionalist Orthodox Jews), *are* a stigmatized population. They are subjected to regular antisemitic harassment and violence. Last year there were antisemitic assaults throughout Chanukkah. They culminated in armed killings. [2/9]
This didn’t come out of nowhere. One Haredi acquaintance of mine told me last year, “I’ve had it good compared to others, baruch hashem. Only spit on a couple times, shoved and threatened at the subway, at the beach. Called names, sure. Nothing really.” [3/9]
Read 9 tweets
24 Jun
We Jews often wonder about antisemitism in liberation movements. Is it really there? What happens when it shows up? What do we do about it? It’s actually pretty simple. Of course it’s there (it shows up everywhere, Right, Left, and Center). & Here's what we do about it: [1/10]
When antisemitism shows up in our liberation movements, 1) We invest in long-term, mutually accountable relationships; 2) We call in, not out; and 3) We lift up the voices of Jews of color. [2/10]
Antisemitism is a violent, dehumanizing conspiracy theory that blames Jews for all our problems. Even worse? Every one of us has been socialized into some aspect of this ideology. It’s like racism or sexism in this respect: It shows up everywhere. [3/10]
Read 13 tweets

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