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Date: 2021
Abstract: As soon as the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic became evident, concern began to be expressed in the Jewish community about how its effects might damage different aspects of Jewish life. Our July 2020 survey of Jews across the UK was designed to investigate some of these effects and bring some data into policy discussion about the future of the community.

In this fifth paper drawing on those survey data, we examine the impact of the pandemic on the working lives of Jewish people in the United Kingdom. It begins by studying how the experience of Jews compares to that of the wider population, and explores the issues of employment, redundancy and furlough, as well as other work disruptions such as income reduction, working from home, and caring for children. With very little data on Jewish employment available, this report provides key insights into the ways in which the community was impacted over the first five months of the pandemic, and points to how it is likely to have been affected subsequently. By providing this analysis, we hope to help UK Jewish community organisations and foundations to respond appropriately to the challenges identified.

Of particular note among the findings: the Jewish employment rate had declined at a lower rate than among the general population, but the Jewish unemployment rate had increased at a higher rate. Whilst many Jews have experienced serious work impacts, and many among the high proportions of self-employed Jews have lost income without having the same access to government financial support as the employed, it seems unlikely that the Jewish population as a whole has suffered disproportionately. We found that those who were most likely to experience severe work disruptions (defined as being made redundant, being furloughed, having their pay reduced and/or having their hours reduced) were the youngest workers (aged 16-24), Jewish women (especially regarding furlough and redundancy), single parents, those with household incomes below £30,000 per year prior to the pandemic, and the most religious respondents, especially Strictly Orthodox workers, more than half of whom (52%) experienced one or more of these severe impacts.

A follow-up survey planned for the coming months will determine how things have changed further since July among Jews, but it is nevertheless already clear that communal investment in employment support is needed, since all national indicators tell us that the employment situation has generally deteriorated since that time. Continued monitoring of Jewish employment rates is imperative if we are to determine and understand how the overall picture is changing and whether various endeavours being undertaken to address the challenges are effective. This will require a combination of continued investigations using data gathered within the community, as well as new investments in analysing and interpreting national data sources to shed light on long-term trends.
Author(s): Boyd, Jonathan
Date: 2021
Date: 2021
Abstract: This qualitative study aimed to address current gaps in our knowledge and understanding of the relationship between modern antisemitism and Holocaust denial and distortion from a regional perspective. This inquiry
focuses on four post-communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe known as the Visegrád Four. Focus group research was conducted in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia to explore how secondary antisemitism is manifested in Holocaust denial and distortion and how secondary and Israel-focused antisemitism (i.e. new antisemitism) can lead to Holocaust denial and distortion in the region.

More specifically, the focus group research was meant to explore: (1) how focus group participants in the Visegrád countries contextualize topics related to Holocaust denial and distortion; (2) how these arguments are framed and justified; (3) how narratives of Holocaust denial and distortion are linked to Holocaust remembrance; (4)
how such narratives are embedded in the discussion on Israel-focused antisemitism; (5) how Holocaust distortion and new antisemitism can reinforce each other in these narratives; and (6) how social settings can give rise to manifestations of antisemitism, including Holocaust denial and distortion.

Drawing on the findings of this research, policy workshops were organized in each Visegrád country to formulate practice-oriented proposals that could inform policy development. The results of the qualitative research and the discussions in these workshops will contribute to the formulation of region-specific survey questions
that can serve as a basis for further research on modern antisemitism in the Visegrád countries.

This report summarizes the qualitative research, its key findings and the resulting proposals to combat Holocaust denial and distortion in the region.
Date: 2021
Date: 2021
Abstract: Background: The importance of community involvement in the response against disease outbreaks has been well established. However, we lack insights into local communities’ experiences in coping with the current COVID-19 pandemic. This study explored both the impact of, and response to, COVID-19 within the Orthodox Jewish communities of Antwerp (Belgium) during the first lockdown period (March 2020 – May 2020).

Methods: We conducted an explorative qualitative study using a participatory approach. First, we performed a community mapping to identify relevant stakeholders. Through the active involvement of a community advisory board and based on qualitative interviews with key-informants and community members, we elicited lived experiences, attitudes, and perceptions towards COVID-19. Interviews were conducted both face-to-face and using online web conferencing technology. Data were analyzed inductively according to the principles of thematic analysis.

Results: Government-issued outbreak control measures presented context-specific challenges to the Orthodox Jewish communities in Antwerp. They related mainly to the remote organization of religious life, and practicing physical distancing in socially and culturally strongly connected communities. Key informants described how existing community resources were rapidly mobilized to adapt to the outbreak and to self-organize response initiatives within communities. This included the active involvement of community and religious leaders in risk communication, which proved to be of great importance to facilitate coverage and uptake of pandemic control measures while protecting essential community values and traditions. Creating bottom-up and community-adapted communication strategies, including addressing language barriers and involving Rabbis in the dissemination of prevention messages, fostered a feeling of trust in government’s response measures. However, unmet information and prevention needs were also identified, such as the need for inclusive communication by public authorities and the need to mitigate the negative effects of stigmatization.

Conclusion: The experiences of Orthodox Jewish communities in Antwerp demonstrate a valuable example of a feasible community-centered approach to health emergencies. Increasing the engagement of communities in local decision-making and governance structures remains a key strategy to respond to unmet information and prevention needs.
Date: 2021
Abstract: Background Ethnic and religious minorities have been disproportionately affected by SARS-CoV-2 worldwide. The UK strictly-Orthodox Jewish community has been severely affected by the pandemic. This group shares characteristics with other ethnic minorities including larger family sizes, higher rates of household crowding and relative socioeconomic deprivation. We studied a UK strictly-Orthodox Jewish population to understand how COVID-19 had spread within this community.

Methods We performed a household-focused cross-sectional SARS-CoV-2 serosurvey specific to three antigen targets. Randomly-selected households completed a standardised questionnaire and underwent serological testing with a multiplex assay for SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies. We report clinical illness and testing before the serosurvey, seroprevalence stratified by age and gender. We used random-effects models to identify factors associated with infection and antibody titres.

Findings A total of 343 households, consisting of 1,759 individuals, were recruited. Serum was available for 1,242 participants. The overall seroprevalence for SARS-CoV-2 was 64.3% (95% CI 61.6-67.0%). The lowest seroprevalence was 27.6% in children under 5 years and rose to 73.8% in secondary school children and 74% in adults. Antibody titres were higher in symptomatic individuals and declined over time since reported COVID-19 symptoms, with the decline more marked for nucleocapsid titres.

Interpretation In this tight-knit religious minority population in the UK, we report one of the highest SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence levels in the world to date. In the context of this high force of infection, all age groups experienced a high burden of infection. Actions to reduce the burden of disease in this and other minority populations are urgently required.

Funding This work was jointly funded by UKRI and NIHR [COV0335; MR/V027956/1], a donation from the LSHTM Alumni COVID-19 response fund, HDR UK, the MRC and the Wellcome Trust. The funders had no role in the design, conduct or analysis of the study or the decision to publish. The authors have no financial relationships with any organizations that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous three years; no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.

Evidence before the study In January 2020, we searched PubMed for articles on rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection amongst ethnic minority groups and amongst the Jewish population. Search teams included “COVID-19”, “SARS-CoV-2”, seroprevalence, “ethnic minority”, and “Jewish” with no language restrictions. We also searched UK government documents on SARS-CoV-2 infection amongst minority groups. By January 2020, a large number of authors had reported that ethnic minority groups experienced higher numbers of cases and increased hospitalisations due to COVID-19. A small number of articles provided evidence that strictly-Orthodox Jewish populations had experienced a high rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection but extremely limited data was available on overall population level rates of infection amongst specific ethnic minority population groups. There was also extremely limited data on rates of infection amongst young children from ethnic minority groups.

Added value of the study We report findings from a population representative, household survey of SARS-CoV-2 infection amongst a UK strictly Orthodox Jewish population. We demonstrate an extremely high seroprevalence rate of SARS-CoV-2 in this population which is more than five times the estimated seroprevalence nationally and five times the estimated seroprevalence in London. In addition the large number of children in our survey, reflective of the underlying population structure, allows us to demonstrate that in this setting there is a significant burden of disease in all age groups with secondary school aged children having an equivalent seroprevalence to adults.

Implications of the available evidence Our data provide clear evidence of the markedly disproportionate impact of SARS-CoV-2 in minority populations. In this setting infection occurs at high rates across all age groups including pre-school, primary school and secondary school-age children. Contextually appropriate measures to specifically reduce the impact of SARS-CoV-2 amongst minority populations are urgently required.
Date: 2021
Abstract: Overt state-sponsored antisemitism ended in Europe with the fall of the Soviet Union. Antisemitic attitudes, however, remain prevalent in Europe, and some European political actors have instrumentalized antisemitism for political gain. This report examines both the conscious use of antisemitism in European politics and the calculated tolerance of antisemitism, demonstrating that the oldest hatred remains a modern political tool.

Unlike antisemitic incidents of violence, vandalism, or insults, the political use of antisemitism does not target Jews themselves. Instead, antisemitic propaganda targets domestic or foreign audiences as a means of gaining political support. Demonstrating tolerance for antisemitism is another tactic of attracting political support. Polling data shows that these strategies have a rational basis. ADL’s 2019 Global 100 survey of antisemitic attitudes found that one in four Europeans polled harbored antisemitic beliefs.

Antisemitic propaganda has as its goal to energize and attract followers. Antisemitic propaganda is also used to tarnish political opponents in the eyes of a specific audience by intimating that someone is Jewish, supportive of Jewish causes or of the State of Israel. Other times, political opponents are slandered as antisemites or Nazis to diminish their reputations with specific audiences. Each of these techniques will be covered in this report, which focuses on the conscious choice of instrumentalizing or tolerating antisemitism for political gain. Antisemitic rhetoric by political actors as an indicator of bias is a much broader topic, and this report does not cover those instances.

The broad categories of the politicization of antisemitism include (1) politically motivated accusations of, or uses of, antisemitism against political opponents; (2) political appeals to antisemitic beliefs among the public, including the conspiracy theories about Jewish control of government, economy, media; and (3) tolerance of antisemitism within political movements as a strategy for increasing popular support. This list not exhaustive of the political instrumentalization of antisemitism, but this report provides illustrative examples from recent years in these broad categories.

Why is this report important? While violent antisemitic attacks receive wide publicity – and rightly so – the politicization of antisemitism can also severely impact Jewish communities. The British Jewish community provides a compelling example.

In January 2015, 11% of British Jews were considering emigrating, according to a poll by the UK’s Jewish Chronicle. That survey was conducted before Jeremy Corbyn, widely regarded within the British Jewish community as an antisemite himself, was even a leadership candidate for the Labour party. In September 2018, after antisemitism had become a serious problem in the Labour party under Corbyn, the Jewish Chronicle poll found that 39% of British Jews were considering emigrating. And in an October 2019 poll by the UK’s Jewish Leadership Council, just prior to the UK General Election, 47% of British Jews said they would “seriously consider” leaving the UK if Jeremy Corbyn were to win the election.

Had Jeremy Corbyn won, leading a major party widely recognized as tolerating antisemitism among its members, and had even 30% of British Jews emigrated as a result of that single event, that number of roughly 90,000 Jews would have been similar to the total of all the French Jews who left France over the past 20 years.

The sections below are select examples of the different ways in which antisemitism has been instrumentalized for political gain by various actors. The purposes and tactics vary substantially, but have the common element of politicizing antisemitism:

The Russian government instrumentalized antisemitism in the forms of propaganda and “false flag” operations to influence domestic and foreign public opinion in its conflict with Ukraine.
Polish political campaigns used overt antisemitic rhetoric during elections to win votes.
The Hungarian government used coded antisemitism in political campaigns against EU migration policies.
The UK Labour party consciously tolerated antisemitism to widen its political support from far-left radicals.
Ukrainian nationalists glorified World War II era fighters to promote nationalist narratives, while trivializing their involvement in the Holocaust.
The far-right Alternative for Germany party trivialized the Holocaust as part of their appeal to “Holocaust fatigue” among German voters.
Other political actors have engaged in similar acts of politicization, and their absence from this report is not indicative of any assessment. The cases below are simply the most blatant examples of the types of politicization to be highlighted.
Date: 2021
Abstract: CST’s Antisemitic Incidents Report 2020 shows that last year CST recorded 1,668 antisemitic incidents across the UK. This is an 8% fall from the 1,813 incidents recorded in 2019 but is still the third-highest number of incidents CST has ever recorded in a calendar year. There were 1,690 antisemitic incidents recorded in 2018, 1,420 in June 2017 and 1,275 antisemitic incidents in 2016.

A further 402 reports of potential incidents were received by CST in 2020 but were not deemed to be antisemitic and are not included in this total of 1,668 antisemitic incidents. Many of these 402 potential incidents involved suspicious activity or possible hostile reconnaissance at Jewish locations; criminal activity affecting Jewish people and buildings; and anti-Israel activity that did not include antisemitic language, motivation or targeting.

The 1,668 antisemitic incidents CST recorded last year were clearly influenced by the pandemic. There were 41 incidents that referenced the pandemic alongside antisemitic language, and 19 cases of Jewish religious, educational or social events being ‘zoombombed’ by antisemites who accessed the events to express antisemitic abuse. There was a reduction in the number of incidents affecting Jewish schools, teachers and school students, but an increase in the number of incidents at people’s homes. The highest monthly totals came in January, February and June, when the pandemic either had not yet fully struck or when restrictions had been eased. In contrast, the lowest monthly incident totals came in March, April and December, when lockdown measures were at their strictest. Nevertheless, CST still recorded over 100 incidents in all but one month in 2020, which continues the pattern of historically high antisemitic incident figures in recent years: December 2020 was the first month for three years in which CST recorded fewer than 100 antisemitic incidents.

Forty-one incidents in 2020 involved references to the pandemic alongside antisemitic rhetoric. This ranged from conspiracy theories alleging Jewish involvement in creating and spreading Covid-19 (or creating the so-called ‘myth’ of Covid-19), to simply wishing that Jewish people catch the virus and die from it. Overall, 332 incidents, or almost one in five of all antisemitic incidents reported to CST in 2020, involved the expression of antisemitic conspiracy theories (compared to 370 incidents in 2019).
Author(s): Kranz, Dani
Date: 2021
Date: 2021
Abstract: As soon as the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic became evident, concern began to be expressed in the Jewish community about how its effects might damage aspects of Jewish life. Our July 2020 survey of Jews across the UK was designed to investigate some of these effects and bring some data into policy discussion about the future of the community.

Part of that discussion involves community income, and specifically whether Jews will feel able to donate to charities in the ways they have previously, or if they will continue to pay membership fees to synagogues or make voluntary contributions to cover the Jewish studies programmes, security and other supplementary activities in Jewish schools.

This paper looks at these issues first by examining respondents’ giving behaviours in 2019, and comparing them to their actual or expected behaviours during the first few months of the pandemic. It finds that, as of July 2020, its effects were found to be rather limited – while charitable giving, synagogue membership fees and voluntary contributions to schools were all expected to take a hit, a strong majority indicated no change in their giving behaviour at this time. Moreover, there are some indications that a shift has taken place in people’s tendency towards giving to Jewish charities over general ones. Whether this is part of a longer-term trend or simply a response to the pandemic is unclear.

The study then investigates those who said they were planning to make a ‘negative switch’ in their giving behaviour, to explore the extent to which that change was due to economic factors caused by the pandemic, or two alternative possibilities: their economic situation prior to it, or the strength/weakness of their Jewish identity.

It finds that changes in behaviour are heavily influenced by the economic impact of the pandemic, particularly with respect to synagogue membership fees, but that Jewish identity also plays a part, most acutely in relation to making voluntary contributions to schools.

Author(s): Alexander, Phil
Date: 2021
Abstract: How can a traditional music with little apparent historical connection to Berlin become a way of hearing and making sense of the bustling German capital in the twenty-first century? In Sounding Jewish in Berlin, author Phil Alexander explores the dialogue between the city's contemporary klezmer scene and the street-level creativity that has become a hallmark of Berlin's decidedly modern urbanity and cosmopolitanism. By tracing how klezmer music engages with the spaces and symbolic meanings of the city, Alexander sheds light on how this Eastern European Jewish folk music has become not just a product but also a producer of Berlin.

This engaging study of Berlin's dynamic Yiddish music scene brings together ethnomusicology, cultural studies, and urban geography to evoke the sounds, atmospheres, and performance spaces through which klezmer musicians have built a lively set of musical networks in the city. Transcending a restrictive framework that considers this music solely in the context of troubled German-Jewish history and notions of guilt and absence, Alexander shows how Berlin's current klezmer communitya diverse group of Jewish and non-Jewish performersimaginatively blend the genre's traditional musical language with characteristically local tones to forge an adaptable and distinctively twenty-first-century version of klezmer. Ultimately, the music's vital presence in Berlin is powerful evidence that if traditional music is to remain audible amid the noise of the urban, it must become a meaningful part of that noise.