Topics: Coronavirus/Covid, Jewish Community, Jewish Organisations, Festivals and Holidays, Religious Observance and Practice, Main Topic: Other, Health
Abstract: The first wave of the new coronavirus pandemic swept through Slovakia between March 1 and May 31, 2020. During this relatively short period, four important Jewish holidays took place: Purim, Pesach, Lag BaOmer, and Shavuot. When the news of the pandemic initially broke, a large part of Slovak society viewed COVID-19 as a remote, and therefore, not entirely dangerous, threat. This attitude shifted on March 6, , when the first case of the disease was confirmed in the country. On March 9, the authorities reacted by introducing the first set of public health measures, which the Jewish Religious Community immediately relayed to its members. The policy adopted by the JRC leadership was faced with a serious religious challenge. In these conditions, the observance of holidays required a degree of improvisation. Bar a few extraordinary examples, it was impossible to fulfill all of the traditionally required customs. Factors of selectiveness, streamlining, and individualization therefore had an even greater impact than usual. Involuntary isolation brought out the importance of family ties, as well as the need for solidarity.
Abstract: This study discusses anti-Semitism in Slovakia after the Velvet Revolution of 1989. The introductory section presents an overview of the most destructive manifestations of anti-Semitism during 1918-1920, the Holocaust, and the Communist era (1948-1989). Anti-Semitism in Slovakia is less aggressive than in many other countries of the European Union. Physical violence is especially rare, and even the defacement of Jewish sites (particularly cemeteries) is typically motivated by vandalism, rather than by anti-Semitism. The most frequent expression of prejudice against Jews takes the form of verbal insults. These are predominantly used by children, who hear them from their families. Children (and adults) generally view these words as a regular part of the language culture and do not attribute a pejorative context to them. Between 1990 and 2019, anti-Semitism became embedded in the ideological equipment of certain political parties. In the process, it has moved from the margins of society to its center. Although I have examined different aspects of anti-Semitism in Slovakia in the past,2 it was only while writing this study that I could more thoroughly consider the various manifestations of this phenomenon in the current democratic milieu. Jews in Slovakia3 welcomed the Velvet Revolution of 1989 with the hope that it would usher in a brighter future. At the same time, some members of the community—especially the older generation—voiced concerns that the newfound freedom of expression would once again allow people to fulfill the adage that every change is a change for the worse. The history of Slovakia in the 20th century provides at least three examples which affirm this unfortunate Jewish experience.