Reflecting on COVID-19

A Canopy Forum Thematic Series

In recent months, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has taken heavy toll on the United States and the world. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost, and countless others have experienced–and continue to experience–economic, social, professional, and family disruption. The pandemic has especially challenged religious life, bringing law, public health policy, and faith into conversation, cooperation, and at times confrontation with each other.

Much organized religious life is communal, and the legal and public health requirements of social distancing have forced the closing of houses of worship, religious schools, and other focal points for religious community. Some religious groups have opposed these measures, others have embraced them, and still others have elected to be even stricter about preventing the spread of coronavirus through social distancing than public health regulations demand.

The diminished of in-person religious worship has also required many faithful to turn inward for religious guidance and ecumenical explanations for this historical, world-changing experience. At times, religious responses to the COVID-19 may be at odds with–and may even undermine–accepted medical practice or public health consensus, and this two raises hard question for both faith and the law. In keeping with our commitment to offer high-quality and accessible commentary and analysis on important topics at the intersection of law and religion, Canopy Forum brings you, “Reflecting on COVID-19.” This series includes legal analysis, theological reflections, healthcare professionals’ accounts from the front lines, and other content addressing a range of pandemic-related concerns.

In this video Professor Broyde discusses what Jewish Law can contribute to the discussion of triage in emergency situations, particularly focusing on the right priorities for treating ill individuals when not all can be treated.

Michael J. Broyde sat down on March 18, 2020 to discuss public health and the Jewish tradition in the midst of the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic. Among other things, he discusses the relationship between public health experts and religious authorities, the difference between one’s duties to self and community, and what the Jewish tradition can offer in times of public health emergencies.