This website collects and preserves experiences and responses from American Jewish individuals and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. We invite you to share materials that exemplify your personal experiences, or that document your community’s activities and responses to the pandemic.

American Jewish Life  is a project of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, in partnership with the Breman Museum; the Capital Jewish Museum; the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life;  Hebrew Theological College; the Houston Jewish History Archive at Rice University; and Yeshiva UniversityAmerican Jewish Life is part of a larger collecting project, Pandemic Religion, documenting the experiences of American religious groups during the pandemic.

Featured Items

  • Kippah Face Mask

    Face mask created by Eve Mannes of Atlanta, Georgia from her husband's kippah collection. This artifact was donated to the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum on June 3, 2020.
  • Weekly Virtual Shabbat

    Karen Levi contributed this image to the Capital Jewish Museum's COVID-19 archive, documenting her weekly virtual Shabbat
  • Seder Plate for Virtual Seder

    Seder plate for virtual Seder. Contributor Karen Levi drew items she couldn't get at height of Pandemic fear.
  • Adam Starr Facebook Post: "JFK" with the Rabbi

    Rabbi Adam Starr posted this infographic on his personal Facebook page, letting his friends know he will be visiting a different area of Toco Hills each week for a socially-distanced "Just For Kiddush" visit outside congregants' houses.
  • Institute of Southern Jewish Life Pass(over) the Seder Plate Video

    A video from Institute of Southern Jewish Life celebrating Passover with a virtual passing of the Seder plate. All the staff at the ISJL participate to virtually welcome Passover. This video was shared on social media with ISJL supporters and partners.
  • פסקי קורונה/ Piskei Corona

    Rabbi Hershel Schachter's, a very influential Orthodox rabbi, responsa (Hebrew and English) on framing Jewish Law on this period.
  • Healing Heartbreak

    Jewish religion heavily honors life cycle events as a way to guide practitioners through a moral, spiritual, and meaningful journey. When I was first informed of my 50-year-old uncle’s sudden death from a heart attack, I was in disbelief. How could such an incredible athlete with an admirable diet and a healthy lifestyle die from such a complication? Mike was the most intelligent and humble man I have ever known, pouring all of his heart into his children, his wife, his clients and anyone who had the privilege of meeting him. Most importantly, Mike embodied the Jewish community. After Mike’s passing, my aunt received deeply heartfelt emails from more people than imaginable. Mike continues to unite the sense of a Jewish community through his memory. When a Jewish person passes, it is custom that the funeral service and burial quickly follow to best preserve and honor the body. When the mourners return home from the funeral, the shiva - a formal, seven-day Jewish mourning - begins. The shiva serves to bring together the Jewish community in mourning and in celebration of the life of the deceased. The Jewish people were never instructed on how to properly mourn during a worldwide pandemic. Nonetheless, Mike’s wisdom surpassed precedent. Our extended family and friends gathered online to say the mourner’s kaddish, which does not mention death but rather asks God to pray for the souls of the deceased. Mimicking the environment of a shiva house, many people then shared stories of Mike, allowing for both cries and soft laughter to be heard. Mike’s memory joined family and friends from all across the nation, creating a sense of community and comfort that we all so deeply miss during this time of isolation. I know Mike will continue to embrace and uplift the Jewish community through his memory for years to come.
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