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Traditional prayers, returning voices:Orthodox Jewish women’s singing in public rituals under COVID-19

Abstract

In this paper, I examine the contentious practice of Orthodox Jewish female voices being heard in public rituals. I draw on my recent ethnographic study of two UK-based online groups who synthesize tradition and innovation for ritual provision during the pandemic. The themes of disruption, crisis and continuity are present in intricate combination of authorised liturgy, technological opportunities, gendered divisions of labour, and women’s desire to move from the margins to the centre. While the pandemic has acted as a catalyst to innovation, the groups’ trans-local reach beyond their original physical communities is a significant factor in their continuation after the removal of restrictions for face-to-face gatherings. Defining them as online ‘communities’ is complexified by the workings of different delivery modes, and by the presence of participants’ pre-existing relations across Jewish movements and continents. While it is too early to assess whether pandemic-prompted change will be large scale and long-term, now is the time to record and analyse desire for the sustainability of changes made

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Last time updated on 11/05/2023

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