Jewish Law and Ethics: A Hackathon for the Age of COVID-19 | T'ruah

In May 2020, T’ruah launched “Jewish Law and Ethics: a hackathon for the age of COVID-19,” with the goal of applying Jewish wisdom, including halakhah (Jewish law), history, ethics, and lived experience, to ethical and human rights questions that have risen in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the summer, our eight scholars were hard at work discovering Jewish sources that speak to four crucial ethical questions, and crafting Jewish guidelines for navigating these challenges in our current moment and beyond. 

We are thrilled to share the results of this project with the broader Jewish community. Below you will find links to the source material our scholars have gathered, and guidelines grounded in Jewish law and ethics for navigating these challenging questions.


The links below lead to resources developed by our scholars, including source sheets, videos (coming soon), and guidelines for Jewish ethical practice.

Webinar Series

This series has passed.

Are we all in this together? Rent cancellation and COVID-19
Dr. Raphael Magarik and Tamar Zaken
Tuesday, October 6, 2020, 1:00-2:00pm ET

As we move into temporary dwellings this sukkot, we are reminded how many Americans today are in danger of losing stable housing. What should we do about people who can’t pay rent, particularly during this pandemic? Who is responsible for rent shortfalls: landlords? tenants? the state? Can Jewish law and lore reframe the way we think about rental agreements and tenants’ rights? This event has passed. Learn more on this topic here.

“Lock down” vs “open up”: How much are we required to give up to save lives? 
Rabbi Aryeh Bernstein and Rabbi Dr. Meesh Hammer-Kossoy
Tuesday, October 13, 2020, 1:00-2:00pm ET

Since the advent of the pandemic, governments, communities and individuals have been faced with the question: do we lock down, or open up? Beyond this binary lies a series of questions: What health risks are worth taking in order to prevent individual or communal economic loss? How should individuals and governments balance risks of virus spread with risks of impoverishment, especially when economic burden and health risk are not evenly distributed? This event has passed. Learn more on this topic here.

Employer Responsibilities and Employee Rights During a Pandemic
Ranana Dine and Rabbi Alana Suskin
Tuesday, October 20, 2020, 12:00-1:00pm ET

As the pandemic persists, some workplaces have shifted seamlessly online; others have continued, or have slowly resumed, requiring workers’ in-person presence. How much, and for how long must someone continue to pay an employee who cannot work due to a pandemic? Can my boss insist I come back to work, even if I don’t feel safe? How does our tradition speak to vulnerability, risk and responsibility when it comes to labor? This event has passed. Learn more on this topic here.

Contact Tracing, Civil Liberties and Public Health   
Rabbi Shahar Colt and Rabbi Ben Gurin
Tuesday, October 27, 2020, 12:00-1:00pm ET

Contact tracing is an essential tool for fighting the spread of COVID-19, but many recent tech-based suggestions about how to implement this public-health strategy broadly and quickly raise serious privacy concerns. How should Jews approach these concerns about contact tracing? How do we maintain values of liberty, privacy and public safety in extraordinary circumstances? This event has passed. Learn more on this topic here.