The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

The Impact of Covid-19 on Elderly Jews: The Cases of Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires

The Coronavirus pandemic threatened the lives and health of people all over the world, and had a profound impact not only on people`s lives, but also on the way they interpret and perceive them. Persons aged 65+ were found more vulnerable to the disease, especially in the early stages of the pandemic, and were classified as part of a population at risk. Jewish communal organizations had to adapt themselves to the new necessities of their members, and to give special attention to the population at risk. Disconnected from their children and grandchildren, this age group that includes many widowers was more vulnerable to the psychological effects of solitude and was less familiar with technological devices that substituted religious practices and social activities in person.

The objective of this paper is to analyze the reaction of individual Jews, aged 65+, in two Latin American Jewish communities: Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires. Taking into consideration their different context, the paper will present the impact of the pandemic on the personal lives of the interviewees, as it was perceived in real time, their opinion on the reaction of their respective communal organizations confronting their new needs, their opinions on the response of their governments to the new situation, and on the impact of the pandemic on the Jews, as compared with the general population.