Jews and Plague in Early Modern Europe with Joshua Teplitsky
Episode 107 - March 24, 2023
Joshua Teplitsky (University of Pennsylvania) comes on the podcast to discuss his work on plague and its effects on Jewish communities in early modern Europe and particularly during the 18th century. Joshua offers an overview of some of the rich sources he uses for his research, including both the sources for mortality at the time and sources that describe how local Jewish communities perceived and reacted to plague – ranging from rabbinic responsa to epic Yiddish poems. He then focuses on a single case study – the plague outbreak in Prague in 1713 to offer a more concrete interpretation. The conversation subsequently moves to a deeper discussion of the myth that Jews were somehow more immune or resistant to plague, based on Joshua’s research who explored both the evidence and the origins of the idea. Joshua further connects this myth to broader myths surrounding diseases.
Joseph Meyerhoff Associate Professor of Modern Jewish History, Department of History, University of Pennsylvania.