More Than a Pot of Chicken Soup: Traditional Jewish Folk Medicine

More Than a Pot of Chicken Soup: Traditional Jewish Folk Medicine

Judaism’s harmonious relationship with much of modern scientific culture, with its upholding of rationality, logic and care for the body as a religious commandment, has led to medicine being a site of particularly strong Jewish achievement. But like all science, medicine was a cultural process, and Jewish folk traditions and remedies around health had a rich co-development with the larger communities where the Jewish diaspora settled. Some remedies were largely based in superstition, but others were surprisingly forward-looking, and women had a particularly strong role as arbiters of treatment in their communities. What can we learn (and re-learn) from this rich history?

(This post is part of Sinai and Synapses’ project Scientists in Synagogues, a grass-roots program to offer Jews opportunities to explore the most interesting and pressing questions surrounding Judaism and science. “The Dangers of Mixing Prescription Medicines and Herbal Supplements” was an event held at Bet Aviv on April 26, 2024.)

Read Transcript


1 Ashkenazi Herbalism by Deatra Cohen and Adam Siegel, Berkley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2021, p. 13
2 Ibid., p.10
3 Ibid., pp. 14-15
4 Ibid p. 17
5 Ibid., pp. 13-14
6 Ritual Medical Lore of Sephardic Women by Isaac Jack Lévy and Rosemary Lévy Zumwalt, Urbana Chicago and Springfield: University of Illinois Press, 2002
7 Ashkenazi Herbalism, pp. 132-133
8 Ibid, pp. 137-139
9 Encyclopedia Judaica, Vol 7, Col. 328-329
10 Ritual Medical Lore, op cit. pp. 131, 144, 148, 185
11 Ibid, p.69
12 Ibid., p.69
13 Wikipedia, “Cannabis and Judaism”
14 “Marijuana and Judaism: What is Halakhic Position on Pot? By Rabbi Efrem Goldberg in, December 9, 2021
15 Wikipedia, ibid


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *