The Science of COVID-19 | How Religious Communities are Responding | How We Can Help | How We Can Cope

“The whole world is a very narrow bridge, and the most important thing is not to be afraid.” — Rabbi Nachman of Breslov

These are definitely some scary and uncertain times, but Sinai and Synapses is in a unique position to bridge the conversation of medicine, science and data with pressing religious, spiritual, ethical and social questions.

With so many incredible people in our network of scientists, clergy and educators who bring unique insights on both the scientific and religious implications of COVID-19, we want to offer resources and wisdom during these challenging times.

The Science of COVID-19

The CDC’s Official Page on Coronavirus
The CDC is a source of valuable, vetted information about the virus.

Science Magazine’s coverage of Coronavirus
Science Magazine, published by the AAAS, is offering its news and resources on COVID-19 for free.

When the Body Cannot Gather – Drew Rick-Miller, Science for the Church, March 24, 2020
Drew Rick-Miller examines the behavioral science of why we need our connections now, more than ever.

Scientific Conflict About the Coronavirus Lockdown – Connor Wood, Patheos, March 22, 2020
Sinai and Synapses Alum Connor Wood navigates the how to interpret the “unsettled” science around COVID-19.

On the front lines of developing a test for the coronavirus – David Pride, The Conversation, March 16, 2020
A physician scientist who practices infectious disease medicine and runs a research laboratory that specializes in viruses provides the latest on developing quicker testing for it, which will play a huge role in stemming its spread.

The science of COVID-19: Part 1: The Science –  Matthew D. Groves (Sinai and Synapses Fellow), March 14, 2020
Sinai and Synapses Fellow Matthew Groves has written a three-part series about living with COVID-19.

The Man Who Saw the Pandemic Coming – Kevin Berger, Nautilus, March 12, 2020
An interview with Dennis Carroll, a public health specialist who has long been trying to draw more attention to zoonotic diseases like COVID-19.

Will Coronavirus Happen Every Year Like The Flu? – Maggie Koerth Baker, FiveThirtyEight, March 12, 2020
Is there any validity behind some suggestions that the virus might become a regular occurrence?

How Religious Communities are Responding

How Reform Congregations are Coping with COVID-19 (and Tools to Help) – Union for Reform Judaism
A comprehensive list of resources for Reform Jewish congregations; see also the URJ’s Special COVID-19 Task Force.

Coronavirus and Beyond: Virtual Communication Tools for Synagogues – Julie Livingston, The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
Useful tools for a virtual synagogue.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Church – United Church of Christ
Resources and support on the virus for UCC pastors and congregants.

Concerning COVID-19 – The Episcopal Church
Resources and support on the virus for Episcopal pastors and congregants.

Triage and the Sanctity of Life – Rabbi Daniel Nevins
Rabbi Daniel Nevins, a friend of Sinai and Synapses and its project Scientists in Synagogues, gives some ethical and halakhic recommendations about triage amidst COVID-19.

The Essential Chaplain – Kristel Clayville (Sinai and Synapses Fellow), Bearings Online, March 31, 2020
Sinai and Synapses Fellow Kristel Clayville talks about the honor but also the risk of being termed “essential” in this crisis.

In a Pandemic, Religion Can Be a Balm and a Risk – Vivian Yee, The New York Times, March 22, 2020
Religion is both physical and spiritual. Right now, those needs are in direct conflict with other, and it’s really, really hard.

The science of COVID-19: Part 3: The Spirituality –  Matthew D. Groves (Sinai and Synapses Fellow), March 20, 2020
Sinai and Synapses Fellow Matthew Groves has written a three-part series about living with COVID-19.

Opinion: The parable of the coronavirus pandemic — live life to help others – John Van Sloten (Sinai and Synapses Fellow), The Calgary Herald, March 20, 2020
Sinai and Synapses Fellow John Van Sloten reminds us that “The truth is one day we will all die. COVID-19 is forcing us to ask how we will choose to live.”

Converging Paths Podcast – Eric Elnes (Sinai and Synapses Fellow)
Eric is now posting daily reflections on the pandemic on his Converging Paths Podcast. He has also made his full Darkwood Brew streaming catalog of small group (and individual study) videos available for free for 60 days, to provide further resources for online meet ups and studies.

What Islamic hygienic practices can teach when coronavirus is spreading – Rose S. Aslan, The Conversation, March 16, 2020
A scholar of Islamic studies who researches ritual practices among Muslims has found that these practices contain both spiritual and physical benefits.

A Sunday Without Church: In Crisis, A Nation Asks, “What Is Community?” – Elizabeth Dias, The New York Times, March 15, 2020
Stirring Sermons About Coronavirus, in Empty Cathedrals – Liam Stack, The New York Times, March 15, 2020
Two journalistic views on how churches handled the first Sunday of social distancing, in the New York area and around the country.

Facing Covid-19: The Intersection of Science, Faith and Despair – Michael Zimmerman (Sinai and Synapses Board Member), March 14, 2020
Michael Zimmerman shares his insights through the lens of his work with the Clergy Letter Project.

The Christian Response to the Coronavirus: Stay Home – Esau McCaulley, The New York Times, March 14, 2020
A priest and professor of New Testament offers his professional perspective on the crisis.

I’m not a doctor, but I am a rabbi. Here’s my spiritual prescription for the coronavirus. – Shmuly Yanklowitz, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, March 11, 2020
Rabbi Smuly Yanklowitz offers a six-part toolbox of lessons for life during the virus.

God Vs. Coronavirus – Mattia Ferraresi, New York Times Opinion, March 10, 2020
Why does this outbreak feel different from many other recent events for which we’ve sought religious guidance? How can we come together in times of quarantine?

Prayer and the Coronavirus – John ZuHone (Former Sinai and Synapses Fellow), March 9, 2020
Prayer is not a substitute for action. Rather, it is a preparation for it and often a summons to it.

Communities of Faith Grapple With the Coronavirus – WNYC, March 9, 2020
This WNYC report investigates how faith communities are trying to provide solace to their members, while stemming the contagion of the disease.

The Coronavirus Outbreak Shows the Dangers of Social Hypercoherence – Connor Wood (Former Sinai and Synapses Fellow), Patheos, March 6, 2020
One unique danger globalization poses is hypercoherence, or maladaptive syncing between independent parts of a complex system. With the rapid spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus around the world we’re seeing firsthand some of hypercoherence’s dangers.

How We Can Help

The science of COVID-19: Part 2: The Solutions –  Matthew D. Groves (Sinai and Synapses Fellow), March 16, 2020
Sinai and Synapses Fellow Matthew Groves has written a three-part series about living with COVID-19.

The COVID-19 Coronavirus Is Now A Pandemic – Can We Ethically Deal With Lockdowns? – Elizabeth Fernandez (Sinai and Synapses Fellow), Forbes, March 13, 2020
Sinai and Synapses Fellow Elizabeth Fernandez explains for Forbes why we need the lockdown, why it works, and how to cope with it.

Does closing schools slow the spread of coronavirus? Past outbreaks provide clues – Jennifer Couzin-Frankel and Nicholas Christakis, Science, March 10, 2020
AAAS – The American Association for the Advancement of Science publishes the Science family of journals (and is a regular partner with Sinai and Synapses). Here, they interview Nicholas Christakis, a physician and social scientist, on whether or not the coronavirus should close schools (it’s not a simple “yes” or “no” question).

The Reality of the Coronavirus is Changing Our Social Reality, Too – Geoff Mitelman, Sinai and Synapses, March 5, 2020
Rituals transform social facts into physical realities, and so the coronavirus is forcing us to change, adapt, or maybe even lose some of those concrete and physical connections.

How We Can Cope

The Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief – Scott Berinato, Harvard Business Review, March 23, 2020
It’s really helpful to put the emotions we’re feeling right now into words.

Opinion: The parable of the coronavirus pandemic — live life to help others – John Van Sloten (Sinai and Synapses Fellow), The Calgary Herald, March 20, 2020
Sinai and Synapses Fellow John Van Sloten reminds us that “The truth is one day we will all die. COVID-19 is forcing us to ask how we will choose to live.”

Humans Are Social Creatures. How Can We Make The Most Of Isolation? – Elizabeth Fernandez (Sinai and Synapses Fellow), Forbes, March 19, 2020
Sinai and Synapses Fellow Elizabeth Fernandez helps us find moments of control, joy and connection amidst physical isolation.

Fear can spread from person to person faster than the coronavirus – but there are ways to slow it down – Jake Debiec, The Conversation, March 16, 2020
A psychiatrist and researcher studying the brain mechanisms of social regulation of emotions shares research on the contagion of anxiety itself.

Sermon to Congregants – Eric Elnes (Sinai and Synapses Fellow), March 15, 2020
Sinai and Synapses Fellow Rev. Eric Elnes of Riverside Country Community Church (UCC) was diagnosed with COVID-19. Watch his sermon to congregants here.

This Is How You Live When the World Falls Apart – Jon Mooalem, The New York Times Opinion, March 12, 2020
The response to the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964 shows how people can come together in the face of a natural disaster. How might a pandemic compare?

The Dos and Don’ts of ‘Social Distancing – Kaitlin Tiffany, The Atlantic, March 12, 2020
Experts weigh in on how we can maintain our connections without increasing the spread of the virus.

Anatomy of a Pandemic – Kevin Patterson, The Walrus, March 11, 2020
Like major contagions throughout history, the new coronavirus causes fear as well as illness. The remedy for both, it turns out, is the same.

Top 7 Things The Coronavirus Has Made Me Thankful For – John Van Sloten (Sinai and Synapses Fellow), March 5, 2020
Rev. John Van Sloten reflects on the ways the virus has changed his perspective.

Even as behavioural researchers we couldn’t resist the urge to buy toilet paper – Liam Smith and Celine Klemm, The Guardian Opinion, March 4, 2020
Two researchers reflect on how they are not immune from the conditions they study: “Our own reaction came as a surprise but with further thought, the behaviour is largely explainable.”

What the Plague Can Teach Us About the Coronavirus – Kaitlin Marcus, The New York Times Opinion, March 1, 2020
We need to be on guard against the xenophobia and persecution that arose during outbreaks of that dreaded disease.

Picture from Pixabay