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Our Professors Doing Awesome Things – Dr. Rebecca Epstein-Levi

Posted by on Friday, August 30, 2019 in News.

Dr. Epstein-Levi has recently published an op-ed on Rewire News, called “How Ancient Rabbis Can Help Combat STI Stigma.”

“The sages, or rabbis, whose teachings were collected in the Mishnah, had a concept they called tumah, or ritual impurity. This term, which to some readers might conjure visions of judgmental tub-thumpers, isn’t at all the same as the sexual purity preached by today’s abstinence peddlers. Rather, it’s a socially transmissible state of being that cannot be in contact with the Temple or ritual objects connected to it. Importantly, this wasn’t a simple matter of “dirty” or “clean.” It was a complicated and fluid web of contact, transmission, treatment, and attentiveness, whose workings carry key lessons for how we treat similarly complex web of sexually transmitted infections today.”

This article was a part of the follow up for the public scholarship training she took part in this summer via Sacred Writes, a Luce-funded initiative directed at getting religion scholars trained to make their work accessible to the broader public. For more information, visit