“We think this way as a society!”: Community-level science literacy among ultra-Orthodox Jews

Lea Taragin-Zeller*, Yael Rozenblum, Ayelet Baram-Tsabari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Despite growing interest in community-level science literacy, most studies focus on communities of interest who come together through particular science, environmental or health-related goals. We examine a pre-existing community—ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel—with a particular history and politics vis-à-vis science, technology, and medicine. First, we show how Haredi cosmologies and culture come together to critique science as an epistemology while engaging with science as a technology. Then, we demonstrate how community-based medical experts serve as both science-related knowledge mediators and gatekeepers. Whereas Haredi Jews are constantly critiqued for their low levels of individual secular and science education, these community-based webs of knowledge seemingly position Haredi individuals with knowledge that surpasses the average “secular” Israeli. This case study develops unique analytical tools in the growing field of community-level science literacy, while pushing forward conversations about self-ascribed experts, knowledge gatekeeping, and the socio-political contexts of group critiques of science.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1012-1028
Number of pages17
JournalPublic Understanding of Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • Judaism
  • community-level science literacy
  • expertise
  • science and religion
  • scientific authority


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