Illness & Healing
The Bible sees folk healing as idolatrous.
Americans Support Modern Science, But "Healing" Makes a Return
Although folk healing practices like using protective amulets and making pilgrimages to the tombs of healing saints were common among Jews in North Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Israel, these did not survive in the United States, except among small groups of Hasidim.
For the most part, American Jews have put their faith in modern medical practitioners. Beginning with the 1980s, however, a new non-hierarchical, grass-roots format for healing has emerged in the United States alongside modern medicine that focuses on spiritual "healing"; "curing" is left in the hands of physicians. This contemporary healing movement comprises special healing services and rituals in synagogues or in small groups; private healing by individuals; and ritual and social services for the elderly and chronically ill. The salient characteristics of this new movement are its communal context and egalitarian format.
A Jewish healing service uses Jewish sources to provide support for a person who is psychologically or physically unwell. Using meditation, prayer, music, singing, guided visualizations, Jewish texts, and physical contact, these services help attendees to develop strength; courage; a positive, non-sick identity; a sense of meaning; and a sense of belonging.
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