Earthquake preparedness among religious minority groups: the case of the Jewish ultra-Orthodox society in Israel

Orr, Zvika; Erblich, Tehila; Unger, Shifra; Barnea, Osnat; Weinstein, Moshe; Agnon, Amotz

To work effectively, emergency management systems that deal with earthquake threats must consider the needs of religious minority groups. Studies regarding earthquake preparedness among marginalized social–cultural groups can highlight ways to improve it. Recently, some research has focused on the effect of religion on earthquake preparedness. However, very few studies have connected the two and examined earthquake preparedness among religious groups that are also a social–cultural minority in relation to the authorities. This study examines the effects of religious beliefs and customs on earthquake preparedness among the Jewish ultra-Orthodox community in Israel, a significant religious minority with unique social, cultural, and economic characteristics. Data were obtained using mixed methods including a survey, in-depth interviews, and focus groups. Results demonstrated that the majority of the community had a low level of hazard knowledge and a high level of disbelief that a devastating earthquake would occur in their area in the near future. This is despite a long-documented history of earthquakes that devastated the Levant and, in particular, dwelling locations for this community. Low exposure to media, insularity of educational institutions, and suspicion toward state authorities were shown to hinder preparedness, while strong social capital improved it. This research is unique for it studies a religious group that is also a cultural minority, which, therefore, requires special adaptations. Some of the recommended adaptations include receiving support from religious leaders, publishing preparation guidelines in proper settings, working with civilian organizations that are seen as legitimate by the religious communities, and adapting technologies and information to be religiously appropriate. To conclude, this research offers a perspective on the complex reality of hazard preparedness in a religiously diverse country. The conclusions are applicable to other countries and natural hazards.

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Orr, Zvika / Erblich, Tehila / Unger, Shifra / et al: Earthquake preparedness among religious minority groups: the case of the Jewish ultra-Orthodox society in Israel. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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