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October 10, 2013 12:46 pm

New Study Finds That, With a Little Care, Mezuzahs Don’t Spread Disease

avatar by Zach Pontz

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A Mezuzah. Photo: Wikipedia.

Doctors at Maimonides Medical Center, in Brooklyn, have determined that mezuzahs, little Jewish prayer boxes affixed to the inside of door frames, do not spread disease, thus refuting an earlier study that claimed they did, The New York Daily News reports.

Infectious disease experts initially believed the mezuzahs harbored dangerous germs and bacteria, as it is customary for Jews to touch or kiss them upon passing by. But after swabbing 100 of the them at the hospital, they discovered this was not the case.

“There were some microbes that grew but none that can cause an illness,” said Dr. Monica Ghitan, one of the doctors who worked on the study, which will be published in the Journal of Infection Control in the next few weeks.

Ghitan and her team’s research contradicted a 2009 study by a group of Israeli doctors in which 70 mezuzahs in Assaf Harofeh Hospital were found to host a “significant bacterial load.”

Of course, the staff at that hospital said it avoided cleaning the mezuzahs out of fear of ruining the religious artifact. At Maimonides on the other hand, the hospital deploys aluminum prayer boxes — and the staff is instructed to sanitize them regularly.

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  • Aurora Aronsson

    Jews who touch and kiss mezuzahs in the US are more likely to be mostly observant Jews who also wash their hands after using the services as halakhah prescribes, more than non observant Jews and Arabs in Israel do who touch mezuzahs.

  • Mel

    Mezuzahs rarely harm humans unless they are swallowed.

  • First of all, Mezuzahs are not religious artifacts. An artifact is something that is either old, as in ancient, meaning the actual age of the actual item. It can also mean an anomaly. Mezuzahs are in fact modern and usually relatively new. The precept or commandment to place a mezuzah on your doorpost is in fact thousands of years old.

    Secondly, the picture you have that is captioned “mezuzah” is in fact a mezuzah cover. The actual mezuzah is the scroll that is housed in the mezuzah cover.

    I just wanted to clarify what the author omitted.