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.