ANN ARBOR – For years, Michelle Krell Kydd has led Smell & Tell classes at the Ann Arbor District Library and the University of Michigan, teaching attendees about the fascinating world of smell.

Trained in the evaluation of fragrance and taste, Kydd’s classes have developed a cult following, with regulars and curious new attendees packing her classes to the brim.

Then the pandemic hit in March 2020 with a virus that, ironically, causes many of its carriers to suffer from anosmia, the loss of the sense of smell.

One of her Smell & Tell regulars was Yasmin Moll, an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan. During the semester before COVID hit, Kydd had led Smell & Tell classes at U-M alongside Moll and assistant professor of Judaic Studies, Rebecca Wollenberg, to explore the role scents played in the three Abrahamic religions.

Based on their experience examining how Judaism, Islam and Christianity intersect through scent and revealing which aromatic materials each religion used, the trio decided to pull off a virtual Smell & Tell for students learning remotely.