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I'm not really a Rabbi, but I dropped out of Yeshiva a year before becoming one. So I'll answer any burning questions you have about Judaism. And if I don't know the answer, I'll make something up.

Mordy, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:23 (ten years ago) Permalink

How does kosher food get blessed? Does a rabbi stand around at line and bless each passing item?

Abbott, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:24 (ten years ago) Permalink

There are bat mitzvahs now. Yes! But can women hold any ordained titles?

Abbott, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:25 (ten years ago) Permalink

Also did you have a bar mitzvah & if so, how was it?

Abbott, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:25 (ten years ago) Permalink

How do you make rice kosher?

libcrypt, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:26 (ten years ago) Permalink

Kosher food doesn't get blessed. Kosher basically means that:

a) If it's meat, it was slaughtered according to Talmudic law (no blemishes on the lungs, a straight cut across the throat severing the windpipe, etc). Also, if it's meat, it has to be from an animal that chews its cud and has split hooves.

b) If it's fish, it has to have fins and scales (which is why seafood is non-kosher).

c) Generally, when a restaurant is Kosher, that means they hire a mashgiach - who is basically a Rabbi that observes all the goings-on and makes sure that everything conforms to Jewish law. He doesn't actually bless anything. Also, the Rabbi doesn't need to see EVERYTHING that goes down the production line. With slaughtering, every animal will be checked. But for non-meat items, generally the factory will be checked sporadically (and without warning, so that the owners don't have time to hide the lard).

Mordy, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:28 (ten years ago) Permalink

You don't need to make rice kosher. It's kosher automatically.

Mordy, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:29 (ten years ago) Permalink

In every Jewish group except for Orthodox Judaism, women can be Rabbis. In Orthodox Judaism, there was actually a controversy this last year because a woman got a pseudo-ordination from her male Rabbi. There was a lot of debate of what that meant. In the end, it didn't really mean anything but an acknowledgment of her learnedness.

Mordy, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:30 (ten years ago) Permalink

So you can't eat CHICKEN?

Abbott, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:32 (ten years ago) Permalink

mordy, serious question that came up at family dinner tonight

recently, a Reconstructionist temple was founded nearby my house. can you explain to me what reconstructionist judaism is. my mom was stumped as well

J0rdan S., Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:32 (ten years ago) Permalink

I had a bar mitzvah and it was really embarrassing. Cause I was pretty much a loser and anxious all the time and had a lot of anxiety about it. And when I read from the Torah I made a lot of mistakes. In fact, I got corrected so much during my reading that the Rabbi instituted a policy afterward that there would be a designated correcter for all Bar Mitzvah readers. The party was kinda blah - my parents were Orthodox so there was no mixed dancing and no DJ playing obnoxious pop music (Boys2Men was HUGE in my class) and no inflatable party favors. :(

Mordy, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:32 (ten years ago) Permalink

Oh, I forgot fowl! Basically birds of prey you can't eat, and birds of victimhood (or whatever the opposite of prey is) you can eat. But the truth is that there is a list of kosher birds. Chicken and turkey and duck are all okay. They all need to be slaughtered in a special manner.

Mordy, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:33 (ten years ago) Permalink

How do people who grew up Jewish (w/Jewish ancestors, etc) look at people who convert to Judaism? Do many people convert to Judaism? Do any Jewish people attempt to convert others to Judaism (ie are there any missionary-type efforts)?

Abbott, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:34 (ten years ago) Permalink

What is a kibbutz? I thought it just meant watching people play cards.

Abbott, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:36 (ten years ago) Permalink

Do you enjoy being Jewish?

Abbott, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:38 (ten years ago) Permalink

Before my parents became practicing Orthodox Jews, we actually spent a Yom Kippur once in a Reconstructionist synagogue. I remember the adults spent a lot of time saying affirmations (like "Give me the strength to change what I can, the wisdom to know what I can't, blah, blah, blah,") and the kids played Dungeons and Dragons with some group leader in the other room.

Anyway, as I understand it, Reconstructionist was basically just Mordechai Kaplan's splinter group from Conservative Judaism. And that they basically believe that community + modernity are more binding and more important than the laws detailed in the Torah. That basically the community is the arbitrator of law, not the Rabbis or the textual authority.

But I could be wrong, cause I was like 10 or 11 when I went there for Yom Kippur. :P

Mordy, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:38 (ten years ago) Permalink

Mordy,

since I don't support the legislation of religion, does that mean I am not righteous among the nations? do the noahide laws still amount to anything?

El Tomboto, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:39 (ten years ago) Permalink

What made you want think about becoming a rabbi?

Abbott, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:44 (ten years ago) Permalink

Well, I've heard horror stories about converts being treated poorly. But I have numerous converts in my family (my adopted sister, my wife) and most of my closest friends are converts. So that kind of prejudice is obviously foreign to me.

I don't know what the numbers of conversations are, but I do know that Judaism in modernity is against encouraging conversations. In fact, when someone tries to convert, the Rabbi makes them jump through as many loopholes as possible. This is illustrated in that episode of Sex in the City where Charlotte tries to get the Rabbi to convert her. This is mostly because we think that people shouldn't convert unless they are really serious. Some communities (Modern Orthodox and non-Orthodox) are more lenient about converting people if they are already married to a Jew. This is a huge problem, because the Israeli government will only accept your conversion if it was done by an Orthodox Rabbi. This can fuck things up for your kids royally if they ever want to move to marry a more religious Jew or move to Israel or other stuff.

Mordy, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:44 (ten years ago) Permalink

A kibbutz used to be a Socialist commune in Israel. Nowadays it's generally a community since almost every kibbutz in Israel has become Capitalistic. Also, old kibbutzim used to have communal living, so that all the kids lived together. Acc. to my mother, this fucked up an entire generation of Israelis who have super psychological issues from not growing up in a healthy home. I have no idea if this is true.

Mordy, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:46 (ten years ago) Permalink

I love being Jewish! I actually can't imagine being anything else. Even though I'm not anywhere near as religious as I used to be (or as religious as my parents would like me to be) I still 100% identify as Jewish.

Mordy, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:47 (ten years ago) Permalink

Tombot; Many Jews don't support legislating religion. Anyway, all you need to do to be among the righteous of the nations is follow the Noahide Laws. So they still totally count for something.

Mordy, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:47 (ten years ago) Permalink

It sounds kind of awesome to have grown up & to be Jewish.

Abbott, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:48 (ten years ago) Permalink

Abbott, I wanted to be a Rabbi for a mixture of reasons.

1) I never really interrogated it very deeply, and it was an easy thing to do. I was already in a program in highschool that tends to lead to becoming a Rabbi, and so it seemed like the easy thing to do.
2) I do love being Jewish, and being a Rabbi seems like one natural expression of that.
3) I love to talk and read and write, and those are all things that Rabbis are supposed to do a lot of.
4) I was really good at learning Talmud. So I got a lot of positive feedback from my Rabbis while growing up.
5) My parents secretly/not-so-secretly wanted me to be one.

Mordy, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:50 (ten years ago) Permalink

Are you fluent in Hebrew? (Also did you know Mormon bro Joseph Smith hired a private rabbi Hebrew tutor?)

Abbott, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:51 (ten years ago) Permalink

How many generations back is your family Jewish?

Abbott, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:52 (ten years ago) Permalink

Do synagogues hold activities and such for children?

Abbott, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:52 (ten years ago) Permalink

I'm fluent enough in Hebrew that I don't have any problems communicating when I visit Israel. I can't talk about my academic field in Hebrew yet, tho I'm told that if I lived in Israel for 6 months, my vocab would increase hugely. I can read Hebrew, Aramaic, and Yiddish tho. (My Yiddish is the worst, but I'm working on it so that I can do passable German.)

Mordy, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:53 (ten years ago) Permalink

Can you kind of tell when other people are Jewish?

Abbott, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:53 (ten years ago) Permalink

And I didn't know he hired a private tutor. Why'd he do it? To read the Bible in the original?

Mordy, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:54 (ten years ago) Permalink

As far as I know, my family on both sides is Jewish as far back as the Exodus and Mount Sinai.

Mordy, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:54 (ten years ago) Permalink

But obviously I can't trade it directly back that far. Certainly Jewish as far back as we can trace it.

Mordy, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:55 (ten years ago) Permalink

Are there any things in various traditions that you prefer or not prefer?

Abbott, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:55 (ten years ago) Permalink

What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about Jewish peopel?

Abbott, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:55 (ten years ago) Permalink

And yeah, synagogues hold events and stuff for kids. In the synagogues I grew up in, first when we were Conservative I was in USY (United Synagogue Youth) and then when my family went Orthodox, I was in NCSY (National - er - something Synagogue Youth). There's also Bnai Akiva, which is an Orthodox Zionist youth group. Also, different synagogues have different events. One synagogue I attended for awhile had a program called Cookie Minyan during the Shabbat services. A Minyan is a quorum of 10 men praying together. So this was a little kid spin-off. We mostly ran around and made so much noise that the men yelled at us.

Mordy, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 03:58 (ten years ago) Permalink

I live in NYC, so when I see someone who could possibly, maybe be Jewish, I figure they probably are. Obv there are some trademark looks (that I have myself); like curly black hair and Middle Eastern noses. But then sometimes it turns out the person is Italian, or Greek, or Arabic. So I can't really tell by looking at them. But probably I can tell almost 90% after talking to them.

Mordy, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 04:00 (ten years ago) Permalink

Are there any things in various traditions that you prefer or not prefer?

Are you asking if there are certain customs/laws/traditions I prefer, or whether there are certain traditions in Jewish I prefer over competing traditions?

Mordy, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 04:01 (ten years ago) Permalink

the former

Abbott, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 04:01 (ten years ago) Permalink

I don't even know which traditions are duking it out!

Abbott, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 04:02 (ten years ago) Permalink

Hmmm. Well, I really love Shabbat meals with friends/family. It's really nice. We sit and have these two long 2-3 hour meals over Friday night and Saturday. And it really feels communal, and people drop by to say hello, and it's just really nice. I'm not really into praying, and I'm sure that makes me a horrible person, but honestly the communal stuff in Judaism moves me much more than the explicitly doctrinal stuff. One of the reasons I didn't feel comfortable becoming a Rabbi.

Mordy, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 04:13 (ten years ago) Permalink

Do you feel guilty over the bits of the talmud you do not follow?

Pylon Gnasher, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 09:41 (ten years ago) Permalink

Not particularly.

Mordy, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 16:22 (ten years ago) Permalink

one thing i always wondered about is the sephardic/ashkenazi(sp?) split - are theses 2 strains of ethnicity both supposed to be descended from the original tribes of israel?? because they don't really look the same. the sephardic jews look like people who live in the middle east/mediterrranean, the ashkenazi don't (as much). also, aren't sephardim looked down upon by ashkenazi in israel?

velko, Thursday, 7 August 2008 03:20 (ten years ago) Permalink

They are all supposed to be from the same tribes. Basically some Jews went to the Middle East during the Diaspera and some went to Europe. That explains the complexion situation (Israeli Ashkenazim and Sephardim don't look so dissimilar, I think, after a generation or two).

And yeah... I've heard that Ashkenazim look down on Sephardim in Israel, but it used to be the other way around. For hundreds of year, Sephardim were considered the "good Jews" among gentile cultures and Ashkenazim were shunned as inferior dumbasses. During the modern return to Israel, tho, the Ashkenazim were all coming from a generally enlightened Europe and had a number of philosophers, mathematicians, scientists, poets, etc. And all the original Zionists were Ashkenazi (like Herzl).

Mordy, Thursday, 7 August 2008 06:10 (ten years ago) Permalink

sephardim nor ashkenazim got nothing on these poor guys tho right?
http://api.ning.com/files/Xs-k*eMqJUBpbTZr43Y*qZn19-BEcW3A8jatJNa352dkHmerPr0XnlQGJSIlg9Id7iEpUI0dbCMdQGdsMoMaFuDMKGL8xP8b/ethiopian_jews_photos_6.jpg

El Tomboto, Thursday, 7 August 2008 06:24 (ten years ago) Permalink

Yeah... I don't know what the current situation is like, but I know for a long time Ethiopians were apparently facing racism and whatnot. Actually, AFAIK, a number of Ethiopian Jews started identifying hard with hip hop culture in the United States. I don't know if this is still true, but it was about a decade ago.

Mordy, Thursday, 7 August 2008 06:27 (ten years ago) Permalink

This thread reminds me of the time I saw a book called "Secrets of the Rabbi" in a local university library.

Then I realised there was a T missing from the last word (explaining why it was in the natural history section).

The Real Dirty Vicar, Monday, 18 August 2008 09:44 (ten years ago) Permalink

why do i see jews dressed up when it's not their sabbath?

another question:

why are you so fat?

strgn, Monday, 18 August 2008 09:49 (ten years ago) Permalink

I'm really skinny!

Mordy, Monday, 18 August 2008 10:18 (ten years ago) Permalink

Also, you probably see some Jews dressed up because very right-wing Orthodox Jews have certain dress codes that are commonly worn. Among one right-wing community, the men tend to wear black hats and jackets and the women wear long dresses and cover their hair (either with wigs or hats). In the Chassidic community, women dress similarly, but the men are known to wear big furry hats and long, vividly patterned jackets.

Mordy, Monday, 18 August 2008 10:20 (ten years ago) Permalink

(sorry mordy, i was confusing you with someone else and being a smart-ass about it.)

ok, cool, thanks.

it's weird though, because i always see dudes and their sons/wives dressed up in black w/ flat-brimmed hats on wed/thurs/fri in central los angeles. i 'm not sure they're orthodox (though they could well be for all i know), but it always seems like they're going to/from a service of some sort that doesn't happen on a saturday. these guys don't look like hardcore orthodox jews, more like dressing up in whatever black + furry hat for some kind of service that isn't on a saturday.

strgn, Monday, 18 August 2008 10:25 (ten years ago) Permalink

Well, they are probably Orthodox (non Orthodox Jews don't really wear the get-up ever - for services, Sabbath, or anything). But it's possible there's some service going on. Like a funeral or a wedding or something. I don't know LA well enough to tell you. Sorry.

Mordy, Monday, 18 August 2008 10:27 (ten years ago) Permalink

Cool, thanks. I'd bet they're Orthodox since it's a very Jewish area.

strgn, Monday, 18 August 2008 10:33 (ten years ago) Permalink

I don't know what the current situation is like, but I know for a long time Ethiopians were apparently facing racism and whatnot.

I was in a village that had previously housed Ethiopian Jews the other day, and I asked this Ethiopian guy why the Falasha had left, asking if they were being persecuted and stuff. He looked at me like I had two heads and pretty much said that anyone would seize any opportunity to get out of Ethiopia. He also came out with an Ethiopian version of crazy Chrisian Zionism, but I think the get-me-out-of-this-hellhole reason for their emigration was to him paramount.

I'm not sure still whether at that stage the Ethiopian Jews were being oppressed more than anyone else (this was during the nasty Derg dictatorship), though they were somewhat persecuted in the past (hence the existence of Falasha villages outside the environs of proper towns).

The Real Dirty Vicar, Monday, 18 August 2008 10:39 (ten years ago) Permalink

It kindof embarrasses me to admit this, but the racism I heard about was on the part of Israeli's towards recent Ethiopian Jewish immigrants into Israel.

Mordy, Monday, 18 August 2008 10:41 (ten years ago) Permalink

Oh sorry yeah, I heard about that too.

The Real Dirty Vicar, Monday, 18 August 2008 10:50 (ten years ago) Permalink

Oh yeah, me three.

Laurel, Monday, 18 August 2008 14:35 (ten years ago) Permalink

Mordy, is it true that there are some people who take very literally some Biblical/Talmudic exhortation to "keep the sacred texts on your mind" that they carry sacred texts around in a little box strapped to their foreheads?

I saw some fellows in Jerusalem with little boxes strapped to their foreheads, and this was the explanation given to me for their odd behaviour.

I also saw some of the guys with the furry hats. They rock.

The Real Dirty Vicar, Monday, 18 August 2008 15:08 (ten years ago) Permalink

Well, all Orthodox Jews (and many non-Orthodox Jews) take the "keep the sacred texts on your mind" thing totally literally. They wear tefillin (phylacteries) during the Morning Service every day. It's a black leather box with 4 different texts written on scrolls in it. (There's also one you wear on your upper-arm, to keep it close to your heart.) Some people, mostly in Israel, do so all day long. That isn't really the custom in the rest of the world, tho. Generally it's just a prayer thing - you wear them while you are praying.

Mordy, Monday, 18 August 2008 18:29 (ten years ago) Permalink

Regarding hats, what is the difference between the regular, run of the mill top-hats and the big round ones that are cylindrical in shape?

mehlt, Monday, 18 August 2008 21:36 (ten years ago) Permalink

Different traditions generally depending on where your sect of Judaism originally comes from. The bigger round fur hats come from Hungary and Poland. The normal hats come from a variety of places (parts of Ukraine, Lithuania, etc).

Mordy, Monday, 18 August 2008 21:39 (ten years ago) Permalink

Incidentally I read somewhere recently that the fur hats are usually purchased for grooms by the bride's family, as a wedding gift. So when I see men wearing them now I think "LOL U MARRIED!"

Laurel, Monday, 18 August 2008 21:41 (ten years ago) Permalink

Also re tefillin, is it "Orthodox Jews" who wear them, or Orthodox men in particular? Don't think I have ever heard of women wearing them normally? But then my info is strictly anecdotal.

Laurel, Monday, 18 August 2008 21:43 (ten years ago) Permalink

in your opinion whos the best looking jew

max, Monday, 18 August 2008 21:45 (ten years ago) Permalink

Oh yeah, it's mostly Orthodox men who wear tefillin. Some Jewish women wear tefillin (mostly not Orthodox) but that is fairly rare. The tradition for women to wear tefillin comes from the daughters of the 11th century French Rabbi Rashi - who tradition says wore tefillin. So some women rely upon that.

According to the letter of the law, tho, only men are obligated to wear tefillin. Women, according to the Torah, aren't obligated in commandments that must be performed in a specific time frame. (And like I said above, tefillin are supposed to be worn in the mornings.) Sorry if this is getting overly complex.

Mordy, Monday, 18 August 2008 21:47 (ten years ago) Permalink

I don't know... Scarlet Johansson is pretty hot.

Mordy, Monday, 18 August 2008 21:49 (ten years ago) Permalink

No, actually, Mordy, thanks. I don't think that's overly complex at all. I was just curious about how quickly DV saying "I saw some fellows" became "all Orthodox Jews" since I had never heard of the women's tradition via Rashi. But I like to know that stuff!

Laurel, Monday, 18 August 2008 21:54 (ten years ago) Permalink

three years pass...

scarlet johansson is jewish!?

funny-skrillex-bee_132455836669.gif (s1ocki), Wednesday, 20 June 2012 18:36 (six years ago) Permalink

alison brie too!

Mordy, Wednesday, 20 June 2012 18:38 (six years ago) Permalink

well that i guessed!

funny-skrillex-bee_132455836669.gif (s1ocki), Wednesday, 20 June 2012 18:39 (six years ago) Permalink


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