Category Archives: Jewish Culture

Reading of the will

Sorry about the lack of replies right now – am going to be going over my quite large backlogs and life right now be taking over so much of my time.

So I got two questions the other day which you can read below.

Hi! My question is: after a death, how long would a mourner wait to read the deceased’s will? Would it be totally taboo – or even not allowed – for the next of kin to ask to see if the day after death? Many thanks 🙂

Sorry, another question – I read that flowers weren’t a done thing at Jewish funerals, but would a Synagogue make an exception if the deceased, was, say, in a relationship with someone non-Jewish, who wanted to have flowers? Thankyou!

To answer the first bit about the will – It might just be me but I never heard or read anything that says you can’t read the will a day after a death. I did try to look up from a few different sources but I couldn’t find anything. I could be wrong but I can’t find anything to say otherwise.

Regarding the flowers, you are correct there. There is a couple of reasons why we don’t place flowers and its mostly down to everyone being equal, flowers die and not a good way to remember someone and that its better usage elsewhere for the money you spend on the flowers.

What I mean by this is it’s better to give the money you were going to spend on flowers over to a charity in the memory of the one that has passed away. It will help other people and have a far more long impact and after you done that take a simple stone and place it on the grave to show someone still remembers.

Regarding the actual question would they allow it? This is a harsh “maybe” but it might be seen as disrespectable or even just removed outright.

I’m going to toss out a link to Chabad about what you can expect on the day: https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/2699548/jewish/What-to-Expect-at-a-Jewish-Funeral.htm

What do Jewish men like as gifts?

With Hanukkah now over I thought I would come back to answering a few questions and while there are two very interesting questions I will answer some point next week (one about digital currency – will be an interesting read!) I figured I will do this quick one.

So the question was simple – what do Jewish men like for gifts. Well this is the same as any male really it all depends on what they like and typically buying something for their hobby would be great. Otherwise, you can’t go wrong with a website like https://www.israel365.com/ (no referral link).

 

Contacting to Judaism at a young age

A short while ago I got a question from Izzy who asked.

How can I convert to Jewism if I’m 14?

The technical answer is you can convert at that age but practically I doubt it will be possible for a Rabbi to start the progress with you as converting is quite a serious choice you have to make.

With that said there is nothing stopping you right now from going to a local Rabbi from the branch of Judaism you wish to convert to and speaking to them, getting used to the culture and learning much more about Judaism so you know you are making the right choice.

It also worth saying that your local Shul quite likely has evening lessons about Judaism (and possibly Hebrew) where you can learn a lot more.

Remember there is no harm at all from having an interest in Judaism at such a young age – I did as well!

Can I convert?

Sorry about the delay, have had a lot of issues to deal with lately and this blog got put aside. Anyhows got this question a few days ago.

I would like more information on the jewish religion and I would also like to ask can someone convert to the jewish religion being that he or she is African American

Yep, anyone is able to convert to Judiasm. Just find a sponsing Rabbi.

Am I Jewish

Over a month ago now (yikes), I got the following question.

Hi!

My father comes from a very long heritage of Jews, originally from Germany, Hungary and originally the Ural mountains. My entire family line from my father’s side were Ashkenazi Jews, many who perished in the second world war or who live in central and eastern Europe today.

My question is, am I considered Jewish to other Jews? I have dark curly hair, a “jewish” nose, high IQ like my father and all other stereotypical/non-stereotypical Jewish traits. As far as genetics go, my genes are 50% my father’s which were pure Ashkenazi (I have a somewhat complete family tree thanks to my Hungarian uncle but it is of course hard to trace family lines due to the war..).

However, according to Judaism I am not Jewish because my mother is not. This presents a problem since most people identify me as a Jew but according to Judaism I am not. The Ashkenazi’s are a people as far as I am concerned and evolution doesn’t discriminate; 50% of who I am genetically has been passed down from countless Ashkenazi Jews.

Am I Jewish by blood but not by faith? Or what gives/goes? I am not religious for the record, my father was atheist/Christian for a limited time, but nonetheless very much Jewish by blood.

This is my first time reaching out like this and asking, thanks for the site.

Karl

Well a short answer would be to say you are not Jewish as your mother isn’t but different groups of Judaism will see you as a Jew, others will not. I would say do not let it bother you and although the term is not correct and doesn’t make sense, if anyone asks just call yourself half Jewish (Judaism is a culture as much as a religion).

However that said if you want to be Jewish then go ahead and convert if it is right to you. Do not feel pressured to convert simply because others are calling you Jewish.

Avoiding a anti-semetic joke

So I got this question the other day from someone that did not leave a name asking about if picking up coins is anti-semtic.

A doctor (who is Jewish) told me that picking up change from the ground is anti-semitic. I can sort of see where he is coming from, but is that really a belief held by many Jews? Are you telling me that a person wouldn’t pick up a hundred dollar bill just because others would make jokes about a man who is Jewish bending over to pick up money?

Honestly, I would call this a lot of bull as you could make an anti-semitic comment about anything. While there are things regarding finding lost money and what not but that aside I would call you a fool not to pick up the money.

I would bet the same people that would make anti-semitic comments about Jews picking up every bit of money they can are also the ones that are picking up the same coins given the chance.

And thirdly and from experience, no one really cares nowadays unless you actually live in a anti-semitic area.

A couple of questions

Just a quick one today, got loads to do! So just a few hours ago I got sent the following bunch of questions. They will be simple one line answers where possible so sorry if you are looking for a much more in depth answers.

We’re doing a project on Judaism and we need to ask you some questions please respond. Thanks
Q1: What is your most important holiday?
Q2: What are the most important holidays?
Q3: How often do you go to a synagogue?
Q4: Who wrote your Holy Book?
Q5: What do you do when you pray?
Q6: What is the Tanakh?
Q7: What is the Masoretic Text?
Q8: What’s your favorite Jewish food?
Q9: What are the holy books of Judaism?
Q10: How is religion affect your daily life?

Q1: What is your most important holiday?

Yom Kippur

Q2: What are the most important holidays? 

The most important two I would say is Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur simply as they both deal with the same thing – being attoned. You can Google both of those for further information about what the holidays involved.

Q3: How often do you go to a synagogue? 

Every week on the Sabbath.

Q4: Who wrote your Holy Book? 

Tradition states it was Moses but it is widely accepted he couldn’t have written quite a bit of it – else he would have access to knowledge he didn’t at the time. It was written by quite a few people but whom I sadly could not tell you without further research.

Q5: What do you do when you pray? 

This is actually a odd question to answer simply because there is so many. I myself simply pray to myself with the belief that G’d doesn’t really need us attend a place of worship daily just for us to be thankful for everything done for us. That said, Jewish tradition has a whole lot to say about praying and if you do not mind paying a little bit, you can buy aprayer book on Amazon.

Q6: What is the Tanakh? 

Its basically the canon for all Jewish writing and beliefs. It has the Jewish scriptures which is broken down into the Torah, the Writings and the Prophets and often has the name the Hebrew Bible given to it.

Q7: What is the Masoretic Text? 

This one is hard ish to explain so hopefully I can explain it well. These texts is named after a bunch of Rabbis called Masoretes who made it their goal in life to correct all the faults and problems that happened with the holy texts during the Babylonian captivity period. The other goal is to stop it from happening again.

It is worth noting that when the Dead Sea Scrolls was found, the Masoretic text actually was pretty close to the original text (the Dead Sea Scrolls being one of, if not the, oldest version of Jewish writing).

Q8: What’s your favorite Jewish food? 

Depends how you define Jewish food but my favorite food is chips and cheese!

Q9: What are the holy books of Judaism? 

The most holy book itself is the Tanakh which as written above has the three different important texts within it such as the Torah. The Torah itself is the most important part and includes the Five Books of Moses which I am sure you can Google for further information.

Q10: How is religion affect your daily life?

It hasn’t in a bad way, surprisingly. Only thing I can say is I have a far greater sense of community, culture and tend to see each day with more drive. Other then that nothing really changed.

Piercing and a funeral

A couple of days ago I got the following question (sorry for the late answering for these, got a whole back log!).

I have a question, when attending a Jewish burial would one have to remove there piercings? Only asking as if I get one I would not be able to remove it until it heals completely which could take months to even two years. Jewidism is a important part of me even if I don’t show it much, I would rather have a piercing then a tattoo as they can be removed if needed even though I do think of getting a tattoo at times.

Example snake bites.

Thank you for taking you time to answer this question.

Techinally from my understanding (and quite a few other Rabbis), piercings themselves is not against Jewish law and thus you could have them. However answering your question I would remove them as a sign of respect. As you have said about a burial, I am assuming you may be attending one soon and if so – why not just wait until afterwards and then get your piercings.

In other words, I would not worry too much about it but if you can remove them in such a event. Ultimately people are not going to be bothering over what you look like but for the mouring of the dead.

Hope it helps.

Talmud says Jews can be a dick to Gentiles

So today I got the following question from someone asking about the Talmud.

Why does the talmud seems so evil when it talks about gentiles?

Now at face value you are correct, it does seem so evil and seems Jews are able to steal from gentiles and pretty much do whatever we please but once you studied it you will see it isn’t like that all and everything has to do with context.

I will just do one example and that is stealing. Something we call the “Code of Law” clearly states that stealing is forbidden – even to a gentile (and not to say that in a superior way) and so does the Maimonidies also say the very same thing.

What it does say however is and it is example time again. Lets say you lost a tenner and I came across it (and by came across it I mean you dropped it somewhere) I would not be a sinner if I did not return it.

So no, we can’t go around stealing as many people think. I got a good link for you for further reading: http://www.sinaicentral.com/jewhaters/defending_the_talmud.htm.

Synagogues and Modern Life

Over the last few days I have been getting the same question from different people so I am guessing someone been assigned a project so I will answer the question (everyone who submitted sent the same question, just worded differently).

How important is a synagogue in Jewish 21st century life?

The Shull is very important to the Jewish community and ultimately will be what makes Judaism survive in the years to come, but from experience it seems a Shul is simply only important nowadays for the religous side of things and have lost its importants in terms of being the center of a Jewish community.

To me personally, a Shul is not that important as I am able to learn anywhere and if I need guidance, I am able to visit my local Rabbi and can even contact him by email without having to visit the Shul personally. If you are doing a research project, I would advise you to read a wonderful book by Rabbi Herring called Tomorrow’s Synagogue Today.

Overall in my opinion – it sadly is not as important as it used to be, although I would love to see it once again become the center of a Jewish community.