Bein Adam Lchavero

Bein Adam Lchavairo is a blog dealing with interpersonal relations within the Jewish community and the interactions of the Jewish and Gentile worlds. We're new. Be gentle.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Been a while.

Does anyone even bother checking this blog anymore,

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Would we make a Shidduch with anyone from the Torah?

More food for thought from the email.

Background: In the past few years, the questions that have been asked about prospective matches have gotten to be ridiculous, and some of the reasons for rejection could be considered lunacy. In that vein, what if a girl was set-up with one of a number of Biblical figures?

There's Avrohom Avinu (Abraham):
He seems to be frum but really he's a BT and his father made idols, not our

Yitzchak Avinu (Isaac):
Well his grandfather made idols, there was all that nastiness with Lot and his half brother is an Arab.

Yaakov Avinu (Jacob):
His great-grandfather made idols, his brother went off the derech, his mother comes from a very treyfe family and he wasn't shomer negiah with Rachel Imeinu before they were married and he spent a lot of time with his uncle, who's mammesh a rasha.

Yosef HaTzaddik (Josef):
His mother had an idol once and she died early, plus he's a slave and his brothers don't like him, must be something in that and with all the issues with Avraham Avinu and Yitzchak and Yaakov Avinu...better not to.

Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses):
Oy, what a maaseh!!!! His parents separated, then they got back together, his parents abandoned him, put him in a basket, he was raised by goyim...not our kind for sure. He may be close to HaShem but his background is so problematic we wouldn't want him in our family!

Dovid HaMelech (King David):
Descendants from a Geyoret, not our kind of people. Sure a few generations have gone by but all things being equal shouldn't we look for someone with more Jewish background?

Shlomo HaMelech (King Solomon):
See above, and his mother's marriage was very dubious, he is rich though but the Yichus and family background is very tricky.

Perhaps people need to just relax and look at the person they are dealing with (in all walks of life) and stop worrying about insignificancies.

Shidduch = match (in this context, for marriage)
frum = religious
BT = Ba'al Teshuva; one who was not religious and became religious
derech = lit. path; to "go off the derech" is to become non-religious
treyfe = not "kosher"
shomer negiah = the laws regarding men touching women
"mammesh a rasha" = bad dude
maaseh = story
goyim = lit. nations; non-Jews
HaShem = G-D
geyoret = female convert
Yichus = family background

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Received via email: Jews opt out of Israel

The historic bargain linking American Jewry and Israel since the founding of the State is coming to an end. The terms of the deal were unspoken, but clear: Israel would provide American Jews with a sense of pride and identity as Jews, and they, in turn, would shower upon Israel their financial and political support. But Israel is no longer a source of pride for non-Orthodox Jews, and the identity it provides is not one which they wish to share.

That conclusion emerges from a recent study published by sociologists Stephen Cohen and Ari Kelman. They found that American Jews under 35 do not care very much about Israel. They are not just apathetic about Israel, that indifference is "giving way to downright alienation," write Cohen and Kelman.

More than half of Jews under 35 said that they would not view the destruction of Israel as a personal tragedy. The death and expulsion of millions is something they could live with. By those standards, they probably would not see the Holocaust as a "personal" tragedy either.

What young Jews under 35 feel towards Israel goes beyond apathy to outright resentment. Israel complicates their social lives and muddies their political identity. Only 54% profess to be comfortable with the idea of a Jewish state at all. In Europe and on elite American campuses, internationalism and a world-without-borders are the rage. The Jews of Israel, with their stubborn insistence on protecting their nation-state, are, as always, out-of-sync.

Young American Jews do not wish to be tarred with their atavisms. On campus and where enlightened folk meet, Israel is scorned as a colonial oppressor. Who wants to be identified as a sympathizer with apartheid? Once Reform Judaism disavowed Zionism for fear of being thought disloyal to their host countries, and young American Jews today share similar fears of being out of step with their enlightened peers.

Molly Umberger, whose mother is program director of the leftist New Israel Fund (NIF), told the Jerusalem Post that she views both Israel and Palestinians as having made lots of mistakes and the situation as complicated, but generally "tries not to think about [Israel]." (No wonder when Bruce Temkin, the director of the NIF, describes Israel as a "turn-off.") Daniel Alperin, 33, describes his interest in Israel as waning when he began to hear "the bad stuff" . probably about the time he entered college.

Already the trends lines were pointing in this direction forty years ago. In a 1965 Commentary symposium of younger Jewish intellectuals . the least religiously identified segment of American Jewry . only one Eliahu expressed complete comfort with Israel's creation and pride in its accomplishments, and he eventually made aliyah. The rest expressed various degrees of discomfort with Israel's militarism (and this was before 1967 and the "occupation"). The only Jewish identity they acknowledged at all was that of the "Jew" as the perpetually alienated critic of those in power . not exactly one upon which to base a connection to other Jews. Now the rest of American Jewry is catching up to those once young intellectuals.

JEWISH AGENCY chairman Zev Bielski labeled the results .very distressing,. and then proceeded to give a ridiculous explanation for those numbers: the comfortable life of most American Jews.

Cohen and Kelman know better. And their answer is summed up in the demographic they did not interview for their study: Orthodox Jews. For a survey of young Orthodox Jews would have yielded a diametrically opposite result.

Among younger Jews, those for whom their Judaism is important . primarily the Orthodox -- will remain connected to the fate of their fellow Jews in Israel. Most Orthodox American youth will study in Israel after high school, some for many years. And almost all will visit Israel many times. Eretz Yisrael is not a mere abstraction for them, but the center of the spiritual life of the Jewish people.

Even an anti-Zionist Satmar Chassid living in the secluded village of Monroe will intensify his prayers when Israel is at war and follow the action closely. Why? Because for him the name Jew means something.

The majority of young American Jews and the majority of young Israelis share in common a lack of interest in their Judaism. But that shared negativity provides little basis for a relationship. Shared gene pools won't do it either . that smacks of racism. And ethnic identity, it turns out, cannot be passed down, or survive the breakup of ethnically homogeneous neighborhoods.

But the survey signals something else as well: a declining understanding on the part of American Jews of Judaism in terms of a national identity that imposes obligations to one's co-nationals. That is being replaced by a return to the self-definition of classic German Reform: German (or in this case American) nationals of the Mosaic persuasion.

Cohen and Kelman are wrong to argue that ethnic identity is being replaced by religious identity. For when young American Jews say that they view their Judaism as a religious not national identity, the religion they refer to is a pretty tepid affair. Precisely because it is so tepid does it fail to provide them a sense of connection to their fellow Jews, whether in America or abroad. It is a religion largely lacking connection to the Land of Israel, and even more importantly to the defining event in Jewish history the giving of Torah at Sinai. Absent the latter, there is no common mission to link the descendants of those who stood at Sinai.

Lawrence Hoffman, a professor of liturgy at Hebrew Union College (Reform), described the new Reform prayer book as emphasizing Reform Jews. increased interest in spirituality over national identity. Unfortunately, however, the Torah defines us as a nation, not just a faith community. Any religion that downplays the common national identity of Jews is not Torah Judaism, but some new creation.

The impact of the declining sense of responsibility to one's fellow Jews is being felt within American Jewry itself, not just in attitudes towards Israel. Already only 6% of giving by mega-Jewish foundations goes to remotely Jewish causes. It is hardly surprising, for instance, that non-Jewish spouses are not eager to contribute to Jewish causes. In time, funding the institutions of American Jewry will become ever more difficult. And the Orthodox will be left to donate to Israel.

The political implications for Israel are large as well. Fortunately, Professors Walt and Mearsheimer are wrong about an Israel Lobby comprised mostly of those with Jewish-sounding names. It is devout Christians, and not some nefarious Israel Lobby, which is the primary bulwark of American support for Israel today. That we have to rely on Christian support, rather than our fellow Jews, however, is a very mixed blessing indeed.

This article appeared in the Mishpacha on September 24, 2007.

Friday, April 20, 2007


Aside from being International Pot Day, or whatever, today is also the birthday of Hitler (Y'mach sh'mo).

To "honor" his memory, do something that would make him roll in his grave.

Reach out to your fellow men. End a fued. Show you care, especially about someone different than you.

Let's really work on destroying the mindset of Amalek today.

Friday, April 13, 2007

This Week's Parshah

Warning: This may actually border on being a D'var Torah

This week's Parsha (Torah portion) is Shmini. This is always the parsah I point to when people ask me why I Believe the Torah is of Divine origin.

Hang on and let me cite Chapter and Verse at you...Vayikra Yud Aleph, Passuk Zayin. (Leviticus 11:7).

"and the pig, for its hoof is split and its hoof is completely separated but, it does not chew its cud"

This is the sole animal the Torah describes like this. One can assume, therefore, that the Torah is saying there are no other animals with those particular characteristics. Pretty bold claim, no? Especially when one takes into account how little of the world mankind had explored even a couple of hundred years ago.

Yet we have found no other animal with those characteristics.

I, personally, find that fascinating.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Taking Issue With The Last Post.

Let me begin by apologizing for the dearth of recent posts. The new version of blogger was causing confusion with my blogging client. All is well now.

There is much I want to speak about, but my co-poster RubinCompServ has brought up a topic that I would like to touch on.

Jews as a "race".

Firstly RCS, I'm going to begin by pointing out that you are using a very narrow definition of "race". Let us check that bastion of open-sourced information, Wikipedia:

"The term race serves to distinguish between populations or groups of people based on different sets of characteristics which is commonly determined through social conventions. The most widely used human racial categories are based on visible traits (especially skin color, facial features and hair texture), genes, and self-identification. Conceptions of race, as well as specific racial groupings, vary by culture and over time, and are often controversial, for scientific reasons as well as because of their impact on social identity and identity politics. Most biological and social scientists regard the concept of race primarily as a social construct, while some maintain it has a genetic basis."

There's more (quite a bit more, in fact), but that's a key paragraph.

Race is, largely, a social construct. There's no "black" gene anymore than there is an "white" gene. Just like with the Jewish people, there are scores of people who would be called "black" or "white" who might actually be of another "race".

However, if one is going to be rigid and say "no, race is genetic," well then, there's the fact that there are "genetic" Jews. There is DNA that exists only in Kohanim, via which the Lemba tribe of Africa were determined to be descendants of Jews. A geneticist could look at my DNA and say "This came from an Ashkenazik Jew" (Really. And not just because of the way the hemoglobin bonds so tightly with the iron). The same is true, as I understand, of Sephardim and other "Jewish races".

Genetic Jews, however, might not be Religious Jews (or Vice Versa). For one thing, the genes could have been passed paternally rather than maternally, thus not "counting" by Orthodox standards. The person in question could be a convert and not have any "Jewish" DNA of any sort (I need to make a T-Shirt that saysAvoid Tay Sachs � Marry a Convert!)."

In conclusion, there's no easy answer. Judaism seems to manage to be a Race, Religion, and Ethnicity, and not always all at the same time.

Monday, February 26, 2007

"Jewish" is NOT a race!

Okay, I'm a bit irritated. Israel is starting a Baseball League and "Jewish-American professional ball players would be eligible for the team". "Being Jewish is not a race because Jews do not share one common ancestry or biological distinction. People of many different races have become Jewish people over the years." ( While it's easy enough to blame this on a mis-entry in wikipedia, it's also being reported on the radio, including on sites such as 1010-WINS (although it's not on as of this posting).