Much of what is behind Jewlicious is a genuine and sincere concern for the future of the Jews. Despite our sometimes conflicting points of view, I would say this is what motivates us all here at Jewlicious – themiddle is working hard to assure a Jewish future for his children, laya wants a strong and vibrant Jewish world, esther also wants to do her part, grandmuffti loves them Jewish boobies and I apparently have a fetish for both frum chicks and strong Jewish women in uniform… but all kidding aside, this is as close a statement of principles as you can get vis-a-vis Jewlicious.

Thus it was with some resentment that I learnt of a secret conference held at Wye Plantation 2 weeks ago, that reunited “20 contemporary Jewish social leaders.” These Gedolim sat around and tried to figure out how they could influence the course of Jewish events so that our future could be rosy – so that Jews can continue to grow and maintain their ability to influence the world around them. They also wanted to avoid a scenario where current trends prevail and Jews decline both in numbers and in influence.

No one at Jewlicious was invited (of course) and Steven Spielberg had to decline at the last minute but assured the organizers that he would bring his considerable Jewish expertise to the next reunion (phew!).

So who attended? Let’s see… attorney and Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz (his son married a non-Jewish woman who didn’t convert – no Jewish grandchildren for you Alan!), President of Brandeis University Prof. Jehuda Reinharz, “former deputy treasury secretary Stuart Eizenstat, Natan Sharansky, Rabbi Samuel Sirat, the former chief rabbi of France, Michael Steinhardt, one of the leading Jewish philanthropists in the U.S., Dennis Ross, Prof. Yehezkel Dror, Jacques Attali, Rabbi Yuval Cherlow and others.” And what did these geniuses figure out? Let’s see…

Most participants agreed that the biggest threat to the Jewish people in the next few decades is weakening Jewish identity. In the modern world, Jewish identity competes in a big market of ideas and ideologies that are open to every individual. The difficulty of linking Jews, primarily younger Jews, to their Jewish identity eventually leads to estrangement from Jewish communal life, distancing from the State of Israel, and rise in intermarriage, which in the second generation causes a quantitative loss of Jews.

OK. So far so good… Not so good is the fact that despite collosaal efforts “[t]he American Jewish community lost between 300,000 and 500,000 members in the past decade…” So what does one do?

Most participants in the brainstorming session agreed that the key lies in opening up the gates of the Jewish people and extending a hand to those now on the margins…Until now, the Jewish community has pushed away such groups, and imposed demands on those wishing to join in Jewish life.

That might sound a bit cryptic, but what they are suggesting is that non-Jews be allowed to participate in Jewish communal life. Yup. Non-Jews – the saviors of the Jewish people.

The press release stated that “The Jewish people lacks spiritual leadership capable of formulating new inspirational content for Jewish identity that will inspire, provide meaning and gain relevance.” Well… there’s a shocker. Who do most American Jews look to for spiritual leadership? For the most part we’re talking about uh… “Rabbis” who cannot read a page of Gemarah, whose Hebrew is fractured or non-existent, and who some times do not even bellieve in G*d. I bet they provide awesomely relevant spiritual leadership!

Participants in the gathering noted, as a special mention of sorts, the Orthodox community, which maintains full Jewish identity – 100 percent Jewish education, 0 percent intermarriage, and high birthrates. But in the same breath they explained that because it is a closed society, it cannot serve as a model for Jewish life in the current era.

Oh my. What a load of crap. They did mention that birthright israel does a great job of strengthening Jewish identity and having just led a birthright trip made up of mostly unaffiliated young Jews, I can tell you that the one program that moved many of the kids and brought them to tears was shabbat in the old city. With Orthodox Jews. Closed society? What the fuck are these idiots talking about? I had people fighting with each other to take these kids in for a shabbat meal. I wish Michael Steinhardt or Charles Bronfman would have joined our trip to see just how closed Orthodox Judaism really isn’t.

Well, whatever geniuses. Good luck with your quest for substance free Judaism lite. I know my kids will have a strong Jewish identity and they sure as hell will marry Jews. Wish I could say the same for you O powerful group of 20.

Shabbat Shalom. That means, have a peaceful sabbath. It’s all in the Book of Genesis. Check it out.

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About the author

ck

Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.

97 Comments

  • I don’t think anyone disagrees w/ Birthright as being, very important. There is a tendency to mock and despise Orthodox Jews, by those who are not, or no longer. This is a long historical tendency, it was discussed by Rashi, in the Parsha 2 weeks ago, same deal.

    If anything, there should be more Birthright programs, for example, for entire families to go.

  • It’s funny this should come up because I have just heard that in my area there have recently been a couple of meetings among key Jewish educators seeking to find solutions to their weak and weakening enrolments.

    Nobody bothered to ask involved parents or to run a survey of all the parents attending Jewish day schools, or of parents with kids in preschool or kindergarten who have chosen not to send their kids to Jewish day schools. Nope, nobody bothered to ask although I bet I could get 20 people to attend within a day if someone were interested.

    Perhaps if these superb leaders would just bother to ask those of us in the trenches for information and advice THEY MIGHT GET SOMEWHERE!!!!!!!!

    Having said all of that, ck, I happen to agree with you that the “margins” are not the solution, but neither is closing the door on people in the margins. Read the Book of Ruth, my friend, and you will see why.

    However, we still have a community and there are kids coming up through the ranks and families choosing to live half-assed Jewish lives. Expend the resources needed to bring them into greater contact with the community by improving access to Jewish education, promoting a more Jewish home life (it’s not that hard and can be a lot of fun, although one can go bankrupt keeping kosher).

    Also, stop this horrible development of boring, timid rabbis who have little or no charisma. For god’s sake, screen people or something, because a boring and uninteresting rabbi is not going to get people hooked on anything. This is true of all the movements, but it is clearly the Conservative and Reform Jews who need to work at this the hardest.

  • ck, how many of the families “fighting with each other to take these kids in for a shabbat meal” were american expatriate ba’alei teshuva? unfortunately, in my experience, these types are usually the most open & welcoming members of any quote-unquote ‘orthodox’ community, and never seem to get counted together with the FFB (Frum-From-Birth) crowd whenever sweeping generalizations about orthodoxy are made.

  • This “Orthodoxy is a closed world” nonsense is just that, nonsense. I mean, just complete and utter bullshit. And I say that as one who could not have been more on the margins. I’m so effing sick of these self-appointed blowhards….I mean, “community leaders” sitting around moaning about the loss of Jewish identity when they are the ones who are primarily responsible for it. I mean, talk about chutzpah.

    These people say that Orthodoxy is a closed world because they are the ones who have closed and locked the door from the outside. They left and locked the door behind them. And they have the brass, just the plain unmitigated gall, to say that the door is locked? Gve me a frickkin’ break, OK? You’ve got the key in your pocket, geniuses.

    They feel guilty for turning their backs on Torah and mitzvot but they haven’t got the balls to actually admit it, so they turn around and accuse the people they turned their backs on of being the ones who drove them away.

    So being Jewish in the modern world with all of the smorgasboard of choices is hard? Well boo effing hoo. Cry me an effing river, Jack. Just suck it up and stop whining, all right? I’m getting bored over here.

    Everybody really knows what’s important: live Jewish, marry Jewish, breed Jewish. You don’t need a meeting of self-appointed Einsteins to tell you that.

    Idiots.

  • All riiiiiight, Ephraim.

    In the recent Jewish population study done by UJC it is noted that only 26% of American Jewish households have a child in residence.

    Three in four have no child in residence.

    I propose an annual Marry Your Girlfriend Day.

  • ROCK ON, DUDES! JSIRPICCO HATES HATES HATES the Jewish establishment. Hates “professional” Jews and their expensive drivel…if only this post was STRONGER, HARDER….REEM THEM UP THE ASS, YEAH BABY!!! (I mean it, too!) Chazermaveth – you one bitter, dude, dude. Orthodox is the future – so just make sure it’s a “nice” one…fine. No biggie there…Hi, who makes your home cooked meals, Mr. or Miss secular brother/sister?” No one? Hmmm…well, if you’re ever in the mood for Friday Night Dinner…my family does it all the time…chicken soup? Challah? We’d love to have you!

    We can do it…go team! And as for you, Chazer…like, I dunno…cain’t you put your issues somewhere else?

  • Alright, this is getting out of hand. The “Jewish establishment” is the reason the Jewish community has historically been a strong one. The “Jewish establishment” is the reason the Jewish community can afford to do much of what the Jewish community does (which is a hell of a lot). The “Jewish establishment” is made up of good willed and hard working women and men who volunteer their time, energy and money so that the Jewish community can thrive.

    Let’s stop insulting the “Jewish establishment” and just try to get them to listen to others a little more.

    On that note, ck, I should add that if the Orthodox community is as strong and vibrant as you claim, they don’t need the help of a group like this in the same way that the vast majority of Jews (those who belong to other movements or are unaffiliated) need help. And please don’t forget, if you want your children to have a selection among prospective Jewish spouses, you really don’t want the Jewish population to dwindle to a million or so who are Orthodox. Think about it.

  • Muffti is always amazed at how much he agrees with CK on this issue. Compromise on religious issues is tantamount to slow death. But Muffti has a question that’s been on his mind and perhaps you guys could answer: there is a pernicious theme in the meeting involving ‘influence’. Muffti was wondering: from a purely religious standpoint, does it make any difference to Judaism if its numbers wax and wane? In other wods, would Judaism really be worse off in the numbers fell to a smaller, more devoted group while the assimilated just sort of dropped off?

    If not, then all the points regarding ‘influence’ seem to be pragmatic points rather than religious ones. And Judaism, qua religion, doesn’t seem to offer much guidance on that as far as Muffti can tell. If we are trying to ensure future jews so as to keep our influence alive, then we should just be interested in raising little Israel obsessed kids and care less about levels of observance, shouldn’t we? If we are trying to ensure that the religion is kept vibrant, from that point of view are we any worse of if the less interested, assimilated drop off?

  • I dunno, I would think a smaller gene pool and fewer prospective partners should be of concern even to the most devout. But then again, I’m traditional and fairly secular in my views.

  • Those guys are like the King Saul of the
    generation you know. One of these days,
    somebody with enough guts, brains and strength
    will do things in such way that this is what will
    happen:

    “And the women sang one to another in their play,

    and said,

    Saul hath slain his thousands

    and David his tens of thousands.”

    Samuel 1 ch18 v 7 from the JPS bible.

    It seems to me most of the worthwhile leaders I
    knew have passed. Somebody has to pick up the
    ball, most have just dropped it.

  • The Muffti asks a good question. If you look at the hebrew. There is no clear referal to “slain” that is just english translation. The bible I used has no commentary. It was a just a landmark quote in my view of the situation. The hebrew word used from the Tanach is Ta-ah-ne-na translittered the best I can… Which sounds more like from the word Teyna which would be a legal type of complaint.

  • Really they should also have more support for families that are struggling financially and cannot afford the lifestyle. This problem doesn’t get as much interest as the singles problem. Some people have to start to take jobs where they can’t take off on Shabbos for example, and then slowly everything else gets thrown away.

  • I have no particular desire to insult the “Jewish establishment”. Yes, they have done a lot of good things, etc.

    But they are obtuse. The plain fact of the matter is: if the parents are not living involved Jewish lives, the children will not either. The reason the children of people like Dershowitz don’t marry Jews is because the Yiddishkeit of people like Dershowitz is dicted almost solely by extreior considerations: it amounts to an institutionalized anti-anti-Semitism. I get weekly bulletins from the Simon Weisenthal Center and the ADL, and all it is is about fighting anti-Semitism. Yes. this is very important, and I know that is what these organizations are there for, but you simply cannot keep young Jews interested in being Jewish by frightening them with anti-Semitism and the bleak prospect of a Jewless future.

    I mean, if they are not connected enough to the Jewish people to marry another Jew, why should they care if the Jewish people continue to survive? What’s the point in closing the door to an empty barn?

    Re: Jewish infuence, all they are really saying is they want to make sure that Jews have enough political clout to continue to make sure that US policy doesn’t get any more hijacked by Arabists than it already is.For that, you need numbers.

    But, it’s bankrupt. Their idea to include inter-married and unconverted people in the “Jewish people” has nothing whatsoever to do with Ruth; as a matter of fact, it is a complete repudiation of the real message o Ruth, which is that the Jewish people will always accept gerim who say “your G-d is my G-d”. Ruth wouldn’t have made it if she had insisted on being included while not giving up her old ways.

    When you start thinking seriously of “including” people who aren’t even Jews, you know the jig is up.

  • As one of the “kids” on ck’s birthright trip I can say what was most moving about Shabbat in the old city wasn’t my lunch with the American expatriates (although that was definitely a great experience), but the sights and sounds of the night before during our Shabbat service at the Kotel. I am so incredibly unaffiliated at the moment, but seeing all of those Orthodox Jews so happy and excited about Shabbat, and seeing them praying at the wall, or singing and dancing through the streets made me realize that being an observant jew can be an exciting an joyful experience, which is not what my childhood memories are. I definitely felt like something was missing in my life and I want to change that to find some of the joy and happieness that the people in Jerusalem seem to have. I don’t know what that exactly means for my life, but I do know that experience of Shabbat in the Old City and seeing the ‘closed society’ changed my outlook and perspective on what it means to be Jewish and helped me realize that I need, or I guess want, to become a more active and observant Jew.

  • Actually, Ephraim, if you include people who aren’t even Jews but are married to Jews, you often gain converts to Judaism and children who are raised as Jews. Oh wait, they aren’t converted Orthodox so they’re not kosher! Dammit, what an exclusive club.

  • Ok, so the Orthodox community is not closed to Jews that are born Jewish, but even the most devout converts of the conservative persuasion are essentially shut out from all things orthodox, are we not Ephraim?
    Does this have anything to do with the future of the jews? Well quiet possibly yes, it has a part to play in the future of the jews. Thousands of people each year are seeking to convert to Judaism, while this amounts to a relatively small amount of Jews worldwide it is still numbers. So maybe developing a universal conversion standard is an idea to mull over at least in the US where joining different movements seems to be the status quo. Get the URJ, USCJ, and OU together to consider what constitutes the minimum for a halachic conversion. The question is, can this be done while ignoring the very roots of each movement? I think so.
    With conversion to Judaism standardized, the association with a movement could be chosen by the convert after the conversion is completed and their practice could be determined by them at that point.
    I don’t know, i don’t have the complete answer, but perhaps something to mull over. I still don’t see how the attitude of the Orthodox world towards converts is changed, even if the leaders of the OU were to give the standard the OK. You can’t really legislate attitudes as easily as you could standardize the conversion process.
    I often think of an interview Bruce Lee once gave about martial arts. Bruce was a student of Yip Man, one of the most famous grandmasters of Wing Chun Gung Fu. The system is structured, from breathing technique to forms, to punches, to footwork. What Bruce realized is that not everyone can be plugged into a system like Wing Chun because we all have different qualities, and failings physically that may prohibit us from accomplishing what Wing Chun has to offer effectively. Bruce said that “”To me, at least the way I teach it, Ultimately, martial arts means honestly expressing oneself. I mean it’s easy for me to act cocky and do some really fancy movement. But to express oneself honestly, not lying to oneself. But to express oneself honestly that is very hard to do.” Expressing oneself honestly can be carried over into Judaism and what i’m talking about, although it’s not a PERFECT analogy. I go to a conservative shul because i feel that the conservative theological dogma is an honest expression of my Judaism at this point in my life. The thing is, i could later in life decide that i find the orthodox lifestyle a more honest of expression, but with the current system, i am essentially shut out of that. I would never be considered a proper mate for an orthodox girl, i would not be counted at an orthodox minyan…..my conversion is not considered kosher.
    I realize that 1. I am rambling and 2. There are plenty of counterpoints to what i’m saying here, but i wanted to at least put it out there for discussion.

  • Give it a freaking rest, Middle. I sacrificed a lot to make sure that my children would be accepted as Jews wherever they went. And it has worked. They are frum, Yeshiva-educated and accepted, regardless of the fact that they look more at home in Tokyo than Odessa.

    I have no sympathy for people who want to take the easy way out because keeping Shabbat, keeping kosher and observing the laws of family purity are 1) too hard, 3) too oppressive and patriarchal, 3) not inclusive enough and sensitive enough to the feelings of the poor non-Jews who want to be Jewish but don’t really want to do all that Jewish stuff, or 4) fill in the blank.

  • Elon, I’m all for converts. The more the merrier.
    Our Orthodox shul has converts up the wazoo, my family included.

    And I am all for standardizing conversion practices so long as the standardization satisfies Orthodox requirements.

    And

  • The question is then Ephraim, can you satisfy orthodox requirements for conversion without attaching orthodox dogma?

  • Ephraim, sorry to hear that your path has taken this kind of toll, but that doesn’t change the face of reality. Most people – Jewish people, born to Jewish mothers, and affiliated with Jewish life – don’t subscribe to those things and those Jews – those real, vibrant, good Jewish people – need to be taken into account, even if they marry a person who seeks a conversion you don’t accept.

  • Elon: No. That’s the point.

    Middle: Perhaps I wasn’t clear. It hasn’t taken a “toll”, at least not in the sense you seem to take it. What I mean is that I left my secular, non-kosher life behind. What I gained is far greater and more meaningful than what I gave up. I see nothing wrong with expecting would-be converts to make the same choice.

    Yes, I know people will continue to undergo conversions that I don’t accept. There is nothing I can do about that except not accept them. (This, of course, will not matter to them at all.) I hope that if my children decide to marry other converts that they will stay true to the Torah and insist that the convert be one who actually converted properly.

    The rest of the Jews will go on doing whatever it was they were doing, I’m sure.

  • ck, Ephraim, jsirpicco thank you for your solid responses.

    To TM and the others
    – there are certain things about which there just is no compromise. If that leaves you out consider it the fault of your leaders the ‘Jewish Establishment.’

  • Ephraim, the Torah does not require an Orthodox conversion. At all.

    Schmo, does it seem to you like I am “left out?” Get real.

  • Stacy:

    What a great story. I wish you the best of luck on your journey.

    If ck was able to bring you back to Torah, even though you have taken just a few steps so far, then he has earned his place in the World To Come.

    Kol ha kavod to both of you.

  • p.s. jsirpico, i think you may have misunderstood my post — i was saying “it’s good that there are american ba’alei teshuva in israel, they are usually very welcoming people, that’s a good thing, and it’s too bad that when people generalize about orthodox people, they think of them as unwelcoming.” and of course, many FFB people are also extremely welcoming. i was trying to express my agreement with the general opinion that orthodox-bashing is bad. i’m sorry if i wasn’t clear about that.
    and Stacy, good luck on your path.

  • Oh, please, Middle. Why not just wave your hands and say everybody is Jewish?

    The Torah says a lot of things. Since according to you the Torah does not require an Orthodox conversion, I assume by that you mean that we should order our lives by what it says in the Torah with no interpretation, right?

    If so, if you see someone gathering sticks on Shabbat I expect you to take care of business as the Torah directs you to.

    And no excuses, either.

  • Judaism is about being part of the chosen ppl. Why are we allowing factionism to take over. Let’s be realistic: We have a lot in common. I don’t daven in shuls where the women read the torah not because I’m sexist, but because I’m orthodox. But I still think they’re totally Jewish! And converts: I love asian girls ;P but that doesn’t mean I’m going to mary one that isn’t jewish and won’t convert.

    One cold shower later… Our biggest challenge really is the establishment. True, they help so much. But, they need to help even more. Judaism just doesn’t sound fun. It’s about marketing. I mean, I love being modern orthodox… seriously I would convert, but I’m already jewish. lol. So spread the word to other jews that we want to play nice with them instead of make them into us, and I think we may survive a few more generations.

  • i was just sitting in the offices of the aj committee on a dorot seminar last week partaking in a conversation precisely on this issue.

    the establishment is a dinosaur. it’s drying up. and bureaucracy and mismanagement of funds are killing it. the establishment did good things for the jewish people in its day. but its days are numbered and its time to start looking forward to what’s next. is that preaching torah to non-jews? i’m sure that has its place, but it’s not the totality of necessary action.

    i agree with ck that orthodoxy isn’t especially closed and that the orthodox are inviting and wonderful, albeit all too-often socially inept. but the issue is not orthodoxy. orthodoxy is just one thing, and it’s a problematic thing, i believe, because it takes the word of every rav and elevates it to m’sinai, putting the burden on the observant to reattune themselves to make what that rabbis say sound good to them, even when they say god awful things that no one in their right mind should tolerate.

    i’d prefer to see activity that encourages the observance of halakha and the practice of jewish ritual in a way that is relevant and meaningful to each individual. that doesn’t necessitate adopting the baggage of orthodoxy, but it does involve keeping mitzvot with a committed consciousness. that can happen without putting on a black hat or a shaitel. it just takes people being observant and in their observance, being as welcoming and endearing as the orthodox. ie., being good jews is what keeps jews in the fold, not adopting the horseblinders of orthodoxy.

  • btw, the f*ckin’ elders of zion at that meeting have some nerve. who appointed them aribiters of the jewish future? and what were their qualifications? the size of their bank accounts? their political clout?

    this is why i say fuck the establishment. because the njps and frank luntz’s polling is not an accurate measure of anything, let alone the pulse of judaism.

    maybe if they served hashem instead of “the jewish people” (as according to their figures) this question would be irrelevant.

  • Ephraim- I disagree. I think you can convert to Judaism, keep mitzvot and not believe that the torah was literally handed down to moshe at sinai, we’re talking about dogmatic interpretation not jewish law. So instead, agree about a halachic standard for conversion that all the movements that wish to be a party to the standard agree to, and then allow the convert to choose his/her affiliation afterwards, along with whatever dogmatic interpretation he or she chooses.
    I think the orthodox establishment would actually benefit from this, since we can assume that the standard would be set much more observant than not if the OU was to participate in such a thing, which would most likely assure a deeper connection for the individual, especially those converting for a mate. I remember hearing some statistic about mates that leave Judaism and go back to their other faith after divorce from their Jewish mate. Perhaps the conversion process would help to establish the kind of lifestyle change that i assume the orthodox expect from their converts, and keep them in the Jewish community even in the case of a divorce or death of a mate.
    A lot of this is hypothetical, i just can’t imagine that there isn’t room for some change especially in regards to Orthodox opinion of highly observant Conservative converts. We’d like to be counted at minyan too if we’re ever in a position to or if we are in Europe where there are really only orthodox institutions.

  • oh, one more point on the inclusivity of the orthodox: i interviewed matisyahu the other day. he told me that on the road to becoming khozer b’teshuva, he was davening at recounstructionist minyanim and one fall went down to florida to visit his dying grandmother in the hospital. it was rosh hashana and he went to the local reconstructionist shul and they wouldn’t let him in because he didn’t have a ticket. when he returned to the hospital, his aunt took him to a chabad house around the corner and they welcomed him in.

  • Won’t work, Elon. If an Orthodox Beit Din doesn’t believe in the candidate’s commitment to keeping mitzvot (the “let them chose their affiliation later” part), the conversion won’t happen. For example, if the candidate’s “interpretation” of resting on Shabbat involves driving to a park and having a picnic, this is prima facie evidence that the convert isn’t serious.

    Of course, I am quite sure that every single candidate for convresion believes that he/she is sincere and committed. But the authorities granting the conversion are the only ones who have the right to make that decision. The candidate’s own assessment of his/her worthiness ust isn’t relevant.

  • Awesomely relevant spiritual leadership…

    Inspiration, relevance and awesomeness are in short supply everywhere. Add the spiritual adjective, and it’s depressing…

    I spend my whole writing and waking life immersed in Jewish life. And the quest for meaning is unending. The only source that I’ve found inspiring on a regular basis is what happens in the blogosphere. And I don’t know whether to find that hopeful or terrifying.

    I need to mull this over. All I know is that discussions like these make my head and heart hurt. Shabbat shalom u’menucha, l’kulam.

  • Don’t feel bad that they didn’t include you… They didn’t invite us either, and the future of Jews is in our damn mission statement…
    If you want to get invited for next time, you should write a semi-controversial best-seller like Dersh.

  • Stremiel should have been invited to the conference, what Can I say I am a fan of his… I love it when he sticks it to MOb, where ya been!!?!?!??!!?

  • Just a comment for CK. I hope that by the time your kids are old enough to be married, you will have realised that if they do want to marry non jewish people, you may not be able to stop them. Seem’s pretty, I don’t know, arrogant, or near sighted, to say they sure as hell will marry other jews. You hope they will, but if they don’t, surely it would be better if their children were not completely excluded from the jewish faith? (assuming your son marries a non jewish girl I mean).

  • TM you said: “Schmo, does it seem to you like I am “left out?” Get real.”

    -well you feel that way. In comment #21 you said:
    “Dammit, what an exclusive club.”

    In either case not only are the conversions bogus, but the ‘rabbis’ performing them are bogus. They are ‘apikursim’ who can’t even be counted in a minyan.

    I know you will yell at me for not loving Jews – but that is the truth.

  • to Stacy:
    What you said could have easily came out of my mouth a year ago when i went on birthright and experienced shabbat at the Kotel. I’ve never seen such joy and enthusiasm among other jews taht i saw with the orthodox. The only time in my life that i put on tiffilin before was on my conservative bar mitzvah, but i saw myself puttin on teffilin everday on the trip.

    To others:
    In my opinion, its the reform/conservative movement that is more closed society than orthodox. Its too damn “clicky” (sp?) for my taste. If your not in a certain social, economic, political, etc circle…then your on the outside. But i know, no matter who i am, if i went to any orthodox person and asked them for help in becoming a better jew (etc) they would welcome me with open arms. Its as if they view every Jew as a potential for Jewish “greatness.” I’ve always felt shuned by the reform/conservative jews…and NOT the orthodox.Thus, if i was every to take the next step in my Jewish evolution, i would not waste my time trying to fit in the reform/conservative circles. Thats my two cents. Hope u all had a good shabas!

  • Mobius,
    that story about Matisyahu pretty much sums up Non-Orthodox Judaism in America, at least in my eyes. A ticket??…comeon!

  • To Katrina,
    Children can be “programmed” (not literaly, though) to be attracted to only Jews of the opposite gender. For example, I’m russian but i could never see myself being attracted to Russian girls (no matter if they r jewish) because of the environment that i grew up in and my views on Russians (i’m a self-hating russian, but love Jews). If you raise you child to be only attracted to Jews, then you wont have a problem when they get to marrying age.

  • Schmo, it’s hilarious that you should read my obvious sarcasm about an “exclusive club” as a serious comment.

    The entire point of that comment is that ck and others here are commenting about the openness of the Orthodox on the one hand, while all of the while also talking about the explicit and minimal (which are really maximal) parameters of belonging to what the Orthodox consider “Judaism.” Your “epikursim” comment shows this beautifully, by the way.

    On the other hand, if you go to any other stream in Judaism, their “barriers” are very different and much more easily overcome.

    On the other hand, Schmo, consider this: we have a number of ba’alei teshuva who join us on this site from time to time. How small are the odds of them having a realistic shot at marrying a frum-from-birth person?

    So yup, I’m very comfortable in my Judaism, and I’m also very comfortable poking fun at those who talk about the openness of the Orthodox.

    Oh, did I mention that some of the most impressive rabbis I’ve met are Conservative? These are earth-shakingly smart not to mention good Jews who deeply influence the lives and Jewish living of hundreds and thousands of other Jews. Keep them out of your minyan, please. You don’t deserve to be graced by their presence and knowledge, although be certain they would not treat you with the same contempt. I guess it comes down to openness.

  • Dear brother Joe Schmo,

    Shavua Tov….
    I am with themiddle on this one. I consider

    myself a veteren Chozer be tchuvah. As of this
    Shavout it will be exacty 19 years of committed
    shomor shabbat, SN, kosher, etc… 4 of those
    years I was in Yeshiva both in Jersey and Israel.
    Before that Shavout in 1986 it was a long hard
    ride to that point. I went to both a conservative
    and reform hebrew school. I was very active in
    College Hillel clubs I belonged to. I was the
    religious director at one of them for a year or so. My Mom taught under the Rabbi of the biggest
    Reform temple in town. I have my issues with the
    uniquely american form of reform and conervative
    shtick; HOWEVER, I would NEVER say that the
    leaders of those places are as you said
    “apokorsim”….. and they are no good for a minyan. Even from a halachic point of view, you are OUT OF LINE!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Sorry Natsach,

    They really are Apikursim. They have torn jews away from their Father in Heaven.They casued the intermarriage. They caused the division.

    Openness does not mean open to change the fundamentals. It does not mean to open all “barriers” and make Judaism watered down.

    Open means not to shun others for economic reasons. Not to look down on others for stupid reasons.

    To shun them for the terrible things that they do and so that others don’t follow them is necessary.

    When they talk about ‘openness’ and no ‘barriers’ that is a catchphrase for watering down Judaism and rebelling against our covenant.

  • Denying that we were given the Torah at Sinai – and saying maybe yes…maybe no…maybe some ‘smart’ authors wrote it.
    -therefore do we have to listen to everything? maybe not-maybe only what makes sense to us personally…

    They separated themselves and they want us to be ‘inclusive’ of these ideas.
    Inclusive of what caused and is causing their self-destruction as we see today.

  • So a Rabbi that does not accept that the Torah was not physically given at Sinai are apikurism and dare not be counted at your minyan? Are they not still Jewish?

    I wonder, if rambam or any of the great rebbes were to be alive today, would they continue to believe that we were given the Torah at Sinai? Wouldn’t they at the very least debate the subject with the evidence we now have concerning the subject. I would never be so arrogant as to say i know for a fact that the Torah was not given at Sinai, but considering the evidence to the contrary i find it difficult to say for sure that it was.

    It was once considered perfectly reasonable to believe that the earth was flat, in fact to not believe as much made you a heretic.

    I’m not trying to be snarky, I’m really just trying to understand why some Orthodox seem to think they have a monopoly on Judaism. I’d love to hear your perspective further.

  • Maybe some people in Europe in the dark ages thought the earth was flat.

    There is no real evidence against it- this was debated already lower down in other posts.

    I know it was given because my forfathers were there. It doesn’t get much simpler then that.

    All orthodox feel that they have a monopoly on Judaism – because the other groups have changed it according to what they personally felt acceptable.
    That to us is unacceptable.

  • Silly Allison. Didn’t you get the memo? We’re just babymakers and housewives. (Or worse, unwed singles, a problem to be solved.) What could we possibly contribute to such a gathering?

  • Esther- If I’d been asked to nominate a woman to attend (’cause you just know they’d make me pick only one), I’d have thought of Blu Greenberg, Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis (I always looooved her TV ads…)and you. Maybe not you, actually, because you probably had better things to do with your time than sit around with a bunch of stuffed shirts blowing elitist hot air.

    Honestly, anyone who has ever had the misfortune of serving on a self-important committee charged with charting the course for people who weren’t even invited to the forum knows— we’re just there for the sandwiches. Because sure as hell, nothing important, innovative or implementable is going to result from all our talk. Trust me, I know.

    Yes, all those guys living it up at that quaint retreat outside of DC know for sure that they’re not going to solve anything. If anything, they’ll publish a report that’ll figure large in their fundraising efforts.

    But ultimately, they’re talking about Judaism for the rich and influential. They’re really about raising money for their causes, building more Holocaust museums (at least Spielberg had the sense to beg out) and keeping alive Jewish “culture”. They’re not talking about how to get more Jews lighting candles, showing up for minyan or going to mikveh.

    I just hope the sandwiches were good.

  • Let’s not come down too hard on converts, shall we? Question to all you Ashkenazim: Do you look Semitic?

    Y’know, Many Sephardim consider us descendents of converts, and they’re probably right. But that’s okay. We’re in good company according to Megillat Ruth.

    Chag Sameach

  • I am realizing the advantage King Saul had to those guys in that forum. At least King Saul listened to the women when they complained that David had his tens of thousands and you, King Saul can maybe get a thousand or so.

  • The women may have made him go nuts… but then he didn’t really listen to the women….

  • Joe Schmo, Eugene- There has been a great deal of scholarship on the authorship of the Torah starting in the 16th century and continuing on until the present day, now called the “Documentary Hypothesis”. But not even this hypothesis is complete or it wouldn’t be a hypothesis.

    But getting back to my original point, i don’t see how this is fundamental to being a Jew, or how it discredits one from being counted in a minyan. If i gathered correctly, you are saying you wouldn’t even count a conservative rabbi in your minyan…can you provide some sort of halachic backing for this? If you do, then i have learned a lesson and that’s fine.
    This all ties in to my original question, which relates to the future of the Jews..if you have converts that are willing to keep the mitzvot why let dogma keep them from being Jewish in your eyes?

  • Dear Bro Joe Schmo,

    A lot of ways you are right, but what you are saying is superficially obvious. The Conservative etc… do not qualify as “apikorsim.” There may have been a time when maybe you can say that; like in our parents generation after the war in America. The part of what you are saying that is just wrong is this: they cant be counted as a minyan. I have seen many dati shebe dati Batay Keneset give kavod and aliya to Rabbis, leaders of the consevative and reform. When I have made minyanim at work, a not particullary jewish environment, I used to know students and even a Rabbincal student from a local Conservative Rabbincal college. I tried to make sure that guy, the conservative rabbinical student, would lead the minyan and be Chazan. The mostly Israelis in that minyan didn’t have a problem with that and I didn’t obviously.

  • Not that what I am about to say solves anything..but the whole problem boils down to one simple principle. People hate being told what to do.

    Orthodoxy does a better job at making people feel guilty about breaking the law. This is not the issue, the issue is how do they do this.

    To answer this question, all of you have to ask yourself, why is Judaism important to me. Whatever this reason is, and its differnt for everyone, this has to be what is communicated to the generations.

  • Conserva girl, if Sephardim consider Ashkenazim the descendants of converts they arent probably right they are totally wrong. Genetic tests confirmed that Ashkenazim have more in common with Middle Eastern populations then with their European neighbors. The people who say that Ashkenazim descended from Khazars are usually Neo Nazis and Arabs.

  • There is a beautifull concept that if someone says they are jewish we have to believe that is so and you are supposed to count them in a minyan.
    am not sure the makor for that, but that is what I have heard and I think it sounds right. That holds for conduct in a Bayt Kenneset. If anybody knows of the Makor for this please let us know.
    Obviously, that doesn’t hold for a Ketuba. The
    Bayt Kenneset is not the forum for poop slinging.
    If someone says they are Jewish because such
    and such Rabbi told me so, and there these
    questions about who that such and such rabbi
    etc… then the poop slinging begins. That all could or should be avoided if the person said they are jewish, thats it, stop there and stop with the poop….not because such and such told me so. Even if someone didn’t look “jewish” whatever the hell that means, if the person says they are jewish, that is so. I have seen the poop slinging and it is ugly and stinky and rank. One time I go to a local dati Bayt Keneset with my friend who is of Japanese genetic background. This old Persian fart starts yelling at him that he is japanese and has no bussiness here. I had to confront this old fart and say that my friend has proper conversion documents from a local autoratative Orthodox Beit Din. I had to really throttle back on my aggresion with that old geezer. My friend was more gracious and sadly more used to that bullshit. Because thats what it is. It is out of line to start to in with the poop. There is halacha about treatment of converts that has makors in the Chumash, no
    doubt. A lot of the poop starts to really stink when you have a bunch wannabee dayonot who think
    they the hottest piece of cruds to talk shit about
    thier ignorance.

  • Chag Samaich,

    Here in the west coast it is still a few hours before the time to Recall when the Torah came from Sinai thru Moshe Rabaynu. Inasense I am with bro Joe Schmo I want all you all to know.

  • Along with Stacy, who posted earlier, I´m also one of the “kiddies” from the trip. I also come from an unaffiliated and very non-observant family. You know, the type who goes to the deli counter and says, “Can I get chips with my ham and swiss?” Yeah, those are my relatives, hehe. Anyway, I also found our Shabbat service very moving – I wish more unaffiliated Jews could see what we all did at the Wall. I never in my life saw people actually celebrate Shabbat. I always heard about how “inconvenient” it was, and in general how inconvenient and stifling Jewish religious observance is. I never thought in my life that I´d see people dancing and singing about Judaism. I also found my Shabbat lunch with my host and his wife very inspiring as well. He told us that he was never an observant man, until he had a car crash that almost killed him. He made aliyah about 20 years ago and is what you´d call Ba¨al teshuva. It was very inspiring to hear his story, since he came from a family kind of like mine, and is now living in the Old City of Jerusalem….very very cool stuff.

  • You want to talk about strengthening Jewish Identity? How come the UJC just pledged $160 MILLION for old folks in Russia and Ethiopians who are NOT JEWISH? That’s $160 million for people whose Jewish identity is basically irrelevant (old and non-existent) whereas the UJC’s next contribution to birthright israel is a paltry $5 million. BRI specifically and overwhelmingly strengthens Jewish identity in young, active and influential people. Old folks and goyim wishing to convert to Judaism are great, but $160 million versus $5 million? Come on! I think much more attentions needs to be brought to bear on this important issue. It’s our money, after all. Here is the link to the UJC press release.

  • Birthright is Great, but what happens when people return from Israel? I visited Israel 10 years ago and had a great time. When I returned, there was nothing. Instead of funding birthright, let’s do something for young people in the USA.

    Let’s ask ourselves. Why are most Jews unaffiliated? 99% of the Rabbis in Temples I’ve seen in the Los Angeles area where I live are just downright boring and sitting thru their services is like pulling teeth.

    Most Jews aren’t going to live an Orthodox Lifestyle. No driving on Saturday. Eating only Kosher Food. Men and Women not sitting together. Services almost entirely in Hebrew, which the majority of young Jews don’t understand.

    Reform Judaism isn’t the problem. Nor is Conservative Judaism. Also, we should stop bitching about intermarriage. How many Jews who are full blooded Jews are unaffiliated because they just don’t care. Intermarriage doesn’t always equal non-affiliation. No matter what the statistics say.

    The problem is that Temples change just too much for membership. Chabad hit the nail on the head by not charging membership and allowing people to give as much as they want to. How many young people especially young families want to lay out thousands of dollars to belong to a Temple when they can spend that money on other more pressing needs. Let’s face it, contrary to popular opinion, the majority of Jews in the USA aren’t rich. Jews are for the most part middle class. You have some rich Jews, but for every wealthy Jew how many wealthy Goyim are there?

    We need to recruit young dynamic Rabbis. There are plenty of dynamic Christian Ministers out there who pack in their churches. Why in the hell can’t we find young Rabbis to make the religion relevant to people and their everyday lives.

    I’m tired of ranting. My final thoughts are. We better do something to turn this around or all we will be left with is a tiny Jewish community and many people who have Jewish ancestors who no longer practice.

  • JT, dynamism is in short supply in general. And then you layer that with the fact that you’re probably talking about a group of men rabbis, because the Orthodox movement as a whole doesn’t accept women as rabbis (of course there are a few exceptions). And by excluding women from the dialogue–especially when we are so often responsible for setting the religious tone on the home front–is cutting off our Semitic noses to spite our faces.

    I’m not sure what the answer is. But I think that initiatives like birthright and the Jewlicious @ the Beach conference reinfuse Judaism with coolness and diversity.

    Passion fuels passion. So we need to find the people who are passionate about Jewish life, and create methods and venues, on- and offline, that will allow that commitment to go “airborne,” so to speak. There’s more in my head. But for tonight, that’s it.

  • Question to all you Ashkenazim: Do you look Semitic?
    It is true of many Jews, that it is not obvious to others whether they are Ashkenazi or Sephardi. (Or Italian. Or Lebanese. Or Greek.) People have in different contexts assumed me to be all of the above, for instance. (Usually when that’s their background.) That’s not exactly unusual.

    That said, it’s also a recent historic innovation to lump all Ashkenazim or all “Sephardim” together and expect each group to have strong self-similarities. Which sort of makes sense; of an Eastern Ashkenazi, Moroccan, and Yemenite Jew, it’s often the first two who will look a lot more similar to one another! An academic named Sander Gilman has written a lot about the European history of regarding Jews as “Orientals”. Worth reading.

    Y’know, Many Sephardim consider us descendents of converts, and they’re probably right.
    I have no experience with “many Sephardim consider us descendents of converts”. Maybe instead of “Sephardim” you meant “Arabs”/”anti-Zionists”/”ship-em-all-back-to-Europe-where-they’re-really-from-ists”?

    On a totally, totally different note: I know there’s Aish and all that, but it seems to me that what a lot of Birthright returners, and I’m-just-curious ethnic Jews (as in, not religious, don’t know anything about it) would like to have access to is … well, conversion classes.

    Meaning something similar to the one-year (?) soup-to-nuts experience made available to (orthodox-style) converts. A fixed commitment, no stigma, no prior expectations, and some actual learning. Is this delivered and advertised anywhere? Am I hopelessly naive?

  • Interesting points Jacob! How the hell are ya? Please gimme a call I am in Israel for another week – 054-210-2476

  • 8opus: many synagogues offer adult Judaism classes. Perhaps Birthright should have affiliations with some synagogues in every city and people can follow up with some classes when they return.

    Also, I posted about an online alternative the other day.

  • I’ve read all 77 posts to this thread, and all I’m hearing is me, me, me. To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, we should not ask how Hashem can serve us, but how WE can serve HASHEM. If we follow Torah and serve G-d, everything we need will be given to us, and we will have the inner peace that seems so illusive in this world. Orthodoxy gets it, and the others struggle with it. You wonder why the people at the Wall are so happy? It’s not hard to figure out. Living true to Torah is the blueprint for our lives, and it’s the only way that works in the long run.

    To deny that even one letter of the Torah is irrelevant to our modern times, or is not divinely inspired, is complete heresy. “He has despised the word of G-d . . . his soul shall be utterly cut off.” Numbers 15:31 “Moses said, ‘Through this you shall know that G-d sent me to do all these things, and I did not do it on my own accord.” Numbers 16:28

    Furthermore, “If one openly denies the authentcity of the Oral Torah, he is in the same category as al other heretics, people who deny that the Torah came from heaven, informers and renegades. All of thse are NOT COUNTED AS JEWS.” Yad, Mamrim 3:2

    (from Maimonidies 13 Principles, essays by Aryeh Kaplan)

    It saddens me that on Shavout, of all days, we are even having this discussion.

    As for continuing education in the US, you can always look to your local Chabad, Hillel, or Kollel center for classes. If you don’t have one, ask your local rabbi why not.

  • Good girl, Grace, never question the authenticity of anything you are told to do or you’ll be a baaaaaad girl.

  • Accepting the Oral Law seems to be necessary.

    The Saducees tried doing without it and they disappeared. I admit it is harder. But it seems to contain essential amino acids.

  • Grace, I think that dissent and discussion are good things because they show we’re thinking, and searching for enhanced relevance in ancient teachings. The Oral Law can provide much fodder for increased appreciation of Judaism–I just think that pigeon-racers should be allowed to give testimony. Oh yeah, and so should women.

    As to the question of how we can and should serve Hashem, that’s another discussion entirely.

  • We experience Judaism as ancient. We search for “enhanced relevance in ancient teachings”. But
    Jews experienced it as ancient in Colonial America, and during the reign of Elizabeth I. It was ancient during the reign of Charlemagne.

    Judaism has been ancient so long that calling it “ancient” doesn’t mean much. When the Gauls and Goths were doing their best in the area now referred to as “Europe,” Jews were attempting to “find relevance in these ancient teachings.”

    The teachings felt just as “ancient” to those Jews as they do to us.

    I was suggesting that Oral Law-free Judaism has been given a real chance to show that it works, and the historical record plainly exhibits the corpse of that attempt, meaning the Saducees.

    Serving Hashem is a very complicated question “in these modern times” but addressing it seems to be a sine qua non for Jewish survival.

    You can’t have Hamlet without the main character, Prince Hamlet, the guy in black. You can’t really have Judaism without its main Character, either. It’s like Hamlet without Hamlet.

    We cannot pray to bagels or rye bread or even Shakshuka. People may not eat any of those things in the future. Who can remember the lost beet dessert?

    Without a no-kidding transcendental idea, like that He’s really Up There, gave us the Torah, and has delegated His authority to the rabbis, we will go the way of the horse and cattle breeding clubs of yesteryear. Or the lady’s sewing circles, before the sewing machine. Or the medieval guilds. They meant a lot once, but times changed.

    Dissent and discussion are great, within the core assumptions. I can almost posit that we may be the inventors of dissent and discussion – if that is exaggerated, we are surely the oldest continuous discussers in existence. But without the Oral Law you have left the building. Because, the Torah becomes just a very interesting document, not a way of life that makes a claim on your next minute, no matter what country or what century you are in.

    These are hard questions. But they were probably hard questions when Boadicea, queen of the indigenous britons, was trashing the Romans. They found her scary and put up Hadrian’s wall. That also occurred in modern times.

  • I found it terrifying when a child asked,”what happens to you if you eat non-Kosher food?” That is the sound of Judaism ascending to the library shelf as another interesting artifact of humanity’s intellectual past, like Plato’s Dialogues. RationALITY is great, but unbridled rationalISM is the road to a morals-free world, ouch, ouch. RationalISM says “Fine, do that if you want to, if you can make it stick” to anything, and, indeed, is in place right now in most of the world. Raw power. Not lovely. “If you eat a cheeseburger, a puppy will die.” Actually, that contains a core truth. Please don’t tease me.

  • AGREED. That is exactly how the Oral Law has saved Judaism through its history. You don’t have to have faith! Just don’t eat a cheeseburger! Say a bracha and eat your kosher lunch, whether you believe or not. If you never believe, in your whole life, you will still have preserved a way of life where some people, possibly your own children, will indeed believe, because belief is given to them. Or maybe that is just their thing. But without the Oral-Law obedient semi- or non- believers going along with the program, there would BE no program, and that’s curtains for Judaism. YOU ARE HERO if you do it, and also talk it, anyway, in spite of your non-belief. Which, after all, could change some day.

    “We will do and THEN we will hear, or study, or understand.” You are right in step. They weren’t too clear on what they believed either but they said they would do the life.

    YOUR service might actually be more valuable than a believer’s! It might actually be more valuable than mine!

  • JM, you mention only the dogma. What of the morality. Do you think the Orthodox are more moral people than others bec. of the lack of a cheeseburger. Don’t you see the problem is that the Orthodox focus on the minutae, and the non sensical, such as a black hat; whilst ignoring the moral backbone.
    Why is there no emphasis like there is about a cheeseburger.

  • Wow Ive had a nice break.

    Grace,
    Thank you I agree with you 100%. One thing though when you discuss these points is that you don’t even have to get into ‘oral law’ becasue these other ‘streams of Judaism’ deny even that there was a revelation and that G-d spoke on Mt. Sinai. So they deny the written law flat out!

    So when I hear about the ‘rabbis’ and ‘oral law’ I know to cut out the buloni and get right to the crux of the matter.

    Esther there is nothing wrong with you’re getting involved. Please the Jewish people need you and all others to help out!

    Jacob you are 100% right. The UJA and all of these ‘Jewish philanthropy’ organization are nothing but a waste of Jewish money. They mislead Jews by saying that they are a Jewsih cause. But then they give their money to churches, hospitals and other ‘nice charities’ while leaving Jewish Education with next to nothing.

    If anybody wants to help and make real Jewish competition let me know. Its time we start another fund and expose these ones for what they are.

  • The most positive thing about this conversation is the fact you all seem to feel more free from daily terrorism against you to debate amongst yourselves the details of the thing that has kept you together and taken you almost through, it seems, 50 years of war; your religious heritage.

  • Joe, I apparently just “want to do my part.” And I like to believe I am doing more than those words allow, although maybe that’s just self-delusion.

  • Yes, the endless focus on dogma does indeed keep people’s noses to the grindstone that there is a G-d, and does indeed help them be moral. They are reminded all day that there is a G-d. Every time they pop a cookie into their mouths they have to thank Him in a formal way. This can be comforting and strengthening also, not just guilt-inducing.

    Of course it is not magic. But it helps.

    Our history, which was ninety-nine percent Oral-Law observant (no cheeseburgers) shows what we gave the world in moral terms while we were busy with the dogma and the minutiae, and having two sets of dishes, and not shaking hands with a man, and on and on.

    So, yes, I think there is a connection between the minutiae and being moral, and that is how it works. Endless thinking.

    As for the black hat, theirs is a very defined culture, and they want to be able to recognize other members of it easily, because this helps preserve it. They have a right to preserve their culture. Choosing your culture is the ultimate personal liberty.

    The Jews seem to have two groups: the vanguard who go outside, bringing the message, and the base camp who hold the fort at home. They always did this, it is not new.

    But the base camp has to be preserved. There must always be SOME Jews who know only Torah, and have no secular knowledge or little. They are the safe deposit box for the rest. There will always HAVE to be some people who eat breathe and sleep only Torah. Maybe you wouldn’t want that for yourself. But it is a valid way to live. And no, it doesn’t mean you will never earn a living.

    I guess we need variety. But it is only a surface variety, because we all have something in common under the surface.

  • “The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind …”

    The answer to this problem and many others facing humanity is much closer and more accessable than any other time in the history of mankind. And it has nothing to do with money power and glory.

  • Actually, I can’t say I’ve ever met a jewish person who cared about anything else BESIDES money, power and glory.

  • Hey Steve, I’m a Jewish person who cares about more than power, money and glory. I also care about
    -G-d,
    -you,
    -girls (i mean jewish girls),
    -all other jews (including tm),
    -world at large,

    oops i missed beer!

  • Esther, that was so gentle and kind. What do you think of the following instead: “Steve, you must not get out of your parents’ basement very often. Either that or you’re an imperceptive moron.”

  • at that meeting they forgot to mention the crucial impact of jewlicious@ the beach on the jewish world at large!!!

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