Is there a â€œmitzvahâ€ to be environmentally aware? Are Internet affairs the same as regular ones, in the Jewish view? How’s a Jew supposed to talk about Israel with non-Jews, especially if s/he really disagrees with Israeli policy on issue X? Can snarky status updates on Facebook fall under the category of â€œlashon haraâ€?
These are some of the hundreds of questions posed to the â€œpanel of scholarsâ€ on JVO â€“ Jewish Values Online â€“ an independent, not-for-profit website started by a retired Washington D.C. businessman who felt a need to make Judaism’s view onâ€¦wellâ€¦lots of stuff relevant and accessible to young, modern Jews.
The stated goal of the website is to provide “multi-Jewish perspectives on morals and ethics.”
Two refreshing things in that tagline:
Number 1: This enterprise is not about Jewish Law â€“ i.e. â€“ not about giving Halakhic rulings on black and white issues. It’s about showing Jews that it is possible to live an organic, ethical Jewish life using a long tradition to guide them in navigating the grey areas of life, rather than, as many feel, to bind them to something old and stale.
And 2.: You read right. Multi-Jewish. Every answer has a response from an Orthodox rabbi, a Conservative rabbi, and a Reform rabbi. This is not a â€œwalked into a barâ€ joke. I’m totally serious. The denominations have agreed to be listed on a web page together. And some pretty serious names, too, I might add.
That alone makes this site worth checking out.
BTW – Journalistic (and Jewish) ethics make it important for me to disclose that I’ve done a bit of content work for this site. But I didn’t get to answer any of the questions – that’s a rabbi only thing. Even though, refreshingly, plenty of rabbis on the panel are, in fact, 30-something-year-old women.