Is there a “mitzvah” 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 “lashon hara”?

These are some of the hundreds of questions posed to the “panel of scholars” on JVO – Jewish Values Online – an independent, not-for-profit website started by a retired Washington D.C. businessman who felt a need to make Judaism’s view on…well…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 – i.e. – 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 “walked into a bar” 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.

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