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March 28, 2008

So how cool is ' Cool Judaism'?

Aks a stranger on the street what they know about Kabbalah and your are more likely to hear about Madonna and little red bracelet about mysticism

Ask the person about Hanukka and you are more likely to hear about Seth Cohen, a holiday busn and the O.C than about the macabees -that was a famous Holliwoud TV show by the way cancell last year-.

As a matter of fact, ask someone about Judaism in general and chances are you will hear as much as Jewtopia, Jvibe, and Heeb magazine as you will about the Torah!

It's undeniable that Judaism is receiving unprecedent exposure in the mass media. But it leads me to ask: is pop-culture bad for Judaism?

The Jewish community can no longer tout rabbis as its spokespersons to the world. In facta, I'be bet that few jews can even name the two chief rabbis of Israel ( for the record and Jewish sake, they are Sephardi Chief Shlomo Amar and Askenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger- there is a famouse one is Sephardi Rabbi Ovadia Joseph.

Modern Judaism has witnessed the birth of ' Cool Judaism' and with it the beginning a new trend in wich Judaism has been equated with everything fashionable, from Madonna to popular hip-hoppers members of the Tribe and Mastisyahu.

Despite the trend, the reality remains that halachic Judaism and pop culture have very little to offer one another. They are, more than not in completed discord. However , judging solely by the number of T-shirts with slogans 'Everybody loves a Jewish girl or boy' and "Kosher" tht i saw walking from my house to the Barbara Frum library here in Toronto, three shirts in six blocks-wow this union is here to stay !

Whether you are a trendsetter in the emerging market of jewish cool or are offended by marketing ploys that cheapen cultural idioms, yhou can't deny that the effects of this movement could define Judaism for current and subsecuent generations.

Does the current climate represent a cultural revival?- a way for a new generation, which may feel alienated by a heritage that's perceived as keeping us separeted, to link our own lives with the culture of our ancestors- or own lives with the culture to turn a meaningful religion and culture into a catchphrase for T-shirts and CD's covers?

Undoubtedly, this trend makes Judaism more visible. That, in and of itself, is a positive thing. For youth growing up outside Israel as part of a minority in a multicultural society, its quite easy to feel lost in a veritable sea of foreign cultures. Having role models who garner society notoriety, certainly make identifying with Jewish culture much easier.

That being said, the role models that are often elevated by society may not be the best ones to base our values on. It comes down to what 's behind the trend. Judaism has a (small) enlightenment seeking nature to it-as evidenced by the mysticism of kabbalah. This aspect of Judaism is personal, alternative and progressive. It's more about inwardness and insight than synagogue on part of the Saturday. Cool Judaism was born from the union of misticism, Judaism and the pursuit of enlightenment.

But while this alternative and egalitarian Judaism i progressive and individual, without a proper connection to traditional Judaism and Torah, it becomes an empty pursuit, devoid of meaning behind that slogans.

What is important are the values being promoted by those who partake in and create the notion of Cool Judaism. Merely inserting a stanza about Manishewitz wine or bagels and lox into a song doesn't stil it with Jewish values.

If however, or especially young jews can build a community of shared values through this peer-to-peer Judaism there may be some value to it. Cool Judaism could ultimately stimulate a flock of Pop-cultural nomads to reconnect with their roots.

It's essencial to recognize, though, that Judaism transcendes any passing notions of cool ,Beyond the slogans that claim to represent Judaism, there is real value in a religion that teaches equality, human decency and social responsability. Too bad that doesn't fit on a T-shirt or 'juicy pants'.

Religious writer, Me

Teaching Christians how we Jew fish

From time to time, some synagogues host visiting church groups who want to learn about Judaism. Sometimes they do come during the week and take a tour of the sinagogue and look at items in the little Judaica museum or display area there.

Often the rabbi take out the Torah so that they can see the form of the scroll. they are inform about the services and the way a scroll is written, and about how Jews chant the weekly or special portions.

Sometimes, they come on the Shabbat, wanting to experience an actual worship service. Since most services are in Hebrew, they have devised a way they can participe in part of the morning service, including the Torah service and then go with a congregant to get further explanation and ask questions. Then they join the congregation for the rabbi's teaching before the kiddush, which they are invited to share with them.

A couple of months ago a church group arraged for a shabbat visit in what i would call ( Sephardic synagogue). They came wanting answers to three questions. The questions were well chosen. they caused me to consider mh own beliefs and practices in light of how i explain them to non-jews who are deeply committed to their own faith.
The questions they wanted discussed were:
How does Judaism affect daily life; how do we celebrate Shabbat; and what makes something holy ( or not)?

The group attended our Shabbat morning service,coincidentally on the Shabbat of Hanukka last year. Thu they got a forceful impression of the service one that included Hallel, which although in Hebrew , they did enjoy, of course the liberal huse of the world 'hallelujah' gave them some idea of what was going on. They remained in the short service for part of the Torah reading, which continued to Joseph saga- a familiar story to all-- and then adjourned for a discussion of the issues that their questions had raised.

Shabbat rule are simple to explain in seemed more important to stress Shabbat that part of it's the time for heavy reflection, for concentration on study and prayer. but how does Judaism affect daily life? wehre to begin? We ( hubby and me) gave them examples taken from a variety of commadments-after explaining that a 'mitzvah' is not mereley a good deed done when the spirit moves, but something incumbent on us whether its convenient or not.

We stressed that in Biblical Judaism there is no firm boundary between the daily and the sacred. For example, one should not open a business close to a similar one if it will detract from the original business. One must give charity, the highest standard being the act of freeing the recepient from the need to accept charity. In other words, don't hand out fish-teach the person how to catch a fish.

We talked about speech, and the critical importance attached to words and how they can destroy and creat. They learned the form of a brachach whereby weimply that God is present in the act we are about to perfom.

But the hardest part was defining what, in Biblical Judaism is or what makes something holy. Christianity has sacraments, they invest human acts with santity-marriage, baptism, comuninion,. We have no such sacramental tradition. So how to explain our approach to the transcendent?

Martin Buber taught that in Judaism the division is between the holy and the not-yet-holy. Everything can be holy if its potential of holiness is realized. Our role is to bring God into the world, to make the ordinary become holy throught our actions.

Thus it is not through a particular sacrament that holiness enters the world, but throught the actions of humankind. And unfortunately, what mankind defiles through action or through word takes holiness out of the world.

For centuries, Christianity saw Judaism as a barren, rule-bound, law-encumbered religion or faith inferior to the New Covenant of love. It is my hope that this brief encounter with us as a living people taught the visiting friends from the church group that Biblical Judaism is a vital religion and Christians have beliefs that, translated into action, can repair the broken world live in, and make the not-yet-holy a place of santity for all

Religious writer, Me

Becoming a Jew

Why would a person choose Judaism? what does a person converting from 'Christianity do with his or her belief in 'Jesus' Are Jews from birth really accepting converts? The following excerpt is from a friend *Jose a Portugues who was born a Baptist and five years into his marriage, having two children decide to study Judaism, go the mikvah, undergo a brit milah and stand before a bet din. Why? because he wanted to be a jew.

His conversion on June, 1998, was very 'normal' and it all felt right for him. he always said the wouldn't convert for a marriage, he did it for 'the right reasons' he didn't want to be a passive parent who says to his children, about Judaism, 'go talk to your mom, he wanted to engage with his children, he wanted to learn, to be informed so he could talk to them. one rabbi from a well know synagogue told him 'well take a conversion course' so he did

Prior to his conversion, Lina's parents weren't pleased that they were a coouple. she come from a loose catholic family so giving example was the thing for me, once they got to know him, they realized he was a good guy, an average one.

His parents still live in Portugal, they as baptist are in 'ministry' so marrying a jewish girl was not really their fantasy, but they had been prepared because his brother married a french jewish girl.

He was raised in a relatively conservative baptist home. it was not pentecostal. he drew parallels between his parents and a good jewish home, because they lived their beliefs. his parents were always taking people in ( very hospitable), they stressed tolerance. His dad never said negative about anyone based on their religion, language or anything. Being Baptist provide him with respect.

The fact that he was brought up in a good 'christian' home allowed his eyes to be opened to the positive stuff. When he was first exposed to Judaism. He thinks it was that kinf of tolerance that allowed him to embrace Judaism.

He said when he finally converted it wasn't like he was struck by lighting, like all of a suden, he went to the mikvah, had a circumsion and stoo before the bet din, and he wa a jew. it was gradual.

Circimsicion? There was a a urologist and some serious guys in the room davening. He was already Jewish in his mind, so he was happy to do it. I'ts a mitzvah. A while after, my hubby called a certain CBC show ( he used to work there)and assured the (circumcision) naysayers that it does not affect man's sensitivity in the slightest ( also check Oprah show archives).

I think Judaism is a model for living. it provides a set of moral guidelines for me and my family. It's model of goodness one that human beings can live by and feel comfortable with. When i'm faced with a decision I try to find a reference point. I ask what is good jews supposed to do. You have to find your reference point and for me it's biblical Judaism. I bounce everything off it.

How do other jews treat him? Jews are always interested in his choice to became a jew. Yes is that Jews are self-reflective. We always question our existence! my friend says that he is very comfortable with the questioning. he doesn't think he has ever had a negative reaction from a jew or a non-jew about converting. The most uncomfortable questions he has been aske are " Do you feel Jewish? or " Are you really jewish?. These are legitimate questions because of the jewish experience. Jews hold a unique place in the world, and it's natural for jews to ask.

I like certain debates within judaism that encourages questioning the existing of God and the behavior of people. i have myself a lot of questioning but that will be for another rant, ha ,ha. Of course i feel Jewish. Being Jewish is being vibrant. To be Jewish reminds me more often that I am part of the Human race, the focus is on where we are today not in the future world, it's on our relationships with other people and the issues of everyday life.

It's feeling your place in the world and seeing what others human beings are up to. Within Judaism there is an obligation to help our fellow humans beings. I don't know if people understand the importance of giving. Learn something from the latest show on giving in the Oprah show if you have no time ( is easy or plain English that is my point)by the way i'm not a fan of Oprah or Dr Phil i do take what i think it's ok as current or an insteresting topic-- what is good about giving is that you are putting yourself out there--there is some discomfort, so it's got to be good

My concept of 'Jesus'? Well my beliefs were a little underdevelop, and you must know that i was raised under the influence of my parents. My belief in Jesus as my savior was never based on debate. Debate was not encourage around the issue. I therefore never felt free enough to embrace that belief. It was simply expected that I would.

I have three children, two boys and a girl. They are learning hebrew and they tease me sometimes over i mispronounce a Hebrew word ( they do the same with English too). but my 'ch' is really good !

I would be a total hypocrite if I said i don't want my kids to marry non-jews, but the truth is I want them to marry Jews, people that lives a biblical Judaism. My mom used to attend a Conservative synagogue , that is what exist in Dominican Republic the Conservative Movement. An Orthodox rabbi once suggested I converte through Ortodoxy. My response was that i don't need to. I'm Jewish. The rabbi responded: "Don't think of it as convering again. Think of it as being on an airplane. I want to move you from economy up to business class".

Well let me think about it i said . i never want to 'convert' to simply keep my future neighbords, friends or in-laws happy. It had to feel good to me.

We know people who converted for marriage and some of them are good jews. I know a couple of them. I know someone else who said she could not longer give up certain things and did not feel comfortable calling herself a jew anymore. The children are still raised as jews.

I'm just remind everyday how blessed and lucky I am to be Jewish. It offers me more opportunities to reflect on my behaviour and my status as a human being. Being Jewish gives me more reason to keep my eyes open. It's part of being a Jew but don't ever think we don't fail or that we are perfect ! .

March 23, 2008

Homemakers Vs Stay at homes

Calling all God-fearing, homemakers
Biblical homemakers of the world unite!

We are here.
We are many.
We are unexpected.

We are not quaint.
We are not simple.
We do not fit in a pretty little box.

We are smart.
We are trendy.
We are whole-heartedly devoted to our work.

We have seen our choices.
We have decided.
We haven't simply resigned ourselves to someone else's unwanted


We are important.
We are valued.
We do not just sit in our tiny little houses and watch as the

world passes us by.

We have identities.
We have personalities.
We have goals and accomplishments and badges of honor.

We are here.
We are many.
We cannot be silent for one more day.

Let your voice be heard!

Homemakers of the world unite!
We, too, are women of the twenty-first century!

originally published by Angie from PW,USA

Homemakers Vs Stay at homes

Calling all God-fearing, homemakers
Biblical homemakers of the world unite!

We are here.
We are many.
We are unexpected.

We are not quaint.
We are not simple.
We do not fit in a pretty little box.

We are smart.
We are trendy.
We are whole-heartedly devoted to our work.

We have seen our choices.
We have decided.
We haven't simply resigned ourselves to someone else's unwanted


We are important.
We are valued.
We do not just sit in our tiny little houses and watch as the

world passes us by.

We have identities.
We have personalities.
We have goals and accomplishments and badges of honor.

We are here.
We are many.
We cannot be silent for one more day.

Let your voice be heard!

Homemakers of the world unite!
We, too, are women of the twenty-first century!

originally published by Angie from PW,USA

Different genders, Different purposes

I may be about to tread on controversial ground, but here goes...

A recent article in Newsweek quoted the following statistics:

• "Women make up 61 percent of all Americans who attend religious

congregations, but they still struggle for their place..."
• "Only 12 percent of the clergy in the 15 largest Protestant

denominations are women."
• "Some 112 million Americans belong to denominations that don't

ordain women at all..."

The article concludes by referring to "the stain-glass ceiling"

and that it has yet "to completely shatter." (Newsweek, July 10,

2006. "Beliefwatch: God's Girls)

I am all for advances for women. I am all for equality between the

sexes—that is to say, that each partner is equally important in

his or her role. I know great leaps have been made over the past

100 years in the treatment of women. For all of these things, I am

extremely grateful (especially when it comes to mon mari washing

the dishes or changing a diaper).

But this article is wrong in assuming that all women want equality

in all things (in this case at the pulpit). I am not against women

pastors as a matter of principle. (Sidenote: I will admit that as

a matter of choice I am in favor of male pastors; however, I would

not deny an entire gender the opportunity to preach God's Word).

My argument here is that a secular news magazine should not put

itself in the position of assuming it understands the individual

faith of millions of women and then make a sweeping generalization

based on those assumptions.

For those women who "struggle for their place," I sincerely pray

that God fulfills His call in their lives. As for me, I can see

the "stained-glass ceiling" and can marvel at its beauty: That God

created men and women each with different roles and different

purposes but that they may be equal as children of God.

originally published by Angie from PW,USA

Modern Dress code for godly women

The Torah has teachings on virtually every aspect of human life and

both the Old and New Testaments too have many rules and commandments

on how the faithful should live. Some of those rules deal with

clothing. Biblical clothing rules range from the prohibition on

cross dressing to commands for modest dress for women. It's the

modest dress rules or, rather, their application that I want to

discuss in this re-write.

I admire those believers, christins and jewish pals who
take the Torah and Bible's teachings on modest

dress seriously. So many of today's professed 'biblicals' women

don't. Go to just about any synagogue or church and you'll see women dressed in

ways that are indistinguishable from non-bible principle based women. You

won't see young ladies looking like the ex Anna Nicole in most synagogues or

churches but you will see young and old women alike sporting the

latest, non-modest styles. Yeah , this goes against the Bible's teaching

that women are to dress modestly with shamefacedness and sobriety,

and not dwell on being fashionistas, as we say today.

For biblical women who want to obey God current clothing styles

offer few choices. Virtually everthing on the market for women

today is designed to show off their sexuality. For truly modest

wear bible based ladies are forced to make their own clothes or buy from

online jewish or christina stores specializing in modest clothing. But

there's a problem there, too. While looking at online modest dress

stores I became painfully aware that most of them operate on the

principle that modest is synonymous with old-fashioned, dowdy, and

just plain ugly.

The devout serious women and families who run most of these

stores are well-intentioned, but they're fixated on 19th century

pioneer wear for inspiration for the style of dresses and skirts

they sale. I suspect that most pro-modesty Christian women don't

really want to wear that stuff. Rather, I suspect they want to

dress modestly without looking like they just walked off the set

of Little House on the Prairie.

The Bible doesn't say that Laura Ingalls sets the standard for

modest dress. If past clothing styles should be bible based women's

inspiration for modest apparel shouldn't we look to the first

century? Surely, the dress of ancient times, Torah and New Testament Christians provides a

more appropriate model of modesty than the dress of pioneer women

who lived 1800 years later. But it's not necessary to look to the

past at all to know what modesty consists of. It's possible to be

both modern and modest.

An unlikely example of modern modesty for biblical women is the

late Princess Diana. In 1989 the princess visited the United Arab

Emirates, a Muslim country. For her trip Diana had modest outfits

specially made for her so she wouldn't offend Islamic

sensibilities. Brightly colored tunics over loose pants and long

sleeved, loose fitting, ankle length dresses paired with stylish

accessories allowed Diana to wow the women of the Emirates without

subverting their morals. The clothes are a perfect specimen of

elegant and thoroughly modern modest dress. They can and should

serve as an alternative inspiration for bible based women who want

to be obey God without looking frumpy or excessively different

from current fashion norms.

If looking like an extra for "Little House on the Prairie" suits

you then by all means dress that way. Don't let me wrench you from

your conviction. Just understand that that's not the only way to

live out God's clothing requirements. There are valid alternative

modes of dress that let women honor God while living in the here

and now. It IS possible to be both modern and modest. We just need

to open our minds a little to see that.

Eishet Chayil Modern day PROVERBS 31:10-31

10 A wife of noble character, who can find? She is worth far more

than rubies – so buy her diamonds.
11 Her husband knows that she has everything under control and he

has nothing to complain about.
12 She is the source of the goodness in his life – not the harm.
13 She selects denim and cotton-poly blends from the discount rack

and works eagerly with her hands to remove the price stickers so

her children will not know that their trendy clothes were bought

on clearance.
14 She shops at Winners and Zellers and occasionally goes all the

way across border to Buffalo, USA in order to get the best value for her

15 She is up before the sun, pouring cereal and packing lunches.
16 She considers an old dresser at a yard sale and buys it, and

with the money she saved on her grocery bill, she is able to buy

paint and new knobs for the dresser.
17 She sets about her work vigorously; she can carry two loads of

laundry and a child without breaking a sweat.
18 She sells the dresser on E-Bay and stays up late waiting to see

how much profit she’s made.
19 She replaces missing buttons and mends holes in everyone’s

clothing using the sewing machine.
20 She donates to the food bank and gives clothes goodwill, value village.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household – it’s too bad

if they don’t like the bright colourfull hats and scarves; at least

they’ll be warm.
22 She makes the beds and manages to pull together matching

outfits for herself.
23 Her husband goes off to work, where he sits with the other

24 She chooses something she’s good at and figures out how to make

money by doing it.
25 Outwardly, she is clothed with strength and dignity, even if

she’s missing an under-wire and she had to grab a longer skirt to

hide the huge hole in her pantyhose. She can laugh at the days to

come because all the kids’ science projects are done, and last

year’s Purim costume will be adequate for the school play.
26 She speaks with wisdom, and consistent instruction is on her

27 She pays the bills and makes sure everyone gets to the right

swimming lessons on the right day. She does not eat the bread of

idleness, because she is on OOlon, green tea or South beach.
28 Her children yell, “Thanks, Mum” as they grab their lunch and

run out the door. Her husband also says,
29 “Thanks, honey. You’re the best.”
30 Charm only gets you so far, and beauty is temporary, but a

woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her

respect wherever she goes.