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Subject: soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Miscellaneous and References (11/12)
This article was archived around: Sat, 7 Feb 2004 11:07:11 -0800 (PST)
Frequently Asked Questions on Soc.Culture.Jewish
Part 11: Miscellaneous and References
[Last Change: $Date: 1996/07/11 21:57:39 $ $Revision: 1.7 $]
[Last Post: Sat Feb 7 11:07:11 US/Pacific 2004]
The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer
questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family
of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the
various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to
accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In
all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your
local rabbi is a good place to start.
[Got Questions?] Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your
questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to
email@example.com. The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct
your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you
would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs
questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at
The deceased sages described within are of blessed memory, (assume a
Z"L or ZT"L after their names) and the sages alive today should live
to see long and good days (assume SHLITA). May Hashem grant complete
recovery to the ill. Individual honorifics are omitted.
The FAQ was produced by a committee and is a cooperative work. The
contributors never standardized on transliteration scheme from Hebrew,
Aramaic, Yiddish, or Ladino to English. As a result, the same original
word might appear with a variety of spellings. This is complicated by
the fact that there are regional variations in the pronunciation of
Hebrew. In some places, the common spelling variations are mentioned;
in others--not. We hope that this is not too confusing.
In general, throughout this FAQ, North American (US/Canada) terms are
used to refer to the movements of Judaism. Outside of North American,
Reform is Progressive or Liberal Judaism; Conservative is Masorti or
Neolog, and Orthodoxy is often just "Judaism". Even with this, there
are differences in practice, position, and ritual between US/Canada
Reform and other progressive/liberal movements (such as UK
Progressive/ Liberal), and between US/Canada Conservative and the
conservative/Masorti movement elsewhere. Where appropriate, these
differences will be highlighted.
The goal of the FAQ is to present a balanced view of Judaism; where a
response is applicable to a particular movement only, this will be
noted. Unless otherwise noted or implied by the text, all responses
reflect the traditional viewpoint.
This list should be used in conjunction with the Soc.Culture.Jewish
reading lists. Similar questions can be found in the books
referenced in those lists.
There are also numerous other Jewish FAQs available on the Internet
that are not part of the SCJ FAQ/RL suite. An index to these may be
found at www.scjfaq.org/otherfaqs.html
This FAQ is a volunteer effort. If you wish to support the maintenance
of the FAQ, please see Section 20, Question 99 for more
Reproduction of this posting for commercial use is subject to
restriction. See Part 1 for more details.
This portion of the FAQ contains answers to the following questions:
Section 19. Miscellaneous
1. I want to become more observant. Where do I start?
2. Why is "shabbat" spelled sometimes shabbath, shabbath, shabbos,
3. What are some common Hebrew and Yiddish phrases I see on
4. What do all those abbreviations like Z"L mean?
5. Is "shvartze" offensive? Is "goyim" offensive?
6. What does "shiksa" and "shaygetz" mean?
7. I am going to be in (name your city), where can I eat, stay
8. What do bagels, lox, pastrami, falafel, garlic pickles,
kishka, and kasha have to do with being a Jew?
9. What does Warren Burstein's signature mean?
10. Who was the sixth Marx brother?
11. Why do Hebrew clocks run clockwise, not counter-clockwise?
12. I'm not Jewish. How do I show my love for the Jewish people?
13. What is the origin of the word "kike"?
14. What is the meaning of the part of the book of Ruth where the
guy at the gate takes off his shoe?
15. I'm a health care provider? What do I need to know for Jewish
16. What would be a good housewarming gift for a Jewish friend?
17. What is the meaning and origin of the phrase B'shaah Tova?
Section 20. References and Getting Connected
1. I'd like to learn more? Do you have any books to recommend?
2. What are the different hechsher symbols?
3. Where can I find Jewish-oriented mailing lists?
4. What are the good Jewish search engines?
5. What are some good Jewish links on the WWW?
6. Is S.C.J available via a Listserv or other e-mail means?
7. What divrei Torah are posted to Usenet?
8. Where can I find collected divrei Torah?
9. What software is available for Hebrew applications?
10. What other Jewish software is available?
11. Are there any Jewish Libraries on the Internet?
12. I'm interested in ordering books or music on the internet.
Where should I look?
13. Boy, you did a wonderful job on the FAQ? How do I show my
Subject: Question 19.1: I want to become more observant. Where do I start?
Coming from a background of nothing, the best thing you can do first
is to find someone who is already observant with whom you are
comfortable and discuss the issues involved.
Join a directed study group designed for "Baalei Tshuva". It is
impossible to be a practicing Jew (of any type) without the knowledge
of what you are practicing. There are groups within many communities
which are set up to do this. Examples include Chabad Lubavitch, Aish
Hatorah seminars, and NCSY youth groups. Non-Orthodox Jews also do
outreach, but in common parlance, baal teshuvah refers to someone who
adopts Orthodox Judaism.
The best advice is often to go slowly, decide what you are going to
do, and don't let difficulties with particular levels of observance
cause you to drop the whole matter. Find a sympathetic rabbi who will
help and advise you. Avoid the "All or Nothing" syndrome.
Most of all remember that you are not alone. If you scan the list of
mailing lists in Section 20.3, you'll even discover there are
numerous Baal Teshuva electronic mailing lists (there is at least one
Subject: Question 19.2: Why is "shabbat" spelled sometimes shabbath,
shabbath, shabbos, shabbes?
The Hebrew word is as follows, and it's pronounced in various ways:
___ __ _ _ *
| | . | | | |
_| | __|_ |/_/
"Shabbos" and "Shabbat" are examples. The final letter in the word is
pronounced as "s" by Ashkenazis, as "t" by Sephardim, and as "th" by
Yemenites and (according to some scholars) speakers of Hebrew around
the year 3700. "Sabbath" is an anglicization of the Hebrew.
Ephraimites may have been the actual source of this variant, as in
Judges 12, it is reported that they were not able to pronounce the
letter shin. It's all the same word, and the pronunciations are used
interchangeably in this FAQ. Same with Kashrus/Kashrut/Kashruth.
Subject: Question 19.3: What are some common Hebrew and Yiddish phrases I see
Most people are careful to translate their Hebrew and Yiddish, but a
few are common enough that people don't bother. Credit goes to
Meredith Warshaw for compiling much of the list below. [H] indicates
Hebrew, [Y] indicates Yiddish.
* Agunah (literal translation: chained).
A woman who cannot remarry; usually because her husband refuses to
give her a get (divorce), because there is no way to verify
whether or not he is dead, or because he is incompetent to give a
divorce (i.e., mentally ill). [H]
Something prohibited. [H]
* Averah (aveira)
Sin, transgression of G-d's will [H]
* Baal Tefillah
Prayer leader [H]
* Ba'al Teshuvah (literal translation: master of return)
A penitent; a Jew who returns to a traditional observant Jewish
lifestyle (also known by the acronym BT) [H]
Firstborn status [H]
* Bamidbar (literal translation: in the desert)
Numbers (4th book of the Torah) [H]
* Bet Din
Court of Jewish law [H]
* Bikkur Cholim
Visiting the ill or hospitalized [H]
* Bracha (pl. brachot)
* B'reshit (literal translation: in the beginning)
Genesis (1st book of the Torah) [H]
* B'rit milah
Covenant of circumcision [H]
* B'shaah tova
Congratulations to an expectent mother (literarily "in a good
hour," means "at an auspicious time," i.e. may whatever time your
child is born be a good time.") Also the correct response to
announcement of a marriage engagement. In both cases, it is in
anticipation of a "mazel tov" for something hoped for, that has
not yet occurred. [H]
* Chag sameach
A happy holiday (used as a greeting) [H]
One who is obligated (chiyuv=obligation) [H]
* Chazzan (hazzan)
Excommunication (from cessation of aid, boycott) [H]
* Cheshbon Hanefesh (Literal translation: accounting of the soul)
Self-examination of your actions' merit, or accounting of your
soul's good and bad aspects. [H]
Friends; comrades [H]
* Chevra Kadisha (Literal translation: holy society)
The group that prepares a body for burial. [H]
* Chillul Hashem
Desecration of the divine name [H]
* Chok (pl. chukim)
Law from the Torah deemed to be without a humanly-discernable
rationale, e.g., the red heifer. [H]
* Chometz (chametz, hametz)
Leavened food, which is forbidden during Pesach [H]
The five books of the Torah, bound in one volume (not a scroll)
Stringency -- custom of a community to observe more strictly [H]
* "Dati/lo dati"
Dati = religious, lo dati=not religious, as used in current Hebrew
in Israel, but it is a black and white distinction, meaning
Orthodox and not Orthodox. [H]
Pray (from Yiddish, with a particular emotional sense) [H]
* Derech Eretz
Respectful, menschlich, considerate of others [H]
Law, judgment [H]
Interpretation of a Torah passage (often a creative
interpretation) (from a root meaning "search") [H]
Perform the kohen's blessing before the congregation [H]
* D'var torah (pl. divrei torah) (Literal translation: word of
A Torah discourse, homily or sermon [H]
* D'varim (Literal translation: words, things)
5th book of the Torah (Deuteronomy) [H]
Observant (often with a right-wing Orthodox implication). Derived
from the German/Yiddish word for "pious". [Y]
* Gemara (Literal translation: learning, from the Aramaic)
The later part of the Talmud, which expands upon the Mishna [H]
* Get (pl. gittin)
Document of divorce [H]
* G'milut Chasadim
Acts of loving kindess [H]
* Hachamim (chachamim)
The selection from the book of prophets read after the Torah
* Halacha (Literal translation: path)
Jewish law [H]
* Halbanat Panim (literal translation: whitening the face)
Causing someone to blanch by public embarrassment [H]
Ritual supervision, most often used in terms of kashrut/dietary
laws, although it can also refer to spiritual or moral supervision
as in a yeshiva or dormitory [H]
Kosher certification [H]
* Hesed (chessed)
Permission (usually a rabbinic ruling that permits something) [H]
* Hiddur Mitzvah
Beautifying physical objects involved in a mitzvah, or otherwise
adding to a mitzvah an esthetic sense [H]
* Kabbalat ol Mitzvot (literal translation: acceptance of the yoke
of the commandments)
Acceptance of commandments as binding [H]
* Kabbalat Shabbat
Service welcoming the Sabbath [H]
Intention, devotion, inner concentration during prayer [H]
Fixed; a fixed time; fixed words or prayer (often contrasted with
kavanah, inner concertration during prayer) [H]
* Kiddush Hashem
Sanctification of the divine name; martyrdom [H]
Betrothal (for the purpose of marriage) [H]
A general principle [H]
* Klal Yisrael
The Jewish community as a whole [H]
The book of Ecclesiastes [H]
* Kol Hakavod (literal translation: all honor)
Used idiomatically to express praise or congratulations for an
* Kol Isha
The voice of a women (considered by the Rabbis of the Talmud to be
distracting to men and thus lewd). [H]
* Kol Tuv
Everything good (may you be blessed with everything good) [H]
* K'vod Hatzibur
The honor of the community [H]
* L'shon Hara (Literal translation: "evil tongue")
Defaming or badmouthing [H]
To read (usually to read Torah) [Y]
Evening; the evening prayer service [H]
Stringent; one who observes a chumrah (stringency) [H]
The aliyah consisting of the last few lines of the Torah reading,
or the person assigned that aliyah. The person assigned the maftir
aliyah also chants Haftarah. [H]
A person born from a prohibited union (i.e., from an incestuous or
adulterous union) [H]
* Mara d'atra (literal translation: master of the place)
The local rabbi, whose decision carries the force of law in that
Ritual supervisers of kashrut who watch/supervise on the premises
for dietary supervision of ingedients, food preparation, serving,
dishes and cutlery, etc. [H]
* Mashiach (Moshiach)
Division; a barrier separating men from women in the synagogue [H]
An interpretation; a story that fills in gaps in the Torah
narrative, or answers questions about the narrative; (when
capitalized) any of several volumes of such stories compiled by
rabbis of the Talmudic era [H]
The afternoon prayer service [H]
* Minhag ha-makom
Local custom [H]
Quorum of 10 needed for a public prayer service. In traditional
synagogues, only men over the age of 13 are counted towards a
minyan. Liberal (non-orthodox) congregations also include women
over 12 in the count. [H]
* Mishna (Capitalized)
The early core of the Talmud, consisting primarily of case law
decisions. (Not capitalized) one unit, typically a single sentence
or short paragraph, in the Mishna. [H]
* Mishpat (pl. mishpatim)
Law from the Torah that can be rationalized [H]
Commandment; not "good deed" in Hebrew, but has come to mean that
in Yiddish, especially among more secular people [H]
* Ner tamid
Eternal light [H]
* Nigun (pl. nigunim)
Wordless prayer melody, usually repeated many times over to create
a spiritual mood [H]
This is an exclamation used in the same sense as "well" "eh" and
"hey." [Y] It could be used in the Hebrew/Yiddish translation of
any of the following:
1. Well, do you want the egg roll or the knish?
2. Hey! Stop throwing paper airplanes in class.
3. My experimental tofu-liver-garlic cholent tastes good, eh?
4. So, Becca, I hear you and Izzy went out last week. Well?
5. A rebuke (on small kids): "Nu, nu, nu, you spiled all the
6. To express doubt: "I heard that Rabin met Asad. Nu."
7. When the news ain't new no more: (see #7; the change is in
the tone of the "nu").
8. As "come on": NU BEMET.
9. When one can't talk (i.e. in the middle of Shmone-Esre, after
Netila before Hamotzi, etc.)
* Olam ha-ba
The world to come [H]
* Parsha (N)
The weekly Torah portion (pl. parshiot) [H]
Something or someone who is exempt (from an obligation or a law)
* Pikuah Nefesh
To save a life (usually in context of breaking Shabbat, etc.) [H]
* Posek (pl. poskim) (N)
The rabbi one consults for halachic decisions; an authority on
Jewish Law [H]
* Posken (V)
To render an halachic ruling, usually one that clarifies the law
in a specific case [H]
* Psak (N)
Decision, verdict [H]
* Ribono shel Olam
Master of the universe [H]
* Rosh Chodesh
First day of the new Jewish month [H]
Spirit, wind [H]
The weekly Torah portion [H]
Morning; the morning prayer service [H]
Emmisary, appointed agent (male pl. sh'lichim, sh'lichei; fem.
sing. sh'lichah; fem. pl. sh'lichot) [H]
* Shaliach Tzibur
The person leading services [H]
* Sh'lom bayit
Peace in the home [H]
* Shekhinah (Literal translation: that which dwells)
G-d's presence (often associated with feminine imagery, but not
* Shir Ha Shirim
Song of Songs [H]
* Sh'mot (Literal translation: names)
The 2nd book of the Torah (Exodus) [H]
* Shomer (pl. shomrim)
Watchman, guardian [H]
* Shomer shabbat
Observant of the laws of Shabbat [H]
Root of a word (all hebrew verbs have a 3-4 letter root that is
the basis of conjugation. many other parts of speach (adj, nouns)
are also derived from this same shoresh) [H]
A small synagogue [Y]
* Sinat chinam
Gratuitous hatred [H]
* Taharah (pl. taharot)
Ritual purity [H]
* Takkanah (N)
Correction; a rabbinic edict that supersedes the existing halachah
(pl. takkanot) [H]
Acronym for Torah Nevi'im K'tuvim - Torah, Prophets, Writings)
The three divisions of the Hebrew Bible [H]
Sages of the Mishnaic period [H]
Return, repentance [H]
* Tikkun Olam
Correcting the world, repairing the world; an action promoting
social justice [H]
* Torah misinai
(Definition: lit, Torah from Mount Sinai)
Refers to the doctrine that the entire Torah, including the Oral
Law, was given to Moses at Sinai. [H]
Righteousness; used for charitable donations, though the root has
a very different sense from the root of "charity." [H]
* Vayikrah (Literal translation: "and He called")
3rd book of the Torah (Leviticus) [H]
* Yahrzeit (literal translation: year-time)
Anniversary of a death; a 24-hour candle lit to commemorate the
death anniversary of a close relative, also lit on holy days when
Yizkor (prayer of remembrance) is recited [Y]
* Yasher koach (Literal translation: meaning unclear, but poss.
Used idiomatically to express praise or thanks for serving in a
religious or ceremonial role. Implies "may your stength continue,
go on straight", i.e. "You done good! Do it many times more!" [H]
* Yotzei (Literal translation: gone out)
One who has properly fulfilled an obligation [H]
NOTE on spelling/transliteration: Some people transliterate the letter
"het" as "ch," and others as "h." (Better would be "h" with a dot
under it, but that's not possible in email. This also ignores the
linguists, who prefer "x.") Thus: "hag/chag sameah/sameach," "bikkur
holim/cholim," etc. All the terms beginning with "ch" on the list are
Subject: Question 19.4: What do all those abbreviations like Z"L mean?
Those abbreviation are shorthand for common Hebrew phrases. Here are
some of the most common ones:
(Alav (Male), Aleha (Female) Hashalom)
+ For any deceased Jew.
+ Translation: Peace Be Upon Him/Her
+ Sometimes written as PBUH, generally by Muslims.
(Adonainu, Morainu, VeRabbeinu)
+ Translation: Our Master, Our Teacher, and Our Rebbe
+ Honorific title given to scholarly leaders of a Jewish
community, "R' Ploni Almoni, SHLITA, Admor of Chelm.")
+ This is usually a specifically Hassidic term.
(Ad Maia Veesrim Shana)
+ Translation: [He/She should live] for 120 years
+ Used for salutations in correspondence: "Dear Ploni AMU"Sh"
+ Translation: Blessed be G-d (occasionally) (B'Ezras/Ezer
+ Translation: With G-d's help (i.e. at top of papers,
sometimes with an ayin following the beis)
+ Translation: Without taking a vow
+ Used after a promise, since failure to fulfill a promise is a
serious violation of Jewish law. For example, "I'll check
that reference tomorrow, B"N." (i.e., if I forget, I don't
want to be liable under Jewish law).
(B'li Ayin Hara) or (K'ain Ayin Hara)
+ Translation: "without the 'evil eye'"
+ Meaning: "I'm saying this without hubris"
+ Often pronounced Kanaina horo (Yiddish)
(B'siyata d'shmaya) (Aramaic)
+ Translation: With the help of heaven (common)
(Hashem Yikom Damo[am])
+ For martyred Jews.
+ Translation: Hashem will avenge his[their] Blood
(Im Yirtzeh Hashem)
+ Translation: If it be G-d's will (very common)
+ Used for referring to future actions: "I'll see you tomorrow
+ Translation: His/Her soul should be in Eden/paradise
(SHe'yikhye Lirot Yamim Tovim ve'Arukim)
+ Used for living prominent Jewish scholars.
+ Translation: That he/she should live to see good and full
days (long life)
(Yemach Shmo Vezichro)
+ For deceased enemies of the Jewish people
+ Translation: May his name be wiped out (YH"SH, Y'Sh); May his
name and memory be wiped out (Y'Shu)
+ For deceased prominent Jewish scholars.
+ Translation: Of Blessed Memory
+ Sometimes written as OBM
(Zecher Tzadik Livrocho)
+ For deceased prominent Jewish scholars.
+ Translation: The Memory of the Righteous is a Blessing
Subject: Question 19.5: Is "shvartze" offensive? Is "goyim" offensive?
"Shvartze" is the neutral Yiddish term for "black", including the
person. There are other derogatory terms--some borrowed from English.
But there are Jews who can make "shvartze" offensive. However, even
though the meaning of the term isn't offensive, that doesn't mean that
the word hasn't acquired an offensive connotation over time. This is
the case with "shvartze". Historically, it was used in a nonneutral
way, regardless of its neutral meaning. In general, the term should be
avoided. Note that "shvartze" is also used to describe strict
observance. [From the black clothing often worn by the very
observance. See Section 11.1, question 6 for more details on this.]
"Goy" [plural: goyim, adjective: goyishe] is the standard Hebrew term
for non-Jew. Literally it is the Hebrew for "nation." Spoken aloud
with a disgusted inflection, it's pejorative. So is the word 'Jew' in
similar circumstances. Better to say "gentile" or "non-Jew" when
writing in English for a multireligious audience, such as SCJ. In
general, the use of judgemental or pejorative terms, even if no
offense is intended, should be avoided. They only serve to incite
anger and side-track the conversation. True conversation comes from
being factual and appropriately neutral.
In the phrase "shabbos goy"--a gentile who does things for Jews on
Shabbos--it is neutral, yet when refusing to do something for someone
by saying "I'm not your shabbos goy", it carries a derogatory tinge.
Some also suggest avoiding the term "Marrano", which means "pig".
Depending on the intended meaning, the terms "Sephardic" or
"Crypto-Jew" are more appropriate.
Subject: Question 19.6: What does "shiksa" and "shaygetz" mean? How offensive
Shiksa and Shaygetz are the Yiddish derivative of the respective
feminine and masculine Hebrew words for something unclean, dirty. The
appellations are customarily applied to gentiles who do things
inimical to Jewish interests, such as vandalizing Jewish buildings,
robbing Jewish kids of their lunch money, or becoming romantically
involved with Jews :-). The root is "sheketz", which refers to house
rodents and lizards. They impart ritual impurity, and therefore the
term lends itself to the same kind of idea. Some have taken to using
the term to refer to Christian women in general. If Christians were
using the term against Jews in English, they would be saying "Filthy
Jews" or "Dirty Jews", and we Jews would rightly be offended. Hence,
use of these terms should really be avoided; it is insulting and
inappropriate, even if no bad intent was behind the usage. It is
always better to use neutral, less pejorative (judgemental) terms,
such as non-Jew or Christian.
Note: In Israel, shaygetz is sometimes used to refer to a misbehaving
Note: There are other words for non-Jewish women, "nachriah", and
"goyah", that are more properly used in less judgemental situations.
Subject: Question 19.7: I am going to be in (name your city), where can I
eat, stay for Shabbat?
Go to your local library and request a telephone directory for that
city. Look up "Synagogues-(your affiliation" and call them up. Ask to
be directed to the Hospitality Committee, which is in charge of such
arrangements. Alternatively, a short post to SCJ can get you
up-to-date information about cities from their residents (and possibly
an invitation to dinner and a friend at the service).
Subject: Question 19.8: What do bagels, lox, pastrami, falafel, garlic
pickles, kishka, and kasha have to do with being a Jew?
Those are foods popular in some cultures in which Jews lived, but have
zero religious significance. They are sometimes called "Jewish foods"
because of their popularity among Jews, and because they bring back
memories of one's ancestors who ate similar foods.
In Ashkenazi communities, Gefilte fish goes beyond being a food of the
larger community adopted by the Jewish community. In these
communities, there was a custom to have fish, wine, and meat on the
Sabbath. On the Sabbath, one may not separate "bad from good" such as
removing bones from fish. (Good from bad, i.e. fish from bone is
OK...) To simplify matters, it became popular to serve ground fish
from which bones were removed.
Another Jewish dish is cholent, a stew left to simmer throughout
Shabbos, because this a) avoids cooking on Shabbos b) reaffirms the
belief in oral Torah, permitting the use of a fire lit before shabbos,
as opposed to the Karaites, who rejected the oral Torah and didn't use
fire on Shabbos. The cholent is then eaten for the Sabbath afternoon
One of the problems with Jewish cooking is that you can eat an entire
meal, yet not even 72 hours later, you're hungry for more. (:-)
Subject: Question 19.9: What does Warren Burstein's signature mean?
The original signature quote said "The world is a very strange carrot,
but the farmer is not worried at all." This is a pun on R' Nachman of
Braslav's saying "Kol Haolom Kulo Gesher (Gezer) Tzar (Zar) Meod
Vehaikar (Aleph & Ayin diff) Lo Lephached Klal," which actually says
"The whole world is like a very narrow bridge, and the main idea is
not to be worried at all."
Subject: Question 19.10: Who was the sixth Marx brother?
The sixth Marx brother Karl turned his comedic skills to literature.
He wrote a spoof of an economic treatise which parodied the ponderous
"scientific" tomes of his day. Unfortunately, people with no sense of
humor took him seriously and attempted to carry out the philosophy he
used in the book. It was as if the English had attempted to carry out
Jonathan Swift's "A modest proposal" and the results were just as
The last czar of the Russian Empire (Mikhail I of the House of
Gorbachev) finally admitted this and abdicated, and there was much
[For the humor-impaired, to quote Foghorn Leghorn, "the above was a
Subject: Question 19.11: Why do Hebrew clocks run clockwise, not counter-
Some do, but I wouldn't lose sleep over this question. FYI, the clock
on the tower of the Prague Jewish Community Center uses Hebrew letters
and runs counter-clockwise.
Most clocks use Arabic numerals, another right-to-left language. The
real question is why Roman numeral clocks don't go the other way.
Note that the direction of the written language has nothing whatsoever
to do with the way clocks run.
The clock is a mechanical timepiece modeled on its predecessor, the
sundial. North of the Tropic of Cancer, the sun affects the sundial in
the following way:
* Sun rises in the east: shadow falls in the west.
* Sun, at noon, is south: shadow falls in the north.
* Sun sets in the west: shadow falls in the east.
The shadow moves in a W to N to E rotation, which is what we call
"clockwise." When mechanical clocks were invented, this rotation was
duplicated. Regardless of the direction of your written language, the
clock hands move the wrong way half the time!
South of the Tropic of Capricorn, a sundial moves counter-clockwise,
and between the tropics, the motion of the shadow depends on the time
of year. Had the clock been an invention of South American Indians or
Southern Africans, "clockwise" would likely mean the opposite
Subject: Question 19.12: I'm not Jewish. How do I show my love for the Jewish
Do: discourage anti-Jewish behavior, object to stereotyping, humbly
follow the seven laws and behave morally, support the existence of
Israel, support religious freedom and sensitivity to others'
practices, be friendly to Jews, encourage your friends to do likewise.
* Proselytize/witness/missionize to Jews. We are comitted to Judaism
just as you are comitted to your religion.
* Date or marry Jews without an intention to convert. The
preservation of the Jewish people is strengthened when both
partners are Jewish and have a comittment to raise their children
* Give ham/pork/shellfish to Jews. This shows a lack of respect for
commonly known laws regarding Kosher food.
* Force a Jew to work from Friday night to Saturday night or on
Jewish holidays. This again shows a lack of respect for Jewish
* Tell "JAP" jokes. This perpetuates an derogatory stereotype that
has no truth.
Subject: Question 19.13: What is the origin of the word "kike"?
There are many explanations:
* One explanation is that the word kike originates from the word
"keikl", in Yiddish, which means "circle". At Ellis Island, one of
the main immigration checkin points, immigrants were intially
grouped by religion and language in order to make it easier for
them to communicate with each other and also to be identified more
quickly by waiting relatives there to meet them. Christians were
marked off with an 'X' which was likely really supposed to be a
cross; Jews were marked with a circle which was really likely
supposed to be the Star of David. It is easy to see how the staff
could become sloppy at drawing these symbols as 'x' and 'o'. The
word "keikl" was used by the Jews making fun of the poorly drawn
star; they referred to each other as being 'circles'.
Unfortunately, from this innocent usage, the term aquired a
Robert L. Chapman's "American Slang" has a slight variation on the
above. Rather than saying the circle was a mark made by the staff
to symbolize the Star-of-David, the book says: "Jews who could not
sign their names would make a circle." This suggests that it was
Jews themselves who started using the circle- presumably to avoid
the X which was reminiscent of a cross.
* According to "Our Crowd", by Stephen Birmingham, the term kike was
actually coined as a putdown by assimilated American German Jews
for their Eastrern-European bretheren: "Because many Russian
[Jewish] names ended in 'ki', they were called 'kikes'- a German
Jewish contribution to the American vernacular. (Germans are also
said to have invented the term "Bohunk", referring to Jews from
Bohemia.)". Following this explanation, the name kike was
deliberately coined to put-down Jews- but only a certain subset of
Jews. The name then proceeded to be co-opted by Gentiles and used
against all Jews in general.
* Robert L. Chapman's "American Slang" also notes that the word
could be a reference to "Ike", a nickname for Isaac.
[Thanks to Andrew Nusbaum for bringing some of the alternate
explanations to my attention.]
Subject: Question 19.14: What is the meaning of the part of the book of Ruth
where the guy at the gate takes off his shoe?
The question raised concerning the incident in the Book of Ruth 4:7 is
an interesting one. This practice was formerly done in Israel in cases
of redemption or exchange: to validate any transaction, one man would
take off his sandal and hand it to the other. Apparently this was an
early form of acquisition (kinyan) where the sign of agreement was
made by the passing or transfer of an inanimate object. In some cases
that was a shoe, a scarf, etc. The author of Ruth is describing this
practice while seeming to suggest it is no longer the case.
However we know that among Jews this practice or a form of it
continued. The Talmud, the work of the rabbis, is filled with such
examples. In the tractate Baba Mezia (46a) a transaction takes place
in a granary through a scarf. This is in lieu of one who left his
money at home! Even in our own day, the agreement made before a
wedding (Tenaim) and a symbol of the agreement made in the document of
betrothal is formalized by a "symbolic delivery" by, according to the
Orthodox Rabbis' Manual, HAMADRIKH, "...letting the parties concerned
hold a kerchief, that they will fulfill whatever is provided for in
the tenaim." Here we see that an ancient custom continues in some form
today. Such a practice can also be found in other cultures as well.
The Rev Dr A. Cohen in his commentary on Ruth (Soncino Press)
suggests, "The custom is also known among the Indians, the ancient
Germans and the Arabs." Without trying to confuse the issue, the
particular sandal practice has also been linked to the law in
Deuteronomy 25:5. This is the obligation of a brother (Levir) to marry
the wife of his deceased sibling. According to Deuteronomy, should he
refuse, he is to go to the gate of the city and there the widow is to
"pull off the sandal, spit in his face..."
In Ruth, the rejecting kinsman is not a brother-in-law to Ruth, but he
is described as her "redeemer." While most commentators reject the
connection, it is unavoidable.
Subject: Question 19.15: I'm a health care provider? What do I need to know
for Jewish patients?
First, thanks for caring enough to ask the question.
If you have a Jewish patient, you should first talk to them to find
out what their concerns and needs are. These will differ based on the
movement with which they affiliate. For example, progressive Jews
(i.e., Reform and other liberal movements) may have less of a concern
about Kosher food and some of the other laws concerning purity and
modesty than traditional Jews. However, if you can't talk to them due
to the medical situation, assume they are strictly traditional until
you find out otherwise.
The primary concern from your point of view will be food. Traditional
Jews require strictly Kosher food. If your kitchen has the ability to
supply such food, great. Note that some hospitals provide both a
"regular Kosher" and a "strictly Kosher" diet. If a strictly Kosher
diet is available, let the patient know about it. If they are not able
to order their food, order from the strictly Kosher diet for them. If
your hospital does not have Kosher food, DO NOT assume that
Kosher-style food or any other food is acceptable. Instead, you may
have to go out an purchase food for that patient. What you want to
look for is food with "heckshers", or marks indicating that they are
Kosher. The best known marks are a U in a circle (www.ou.org) or a
K in a circle (www.ok.org). Kashrus Magazine
(www.kashrusmagazine.org) has an excellent list of these marks.
You want to aim for ready-to-eat food, so that you don't have to move
it into a container to cook it. Your kitchen is likely not Kosher;
cooking the food in a different container will make it non-Kosher. You
will want to serve it in the original container, unopened if possible,
so that the patient can see the hecksher. If possible, opt for food
that doesn't require you to touch the food (i.e., frozen dinners for
the oven are often preferable to those for the microwave, because for
the microwave you have to puncture the wrappings). Serve the food with
plastic utensils that have been individually wrapped, and let the
patient break the wrappings. Basically, you want to assure the patent
that you haven't touched the food.
If you can't come up with anything with a hecksher, provide fruit,
washed but otherwise untouched, with a plastic knife. Fruit is the one
product that comes naturally in its own sealed package.
Traditional male patients will have a need to pray. If they are
mobile, and you can provide them with connections with other Jewish
male adults in the hospital so that they can assemble a minyon (10
Jewish men), which will facilitate prayer. They should know the
prayers by heart, if this is a concern to them. If your staff chaplin
isn't familiar with Judaism, look up an Orthodox synagogue (alas,
often under Churches in the Yellow Pages) and see if their rabbi can
come over. If there are no Orthodox synagogues available, look for
Conservative or Reform synagogues. This order is not intended to show
any bias towards the movements. A traditional patient will likely be
more comforatable with a traditional Rabbi, so that is the best first
option. However, both Conservative and Reform rabbis have experience
with working with all movements in hospital settings, and can either
provide the necessary service, or have the contacts to find someone
Shabbat may or may not be a concern, depending on the state of the
patient. In a hospital setting, most patients are stuck in bed, and
most electrical appliances are necessary for life-saving. Don't ask
the patient to turn on and off their lights; just leave them on from
before Shabbat until after, or decide when you want them off. The same
goes for other discretionary appliances, such as televisions. Don't
ask the patient to carry things unless necessary for life (such as an
With respect to modesty: again, if the situation is life-threatening,
do what you need to do. If the patient is conscious, ASK THE PATIENT.
When providing gowns, ensure they provide appropriate coverage when in
public situations (use two, if necessary).
Lastly, with respect to purity. When dealing with patients of the
opposite sex, avoid touching unless medically necessary. It is likely
not a problem, but for traditional patients, it might be upsetting.
Better safe than sorry.
Finally, remember that Judaism places human life above all else. Thus,
in a life-threatening situation, do what you need to do to save the
life, even if that means violating Jewish law. However, if the
situation isn't immediately threatening, then you should take Jewish
law into consideration.
For a general statement of principles guiding medical care, see
http://communities.msn.com/JudaismFAQs&naventryid=154. There is
also some good information at
Subject: Question 19.16: What would be a good housewarming gift for a Jewish
The nicest housewarning gift would be a mezuzah, which Jews affix to
the doorpost. If you don't have a Judaica store near you, you can
order one through www.judaica.com. Take a look at
http://www.judaism.com/mezuzah/ You'll also need to get a mezuzah
parchment, which they have available.
If that option doesn't work, consider a good Jewish book, or a gift
certificate for a Judaica store. Both would allow the family to start
a good Jewish library.
Lastly, if neither of those pan out, consider something nice for the
house. If the family keeps Kosher, avoid getting items used for food,
as you don't know if they could be made Kosher. However, other items,
such as picture frames, plants, etc. are lovely.
Of course, the best gift is your good wishes and the knowledge that
you are a friend. The handmade stuff is nice as well: knowing they'll
be tired, offer to take them to dinner at a restaurant of their choice
Subject: Question 19.17: What is the meaning and origin of the phrase B'shaah
B'shaah Tova can be translated to mean "in a propitious time", which
implies that any type of positive occurance in life has a possibility
of happening at any point in time that may be good or bad or anything
in-between, and that a wish that it happens at a propitious, or "good"
time has an impact on the event itself. This is also another way of
saying Mazal Tov, which translates to mean ""Good Luck" or "May the
Mazalos impact you (or this event) for the good." Most people who say
Mazal tov usually mean to say "congratulations" or "I'm happy for
you". However, "BeShah Tovah" and "Mazal Tov" have virtually the same
Subject: Question 20.1: I'd like to learn more? Do you have any books to
Funny thing you should ask. I just happen to have a reading list for
Seriously, there are quite a lot of excellent Jewish books. We have
attempted to summarize these in the S.C.J. Reading Lists
(http://www.scjfaq.org/rl/). These lists include information on
general Judaism, traditional Judaism, Jewish mysticism,
Reform/Progressive Judaism, Conservative Judaism,
Reconstructionist Judaism, Humanistic Judaism, Chassidism,
Antisemitism, Zionism, Intermarriage and Conversion, and
Subject: Question 20.2: What are the different hechsher symbols?
You'll have to keep informed. Note that in most states, "K" does not
necessarily mean that the product has rabbinical supervision, so you
can't rely on the simple K. Of course, many products with a "K" are
kosher anyway, as are many unmarked products. The circled-U,
circled-K, K-in-a-five-pointed-star, and k-in-a-letter-chaf are widely
accepted nationally-known kosher symbols. Other accepted kosher
symbols are only found in small local areas.
In the Periodicals Reading List, you'll find a number of magazines
focused on Kashrut. These magazines often publish information on who
is behind the various hechshers. In particular, every year, Kashrus
Magazine publishes an index to all the Kosher symbols and the people
behind them. You can reach Kashrus Magazine on the net at
Subject: Question 20.3: Where can I find Jewish-oriented mailing lists?
My, how times have changed. When this FAQ was first written, there
were a few general lists (the Global Jewish Information List,
Mail.Jewish, Mail.Liberal-Judaism, and some Chabad lists). Since then,
the Internet has exploded, and there are more lists then there are
commandments in the Torah. Furthermore, the lists of lists, and their
locations, change so frequently it is hard to keep up.
First, some general comments:
* Most lists operate using software such as listserv, listproc, or
majordomo. With this software, you send a subscription address to
a general list address, in a predefined format (for example, to
subscribe to MLJ (mail.liberal-judaism), you send a message of the
form "subscribe mlj yourfirstname yourlastname" to
firstname.lastname@example.org). There is a different address you use for
submissions to the list.
* Some lists provide an easy to use web interface for subscription
and unsubscription (to continue the example, for MLJ you would
visit http://www.mljewish.org/). Often, such an interface is
easier to use.
Having said that, here are some of the major places to find lists.
* Shamash.Org. Shamash (the home of the SCJ FAQ) is a central
information repository for the Jewish community. It provides a
large number of mailing lists, including mail.jewish and
mail.liberal-judaism (two of the oldest). A list of all Shamash
lists may be found at
http://www.shamash.org/help/listoflists.html. You can also send
the command "lists" to email@example.com. Listproc based.
* Virtual Jerusalem. When the FAQ started, Virtual Jerusalem was
called Jerusalem One, and was just beginning to host lists. Now
Virtual Jerusalem, it is a major Jewish portal and a major home to
Jewish lists. A list of all Virtual Jerusalem lists (combined with
a subscription form) may be found at http://vjlists.com/
* Egroups. Another major source of Jewish lists is the Egroups
server, which provides people with an easy mechanism to set up
lists. The list of Jewish Egroups lists may be found at
There are also some organizations that provide mailing lists focused
primarily on teaching Torah. Some of these organizations include:
* Chabad. Subscription information on the Chabad lists may be found
* Project Genesis. Subscription information on Project Genesis lists
may be found at http://www.torah.org/subscribe/.
* Ohr Sameyach. The Ohr Samayech lists are managed by Virtual
Jerusalem, and may be found at http://vjlists.com/
* UTJ. The Union for Traditional Judaism sponsors quite a few lists.
Information may be found at
You will also find that most of the congregational and rabbinic
organizations have mailing lists, such as UAHC
(http://www.uahc.org/), Jewish Theological Seminary
(http://www.jtsa.edu), and so forth.
Another good way to find mailing lists is through a normal Internet
meta-search engine (i.e., one that searches multiple indexes), such as
http://www.dogpile.com/. Try searching for "Jewish Mailing Lists".
The Liszt server at http://www.liszt.com/select/Religion/Jewish/
also provides a list of a few Jewish mailing lists.
Another good source for mailing list info is The Directory of Jewish
Electronic Services, which is part of the Global Jewish Information
Network server at http://www.jewishnet.net/. The specific URL for
the list of mailing lists is
Subject: Question 20.4: What are the good Jewish search engines?
There are quite a few, and the number is growing every day. The
following are particularly recommended (in alphabetical order):
* Golem (http://www.crosswinds.net/~golem1): "Golem - Jewish
Hypersearch is a truly intelligent creature. As a matter of fact
it may be the best Jewish search engine available on the
* HaReshima (http://www.hareshima.com/): "Your Gateway to Jewish
and Israel Internet Sites"
* Jewishstar (http://www.jewishstar.com/): "The source for the
Internet's Best Jewish and Israel Weblinks"
* Maven (http://www.maven.co.il/): "The Portal Directory to the
* MishMash (http://mishmash.virtualave.net/): "Over 10,000 links
to all things Jewish"
* Nu? The JAFI Portal (http://www.jewishsites.org/): A search
service of the Jewish Agency.
* Zipple (http://www.zipple.com/): "The Jewish Supersite"
If you have other specifically Jewish search engines to add to this
list, please contact the FAQ maintainer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subject: Question 20.5: What are some good Jewish links on the WWW?
You couldn't have asked an easy question, could you. There are *lots*,
and I mean *lots* of Jewish links. The FAQ used to contain a list of
links, but keeping this list up-to-date grew increasingly difficult
(we're talking about 25 pages of links!). Instead, here is a list of
some of the best "central link" sites, from which you should be able
to find other resources.
* Judaism and Jewish Resources World Wide Web Site. This site has
over 400 links, including all major Jewish, Hebrew, and Israeli
resources on the World Wide Web
* Conversion Web Site (<http://www.convert.org>). Dr. Lawrence J.
Epstein, a member of the Joint Commission on Intermarriage of the
Rabbinical Assembly/United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, and
an author of a number of books, pamphlets and articles on
conversion, has set up this web page for those seeking information
on conversion to Judaism. Although Conservative Judaism is
emphasized, USA addresses and phone numbers for obtaining
information from the Orthodox (RCA), Reform and Reconstructionist
movements are provided.
* Youth Movement Web Sites. Link Pages.
* Jewish Feminist Website. A collection of pointers to Jewish
* Orthodox Union. From here, you can get to numerous pages on
Kashrut, including an article on Thinking Kosher, a primer
on Kashrut, and Kosher Talk, a jumping off point for accessing
the OU Kashuth Databases. (<http://www.ou.org/>)
* JewishGen: The Official Home of Jewish Genealogy. If you are
looking for Jewish Geneological Information, this is the place.
There's too much here to describe succinctly.
* SABRAnet -- Where Israel comes alive on the Internet. These
pages provide links of news and information, as well as original
text, images, chat, and multimedia features relating to the State
of Israel. (<http://www.sabranet.com/>)
* Project Genesis: Torah on the Information Superhighway. The
top of a series of pages dedicated to the learning of Torah, with
extensive archives and links to other Jewish learning sites.
Orthodox perspective. (<http://www.torah.org/>)
* Torah Study Opportunities on the Net. This page provides links
to both Orthodox and Non-Orthodox locations on the Internet that
support the study of Torah. This includes web sites, mailing
lists, and pointers to archive of past study sessions. All
pointers are extensively annotated.
* AishDas Society. This is a group committed to the advancement
of meaningful worship in the Orthodox Jewish community. This page
provides a weekly publication of selected divrei Torah on the
parashah from around the Internet (downloadable Microsoft Word
document). It also provides a Guide to Torah Study
Opportunities on the net, limited to those with a traditional
perspective. Orthodox perspective. Uses frames.
* Global Jewish Information Network. A reference for all things
Jewish on the Internet. Includes information on network tools,
Hebrew in the net, libraries, Email lists, newsgroups, Jewish
networking, and the Global Jewish Information Network.
* Shamash: The Jewish Internet Consortium. A central point for
Jewish Information from a large number of Jewish organizations.
Also includes a large number of Jewish mailing list archives.
* Virtual Jerusalem. Virtual Jerusalem is a user-friendly,
regularly updated index of "neighborhoods" covering the full
spectrum of Jewish and Israeli life, including arts and
entertainment, science and technology, business and finance,
religion, politics, travel, children and education. (<
* Jewish America. A site with the goal of providing a link
between those who seek and those who provide Torah / Traditional
information, products, and services.
* The Ultimate Jewish/Israel Link Launcher. A volunteer-prepared
collection of over 4,601 links.
* Jewish Euro Web Link. A comprehensive list of links to Jewish
websites in Europe, currently more than sixty individual sites in
18 countries, ranging from newspapers to student groups to
communal bodies, developed by the European Council of Jewish
Communities (ECJC). (<http://www.ort.org/ecjc>)
These sites are sponsored by different organizations, so they have
different info and different flavors. They have Hebrew and English
bible texts and commentaries, Jewish-oriented software, info on Israel
and Judaism, and much, much more.
Subject: Question 20.6: Is SCJ available via a Listserv or other e-mail
At one time, SCJ and S.C.Israel were once available as mailing lists
through Shamash. However, they were discontinued by the Shamash staff
about 10 days before Pesach in 1996. The reason for doing this was the
disproportionate system load. These two lists had a tiny fraction of
all Shamash subscribers (perhaps 1% or less) but, because of the huge
amount of traffic on the newsgroups, took as much as half of all
mailing-list processing time. Because other mailing lists with content
specific to Shamash were being delayed by the high load on the system,
these two lists were removed.
With the growth of web access, and the decline (somewhat) of Usenet,
there has been less interest in gatewaying News to Mail. However, you
can get access to the groups via the web. Simply go to one of the
websites that provide public news access, such as Google Groups
(http://groups.google.com) or Mailandnews (www.mailandnews.com).
Note that you may not be able to post through these sites.
Subject: Question 20.7: What divrei Torah are posted to Usenet?
There are too many to mention. Many of these used to be posted to
soc.culture.jewish; it is difficult to determine from the current
noise in the unmoderated newsgroup whether they are still being posted
there. There are a large number of traditional D'vrei Torah being
posted to alt.religion.judaism.orthodox. The list changes so often,
it cannot reasonably be maintained in the FAQ.
There are also a number of mailing lists available that provide divrei
Torah on a regular basis. Check the sites mentioned in the list of
mailing lists (Section 20.3) for appropriate lists.
Subject: Question 20.8: Where can I find collected divrei Torah?
One of the best sites for finding collected divrei Torah is the
Torah Study Opportunities on the 'Net
(http://uahc.org/congs/dc/dc001/torahnet/) maintained by Eric
Simon. Although Eric is Reform, he has a love and an intense interest
in traditional divrei Torah. This site collects together all Torah and
Torah study opportunities available on the internet and by Email. It
provides links to easily join Torah study email lists, provides links
to collections of divrei Torah, provides a page of links of Torah
study for children, and much more.
The machine shamash.org contains a Torah discourse collection at
the URL <http://shamash.org/tanach/tanach.html>, plus archives of
various Jewish-interest mailing lists. Shamash also provides an
awesome index search, it is at:
<http://www.shamash.org/tanach/search.html>. There should also be
collections of D'vrei Torah at the sites known for originating such
commentaries, such as http://www.chabad.org/ and
There is also a free Talmud study course being offered by the net by
Rabbi Judith Z. Abrams, Ph.D. For more information, see
http://www.maqom.com/, or write her at: email@example.com.
Subject: Question 20.9: What software is available for Hebrew applications?
There are numerous utilities. A good place to start is the Hebrew
Computing document on www.shamash.org at
http://www.shamash.org/computers. Another good place to start is to
search on a meta-search engine such as http://www.dogpile.com/ for
"Hebrew Software" (or on one of the Jewish search engines).
Some other sources are:
* Davka Corporation. 7074 N.Western Ave, Chicago IL 60645, USA.
Within the USA, the following toll-free number may be used: (800)
621-8227. The following numbers may be used anywhere: FAX (312)
262-9298; VOICE (312) 465-4070. http://www.davka.com/
* LEV Software, Inc.; Hebrew Educational Software; 1-800-776-6538;
* HebrewSoft. Hebrewsoft has a Hebrew English dictionary and a
Hebrew tutor. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tel: +
Jacob Richman also maintains a list of Hebrew Software at
If you have suggestions for software to add to this list, please
contact the FAQ maintainer at email@example.com.
Subject: Question 20.10: What other Jewish software is available?
Again, this ia an area that has seen quick a bit of growth. There is
now quite a bit of software available. One starting point for a search
in this area is the Shamash Web Page on computers
(<http://www.shamash.org/computers/>), which provides a lot of
information on different sources of software, and includes a
searchable software archive. Another source are the Jewish Search
Engines listed in Section 20.4. You can also do a search for
"Jewish Software" on a meta-search engine such as
http://www.dogpile.com/. Some other sources are the Jewish Mall
Here are some additional references:
* Davka (http://www.davka.com/). A manufacturer of a wide
variety of Jewish software.
* Dor L'Dor Interactive Judaic Software
(http://www.radix.net/~dor_l_dor/). Provides software for
hands-on experiential learning of the Hebrew alphabet and prayers.
* Lev Software (http://www.levsoftware.com/). A wide variety of
* The Jewish Software Center (http://users.aol.com/jewishsoft).
A distributing company distributing Jewish software from 13
* Torah Educational Software (http://www.torahscholar.com/).
Israel's largest developer and distributor of Judaic educational
software. Developer and Distributor for ArtScroll Stone Chumash...
Bar Ilan University... Judaic Encyclopedia... Yad Vashem etc.
* The Kabbalah Software Catalog. (http://www.kabsoft.com/)
Kabbalah Software is a producer of high-quality, low-priced Judaic
software, including Clip-Art, Print Shop products, Fonts,
reference material, calendar programs, utilities, word processors,
hebrew utilities, torah study materials, and educational software.
* Right to Left Software. (http://www.rtlsoft.com/)
Manufacturers of Hebrew Software.
* Torah Productions (http://www.torahproductions.com) has two
products to help students learn Torah and Talmud:
+ Sedra Bytes
>). This is a bible study program that includes each of the
54 traditional weekly study sections for the Five Books of
Moses and 51 areas for broad conceptual browsing. The text of
this Bible study program is 100% interactive. It can be
modified and edited to suit the user's individual needs and
religious perspective. With the appropriate software it can
be used for desktop publishing and multimedia applications
limited only by the user's skill and imagination. The books
are beautifully illustrated with unique and original woodcuts
that capture the essence and spirit of each book.
+ The Torah La-Am Library
>) This contains the complete set of 105 Sedra Byte books. It
includes 54 traditional weekly study sections for the Five
Books of Moses and 51 areas for broad conceptual browsing.
The library includes an index of 500 subjects and topics and
a powerful search engine. The library is non-denominational
and therefore useful to a broad spectrum of people of many
faiths and religious convictions.
* Shamash graphic images
* Shamash: A wide variety of Hebrew Fonts for a wide variety of
Another source is the software store at Jewish.com
Subject: Question 20.11: Are there any Jewish Libraries on the Internet?
This question is yet another example of how the times have changed.
When the FAQ stared, there were few libraries on the Internet; the few
that were available were accessible only via telnet (terminal
emulation) and VT100 emulation.
Today, there are many libraries on the Internet:
* University of Haifa Library (http://www-lib.haifa.ac.il)
* Hebrew University: Jewish National and University Library
* Jewish Theological Seminary. (http://www.jtsa.edu/library/)
* Jewish Public Library (Montreal CANADA)
* New York Public Library, Jewish Division
* Haifa Library. (http://www-lib.haifa.ac.il/)
* Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles
* Chabad Lubavitch Library. (http://www.chabad.org/library/)
* Albert and Temmy Latner Jewish Public Library of Toronto, Toronto,
Princeton University maintains a list of Jewish Libraries at
http://www.princeton.edu/~pressman/libjew.htm. Another source of
information is the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) at
Subject: Question 20.12: I'm interesting in ordering books or music on the
internet. Where should I look?
With the growth of the Internet, there are now many, many, many
retailers of both secular and Jewish products on the Internet. This
FAQ cannot claim to list them all; however, we can identify some of
the largest ones. Note that the FAQ makes no claim as to the quality
of any of these services. They are likely all good, but the FAQ can
provide no guarantees.
The line has blurred between book retailers and music retailers. In an
effort to grow their business, many book retailers stock music and
videos, and many music retailers stock books.
The following commercial concerns all provide a large selection of
books and/or music, including a fair selection of Jewish books and/or
* Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/
* Barnes and Noble. http://www.bn.com/
* CDNow. http://www.cdnow.com/
The following retailers all provide a large selection of Jewish books
* Broders Rare and Used Books. http://www.brodersbooks.com/
A good sources for the rare or used books, often not stocked by
* Jewishmall http://www.jewishmall.com/
A collection of online Jewish retailers
* Jewishmusic.Com http://www.jewishmusic.com/
Operated by Tara Publications. Stocks both books and music.
* Judaism.Com. http://www.judaism.com/
Operated by US Judaica, formerly Pinsker's Bookstore in Pittsburgh
PA. This concern is well known from their land-line number:
* J. Levine Books and Judaica. http://www.levinejudaica.com/
Based out of New York, NY. Sells books, media, and Judaica.
* My Jewish Books. http://www.myjewishbooks.com/
An online discount Jewish bookstore. Orders are fulfilled by
Amazon.com, and proceeds go to tzedakah.
* Virtual Jerusalem Shops. http://vjshops.virtualjerusalem.com/
A collection of Judaica shops in a wide variety of categories.
The following are publishers of Jewish Music or Jewish texts. You can
often order directly from them. An additional source of Jewish
Publishers is the Association of Jewish Book Publishers
(http://www.avotaynu.com/ajbp.html). There is another list of
Additionally, almost all "mainstream" publishing houses, such as Simon
and Schuster (http://www.simonsays.com/), Macmillan Publishers
(http://www.randomhouse.com/doubleday/, another division of Random
House), Random House (http://www.randomhouse.com/), Harper Collins
(http://www.harpercollins.com/hc/), among others, all offer
popular Judaica in their catalogs.
Some good publishers that focus specifically on Judaica are:
* Artscroll/Mesorah. http://www.artscroll.com/
Publishers of timeless Jewish classics, including Talmud
* Jasob Aronson Inc. http://www.aronson.com/
Publishers of Judaica
* Behrman House. http://www.behrmanhouse.com/
Behrman House is the leading publisher of Judaica and educational
materials for Jewish religious schools in North America and in
English-speaking countries around the world.
* Ben-Simon Publications. http://www.swifty.com/bensimon/
Publishes Jewish and family themed books.
* CCAR Press. http://www.ccarnet.org/press/
Publishers of liturgical and reference material for the Reform
* Feldheim Publishers. http://www.feldheim.com/aa/index.shtml
"Bringing you the finest in Torah Literature for the Entire
* Five Star Publications. http://www.fivestarsupport.com
Various categories including kosher cookbooks, Holocaust memoirs,
consumer-oriented (Profits of Death, an expose of the funeral
industry) and children's books.
* Jewish Lights Publishing. http://www.jewishlights.com/
Publishers of a large amount of contemporary Jewish thought and
practice books, including Anita Diamont's stuff.
* Jewish Publishing Society. http://www.jewishpub.org/
The oldest publisher of Jewish literature published in the English
language. Since 1888, JPS has providing titles that further Jewish
culture and education
* Jonathan David Press.
A New York-based nonfiction trade book publisher that specializes
in sports, biography, reference, and popular Judaica. The parent
corporation, Jonathan David Co., Inc., markets and distributes
Jonathan David publications throughout the world. In addition, it
issues Judaica Book Guide, a mail-order catalog offering the very
best in Judaica from the lists of all publishers at bargain
* Kehot Publishing. http://www.kehotonline.com/
The publishing arm of Chabad.
* KTAV Publishing Company http://www.ktav.com
Publisher of fine Jewish books and gifts, including prayer books,
books for children and young adults, toys, games, school supplies
and textbooks. KTAV also produces distinguished scholarly books on
topics ranging from Biblical study to contemporary issues.
* Milah Press. http://www.milahpress.com/
Books on the holocaust, Hebrew language, and Zionism.
* Pelican Publishing Company, Inc. http://pelicanpub.com
Publishes books of Jewish interest for all ages, including A
Travel Guide to Jewish Europe, Passover Lite Kosher Cookbook,
Kosher Cajun Cookbook, Kosher Creole Cookbook, Kosher
Southern-Style Cookbook, Toby Belfer's Seder: A Passover Story
Retold, Toby Belfer Never Had a Christmas Tree, and A Belfer Bar
* The Reconstructionist Press.
Publishing arm of the Reconstructionist movement. Publishes over
fifty titles dealing with Reconstructionist philosophy, liturgy,
education and current issues in daily Jewish life. The press also
publishes and distributes the works of Mordecai M. Kaplan.
* Schocken Books.
A division of Random House, Schocken is well known for publishing
scholarly books on a wide variety of Jewish subjects.
* SHJ Press. http://www.shj.org/gift.html
The publishing arm of the Society for Humanistic Judaism movement.
* Soncino Press. http://www.soncino.com/
Publishers of Judaic classic books.
* SoundWrite. http://www.soundswrite.com/
The publisher of Jewish music for a large number of contemporary
Jewish artists, including Debbie Friedman, Julie Silver, Rabbi Joe
Black, and others.
* Targum Press. http://www.targum.com/
A major publisher of Jewish books. A subsidiary of Feldheim
* Torah Aura Productions. http://www.torahaura.com/
Publishers of Jewish educational material.
* Transcontinental Music. http://www.uahcweb.org/transmp/
The music publishing arm of the Reform Movement.
* UAHC Press. http://www.uahcweb.org/press/
Publishers of a large amount of material dealing with the Reform
* USCJ Bookstore. http://www.uscj.org/mall/bookservice.htm
USCJ is the publisher of books for the Conservative movement.
Subject: I'm interesting in ordering books or music on the internet. Where
should I look?
There are a number of places on the internet from which books and
music can be ordered.
* Pinsker's Bookstore
Home/Gopher Page available on shamash.org
(800) JUDAISM [1-800-583-2476]
* Judaica Emporium
New York NY
+1 212 662-7000
* Jewish Book Center of the Workmen's Circle
45 E 33rd
New York NY
+1 212 889-6800 x285 or 800-922-2558
* Levine Jewish Books and Judaica
5 W 30th
New York NY
+1 212 695-6888
* Bob and Bob Fine Jewish Gifts, Crafts, And Books
151 Forest Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94301
+1 415 329-9050 VOICE
+1 415 329-8451 FAX
* Jason Aronson Inc.
Alternate WWW Server: http://www.aronson.com/clients/aronson/
* Bubbe's Bookshelf
P.O. Box 1455
Vienna, Va. 22183
+1 703 255-7028 VOICE/FAX
This bookstore specializes in filling want-lists for used, old,
and out of print Judaica books. They have a large number of titles
on-hand, and an active search service.
* Jewish Music On-Line
Orders: (800) 233-9494
FAX: (718) 261-3388
Subject: Question 20.99: Boy, you did a wonderful job on the FAQ? How do I
show my appreciation?
There are a number of ways you can support the FAQ:
1. Reduce the Noise. You can do your part to reduce the noise on the
Jewish newsgroups by only posting articles that are on subject and
contain significant content. Avoid responding to trolls, and try
to answer questions fairly and impartially.
2. Help Complete The FAQ. Become part of the support team for
questions sent to the FAQ; help develop new FAQ sections or
complete/expand existing ones. Contact the FAQ maintainer at
firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
3. Provide Financial Support. In the past, the FAQ joked about
dedicating questions in memory of people. But financial support
for the maintenance of the FAQ is always appreciated. The FAQ is
hosted by Shamash (http://www.shamash.org/), the master copy
(http://master.scjfaq.org) is maintained by the FAQ maintainer
on Pacificnet (http://www.pacificnet.net). Both of these
providers have their fees. Additionally, there is the cost of the
domain name. Donations to support maintenance are always
appreciated; donations in excess of costs will be donated to
Tzedakah. Contact the FAQ maintainer at email@example.com
or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Subject: How do I obtain copies of the FAQ?
There are a number of different ways to obtain copies of the FAQ:
* WWW. If you are reading this on Usenet, and would like to see an
online, hyperlinked version, go visit http://www.scjfaq.org/.
This is the "web" version of the FAQ; the version posted to Usenet
is generated from the web version. Note that the www.scjfaq.org
version is a copy of the actual master version; if you want to
access the master, visit http://master.scjfaq.org/.
* Email. Scjfaq.org also provides an autoretriever that allows one
to obtain a copy of the FAQ by return Email. To use the
autoretriever, you send a retrieval request to
email@example.com with the request in the body of the
message. A more reliable way to retrieve these files is through
the FAQ autoretriever
(http://www.mljewish.org/bin/autoresp.cgi). For the FAQ, the
request has the form:
send faq partname
For the reading list, the request has the form:
send rl partname
"Partname" is replaced by the name of the part, as shown in the
general index. The following is a short summary of the mapping to
partnames for the FAQ:
+ 01-FAQ-intro: Section 1: Network and Newsgroup
+ 02-Who-We-Are: Section 2: Who We Are
+ 03-Torah-Halacha: Sections 3, 4: Torah; Halachic
+ 04-Observance: Sections 5, 6, 7, 8:
Jewish Holidays; Jewish Dietary Law and Kashrut; Sabbath and
Holiday Observance; Woman and Marriage
+ 05-Worship: Sections 9, 10, 11: Jewish
Worship; Conversion, Intermarriage, and "Who is a Jew?";
Miscellaneous Practice Questions
+ 06-Jewish-Thought: Section 12: Jewish Thought
+ 07-Jews-As-Nation: Section 13: Jews as a Nation
+ 08-Israel: Section 14: Jews and Israel
+ 09-Antisemitism: Sections 15, 16, 17: Churban
Europa (The Holocaust); Antisemitism and Rumors about Jews;
+ 10-Reform: Section 18: Reform/Progressive Judaism
+ 11-Miscellaneous: Sections 19, 20: Miscellaneous;
References and Getting Connected
+ 12-Kids: Section 21: Jewish Childrearing Related
+ mail-order: Mail Order Judaica
The following is a short summary of the mapping of partnames for
the Reading Lists:
+ general: Introduction and General. Includes book sources,
starting points for beginners, starting points for non-Jewish
readers, General Judaism, General Jewish Thought, General
Jewish History, Contemporary Judaism, Noachide Laws, Torah
and Torah Commentary, Talmud and Talmudic Commentary,
Mishnah, Midrash, Halachic Codes, Becoming An Observant Jew,
Women and Judaism, and Science and Judaism.
+ traditional: Traditional Liturgy, Practice, Lifestyle,
Holidays. Includes Traditional Liturgy; Traditional
Philosophy and Ethics; Prayer; Traditional Practice; The
Household; Life, Death, and In-Between; and The Cycle Of
+ mysticism: Kabbalah, Mysticism, and Messianism. Includes
Academic and Religious treatments of Kabbalah, Sprituality,
and the Jewish notion of the Messiah.
+ reform: Reform/Progressive Judaism
+ conservative: Conservative Judaism
+ reconstructionist: Reconstructionist Judaism
+ humanistic: Humanistic Judaism (Society for Humanistic
+ chasidism: Chassidism. Includes general information on
historical chassidism, as well as specific information on
Lubavitch (Chabad), Satmar, Breslaw (Breslov), and other
+ zionism: Zionism. Includes Zionism and The Development Of
Israel, The Founders, Zionistic Movements, and Judaism in
+ antisemitism: Antisemitism. Includes sections on
Antisemitism, What Led to The Holocaust, Medieval Oppression,
Antisemitism Today (Including Dealing with Hate Groups),
Judaism and Christianity, and Judaism, Freemasonry and other
+ intermarriage: Intermarriage. Includes sections on "So
You're Considering Intermarriage?", The Traditional
Viewpoint, Conversion, and Coping With Life As An
+ childrens: Books for Jewish Children. Includes sections
on Birth and Naming, Raising a Child, Family Guidebooks,
Upsheren, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Confirmation, Holiday Books for
Children, Liturgy for Children, Bible and Torah for Children,
Jewish History for Children, Jewish Theology for Children,
Israel, Learning Hebrew, and Jewish Stories.
Alternatively, you may send a message to
firstname.lastname@example.org with the following line in the body
of the message:
Where (portionname) is replaced by the appropriate subdirectory
and filenames; for example, to get the first part of the reading
list, one would say:
* Anonymous FTP: All portions of the FAQ and of the reading lists
are archived on rtfm.mit.edu and are available for anonymous
FTP from the pub/usenet/news.answers/judaism/FAQ directory (URL
Similarly, the parts of the reading lists are stored in the
pub/usenet/news.answers/judaism/reading-lists directory (URL:
ts). Note that the archived versions of the FAQ and reading lists
are the posted versions; that is, they are each one large ASCII
Subject: Who Wrote the FAQ?
The original version of the Frequently Asked Questions was developed
by a committee consisting of Mike Allen, Jerry Altzman, Rabbi Charles
Arian, Jacob Baltuch (Past Chair), Joseph Berry, Warren Burstein,
Stewart Clamen, Daniel Faigin, Avi Feldblum, Rabbi Yaakov Feldman,
Itzhak "Jeff" Finger, Gedaliah Friedenberg, Yechezkal Gutfreund, Art
Kamlet, Joe Kansun, CAPT Kaye David, Alan Lustiger, Hillel Markowitz,
Len Moskowitz, Colin Naturman, Aliza Panitz, Eliot Shimoff, Mark
Steinberger, Steven Weintraub, Matthew Wiener, and headed by Robert
Levene. The organization and structuring of the lists for posting
purposes was done by Daniel Faigin, who is currently maintaining
the lists. Other contributors include Aaron Biterman, A. Engler
Anderson, Ken Arromdee, Seymour Axelrod, Jonathan Baker, Josh Backon,
Micha Berger, Steven M. Bergson, Eli Birnbaum, Shoshana L. Boublil,
Kevin Brook, J. Burton, Harvey Cohen, Todd J.Dicker, Michael Dinowitz,
Rabbi Jim Egolf, Sean Engelson, Mike Fessler, Menachem Glickman,
Amitai Halevi, Walter Hellman, Per Hollander, Miriam Jerris, Robert D.
Kaiser, Yosef Kazen, Rabbi Jay Lapidus, Mier Lehrer, Heather Luntz,
David Maddison, Arnaldo Mandel, Ilana Manspeizer, Seth Ness, Chris
Newport, Daniel Nomy, Jennifer Paquette, Andrew Poe, Alan Pfeffer,
Jason Pyeron, Adam Reed, Seth Rosenthall, JudithSeid@aol.com, David
Sheen, Rabbi John Sherwood, Michael Sidlofsky, Michael Slifkin, Frank
Smith, Michael Snider, Rabbi Arnold Steibel, Andy Tannenbaum,
email@example.com, Meredith Warshaw, Bill Wadlinger, Arel Weisberg,
Dorothy Werner, and Art Werschulz, and the
soc.culture.jewish.parenting board. Some material has been derived
from other sources on the Internet, such as
http://www.jewishwebsite.com/, http://www.jewfaq.org/, and
http://www.menorah.org/. Comments and corrections are welcome;
please address them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A special thank you... Special thanks for her patience and
understanding go to my wife, Karen, who put up with me hiding at the
computer for the two months it took to complete the July/August 2000
remodel of the entire soc.culture.jewish FAQ and Reading Lists. If you
think the effort was worth it, drop her a note c/o
Please mail additions or corrections to me at email@example.com.
End of SCJ FAQ Part 11 (Miscellaneous) Digest