Jewish Life for Dummies
Written by Bwog Staff
Where do all the Jews go on Friday nights?
On Friday nights, many Jews go to shul, (a.k.a. temple or synagogue) for Friday night worship services after a hefty meal of comfort food at home. Some Reform Jews (those less observant of strict biblical tradition), and—as they are mockingly referred to in many circles–“Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur Jews,” will skip the synagogue on a Friday night.
Are all Jewish guys circumcised, or just some of them?
All Jewish boys are circumcised at birth. Nipping off the foreskin is a major stipulation in the Covenant between God and the Jewish people. Sorry guys.
Is “jew” supposed to be capitalized?
Yup, along with all other religions. Wikipedia says so.
What exactly can Jews eat and not eat, and when? What happens to food when they make it kosher?
It varies. Some Jews delight in lard-soaked shrimp on cheeseburger, others decide to follow a few or all of the “laws of Kashrut.” The most well-known law is not mixing milk and meat, so as to not “boil a kid in its mother’s milk.” Some Jews wait between four and six hours after eating meat to have milk in their coffee, and an hour after digesting a cheese sandwich before slurping down some chicken soup (though the cow and the chicken are not at all related, so many Jews question the law forbidding Chicken parmesan). Some Jews even have separate dish wear and kitchen appliances to maintain the milk-meat divide. Pork is an absolute no-no, as is consuming all animals with split hooves. Jews can only eat seafood with fins and scales, and all meat has to be slaughtered, salted and prepared according to biblical tradition under the watchful eyes of a Rabbi, who also blesses the animal. It’s even more complicated–consult Judaism 101 for the final Word.
What’s the difference between reform and orthodox? Do they hang out with each other, or is it kind of like Sunnis and Shiites?
Reform Jews interpret the laws of the bible more loosely than Orthodox Jews, with Conservatives somewhere in the middle. Orthodox Jews aren’t more religious, just more observant of religious doctrine, which means, for example, women can’t be Orthodox rabbis, many more dietary laws, and Sabbath laws are followed. The sects do intermingle, but most Jews tend to stick to the community they grew up with because it’s the most familiar. Some Jews isolate themselves by ancestral background as well as level of observance. Syrian Jews, Russian Jews, and Persian Jews in
Why do I see people in yarmulkes and long skirts walking around in groups on Saturdays?
Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath, the day of rest, during which many Jews do not do any “work,” defined variably. Some Jews abstain from driving (hence the walking around on Saturdays), writing, cooking with appliances, using anything electronic, handling money, ripping paper, carrying large items outside the home – or some combination of those and others. For some, doing lit hum reading is work, for others, it’s not.
Why won’t even some secular Jews date outside their religion?
This question opens up a can of worms, and truly depends on the Jew in question. Sometimes parents and grandparents are more observant than children, and so the children date other Jews out of respect for tradition. Some may want to raise their children within the Jewish faith, and so seek a partner with similar values.
Are all Jews pro-Israel?
Most Jews are for the existence of a Jewish state in some capacity. Some very observant Jews satmars and others are actually indignant that
What are some Hebrew words I should know?
Yiddish (a mishmash of Hebrew, German, Russian and other languages, spoken in Eastern European Jewish ghettoes and retirement homes in Florida) is more fun than Hebrew – it’s guttural and a kick to speak. Try these Yiddishisms, and sound like your friend’s Jewish grandmother! Fun fact: most Hebrew curses used on the streets of Tel Aviv today are actually Arabic words.
What’s Hillel, and what do they actually do?
It’s debatable. They’ve got a website. Check it.