Volume 43 Number 84
                    Produced: Mon Aug  2 21:57:45 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

can you read German?
An "Ellis Island Cohen"
         [David E Cohen]
"Glimpse of Stocking"
         [Martin Stern]
Inviting wedding guests
         [Carl Singer]
Kohanic "Choice"
         [Janice Gelb]
Meshullachim and Elimelech/Naomi
         [Harlan Braude]
Mixed Weddings (2)
         [Michael Rogovin, Edward Ehrlich]
The Name Alexander


From: <Shuanoach@...>
Date: Mon, 02 Aug 2004 12:48:46 -0400
Subject: can you read German?

I was reading part of the Sefer ha-Eshkol in the edition of
B. H. Auerbach, and one footnote there was all in German, which I cannot
read. Can anyone translate it for me? It can be found in Chelek 3, p.71,
footnote #1 and is only about 5 lines long (in Auerbach's commentary
Nachal Eshkol).



From: David E Cohen <ddcohen@...>
Date: Mon, 02 Aug 2004 12:36:23 -0400
Subject: An "Ellis Island Cohen"

C. Halevi wrote:
> Harry Golden, author of 'Only In America' and other best sellers,
> described in one of his books the phenomenon of the 'Ellis Island
> Cohen.' Just as Stan Tenen noted WRT his uncle Levy who wasn't a Levite,
> when the gentile immigration officials at America's then gateway from
> Europe, Ellis Island, came across an obvious looking Jew with a hard to
> spell Slavic or Germanic name, they'd cavalierly rewrite the person's
> name as 'Cohen.'

I'd be interested in finding this book, as this is just what happened to
my great-grandfather, whose name back in Russia was "Katki" or "Katken"
(depending which cousin you ask).  Incidentally, once his last name was
changed, he became "Yisroel ha-Levi Cohen."  (Now that's confusing!)

I know that some non-priestly Cohens spell it kuf-alef-hei-nun to avoid
confusion.  I have followed my father's lead in spelling it with the
standard kaf-hei-nun, particularly since the Yiddishized spelling is
presumabely quite uncommon in Israel, where I hope to be living, iy"h,
in a couple of years.  The printer of my parents' wedding invitation
insisted on the kuf-alef-hei-nun spelling, saying that he didn't want to
create a written record suggesting that my father is a kohen.  The
printer of my wedding invitation had no such issue, though, and it was
spelled kaf-hei-nun.

Are there any other non-priestly Cohens out there who spell it
kaf-hei-nun, and have found this to be an issue?  I remember when I was
younger, my parents saying that perhaps we should gather evidence of the
family's non-kehunah, in the event that I should one day want to marry a
convert or divorcee (as things turned out, my wife is neither) and have
to prove it.

With non-priestly blessings,
David (ha-Levi) Cohen


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, 02 Aug 2004 09:57:25 +0100
Subject: "Glimpse of Stocking"

on 1/8/04 10:46 pm, Leah S. Gordon <leah@...> wrote:

> However, if you loook at Cole Porter's work, specifically including
> _Anything Goes_ (1930), he meant those lyrics with great irony.  His
> overriding message IMO in that musical is that *every* generation thinks
> that things have gone to heck and were wonderful beforehand.

I think Leah has taken my reference to Cole Porter far too
seriously. The point I was making was that over the last 100 years,
there has been a slow, almost imperceptible, dropping of standards of
acceptable dress sense.  Before WW1 a woman who allowed he (stockinged)
ankle to be seen was considered to be, at the very least, of dubious
chastity. Today about the only parts that might raise comment when
exposed in the city streets are those covered by the skimpiest of

Martin Stern


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Mon, 02 Aug 2004 11:23:51 -0400
Subject: Inviting wedding guests

2. I will be making a wedding for my daughter IY"H soon.  Another
> cousin of mine (the brother of the one above, coincidently) is
> divorced and is living with a non jew. Do I invite him and not her, do
> I invite them both or do I invite neither?

I guess at times we have what today is called "TMI" Too Much
Information.  If you wish to invite this cousin since he is not married,
you may simply wish to address the invitation as Mr. Cousin and guest.
(Or however Ms. Manners tells you.)  Whether this guest is Jewish or
not, cohabiting or not -- is beyond the depth of the 37 cent stamp.

I recall one fine Sunday afternoon (in Philadelphia) when it seemed that
all of the neighbors were out sunning themselves, strolling and
exchanging greetings.  One, a psychiatrist was walking down the street
with a young lady -- when my wife and I introduced ourselves he
proceeded to not only tell us his lady friend's name but aspects of
their relationship that we didn't really need to know -- a "this is my
friend Jane" would have been sufficient.  Hopefully, your cousin see
this wisdom.

Carl Singer


From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004 09:03:17 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Kohanic "Choice"

Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
> He misunderstood my point: I meant to say that perhaps the issue with
> the family in question was that they had already married women 100%
> forbidden to kohanim and then found out who they were. Then, they may
> have some wriggle room to "deny" their kehunah. But I still doubt it.

I have checked with my rabbi -- he's the one who found out that his
father was a kohen after his father died, and thus that he and his sons
were kohanim also. It turns out that I oversimplified the case: it
wasn't that he said they could choose whether or not to "deny" their
kehunah, merely that they could decide whether to live by all of the
restrictions of kohanut and then take on the privileges of a kohen, or
whether not to live by those restrictions and then not take on those
privileges (similar to a case where a kohen might choose to marry a
forbidden woman and then not take part in the privileges of kohanut).

-- Janice


From: Harlan Braude <hbraude@...>
Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004 12:28:59 -0400
Subject: RE: Meshullachim and Elimelech/Naomi

> >It was my understanding that this was exactly the issue 
> Elimelech had 
> >when he left Eretz Yisrael for Moav. My assumption (sorry, no source,
> There's none of this in the pshat, and considering how Nomi

Perhaps not pshat, but drash...See Ruth Rabba, 1:4, which sees in the
term "Ish" used to describe Elimelech as an indication of his higher

Also, the gemorah Baba Basra 91a: Rav Shimon Bar Yochai used to say,
"Elimelech, Machlon and Chilyon were among the greatest men of their
generation and provided for their generation. Why were they punished?
Because they left Eretz Yisrael for Chutz La'a'etz."


From: Michael Rogovin <rogovin@...>
Date: Mon, 02 Aug 2004 10:48:59 -0500
Subject: Re: Mixed Weddings

Stuart Cohnen asks about experience in being invited to attend a family
wedding in which the groom is not Jewish and also whether to extend an
invitation to a divorced man who is livbing with a non-Jewish woman.

Need I say, CYLOR. That is what I did, but I would caution you to select
the person you ask carefully. Of course, if you go to one Rabbi
exclusively as your posek for all matters that is easy, for you have
already done so. But some questions are better asked of different
people. So that if you ask your kashrut questions to a particular
expert, but nida questions to a different expert, I would urge you to
consider carefully to whom you ask your family/social questions. Your
query is not, as I understand, black letter law, but more of a
private/public policy issue and you will get very different answers
depending upon whom you ask.

I faced this precise question: my female cousin was marrying a non
Jewish man who was not converting, (had he converted even Reform, I know
that one LOR would not have had a problem, but absent any indication
that the man was intent on joining the Jewish family, he opposed
attending any part of the wedding). The Rabbi I ultimately decided to
ask was one who as a congregational Rabbi in several communities had
many years of experience dealing with families with relatives who
married out. He is also one of the most sensitve poskim to family
dynamics and the real impact that 'sending a message' might have on long
term family relations. He asked extensively about my family and the
nature of the pressure to attend, the couple that was marrying and what
the exact circumstances of the wedding itself were. Ultimately, given
the likely consequences to family relationships that would result were
we to boycott the wedding, he advised that we should attend the meal
following the ceremony (where they did provide glatt kosher food for us
btw) and that we could greet the couple, but that we should not attend
the ceremony, nor should we celebrate at the reception (that is, no
dancing, etc.). We respectfully made clear to my aunt and uncle and
parents (and anyone who specifically asked) what we were doing and why,
and everyone accepted what we did. Were the circumstances different (ie,
a non-Jewish bride) I am not sure we would have done the same thing. Ask
me in the next year or so when I will face this question with someone
closer than a cousin.

As to the other question, similar considerations apply. You must balance
what would ultimately happen if you were to not invite the cousin with
any principle of isolating the cousin due to their choices. We invite
family to smachot regardless of what they do and do not concern
ourselves with their non-halachic decisions, because doing so serves no
deterant purpose, nor is it likely to change their minds about
anything. It serves only to isolate us even further from them and
therefore be even less influential than we already are or could be. Our
close family members who are living with non-Jewish women are aware of
how we feel about their choices.

We have not yet had what will undoubtedly be difficult conversations
with our children about it (they are 4 and 6) but we will attempt to
teach that, just like not all Jews keep Shabbat, there are some Jews who
do not keep other mitzvot. Nonetheless, loving them and keeping them
part of our family, like keeping mitzvot, are values important to us.

Hope this is helpful. 

From: Edward Ehrlich <eehrlich@...>
Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004 19:46:35 +0300
Subject: Mixed Weddings

Stuart Cohnen wrote:

> 1. My cousin's daughter is getting married, but the groom is not jewish.
> Should I not attend? Should I skip the "ceremony" and show up for the
> reception? Obvisouly, I am not in favor of this wedding, but my parents
> who can not attend (due to health issues) are pressuring me to do so.

In my opinion, it's important that your action - whether to attend or
not - is not misinterpreted. You don't want either the Jew or non-Jew
being married to think that your decision is based on some sort of
dislike against non-Jews or bigotry, but on a devotion to important
Jewish values. The type of ceremony being conducted is a consideration.
Any sort of religious ceremony - especially when conducted by a "rabbi"
and a priest together - would be a travesty and I would find it
difficult to attend. A civil ceremony at least would have its own
integrity even if you oppose the marriage.

If you decide not to attend, you might want to send the couple a letter
"more in sorrow than in anger" explaining that your decision is based on
your deeply held beliefs and is not meant to insult either of them
although you clearly do not approve of their marriage.

> 2. I will be making a wedding for my daughter IY"H soon.  Another
> cousin of mine (the brother of the one above, coincidently) is
> divorced and is living with a non jew. Do I invite him and not her, do
> I invite them both or do I invite neither?

I don't see any halakhic issue here and I would invite both of them. I
don't think such an invitation implies an approval of intermarriage.

I'd like to add another general comment about intermarriage.
Intermarriage is not the problem but the symptom. The actual problem is
that for many assimilated Jews being a Jew is not an important part of
their lives and so the fact that their marriage partner is not a Jew is
not actually a serious impediment. Our disapproval of intermarriage will
have little effect on it and will not bring Jews closer to Judaism.
Obviously, I'm not suggesting that approving intermarriage would help

Ed Ehrlich <eehrlich@...>
Jerusalem, Israel


From: <Shuanoach@...>
Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004 12:08:07 EDT
Subject: Re: The Name Alexander

There has been much written about the relationship between Alexander the
Great and the Jews, though many of the sources are apocryphal. See the
references in E. Bickerman, The Jews in the Greek Age, p.314 and in
S. J.  Rappaport's Erekh Milin, s.v. Alexander Macedon. Much of it has
to do with the discussion of Alexander the Great and the Kohen Gadol,
Shimon ha-Zaddik found in the gemara, both in Yoma and Tamid, and
Alexander's discussion with Hakhmei ha-Negev, found elsewhere in Tamid
(it is unclear whether Hakhmei ha-Negev were Jews, according to some -
also, parallel stories about Alexander are found in non-Jewish works,
including Plutarch). A number of medieval 'midrashim' about ALexander
exist as well. See, e.g., Tales of Alexander the Macedonian,
ed. R. Reich (NY, 1972). Though i don't recall any particulars, i would
imagine that there would be discussion of the name Alexander among Jews
in halakhic sources about a. naming children and b. the names that can
be used on legal documents, gittin, and the like, as discussed in works
like Nachalat SHiv'ah. hope this helps,

y. l.


End of Volume 43 Issue 84