Volume 44 Number 33
                    Produced: Fri Aug 20  6:11:32 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Apostasy, "Outmarriages" and the Error of Shiva
         [Binyomin Segal]
Dairy Bread
         [Michael Goldrich]
Dairy Equipment
         [Binyomin Segal]
Genetic Differences Among Jews
         [Bernard Raab]
Ktav Ashuri
         [Martin Stern]
New Mother Not Leaving House?
         [Martin Stern]
Polite or PC Speak
         [Michael Kahn]
Responsibilities of kashrut authorities (2)
         [David Prins, Martin Stern]


From: Binyomin Segal <bsegal@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 04:55:43 -0500
Subject: Re: Apostasy, "Outmarriages" and the Error of Shiva

On Thu, 19 Aug 2004 05:26:50 -0400 (EDT), Martin Stern wrote:
> This whole discussion of whether one should or should not sit shiva for
> an apostate or someone who marries out is however tangential to the fact
> that this was at one time common practice which reflected the abhorrence
> felt for these transgressions. That we do not do so today reflects a
> change of attitude in those circles where they no longer inspire such
> strong feelings.

Certainly the common practice has changed. But I wonder if the reason is
as you say. Perhaps it is an acknowledgment by the community that there
is less meant by the choice to intermarry today then was meant a hundred
years ago. While I abhor the practice, I have to acknowledge that when a
jew who grows up in the integrated secular culture of america chooses to
intermarry, s/he is not making the same dramatic choice to cut ties with
the jewish community - especially since many parts of that community
expressly accept or even approve of the choice - that was being made by
a jew in 19th century eastern europe.



From: Michael Goldrich <michaelg25@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2004 17:54:19 -0400
Subject: Re: Dairy Bread

The concerns for Kashrut organizations to my understanding apply only to
bread because of the long-standing assumption by the kosher consumer
that all kosher bread is parve.

Here is part of an article from the Montreal Vaad
from http://www.kashrut.com/articles/bread/

In addition to ingredient and equipment issues, two special rules
governing bread must be addressed in order to be granted an MK
Hashgacha. First, Chazal were concerned that bread not be a source of
mixing meat and dairy products, especially since it was the mainstay of
the meal. Chazal therefore ordained that all bread be Pareve - contain
no meat or dairy ingredients, thereby ensuring that one would not
inadvertently eat a dairy bread with a meat meal. From this perspective,
bread is unique, for even if all of the ingredients in a loaf of bread
are Kosher, the bread would still be considered non-kosher if it
contained either Kosher dairy or Kosher meat ingredients. In modern
bakeries, however, this creates a significant problem, since one of the
basic ingredients in classic "white bread" is milk. Indeed, a special
variety of white bread called "milk bread" must contain 6% milk by
Provincial decree! In order to resolve this problem, the MK requires
that all bread certified as Kosher must be Pareve, as well as all
equipment used to bake it. [It should be noted that this Halacha applies
only to regular bread and not to cake, and may not apply if the bread is
baked in a particularly irregular shape and in small amounts, thereby
making its dairy or meat status obvious.

Michael S. Goldrich, MD


From: Binyomin Segal <bsegal@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 01:52:47 -0500
Subject: Re: Dairy Equipment

> If one bakes with chocolate chips marked DE (dairy equipment), can one
> serve the resulting cake or cookie after a meat meal? on meat plates?
> (I would assume that the pastry is cold.)  Since presumably the
> problem is that the chips have been made in equipment with a notein
> ta'am of dairy and the chips have been heated in the course of the
> baking, do they 'dairy-ize' the whole item?

the short answer is yes you may.

a short time ago, the chicago rabbinical council permitted a meat
restaurant to sell frozen dessert items that were DE for this very



From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2004 18:04:44 -0400
Subject: Genetic Differences Among Jews

>From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver) in 44:23
>That might explain the skin color of one of the groups of Jews in India
>(I think the Kochin community), which have a distribution of Y
>chromosomes that indicates a significant contribution (50%?) from the
>local non-Jewish population. But it cannot explain the skin color of
>most Ashkenazic Jews, whose distribution of Y chromosomes is not
>noticeably different from various Middle Eastern populations (Syrians,
>Lebanese, Palestinians). Dutch Jews are an exception, since they have a
>Y chromosome distribution that indicates about a 50% contribution from
>the local non-Jewish population.

Many thanks to Mike Gerver for a serious contribution to this
discussion.  My first question is: How reliable are such estimates
(e.g. 50% contribution of DNA)?  This presupposes a rather large-scale
survey of the DNA of a large proportion of the population. I rather
doubt such data is available. Nobody I know has had his DNA tested and
databased. Where would such numbers have come from?

>       Of course, we are all too aware of the difficulties faced by the
>       formerly Indian and African Jewish groups in being accepted as
>       authentically Jewish by the Israeli Rabbinate, most of whom are,
>       ironically, "Europeanized" Jews themselves.
>I'm not sure this has anything to do with prejudice as a result of dark
>skin color. The problem with populations that claim to be Jewish but do
>not have the Talmud is that there is a concern that they might just be
>non-Jews who learned something about Judaism and decided to call
>themselves Jews, without ever converting. No one has raised such
>questions about, say, Yemenite Jews, who also have darker skin than
>European Jews, but have the Talmud. 

I did not suggest that racial prejudice was involved, although there is
ample precedence for such assumption in general, and specifically in
connection with the Indian community. European Jews arriving in India,
mostly in the 15th and later centuries, did not readily accept the B'nei
Israel or the Cochin Jews as truly authentic Jews. Certainly, not having
the Talmud is a key element of the equation since that established the
principle of matrilineal descent, but skin color was a commonly used
marker of authenticity, even, incidentally, among the groups
internally. My problem with the European population is the assumption
that for 1200 or so years, all of these slave women or other women born
out-of-wedlock, were in fact properly converted prior to their marriage
to Jewish men. "Having" the Talmud as a community and scrupulously
observing its principles are quite different things, as we well know

I agree that genetic evidence should play no role in determining who is
a Jew. My personal opinion, for what it's worth: Any group or individual
that can matrilinearly trace its, his, or her ancestry back for "a few"
hundred years of practising Jews (or to a more recent legitimate
convert) should be accepted as Jewish, no further questions asked. How
many of us could do better than that? All others should be asked
(nicely) to convert.

Can any listers bring us up to date on the status of the various groups
in Israel today vis-a-vis this vexing issue?

b'shalom--Bernie R.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 11:08:05 +0100
Subject: Ktav Ashuri

on 19/8/04 10:44 am, Yaakov Kayman <yaakovk@...> wrote:
> To those who would say that "Ksav Ashuri" means anything other than
> Assyrian writing, I must say that having met some Assyrians (now
> Christian, and having communities in Scarsdale and New Rochell, NY) and
> compared alphabets (they call theirs "alla bi"), I found that the
> letters of our "ksav Ashuri" and their "alla bi" are IDENTICAL.

The modern Assyrian Christians are in no way connected to the ancient
Assyrians but are the remainder of the (if I am not mistaken Nestorian)
Christian community of Mesopotamia from pre-Arab times who used Aramaic
as their liturgical (and previously spoken) language. Thus their use of
our current script is not surprising and has no relevance to this

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 10:59:27 +0100
Subject: New Mother Not Leaving House?

on 19/8/04 10:26 am, Aliza Berger <alizadov@...> wrote:
> A friend of mine recently gave birth. When her baby was about a week
> old, she took him to her workplace (she is a doctor and wanted to weigh
> him there). Some Sephardic people there were astounded. Apparently there
> is a custom for the mother not to go out for 40 days after the birth. Or
> perhaps the custom is for the BABY not to go out? Does anyone know more
> about this?  One question that comes to mind is: Do people who abide by
> this custom always perform the brit in their house?

The custom among Ashkenazim, as I understand it, is that the new mother
does not go out (except in emergency situations of course) until she has
gone to shul at a time of kriat hatorah, when her husband is a chiyuv
(entitled to an aliyah). Most new mothers go for mincha on shabbat but
this is more because of practicality than any other reason. The custom
among Sephardim may be different but nahara nahara ufashtei (each
community should follow its own customs).

Martin Stern


From: Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 00:43:21 -0500
Subject: Re: Polite or PC Speak

>Euphemisms such as "gay" for "homosexual" are specifically designed to
>take away the stigma of these activities and make them less

I think it was George Orwell who famously spoke of the manipulation of
language to the extent that politically corect language is sometimes
called Orwellian.

While we are on the topic, some have used the expression of calling a
spade a spade. However, it is wise to know that black people consider
this offensive. It has something to do with the Ace of Spades in a deck
of cards being black. Thus it is an expresion that should be avoided
even though those who used it here definitely not know that. In fact, a
frum politician used the expression a few years ago without knowing its
racist meaning. When his fellow black politicians complained he told
them that he was honestly unaware of its racist conection and he
apoligised and everyone was happy.


From: David Prins <prins@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 12:11:52 +1000
Subject: Responsibilities of kashrut authorities

Recent correspondence has focused on concerns that consumers may make
mistakes through unclear labelling of kosher products.  I think that we
have broadly agreed that the particular prohibition on baking milchig
bread does not and should not extend to cakes, etc.  But a broader
halachic concept of "lifnei iver" - not putting a stumbling block in
front of a blind person - may apply here.

One of the key roles of kashrut authorities is to facilitate the
observance of kashrut, and unclear labelling seems to go against that,
and may offend against "lifnei iver".  Carl Singer asked (v44i25)
whether anyone could point to the "official" positions of those kashrut
agencies that provide hasgocha on products that might easily be used in
error.  I also ask that question in relation to both:

- packaging of manufactured dairy products that is very similar to
pareve items [reported for instance by Yisrael Medad (v44i16) that
identical packaging was used for both]; and

- catering where dairy and pareve items are both served [suggested by
Martin Stern (v44i19)].

I add another area of concern - seeing on shelves before Pesach items
manufactured in Israel such as margarine and mayonnaise, all identically
packaged, and all labelled "Kosher for Pesach" in English letters,
without qualification.  There is but one difference: in Hebrew letters,
some say "Kasher le-Pesach" without qualification, while others say
"Kasher le-Pesach l'Ochlei Kitniot".  This seems to me to be very

I am not asking for any products to be banned or for any halacha to be
changed or "updated".  I simply ask for kashrut agencies to be more
involved in how the products on which they allow their trademarks to be
displayed are packaged and labelled, and to give more consideration to
their responsibilities in that regard.

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 08:56:12 +0100
Subject: Re: Responsibilities of kashrut authorities

While I agree entirely with David on the importance of clear labelling,
I fear the problem at present is not so much with the kashrut agencies
as the manufacturers themselves who are more interested in maximising
sales than standards of kashrut per se. Anything which limits the
acceptability of their product must therefore be seen by them as
undesirable, which might explain the small print used. With a
multiplicity of supervising agencies there may be a fear that the
company would change to a different one which would not insist on such
clearly visible warnings as "Kasher le-Pesach l'Ochlei Kitniot" or
"Kasher l'Ochlei Gelatin". However, I do not think that pressure to
clearly label dairy products would meet such strong resistance and might
be a more fruitful matter on which to campaign.

Another problem is that the majority of consumers are not really aware
that these are matters of halachic dispute and are quite satisfied to be
told that the product is kosher even if this is, to say the least, a bit
dubious. If questioned they would probably not want to know about these
"chumras of the ultra-orthodox" and say that "if Rabbi Polony says its
kosher that is good enough for me". I have heard this sort of thing even
from people who might be expected to know better. This is similar to the
attitudes we have had expressed on the problem of relying on town-eruvim
in recent issues of mail-jewish.

In consequence, the success of the kashrut agencies in this matter will
depend on making the general public more aware of the problem so that
consumer demand will put pressure on manufacturers to label the level of
kashrut of their goods more clearly. Only an educated public demand will
generate the motivation to solve the problem.

Martin Stern


End of Volume 44 Issue 33