Volume 47 Number 01
                    Produced: Fri Feb 18  5:59:06 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Administrivia - special topic group created
         [Avi Feldblum]
Are there two classes of Jews? (3)
         [Carl Singer, Perry Dane, Carl Singer]
Is Metzitzah Be-Peh hazardous?
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
Le'elah u'le'ela
         [Emmanuel Ifrah]
Mixed Pew Seating (3)
         [Martin Stern, Israel Caspi, Yisrael & Batya Medad]
Nature has Changed
         [Warren Burstein]
Women in Synagogue
         [Nathan Lamm]


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2005 05:40:12 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Administrivia - special topic group created

Hello all and welcome to volume 47 of mail-jewish

Last week, I posted an message that I entitled "Some serious thoughts on
recent topics". I got a few responses to it, and I think the consensus of
the respondants was that there were a number of people who wanted to
actively engage in a dialogue, but felt that holding the dialogue on
mail-jewish had the potential of driving members who would feel the
discusion was divisive, both on the left and right sides of the
discussion, to leave mail-jewish. All thought that would be anegative
outcome. That was my concern as well, and I agree with them. So what I
have done is create a (likely temporary) new group on the Yahoo Groups
under Judaism called:  mj-dialogue

Description 					Category:  Judaism
A spin-off of the mail-jewish mailing list, this group is to explore and
engage in dialogue on the issue of the boundries, similarities and
differences between Orthodoxy and Conservative Judaism. This is a strictly
no-flame group and is open to any member who wishes to engage in open and
honest discussions.

Group Email Addresses
Post message: 	<mj-dialogue@...>
Subscribe: 	<mj-dialogue-subscribe@...>
web site:       http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mj-dialogue/

So, for those who are interested, I invite you to join the above and we
will see whether there is an interest on this discussion and how long it

In the meantime, we will keep mail-jewish moving in it's current direction
and hopefully be able to focus on the areas of more mutual interest and

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish moderator
<mljewish@...>    or     feldblum@rcn.com


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2005 06:35:59 -0500
Subject: Are there two classes of Jews?

I think it's simpler than that -- people are paskening differently for
two classes of Jews.

It's not as if the posek said, for those who keep Glatt or Chalav
Yisroel ....  Or for those who have a tradition of metzitza b'al peh

The statement appears to say that for the ignorant Jews or those who
doesn't know the difference (should we read "less observant") we can
skip metzitza all together -- but for the frum we should do it, but not
b'al peh.  This is an a priori statement.

This is unlike the oft retold situation of the poor woman coming to the
posek with her chicken (where one has to pasken the situation of the
individual in determining the status of the chicken.)

Carl A. Singer, Ph.D.
See my web site:  www.ProcessMakesPerfect.net      

From: Perry Dane <dane@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2005 09:06:13 -0500
Subject: Are there two classes of Jews?

At 06:59 AM 2/16/2005, Nachum Klafter wrote:
>I think Carl is bringing up a very important point.  I am also
>disheartened when halakhic Jews treat more observant Jews differently
>than they do less observant Jews.  This case, I believe, is somewhat
>different.  The Rosh Yeshiva essentially contends that there is no
>obligation to perform metzitzah in our times, at all.  However, he
>thinks that there will be widespread opposition by the parents and
>guests at Bris Milah gatherings who are accustomed to seeing metzitzah
>done whenever there is a circumcision.  They may also be aware that the
>Shulchan Aruch states that mohalim who omit metzitzah should not be
>appointed for future circumcisions, and they will not understand the
>reasoning behind why this Rosh Yeshiva asserts that this ruling is no
>longer applicable even as a minhag.  Among totally unknowledgeable and
>unobservant Jews, he sees no reason to perform metzitzah at all since he
>contends that is no longer an obligation.

         Ah, but there's the rub: I don't doubt that Nachum has a good
point.  But one could, in principle, just as easily make the opposite
argument.  It has been my experience that "unobservant" Jews, at least
in certain circumstances, often care a good deal about things being done
in a "traditional" way, even if they don't understand (or care about)
the halakhic nuances of that tradition.  Truly observant and
knowledgeable Jews, however, should (ideally) be expected to understand,
and care very deeply about, such halakhic notions as, for example, (a)
pikuach nefesh, (b) the evolution and possible cessation of minhagim,
(c) the problematics of relying on traditional, but now-discredited,
empirical assumptions (such as the belief that mitzitzah furthers
health) and (d) the authority of a psak din. 

 The problem Nachum identifies, therefore, is not so much with people
who are "knowledgeable" (full stop), but with people who are
knowledgeable in certain respects, but not others, or observant of
humrot or traditional practices, but impatient with the full range of
halakhic argumentation and nuance.  That is, of course, a deep problem
with serious implications in a wide range of contexts.


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2005 08:21:35 -0500
Subject: Are there two classes of Jews?

As Nachum has discerned in his response my concerns have little, perhaps
nothing, to do with the halacha but with the social implications of
multiple classes of Jews.  We've long heard distasteful comments re:
goyim.  These reflect an attitude and mindset.  This same mindset
towards non-observant, less-observant, not-yet-observant, ba'al tshuva,
modern, hassidish, litvish, yeshivish .... etc.  serves only to further
split the remnant of Israel.

When we look, l'havdil, to other religions we see great schisms with
various root causes -- for example, "Free Methodist" vs. "Methodist" --
a dispute that I'm told was rooted in whether or not one must pay for
their seat.

I believe that ANYTHING we do to foster internal class distinction can
have negative consequences.

Kol tuv,


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2005 08:59:22 +0200
Subject: Re: Is Metzitzah Be-Peh hazardous?

Nachum Klafter stated the following:

      Ira Jacobson vigorously argues that there is insufficient evidence
      to draw conclusions or recommend policy regarding the
      appropriateness of metzitza be-peh based on a case series of 8
      cases.  In addition to feeling that the medical evidence is
      inadeaute, he is understandably reluctant to concede that the
      morbidity and mortality associated with these 8 cases is a result
      of a millenia old Jewish custom because this would be a Hillul
      HaShem.  In his words: (v46n95):

      > Now if the case studies, for example, represent four cases out
      > of tens of millions, then the conclusion seems unwarranted.  Not
      > to mention a likely hillul hashem.

      I am quite troubled by Ira's remarks.  I would like to first
      address the medical and statistical aspects of his argument, and
      then return to his formulation of Hillul HaShem in this case.

The hillul hashem to which I alluded was the aspect of criticizing the
institution of ritual circumcision to the non-Jewish community, certain
segments of which were actively opposed to this practice under any
conditions of sterility.

I am sorry that I did not spell that out sooner.

And besides that, I was struck by the wishy washy nature of their
conclusions, to wit: first they say it "carries a serious risk," and
then they backtrack and say it "may be hazardous."  I guess they have
not formulated an opinion, or maybe the first conclusion is that of the
majority of the researchers, and the second is the minority opinion of
the others.

Oh yes, and just to prevent misunderstanding, I wholeheartedly agree
with Leah Perl's statement:

      There is no way to excuse something that is causing infants to

IRA L. JACOBSON         


From: Emmanuel Ifrah <emmanuel_ifrah@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2005 01:03:46 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Le'elah u'le'ela

> [...] and Sefardim never say it.

This is incorrect. Sefaradim usually do say "le'ela u-le'ela" during the
"asseret yemei teshuva" - at least among North African communities. When
they say it, they also pay attention to say "Mi-kol birchata" instead of
"Min kol birchata" in order not to modify the number of words in the

Emmanuel Ifrah


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2005 07:01:31 +0000
Subject: Re: Mixed Pew Seating

on 16/2/05 2:45 am, Judith Weil <weildj@...> wrote:
> In the above context I'd like to mention that I was in Germany last
> summer (the whats whys and wherefores are a story in themselves) and
> while there visited the shul in Worms. Our guide, who was not Jewish,
> said that even when Worms Jewish community was nearing Reform it
> retained separate seating, although without a mechitza, because non-Jews
> also sat separately in church.
> She must have been in about her mid forties and said that she remembers
> that when she was a child the worshipers sat men and women separately.
> In Frankfurt I davened at the "Westend Synagoge", (that's the way
> Synagogue is spelled in German) which is the main Orthodox shul
> there. The shul was formerly Reform or Conservative, and had an organ,
> which has been removed.  In spite of the shul's non-Orthodox status when
> it was first built, there is a women's gallery.

The same is true of the West London Synagogue, the first Reform
synagogue in London founded in the 1840s which only introduced mixed
seating after WW1.  This innovation was originally introduced by the
Reform movement in the USA in the 19th century in imitation of
nonconformist chapels and only spread to Europe later.

Martin Stern

From: Israel Caspi <icaspi@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2005 11:06:13 -0500
Subject: Mixed Pew Seating

Judith Weil <weildj@...> wrote "In Frankfurt I davened at
the "Westend Synagoge", (that's the way Synagogue is spelled in German)
which is the main Orthodox shul there.  The shul was formerly Reform or
Conservative...  In spite of the shul's non-Orthodox status when it was
first built, there is a women's gallery."

My understanding is that separate seating was the norm in the European
Reform synagogues and that "Mixed Pew Seating" was introduced by Isaac
Mayer Wise in his Cincinnati (Reform) congregation.  The story is that
IMW was looking for a site for services and a minister friend (Baptist?)
suggested that since his church was not used on the (Jewish) Sabbath,
why not use the building for the Jewish prayers?  IMW accepted the
suggestion, even though the seating in the church was mixed.  And thus
the practice of "Mixed Pew Seating" became normative in Reform

--Israel Caspi

From: Yisrael & Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2005 20:40:16 +0200
Subject: Mixed Pew Seating

I have not participated in this thread of discussion as I had nothing
really to add from a Halachic aspect.  However, just to add testimony,
the Holliswood Jewish Center in Queens, NY, had the ConservaDox seating
arrangement, i.e., mixed seating in the main body of the synagogue yet a
separate mens and womens section on either side of the Aron Kodesh area
up front.

My recollection, from my early years, before Bar Mitzva, that is in the
mid 1950s, was that our Rabbi, Pinchas N.D.  Brener, a graduate of YU,
was permitted to hold such a pulpit by Rav JB Soloveichik with the
understanding that the idea was to improve on the level of observance.

I am glad to report that that congregation is now the Young Israel of
Holliswood and for the past 20 years or so has been solely separate

Yisrael Medad


From: Warren Burstein <warren@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2005 14:20:43 +0200
Subject: Nature has Changed

In mail-jewish Vol. 46 #99, Eitan Fiorino refers to the view that
"nature has changed."  I have heard this on numerous occasions, and have
been curious as to the source for this view.  Who first noticed that
this had taken place?  Did the traditional remedies stop working all at
once, or was it a gradual change?  Did other medical traditions notice a
similar effect, or did this only apply to Jewish medicine?  Are there
differing viewpoints?


From: <Danmim@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2005 19:13:53 EST
Subject: Re: Succah

Question; constructing a rectangular shape gazebo with
6 permanent wooden crossbars across the top. I want to use it for a
Succah; is there a problem with leaving the crossbars in place and to
place the s'chach over the crossbars or in between the crossbars? The
total size will be 14 ft. by 12 ft.


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2005 05:51:37 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Women in Synagogue

"The reform innovation in the US was "family style seating" which was a
direct borrowing from the prevalent Protestant custom in the US."

According to Professor Jonathan Sarna in his new book on American
Judaism, the very practice of women attending synagogue at all (on a
regular basis, I suppose) is an American innovation based on "prevalent
Protestant custom in the US." Many shuls in Eastern Europe had no
women's section at all.


End of Volume 47 Issue 1