Volume 49 Number 80
                    Produced: Mon Aug 29  5:45:20 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Attending a Church Service
         [Orrin Tilevitz]
Going into a Church
         [W. Baker]
Good Intentions -- was separation of church & state
         [Janice Gelb]
         [Janice Gelb]
Noisy davenning
         [Ben Katz]
Post-dated checks
         [Carl A. Singer]
Seat Belts
         [Ben Katz]
         [Rabbi Abraham Halbfinger]
Tefila Betzibur
         [Gershon Dubin]
What is family - synagogue definitions
         [Keith Bierman]


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Sat, 27 Aug 2005 19:56:57 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Attending a Church Service

I think it is possible that at least certain forms of Christianity are
avoda zara for Jews, but in any event, n response to my shaila, I was
told that one could attend a church service--in this specific case, a
funeral mass--for business reasons, e.g., the funeral of a business
acquaintance.  I am not sure that a college course is the same case, but
what it reminds me of is the passage in Rosh Hashana mentioning that
Rabban Gamliel kept models of solar system objects, the prohibition in
the Mishna notwithstanding, to facilitate his study.


From: W. Baker <wbaker@...>
Date: Fri, 26 Aug 2005 12:52:20 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Going into a Church

> From: Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...>
>> As an adult, I can go to a church wedding, or Christian funeral. As a
>> child, I would have been mortified. I would expect to be turned to a
>> pillar of salt.
> I always thought it is asur to even walk into a church. Just because you
> don't turn into a pillar of salt proves nothing.

I have had problems with this when volunteers at my food drives or bread
collection have questions about delivering the food from our food drives
and bakery runs, to the soup kitchens and food pantries that are often
in church buildings.  When I spoke to our various Rabbis about this,
they told me that there was no problem as people were not going into the
santuary, but the other parts of the building where the food activities
went on.  My volunteers have accepted this and no one has refused to
deliver the food.  The issue of entering the sanctuarly has not been
discussed, as it was irrelevant to the food deliveries, so I am not
giving anyone's views on that.

Wendy Baker-volunteer director, Lincoln Square Synagogue's Food Funnel


From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Fri, 26 Aug 2005 15:37:33 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Good Intentions -- was separation of church & state

Carl A. Singer <casinger@...> wrote:
> When people, with good intentions, try to be ecumenical or "fair and
> balanced" I appreciate the effort.  My High School choir sang the 150th
> psalm in Hebrew.  (It turned out that the choir director, a non-Jew, was
> a paid member of the choir of a local reform congregation.)
> I recall an Army officer who brought a bottle of Mogen David wine (for
> me) to an all holiday reception.  The thought was appreciated.
> Similarly, an attempt, however misguided, to include Chanukah into
> Christmas season events can if the circumstances warrant be looked at as
> a gesture of friendship.

I agree that it is a gesture of friendship but I don't agree that
therefore we shouldn't educate the people who are doing this. Anything
we can do to educate people that Chanukah has nothing to do with
Christmas and that we are perfectly ok with not being included in any
Christmas seasonal events is all to the good, imho. I think we need to
do it in an appreciative, friendly way but if we never say anything, how
are they to know that the gesture is well meaning but is not
accomplishing what they think it is?

The more we encourage schools to throw in a token Chanukah song in a
"holiday" program that's really for Christmas, or (don't get me started
on this) build giant menorahs and sponsor civic or TV programs to
compete with Christmas programs, the more we encourage the belief that
the two holidays are related.

-- Janice


From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Fri, 26 Aug 2005 15:47:30 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Noah's

Nadine Bonner <nfbonner@...> wrote:
> This phenomenon of stereotyping customers is not unknown in the business
> world, but usually it is more subtle. About 8 years ago a manager at
> Einstein Bagels sued the company for discrimination, contending that she
> had not received promotions because she was Jewish. [snip]
> This, too, is a treif food chain that attracts a Jewish clientele. (I
> think at one point they had a kosher subsidiary--Noah's Bagels. But I
> think most of them either closed or became treif.)

Just to clarify: Noah's Bagels was founded in the San Francisco Bay Area
by Noah Alper, who sold the company seven years ago to Einstein, which
was then absorbed by another company. It was only after Einstein bought
them that the Noah's outlets became treyf. (Alper studied in yeshiva for
a while and then opened a kosher dairy Italian restaurant in Berkeley.)

-- Janice


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Fri, 26 Aug 2005 12:35:36 -0500
Subject: Re: Noisy davenning

>From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
>From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
><<No one, to my knowledge, has an obligation to daven betzibur.>>
>How about Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 90:9?  See also halachos of what
>parts of davening one may skip to daven betzibur, preferences re: which
>shuls, shul vs. minyan in the house etc.
>There most certainly is an obligation.

         I double checked last night to be sure.  The word the mechaber
uses is "Yishtadel" not "Chayav".  I maintain that it is better but most
certainly not obligatory.  

shabat shalom.

Ben Z. Katz, M.D.
Children's Memorial Hospital, Division of Infectious Diseases
2300 Children's Plaza, Box # 20, Chicago, IL 60614
e-mail: <bkatz@...>


From: Carl A. Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Sun, 28 Aug 2005 08:03:10 -0400
Subject: Post-dated checks

In the US the issue of post-dated checks isn't that black and white.
State laws vary but a quick internet search shows that in some states
one can notify one's bank not to allow a post-dated check which they've
written to be cashed ahead of time.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act also addresses this regarding
whether a credit agency can ask for / cash post-dated checks.

To say that post-dated checks are "illegal" is a bit strong -- it may be
"unwise" to use them with someone you don't trust -- as in most cases it
seems the date can be ignored by whomever you give the checks to and
they may be cashed whenever the holder deposits them.

I imagine there are also some halachik issues, but I don't want to jump
into the deep end of that pool.

Carl Singer


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Fri, 26 Aug 2005 17:06:05 -0500
Subject: Re: Seat Belts

>From: Carl A. Singer <casinger@...>
>This was touched upon several weeks ago but seemed to go away without
>definitive responses.
>1 - Is it halachically permitted to drive without seat belts?
>2 - Has anyone paskened on this?
>3 - What is one's responsibility to one's fellow (wo)man re: same -- if
>you're  in car with them,  otherwise.

         Here are my absolutist responses:
         1.  It shouldn't be (just like it shouldn't be halachically 
permitted to smoke).  This is just as much chinuch as teaching your kids to 
daven or not eat traif.
         2.  I don't know (and I know people will be mad at me about this, 
but I don't care.  See my response to 1 above).
         3.  One should not drive a car if the other front-seated passenger 
is not belted in.  (The last time I checked with the AAA, passengers in the 
back seat, if the door is locked, are at no greater risk in accidents 
whether belted or not, so I am not AS makpid on the back seat.)  The cars 
in our house won't move if the front-seated passnger is not belted in - I 
don't care how old, obese or chashuv the person is.   I will often do the 
seat belt for them myself if they cannot do it themselves.

Ben Z. Katz, M.D.
Children's Memorial Hospital, Division of Infectious Diseases
2300 Children's Plaza, Box # 20, Chicago, IL 60614
e-mail: <bkatz@...>


From: <SylviaHalb@...> (Rabbi Abraham Halbfinger)
Date: Fri, 26 Aug 2005 17:02:33 EDT
Subject: Shofar

The best way to clean a shofar is to use a solution of  1/3 vinegar and
2/3 water.

Rabbi Abraham Halbfinger


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Sat, 27 Aug 2005 23:20:47 -0400
Subject: Tefila Betzibur

Pursuant to discussion concerning tefila betzibur and its importance, I
was directed to the following Ruach Chaim (Commentary of Rav Chaim
Volozin on Pirkei Avos) in chapter 2, the mishna about "al tehi rasha
bifnei atzmecha".  One explanation he gives is the standard one about
not looking at yourself as a rasha (wicked person), but his primary
explanation is as a continuation of the beginning of the mishna.

The beginning discusses the importance of tefila, and he interprets al
tehi rasha bifnei atzmecha as meaning that if you are bifnei atzmecha,
and you don't daven with the tzibur,you are a rasha. He says that tefila
requires so much effort in kavana that nobody in our times (he lived
about 200 years ago) can do it properly, and the only chance of having
your tefilos accepted is to daven betzibur.

It may not make the cut for one MailJewish correspondent's request about
an  o b l i g a t i o n  of tefila betzibur, but it's strong medicine.



From: Keith Bierman <Keith.Bierman@...>
Date: Fri, 26 Aug 2005 17:06:11 -0700
Subject: re:  What is family - synagogue definitions

>From: Carl A. Singer <casinger@...> wrote many sage words:
>The synagogue official defining "family" is often the treasurer or
>financial secretary and this has to do with dues and postage (do we send
>them one monthly newsletter or two.)  Nothing to do with halacha.

Indeed, well observed!

 For many years, my brother and I were partners in a house (we were both
on title). He is less observant and was not overly interested in joining
the local synagogue. However, I was active and was interested in Kiruv,
so I tried to sign us up for the family membership.

>If, for example, this official accepts a dues check from John Doe & Jane
>...at all.  It's just a bookkeeping convenience.  The same likely applies
>for John Doe & Harry Smith.

Or for Ploni ben Bar and his brother Fred ben Bar ;>

But the local synagogue's policy was not to. But they did offer me the
chance to sign up him up for one year at a greatly reduced
"introduction" rate. I did so.

He wandered by a few times, especially at the holidays but was
unimpressed. When the renewal notice came (at the full rate) he told the
office he wasn't interested. After that, they billed him quarterly for
some years.

When I accepted a position on the Board, the Treasurer took me aside to
talk to me about "my problem" viz. that my brother owed the synagogue
some years of dues, and now as a Board member I should "fix it".

Of course, I explained that he had no obligation; he never signed up (I
signed him up) he notified the synagogue office of his lack of interest;
he was almost never in schul (he'd visit me once a year or so) and etc.

Needless to say, there was hard feelings (my brother still harbors them;
it certainly did *not* succeed in Kiruv).

These days, my wife and I live in the house my brother and I shared. My
80+ year old next door neighbor (not jewish) feels much better now that
she's not living next to a homosexual couple (she'd always assumed that
"brother" was some sort of code word).

For schuls which are not operating at nearly peak capacity, I'd think
that in the interests of Kiruv any number of people at a single address,
with one set of billing information ... irrespective of their sexual
orientation or commitments should be given a group membership.

"Real" families tend to impose higher costs (e.g. children cause more
wear and tear on the synagogue ;>).

Bonus consideration: had my cousin (who is like a sister to my brother
and I), heaven forbid, have died while we were living together, I am
sure that we would have taken steps to adopt her children (assuming she
had not made other arrangements for their welfare). At that point, we
would have had two adults (same sex) and children (depending on the
year, between 1 and 4). Why should we have *not* been accorded family
status at that point? Did Mordechai's caring for Esther not constitute a

Of course, that brings us back to the issue of should the synagogue try
to figure out whether two housemates are sleeping together in a
halachically unacceptable manner.

If I recall my Talmud Rav's explanation of some of the bits of Eruvin,
during the Babylonian exile many of our people had what we would call
today shared housing (e.g. an "upstairs apartment" that had no direct
route to the street) as long as there are multiple bedrooms shouldn't
the presumption (between housemates of any sex) be that frum jews will
behave in a frum fashion?

My heart goes out to people whose urges and halacha are not in accord;
but it's actions and not urges that constitute transgression. But I
don't think it's the synagogue office's function to quiz people about
their urges.

The various bits of discussion that have strayed into the overly
personal and pejorative are distasteful and inconsistent with the normal
tone of this list. Perhaps it's just because I'm behind in my reading
that it struck me so hard.

Keith H. Bierman    <keith.bierman@...>|
Sun Microsystems PAE                     | <khbkhb@...>
Menlo Park, California  94025            | sun internal 68207
<speaking for myself, not Sun*> Copyright 2005


End of Volume 49 Issue 80