Volume 54 Number 68
                    Produced: Sun May 13  7:24:09 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

The Cost of Joining a Synagogue (3)
         [Israel Caspi, Tzvi Stein, Ed Greenberg]
"cycle of abuse" (was:  Re: Shidduch System)
         [Rise  Goldstein]
Jewish view on Hebrew as Primal Language
         [David Curwin]
Married Women and hair covering
         [Rabbi Wise]
parochet--inside or outside
         [Orrin Tilevitz]
Unmarried women and kippot?
         [Ken Bloom]


From: Israel Caspi <icaspi@...>
Date: Fri, 11 May 2007 05:56:44 -0500
Subject: The Cost of Joining a Synagogue

Marilyn Tomsky's posting on 10 May 2007 on the subject of the Cost of
Joining a Synagogue got me thinking about the costs involved in being a
part of the Jewish community in general.

As one who spent his whole professional life as a rabbi/educator, it
always galled me that people expect sliding scale discounts for their
children's day school tuition, their synagogue membership, etc.  Many of
these people (I do not know Marilyn Tomsky and therefore should not be
understood as referring to her or her family in these observations) seem
to have enough money to drive luxury cars, take many expensive vacations
to points all over the world, buy designer clothes, etc., etc.  And yet
when it comes to paying their fair share of their Jewish expenses, they
cry poverty.  Families with many children would not dream of asking for,
nor would they expect, a discount on their children's clothes just
because there are more than one.  Yet they fully expect a discount on
their day school tuition -- and indeed many, if not most, day schools
offer such a discount based on the number of children in the family (as
though it costs less to educate each one after the first).

After almost 40 years as a Jewish professional in America, I finally
retired and made aliyah.  Guess what.  I joined a synagogue near my
home.  The annual membership fee for which is 400 Shekels, payable in as
many installments as you find convenient.  Religious public schools are
free and if you want to send your child to a private school, the fee is
far less than any Jewish day school in the U.S. and rarely, if ever
(except, perhaps in the Chareidi school system), is there a different
fee for siblings: each pay the same tuition.

Bottom line is, if you want to really live a full Jewish life and pay
less for the privilege, stop trying to make it in a non-Jewish country.
Make aliyah!!

--Israel Caspi

From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Date: Fri, 11 May 2007 07:41:37 -0400
Subject: Re: The Cost of Joining a Synagogue

$10,000 (in 1960s dollars!) to join a synagoguge!  Holy .... !!

You should become Orthodox... it's a lot cheaper.  My shul is $700 a
year, no building fund, and a large proportion of the members work out a
lesser amount, based on ability to pay.  Other Orthodox shuls I've
belonged to have all been similar.  I never had to pay any building fee.

In light of this, I think it's pretty comical when people criticize the
"Orthodox lifestyle" by saying "it's so expensive" to buy kosher food,
tefillin, sheitels, etc.

And another thing... do all those statisticians who lament the number of
"unaffiliated Jews" consider the fact that these synagogues are asking
people to fork over a year's salary (judging from the $10,000 they
charged in the 1960s) for the privilege of being "affiliated"?

No wonder so many are turned off "organized Judaism"!  It probably seems
like an extortion racket to many of them, and they wouldn't join even if
they had the money, out of principal.

From: Ed Greenberg <edg@...>
Date: Fri, 11 May 2007 10:28:41 -0700
Subject: The Cost of Joining a Synagogue

Wow! Quite an operation they have there...

Membership organizations should always function under the control of the
membership. The shul should have bylaws placing the ultimate control of
policy in the hands of the membership. There should be limits on how
much the board or officers can spend or commit without approval of the
membership. If there are no such limits, the organization is out of
control and one should be very careful in committing funds to it.



From: Rise  Goldstein <goldsteinrb@...>
Date: Fri, 11 May 2007 05:28:22 -0400
Subject: "cycle of abuse" (was:  Re: Shidduch System)

Jeanette Friedman wrote:

> Abused people usually become abusive.

NO.  This is a *huge* factual error.  While abusIVE people are
disproportionately likely, relative to their nonabusIVE counterparts, to
have been abusED at some time in the past, the converse is emphatically
*not* the case.  To wit: abusED people usually *do not* become abusive.
(I can cite empirical research that bears out on this point and will do
so by private e-mail upon request.)

In case the above point is unclear, let me cite another example that
might be more familiar to some people.  In this day and age, few
patients diagnosed with lung cancer have *not* smoked cigarettes at some
point in their lives.  Of those who haven't smoked themselves, many have
had extensive exposure to sidestream, or secondhand, smoke.  By most
estimates, 80% or more of lung cancer cases can be "attributed to"
cigarette smoking; that is, in epidemiologic terms, 80% or more of cases
would not have occurred in the absence of cigarette smoking.  On the
other hand, "only" about 30% of cigarette smokers will develop lung
cancer (though obviously many more will develop *other* smoking-related

At least as of a few years ago, when I last taught graduate-level
coursework on the epidemiology of interpersonal violence, the best
available evidence suggested that abusers abuse because they can.  That
is, there isn't sufficient societal opprobrium, whether in "frum"
society or in any other society of which I'm aware, to deter the
behavior effectively.  Clearly, once newlyweds get behind closed doors,
any motivation to put best feet forward may diminish, such that
individuals predisposed to become abusIVE through any one of a number of
pathways become more likely to act on their predispositions.  However,
this in no way is tantamount to saying that abusED people usually become

> [...] On the other hand, if both people are putatively normal, they
> will get along, especially if they have learned that whoever they
> marry, the idea is mutual respect and teamwork.

"Putatively normal" doesn't necessarily have anything to do with
anything in this domain.  As a clinically trained social worker and a
mental health and substance abuse researcher, I've seen many couples in
which at least one party has a serious or severe mental illness and who
have done very well together.  The scientific literature clearly
suggests that such couples face a lot more challenges than couples in
which neither partner has a major mental disorder, but the relevant
point here is "mutual respect and teamwork."  Neither mutual respect nor
teamwork involves "putative normality" as either a necessary or a
sufficient condition.

> So basically what I am saying is that every case is different--

While there are some empirically well-supported generalizations about
the subject matter at hand, I agree that this last assertion is truly
the bottom line.

Rise Goldstein (<goldsteinrb@...>)
Silver Spring, MD 


From: David Curwin <tobyndave@...>
Date: Sat, 12 May 2007 22:20:06 +0300
Subject: Jewish view on Hebrew as Primal Language

On my website, Balashon, I discuss how many English words might have
their roots in Semitic languages, and how words from other languages
have entered Hebrew over the millennia. In response to the latter, I
often get confused or upset responses from readers who believe that this
can provide difficulty to their understanding of the Torah and
Orthodoxy. According to this approach, the divine Torah is in Hebrew,
Hebrew is the language God spoke in (which I agree with) and therefore
all words in all languages must derive from Hebrew (see Edenics for this
approach to an extreme) and no attempt should be made to show how
foreign languages influenced Hebrew.

For an example of my approach, see what I wrote about the word totafot:

and the comments on that post. (I think this is a good example, because
here even Rabbi Akiva seems to indicate a connection between foreign
languages and a Torah word.)

My question is, when did the opposition to foreign influence in Hebrew
develop? The "Edenic" approach, from what I have read, was actually
prevalent in 17th century Christian circles, where they referred to an
"Adamic language". Did any of the Rishonim or Achronim follow this
approach?  I know that the Kuzari and the Rambam discuss the "elevated"
level of Hebrew, but I don't recall them discussing that Hebrew was the
origin of the other languages.

One point that I've often brought up to those focusing on "Eden" - if we
read in the story of the Tower of Bavel that God intentionally dispersed
the people by mixing up their language, why should we assume that God's
work was not complete, and that Hebrew remained a part of all these new
words? Does anyone know any Talmudic or later sources that might discuss
this question?


David Curwin
Balashon - Hebrew Language Detective


From: <Meirhwise@...> (Rabbi Wise)
Date: Fri, 11 May 2007 07:47:12 EDT
Subject: Re:  Married Women and hair covering

In response to Orrin Tilevitz - re: married women

My late Rebbe, Rabbi Geztel Ellinson devoted a whole chaper (three) to
the second volume of Haisha VeHamitzvot - Hatnea Lechet (pages 94-126)
to the need for married women to cover their hair.

Anyone who does not do so is "Overet al dat Yehudit" see Talmud Bavli
Ketubot 72b; Shiltei Gibborim to the Rif there; Rambam Issurei Biah chap
21 halacha 17; Responsa Terumat HaDeshen 242 etc etc

But to answer the question directly - probably those women who
unfortunately do not (yet) cover their hair feel that for religious
practices - shul, kiddush, weddings, bentching and candle lighting that
they should do so.  Lets hope that they reach the required level of
observance soon.

Rabbi Wise, London


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Fri, 11 May 2007 09:11:25 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: parochet--inside or outside

Is there a rule specifying whether the parochet must be inside or
outside the aron kodesh, and if so, why?  Clearly, the widespread
practice seems to have it outside, but I have seen it inside in at least
2 shuls (both, oddly enough, under Chabad auspices).  My recollection is
that the inside parochet is also the practice in Conservative


From: Ken Bloom <kbloom@...>
Date: Fri, 11 May 2007 09:28:59 -0500
Subject: Re: Unmarried women and kippot?

On Friday 13 April 2007 07:26, Perets Mett wrote:
> On 13 Apr 2007, at 10:56AM, Ken Bloom wrote:
> > Does know of teshuvot that discuss women (either unmarried women or
> > married women in private) wearing kippot or otherwise covering
> > their head when davening and making berachot? (Particularly in
> > light of the practice of Conservative and Reform Jews in this
> > regard.)
> In a list devoted to halachic Judaism, in what way is the practice of
> Conservative and Reform Jews relevant?
> Perets Mett

I'm reviewing the first draft of a book (in English) which discusses the
laws of getting up in the morning, washing hands, the bathroom, and
getting dressed. The last halacha the author discusses is the kippah,
and the very last section of that discusses women.

He states: "Married women are required to cover their heads when
reciting blessings, when praying Shemoneh Esreh, and when uttering the
name of Hashem[1]. Although it is proper for unmarried females of
Sephardic origin to do so, those who are lenient in this regard have on
whom to rely[2]. Unmarried females of Ashkenazic origin need not cover
their heads when reciting a blessing or uttering hte name of HaShem[3]."

[1] Citations for this part of the halacha include Chesed La'alafim, 
Yabia Omer, Halacha Berura, and Halichot Shelomo.

[2] Citations for this part of the halacha include Yehave Da'at, Yabia
Omer, Or LeTziyon, Yalkut Yosef, Ish Matzliach, and Shemeh U'Magein.

[3] Citations for this part of the halacha include Helkat Mehokek, Tzitz
Eliezer, Rivevot Efrayim, Halichot Shelomo, and Yabia Omer quoting Rav

Aside from the issue that this section is too brief to distinguish
between women's hair covering, and women's head covering (an issue which
I have already mentioned to the author), I feel that the list of poskim
is very heavy on Israeli poskim, and lacking in American poskim.

Moreover, despite the fact that R' Ovadia Yosef prefers unmarried women
to cover their heads when saying a beracha or davening (and I follow R'
Ovadia's psak very heavily) I would nevertheless would feel
uncomfortable in America about a woman who followed R' Ovadia's opinion
by wearing a kippah, since I am accustomed to understanding this as a
statement of egalitarianism by the Conservative and Reform movements.
R' Ovadia rules that a man should wear a kippah in order to be
recognized as one who accepts Torah and Mitzvot -- Yehave Da'at v4s1,
Yabia Omer v9 OC 1. Since this practice conveys the opposite message
among women in the United States, I was wondering whether there were
poskim who discuss this issue explicitly in this context.



End of Volume 54 Issue 68