Volume 55 Number 56
                    Produced: Wed Aug 29  6:15:59 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Internet monitor (2)
         [Shalom Berger, Avi Feldblum]
Is a Converted Jew Still a Jew? (5)
         [Alex H, Yehonatan Chipman, Ari Trachtenberg, Martin Edelstein,
Avi Feldblum]


From: Shalom Berger <szberger@...>
Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2007 01:27:17 +0300
Subject: Internet monitor

Tzvi asks:

> A friend of mine mentioned that there is some frum internet monitoring
> service that records all the websites you visit and some rabbi checks if
> they are kosher and if not... he didn't know what hapenned then.  He
> said he thinks it's called Shomer Achi Anochi.  I was not able to find
> anything on Google by that name.  Has anyone heard of something like
> this?

Something to this effect was suggested on the Lookjed list (see
http://lookstein.org/lookjed/read.php?1,15135,15263#msg-15263 ).

According to the post, the site is www.covenanteyes.com

[Note: www.covenanteyes.com is not the site Tzvi is directly referring
to, but is a similar type service. It is important to note that if one
were to consider using that service, the fee for the service is used to
provide funding for Christian ministries. Mod.]


Rabbi Shalom Z. Berger, Ed.D.
The Lookstein Center
School of Education
Bar-Ilan University

From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2007
Subject: Internet monitor

Just a quick note in my moderator / editor hat. Any responses to Tzvi's
request / posting either identifying the US government / Patriot Act or
the Taliban etc are not being accepted and sent along to the list. 

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish Moderator


From: Alex H <odat@...>
Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2007 08:29:43 -0500
Subject: RE: Is a Converted Jew Still a Jew?

> In short, your relative is correct. The ruling is that anyone born of a
> Jewish mother is Jewish and that is not changed by conversion etc. Such
> a person has certain rulings that apply to a Jew who chooses to
> associate with a different religion, and may be treated as a "non-Jew"
> in respect to certain specific issues. However, the child of a
> Jewish mother who converts to Christianity before the child is born, and
> then the child returns to his/her roots, that child does not require a
> conversion, that child is Jewish.
> Avi Feldblum

We live in a modern world with a different mode of thinking from our
ancestors so the logic of that decision is no longer obvious.

Judaism is a tribal system as well as a religion. Christianity is a
religion alone. In Christianity, everyone converts to that
religion. Children are baptized (essentially mimicking a mikvah dunking)
as part of a conversion ceremony. They don't think of it that way
normally, but that is what is happening. It is like joining a public
service organization with an elaborate initiation ceremony. (I apologize
for trivializing the Christian conversion process because it is often a
profound change of mind and spirit, but essentially there is a window of
time when they are not a Christian and must sign up.)

By contrast, Jews are part of a tribe or collection of tribes. As with
any tribe, you are born into it just as one is born into a nation. If
you are born here in the USA you are automatically a citizen. No
initiating ceremony is required. No profound declaration of loyalty is
required. One can be the greatest patriot or the vilest dirty-bomber but
you are still a citizen of the USA if you were born here.

Because Judaism is tribal in nature, being born into the tribe makes you
a member of the tribe. Nothing more is required but that your Jewish
parents brought you into this world. Specifically, a Jewish mother must
bring you into the world.

Jewish conversion is a way to bring someone not born to the tribe into
the tribe. In essence one is adopted... not converted. This can be a
ceremony with elaborate requirements. The same is true of anyone who was
not born a US citizen. He must study, pass a test and then make sincere
pledges. No dirty-bombers allowed.

Those Jews who forsake the tribe are bad Jews, but they are still
Jews. When they finally return, they need not "convert" to Judaism but
rather make a declaration that they have returned. Exactly what that
declaration might be and when it might be required, I do not know. But
certainly if a Jew were baptized as a Christian, renounced it and then
returned to the Jewish community, he would have to make some sort of
declaration of returning...  probably to a beit din.  (This decision
came when our ancestors had to figure out what to do about the forced
conversion of Jews to Catholicism during the Inquisition and Expulsion
from Spain. Once Jews escaped, and found their way back to an observant
Jewish community, did they have to re-convert to Judaism? The answer,
finally, was that they only had to make a formal declaration that they
had returned.).

Recently I met a man who I knew to be a practicing Catholic, but when we
sat down to talk, he admitted to me that he was born Jewish. Apparently
it never occurred to him that he was still Jewish, so I mentioned it to
him and told him he would be welcomed back to the tribe any time. I
smiled and he smiled, waved and left me. I let him go.

Alex Herrera

[I am a convert. Most people think I am Sephardic because I look it, but
I am Ashkenazi. I was a Catholic and a Mexican-American right out of the
barrio of East LA... not far from Soto Street, the old Jewish sector,
oddly enough. :-)]

From: Yehonatan Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2007 17:28:15 +0200
Subject: Re: Is a Converted Jew Still a Jew?

      In MJ v55 #54 there is an exchange between Marilyn Tomsky and Avi
Feldblum about the issue of the Jewishness of apostate Jews.  While
Avi's point--summed up in the saying of Hazal that "A Jew, even if he
sins, remains a Jew"--is basically correct, nevertheless, like almost
everything else in Judaism, the answer is not altogether answer.

    In a recent newspaper report of the death of the archbishop of
Paris, Cardinal Jean Marie Lustiger (born Aharon), it says that he used
to say of himself that he was both Jew and Christian, since he was born
the former and converted to the latter.  He reportedly even used to come
to shul to say Kaddish on his parent's yahrzeit (wearing his surplice?).
But the former Chief Rabbi of France, Rene Samuel Sirat, said that this
was wrong.  While Sirat had friendly relations with Lustiger, enjoyed
talking theology with him, and appreciated his role as an "Ohev Yisrael"
within the Church, who gave concrete to Israel and against
anti-Semitism, he refused to accept him as a Jew unless and until he did
teshuvah -- meaning, minimally, to abandon Christianity.

     I think Rav Sirat's position was certainy correct, in terms of public

    Similarly, Israel's Supreme Court, back in the 1950's, ruled on the
case of Brother Daniel (Oswald Rufeisen), a Polish Jew who converted to
Christianity during the Shoah, remained out of conviction, became a
Carmelite monk, made "aliyah" to Israel, and sought citizenship under
the Law of Return.  The court rejected his application, saying that
under the common, and common-sense, understanding of what it means to be
a Jew, being a Jew and a Christian are mutually exclusive identities.

    Halakhically, too, there are many disabilities to an apostate Jew --
viz. accepting his testimony in a Jewish court, and many other halakhic
acts-- I think that he is not even counted for a minyan, there are
problems with his performing yibbum or halitzah and gittin, etc.  So
such a person's status is not altogether clearcut.

    A whole other question is whether conversion to Buddhism is like
embracing another theistic religion.  It seems to me that many of the
Westerners who embrace Buddhism in our day see it more as a philosophy,
an approach to life, than as a religion.  They certainly see the Buddha
as a man, as a very wise teacher, not as a deity, and they may refrain
from bowing to stautes of him.  But that is a whole 'nother set of

     Yehonatan Chipman

From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2007 10:25:30 -0400
Subject: Re: Is a Converted Jew Still a Jew?

> From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...> Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2007 
> In short, your relative is correct. The ruling is that anyone born of
> a Jewish mother is Jewish and that is not changed by conversion etc.
> Such a person has certain rulings that apply to a Jew who chooses to 
> associate with a different religion, and may be treated as a
> "non-Jew" in respect to certain specific issues.

I think that the guiding point for Avi's comment is the following phrase
from the Talmud (Sanhedrin 44:1) based on Yehoshua 7:11:

   "af al pi shechata, Israel hu" -
   even though he has sinned, he is [part of] Israel

This is reinforced in various places, for example:

* The ritual slaughter of a meshumad (loosely, a practicing
out-converted Jew) is permitted (Tos. Hulin 1:1)

* one may not lend with interest to a meshumad, although one might be
able to do so with a non-Jew (Sefer Ha'ora 2)

* to the best of my knowledge, a meshumad is still obligated by
specifically Jewish commandments (e.g. saying "sh'ma" in the morning),
whether or not he does that.  Consider the interesting possibilities
otherwise where, for example, a person could convert out of Judaism to
violate Shabbat and spare himself the death penalty for the transgression.

That said, there are definitely people who hold that a conversion to
Judaism is needed from such a state, for example the Rebbetzin Korff
(who wrote a note to this effect in the Jewish Advocate - see
- and, in private correspondence, claimed support for this opinion).
As I understand it (from a separate source), this is based on opinions
from the Tzitz Eliezer, Divrei Yatziv, and Yabia Omer (R' Yosef's
responsa) suggesting that such a Jew is treated (in law) like a non-Jew.

From: Martin Edelstein <edelstei@...>
Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2007 16:21:38 -0400
Subject: Is a Converted Jew Still a Jew?

Here is a question from an observant Conservative Jew who is a ketubah
artist and has done extensive reading on the subject.

What does returning to roots mean?  I am concerned about the
grandchildren of a cousin whose daughter converted to Catholicism.  They
are not likely to be bal teshuvah.  The best that I can hope for is that
they marry a nice Reform Jewish boy or girl.  Is that enough, or am I
silly to ask the question?  Can I make the ketubah?  How do they get a
Jewish name?


From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2007
Subject: Is a Converted Jew Still a Jew?

I do not think that Rabbi Chipman and I are in any
disagreement. However, the reference that Ari brings from Rebbetzin
Korff does seem to be in complete disagreement with what I had learned,
and I would like to see if anyone has references to sources that support
her position.

Basically, my stated understanding is that a Jew who converts to another
religion and actively practices that religion has a status that is often
called "Yisrael Meshumad" or "Yisrael Mumer". There are a number of
halachot, where this person is treated the same as a non-Jew. It might
be of interest to identify those halachot. However, my understanding of
the majority opinion is that the person still has the status of
"Jew". S/he is a Jew who is in violation of Halacha, but still
Jewish. The primary indicator would be whether the child of a female
person with this status who returned to Judaism would require a full
halachic conversion. Rabbi Chipman, is it your understanding that Rabbi
Sirat would or would not require conversion with bracha etc for this

Alex brings up a very interesting point, with references from the time
of the Spanash Inquisition. Once a person has been publically identified
as having left the active Jewish fold, and has become "Yisrael Meshumad"
and this person wishes to do teshuva and return, is it adequate for this
person to only do private teshuva and based on that remove him/herself
from this status - which has serious halachic implications, or does the
person need to engage in some more formal activity that will remove the
status of "Yisrael Meshumad". Here it makes sense to me that a formal
activity would be required before we make the halachic change to the
person's status.

Avi Feldblum


End of Volume 55 Issue 56