And here is my article from the March-April 2011 Newsletter.
Continuing with the tradition begun in the last newsletter, here are some of our students’ “questions for the rabbi” along with my answers.
Were Adam and Eve the first people on earth?
According to the Torah Adam and Eve were the first people who were made by God. I think part of your question, however, is how come they teach me one thing in school and another thing in Religious School. How can science and evolution be true and religion and the Bible also be true? Evolution and science teach us how human beings came to be. Religion and Judaism teach us what the purpose of our life is. We don’t read the Bible as a science manual. Instead we read it to tell us what we are supposed to do with our lives. Only the Torah can tell us that God wanted to create human beings for the purpose of perfecting our world and bringing healing to the world.
Did any sport come from Hebrew?
The latest Jewish sport is Ga-Ga which is a friendlier and safer form of dodge ball and started in modern day Israel. But did you know that the entire roster of the first New York Knicks team was Jewish? Here is their lineup: Ossie Schectman, Stan Stutz, Jake Weber, Ralph Kaplowitz, and Leo "Ace" Gottlieb. The first points ever scored in the NBA were by the Knicks' point guard, Schectman. Take that Stoudemire! (Oops I forgot. He might be Jewish too.)
Can the fourth graders sing at services again?
Is the Maccabees' temple still standing and is everything still in it?
No and no. But one of the really awesome things about visiting Israel is that you can touch parts of that ancient Temple. The Western Wall contains some stones from that time. Recently they uncovered the steps that led up to the Temple. In Israel you can stand next to stones that are thousands of years old and touch our history while also enjoying everything that is modern, like a really great falafel or espresso (that’s Hebrew for strong coffee).
Are we going to get a temple?
Yes. And soon. But remember that a building is not the most important part of our congregation. Just like your house does not make your family, our building does not make our synagogue. It must always be first and foremost about the people.
Why can’t Jewish people swear?
Because it is really not nice to swear. It shows that you are angry and that kind of anger always gets you in trouble. But the most important thing about swearing is that you should never use God’s name in a curse or swear. God’s name should only be used in prayer, when saying thank you. God should lead you to do positive things. Doing good things starts with positive words.
Since Jews can’t have tattoos, does that include washable ones?
No. You can get washable tattoos. The problem with tattoos is that they are permanent and we believe that our bodies are a reflection of God and you don’t mess with God’s image. We believe that you can’t do whatever you want even with your body. You have to take care of yourself and you should never do anything that might be dangerous to your body.
What is your favorite color?
Blue. But not Carolina blue. More like Duke blue which is close to the blue of an Israeli flag, which is supposed to be like the Bible’s techelet. So go (royal blue) Blue Devils!
Keep asking your questions. They are always the most important thing about being Jewish!