Recently Mrs. Bertash, our Religious School principal, began collecting questions for the rabbi. Our students could write down any question that was on their mind and that they wanted me to answer. What follows are a few of their questions and of course my answers.
How was God named?
In the Torah God is called by many names. God’s name is “Y-H-V-H.” But we no longer know how this name was pronounced so we say, Adonai, meaning my lord. There are many names for God in our tradition. I like to think that these many names offer us just as many different ways of approaching God.
How do you become Jewish?
If your parents tell you that you are Jewish then you are Jewish. But sometimes people choose to convert to Judaism because they think being Jewish is so awesome.
Why did you decide to become a Rabbi?
Because I like to talk. And listen. Mostly it is because I like learning and teaching and helping people.
How many times have your read the Torah?
Since I started rabbinical school when I was 22 years old, I have read the Torah once a year every year. So that is about 24 times.
Do you regret being a Rabbi?
No. How could I with these kind of questions and students like you? But if you mean is being a rabbi sometimes hard, then the answer is yes. Sometimes people ask me to stand by their side at really, really difficult times and that occasionally breaks my heart.
Is it considered a sin to be Jewish but not to believe in God?
No. But being Jewish is about trying. You always have to try to be a better person. You have to believe that the world can be better. Believing in God, or trying to believe in God, helps. So believing in God helps us become better people!
What is your favorite Jewish holiday?
Sukkot. I love building and decorating our sukkah and eating and sleeping outside.
What is the Kotel like?
Jerusalem and the Western Wall are awesome. It is wonderful to stand where so many Jews have stood and prayed. The stones are massive, but smooth because so many people touched them and kissed them.
How many letters are in the Torah?
304,805 letters and 79,847 words. I had to ask a scribe for the answer to this question because I am not so good at math.
How many cars long is the Torah?
It depends on what kind of car you are talking about. If it is an SUV then 5. A smart car then a minyan of 10. Mysteriously when we unroll the Torah scroll it fits almost perfectly around the inside of the church sanctuary.
Are Jewish people allowed to celebrate Halloween or Thanksgiving or New Years Eve?
Yes, but don’t have as much fun on these days as you do on Purim, Sukkot and Shabbat!
Is God real?
Yes. Sometimes I admit it does not feel that way, but I believe God is real.
Keep those questions coming!