|Volume 2 Number 33||Thu Sep 10 9:56:51 1992|
Date: Wed, 9 Sep 92 13:21:58 PDT From: email@example.com (Alexander Herrera) Subject: Jews in Japan I was fortunate enough to be in Tokyo, Japan on business. Although I spent a week and a half there, I had only one day for sight-seeing. So what was the first place I visited while in Japan? My wife and her mother had a bet as to where I would go. My wife won the bet. I went to the synagogue. It is actually called the Jewish Community of Japan (Nippon Judea Kyotan). I spent Sunday morning there, but I was lucky enough to attend Shabbat morning services the next week. It's a three story building with the sanctuary on the third floor. Unfortunately there is no morning minyon, but it is open every day and I think some do meet for afternoon prayers. Kosher food is available through them and they also have a list of hotels within reasonable walking distance for Shabbat. Friday evening services are at 7:30 pm. They seem to be set up for visitors. In fact, half of the minyon Saturday morning were visitors. Services were to start at 9:30 but actually didn't get going until 10:00. Everyone speaks English. It is a Conservative synagogue of about 150 families, but they have many Orthodox members so the services are Orthodox so as to not exclude them. There is a women's section, men's section and mixed. Most women sat behind the divider. One Israeli woman sat in the mixed section. The men all sat in the men's section. There was one man there who had traveled over 300 miles to attend services. (Luckily there were more than enough for a minyon so I didn't have to face the problem of "am I a Jew?" since I am a convert under Reform. I refused an alliah out of respect to the Orthodox present.) There were two questions pressing in my mind. First, which way did they pray? With a big smile the Shamash said, "West!" They pray in that direction because it is the smallest distance to Jerusalem. My other question was if there were Jewish Japanese nationals? Apparently there are no men although I saw one or two Japanese women behind the divider and I heard a man speak of some Japanese women who attend services. The one Japanese man praying with us was actually a Christian minister who was studying Judaism. Most of the men at the minyon were Israelis and I assume some South Africans or Australians. They had a British-like accent but I may be mistaken. I know one visitor was from London. At the time I visited, there was no rabbi, but the members were quite capable of running the service and they had hired a rabbi from Australia who was due very soon (I assume for the High Holidays). A kosher lunch was served (Tuna, egg salad, fruit...) and we went back for afternoon services. All in all, I enjoyed my visit. Mailing address: Jewish Community of Japan 8-8, 3 Chome, Hiro-o Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan Phone: 3-3400-2559 (calling within Japan) 011-81-3-3400-2559 (calling from USA) Directions from subway (approx. 20 minute walk): Take the gray subway line (Hibiya Line) to the Hiro-o substation. In the station there is a map of the area. Look for the Nippon Judea Kyotan. It's near the Japan Red Cross Hospital (Don't ask me why they have the hospital's name in English and the synagogue's in Japanese). When you come to the surface you'll see a Famous Amos Cookie store and a sign for Heinekin Beer and Shakey's Pizza on the corner of a narrow street. That's the street you want. Walk until a small street appears on the right. Go for it. It curves to the left. You'll be in a residential area. Traffic is coming from behind you so try not to get run over. :-) Turn right on the next cross street. You'll know it because there is a small cemetery on the left and the cross street is brightly colored because it curves. Walk until you see the Japan Red Cross Hospital on the right. (It's white with a big red cross on it.) You are close. If you pass the hospital you've gone too far. You'll see a lot of cars and buses turning left down a street. There is a police box on the corner (but I wouldn't know one unless it hit me). Turn left, and it is on the left. There is a large Mogan David on the building. It has a locked security gate. Press the door bell and someone will let you in. Enjoy! Alex Herrera uunet!mdcsc!ah
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 92 12:38:47 EDT From: CARIAN@american.edu Subject: Re: Mitzvot, Kashrus and Reward Regarding the kashrut of a piece of pork mixed in with two glatt kosher steaks: There is a majority principle at work in Jewish law. The Talmud rules, for example, that if a piece of meat is found on the street and the majority of butcher shops on that street are kosher the meat is kosher, because we may assume that it came from one of the kosher stores. (This assumes there are no identifying marks, i.e., it wasn't found in a bag from Ralph's Pork Shop or something like that. Similarly, if a foundling is found in an area where the majority of people are Jewish we assume the baby to be Jewish. If it is found in a majority Gentile area the baby is presumed Gentile. Note that kashrut is not concerned here with "objective facts." The found meat *is* kosher because the rabbis have said it to be so. It's not "treated as kosher"; it's *kosher*. Similarly it's possible for something to be both kosher and treif at the same time, depending on who it belongs to. Certain defects in chickens would, in the shtetl, cause the chicken to be declared treif if it belonged to a wealthy person but kosher if it belonged to a poor person. In the recent Rich's eclair debacle a similar situation developed. Rich's was secretly adding a dairy ingredient to their supposedly parve eclairs. It was less than one-sixtieth, but since it is forbidden to *purposely* add less than one-sixtieth the eclairs were dairy as they came from the factory; but for the end-user they could have still be considered parve because of the one-sixtieth rule, since the end-user didn't know the problematic ingredient had been added. For this reason, most rabbis did not instruct people who had used the eclairs as parve on their meat dishes to re-kasher them. And yes, a woman can be a kosher butcher or even a shochet (slaughterer) or mashgiach (kashrut supervisor). One can be an agent for a mitzva for which one is obligated, and since women are obligated to keep kosher (at least in O and C) they can be agents for kashrut. Rabbi Charles Arian CARIAN@american.edu
Date: 10 Sep 1992 11:03:00 -0400 (EDT) From: Michael J. Snider <@mrgate.utc.com:MJS%A1@UTRC> Subject: Rov (majority) and Kavua (fixed) I am sorry to have caused anyone confusion on account of my entry on Kashrus laws - I apologize and will attempt to explain to the best of my ability. Definitions: Bitul nullified = a forbidden substance unintentionally *mixed* into another substance at least 60 times greater in volume, and which after the mixture, the two are indistinguishable (ie, I can't see the smaller amount, like if a piece of cheese dropped into my cholent [a meat dish, sort of a stew, eaten on Shabbes by many Jews] as opposed to a drop of milk). Rov majority Kavua fixed = will be explained The Torah tells Jews to follow certain dietary restrictions. These laws are spiritual in nature, although the Rambam [Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, or Maimonedes - a Medieval commentator] says that it was for health reasons and everyone else argues with him. In other words, it won't hurt me physically to eat a cheeseburger (although I might throw up because my Yiddishe Momma, a Conservative, drilled it into me that this is a disgusting concoction) but in the spiritual realm, there are dire consequences of my actions. This is assuming that I know that I should not be mixing milk and meat, or eat pork, etc. The Torah is not so clear, however, on which birds are allowed, nor does it elaborate on the milk/meat issue beyond "do not mix a kid in its mother's milk." It is begging for explanation, and I (along with many others) believe that the Torah is the lecture notes and the Oral Law is the rest of THE LECTURE (given at Mount Sinai). Therefore, we turn to the Talmud for the "meat" (excuse the pun) of the story. As in nearly every other facet of Jewish life, the Gemorah discusses Kashrus in depth and we learn from it how to conduct ourselves, how to get married and divorced, when to circumsize a baby, etc. and what to do in 'grey' areas of law, such as when a great financial loss will be involved in following the strict letter of the law, or a stringincy accepted by the people as law. For instance, fowl - according to Torah law - is parave. In other words, a chicken and cheese sandwich would be allowable if I weren't bound (also by Torah law) to follow the Rabbis, who made it meat because it resembles meat so much that people would become confused... Anyways, this is all essential background to the pork/glatt steak issue. Because we learn in the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Pesachim, (I believe believe Page 8 or 9 b) that if there are 10 butcher shops, 9 are kosher and 1 is not, and I find a piece of meat in the street between them, I "go after the majority" and, by higher mathematics, the meat is kosher. If, however, I bought the meat in one of the shops and simply *forgot* which shop it was, behold: the options (shops) are "fixed" thereby the chances that the meat is from a kosher shop are 50/50 and therefore the meat is not kosher (safek d'oraissa l'chumra [a doubt in the case of a Torah law requires to take the stringent option]). Another: I am sitting on a bench and 10 people walk by. 9 are carrying "regular" money, and one is carrying "maisser" money (the 1/10 which is designated for charity/the temple and cannot be used except for that purpose). If I find money on the ground after all ten walk by, the majority is OK and I can spend it (assuming I attempt to find out whose it is and try to return it, etc.). If, however, I *saw* it fall out of someones pocket but forgot which person it was, then the chances are 50/50 that it is maisser and therefore I cannot spend it (safek d'oiraissa l'chumra [a doubt in the case of a Torah law requires to take the stringent option]). I hope that this helped. With sincere thanks to all of you for a wonderful summer, I regret to inform you that I will be unable to receive this net anymore because I am going to Israel to learn for another year in Ohr Somayach Yeshiva in Jerusalem. I will try to get postings indirectly, through friends and relatives who have computer accounts in Israel, but no promises. I hope to be back on next summer upon my return to Golus. Mike Snider
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 92 08:44:14 -0400 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Robert A. Levene) Subject: Re: Yugoslavian dilemma Daniel describes an incident in Russia in which Chabad worked to prevent Reform acquisition of a building for a synagogue. This incident was not at all about saving Liberal *Jews*, it was about saving Liberal *Judaism*. This has *nothing* to do with the innuendo at hand, namely that modern ideological differences would cause inter-group bloodshed and intentionally standing by as other Jews die. Rob
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 92 09:40:13 PDT From: email@example.com (Alexander Herrera) Subject: Re: Yugoslavian dilemma firstname.lastname@example.org (Robert A. Levene) writes: > It is unfair to criticize the orthodox for behavior which you think we > *might* do, especially when history (such as the rescue of many Ethiopian > Jews, whose halachic status was questionable according to some) demonstrates > adherence to the principle that you "rescue first, ask questions later" when > there's a chance that those in danger are Jewish. The subject was what the Orthodox MIGHT do. Upon further reflection, I agree that it is unfair, and I agree your example proves your point that the Orthodox would come to the rescue of ANY Jews if possible. Thank you for setting me straight. I still stand on the criticism that the Orthodox seem more interested in ritual than ethics to the same degree that Liberal Jews are interested in ethics over ritual. Both need to meet in the middle. Daniel Faigin <email@example.com> writes that not ALL the Orthodox would come to the rescue and cited a case of Lubavitchers preventing the transfer of a building to be used as a Reform synagogue. This seems unrelated to the first question since it is not life-threatening. The Lubavitchers' actions sound more like jealousy and a little political backbiting though it is disconcerting. I often disagree with Chabad theologically, but they are not the personification of Evil. Often in talking to a Reform Jew, I will mention Chabad, and a change will overcome him. His face will tighten, his hands will clench up into fists and his eyes will turn to slits. After that all meaningful conversation will cease. It's an odd reaction from people who profess to be open to all ideas and to be inclusive rather than exclusive. I have found Chabad to be an enthusiastic, loving, caring people on the whole. They act when others just talk, and they have a passion and spirituality that Reform Jews would do well to emulate. I sometimes think a Reform Chabad would capture the imagination of young Liberal Jews and would sweep the Reform movement. I think passion and spirituality is what most young Jews long for if only they could get over their self-consciousness. I am a member of a Reform congregation although last Sunday one of my friends called it the most Conservative Reform synagogue in the United States.:-) He may be right. The time I visited Rabbi Artson's Conservative synagogue I thought his services were a little Liberal. When I called our Rabbi to tell him I was no longer a Reform Jew, his reply was, "Neither am I." Yet our synagogue appeals to Reform Jews. Go figure. [Note: I was not trying to say that Chabad would not come to the result of Liberal Jews in trouble. All I was trying to say was (a) the hatred between movements is not a good thing, and we should work for better relations; and (b) although Jews as a whole would come to the rescue of any other Jew, there are some who would not agree with the action. -- Daniel] Alex Herrera uunet!mdcsc!ah
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 92 12:51:23 EDT From: CARIAN@american.edu Subject: Re: Yugoslavian dilemma (Lubavitch) The alleged attempt of Lubavitch to prevent a Liberal congregation from being given the use of a building doesn't surprise me at all. During Prohibition in the United States religious authorities could get "sacramental wine permits" for religious usage. In order to do so they needed certification as legitimate clergy from their denomination. The head of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis rushed to Washington to attempt to make sure that only Orthodox rabbis could get sacramental wine permits. Fortunately, he failed. The whole issue is documented in the latest issue of American Jewish Archives, one of the premier scholarly journals in American Jewish history. Rabbi Charles Arian CARIAN@american.edu
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