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A question for my Jewish SJ friends

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by HC, Apr 16, 2008.

  1. HC

    HC Well-Known Member

    I'm just wondering what the rules are about wearing a yarmulka. I work with someone who keeps kosher, celebrates all the religious holidays and is strict about not driving on the Sabbath. But he never wears a yarmulka. Is that optional? Or is it an Orthodox tradition only?

    I intend no disrespect here ... I'm just curious.
  2. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    Short answer: Personal choice, although the Orthodox would disagree.

    Longer answer, related to the Pope thread: Boom used the Chanel No. 5 analogy to describe the Church, ie, if you change what's in the bottle, it isn't Chanel anymore, it's something else.

    Different for Jews. There are 613 significant laws (including covering your head, keeping kosher, no modern convenience on the Sabbath, know the best Chinese food in town, etc). Some are basic life rules, some are just painfully unrealistic. The teaching is that it's better to do some than none. You follow your own customs, and there are centuries of varied customs--Orthodox, conservative, reformed, reconstructive....all with different customs. Seems a little cafeteria-style, I know, but you do your best.

    My family grew up kosher as a custom, my grandmother wouldn't drive on the high holidays. When the weather was bad, she'd sit at home. Does it make sense to sit at home on Yom Kippur? No, but she couldn't break the custom. You do what you know.
  3. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    I'm not Jewish, but my other father is.

    There's great variation among the denominations (is that the right word) of Judaism. Even within the same group, there are variations. Case in point, my other dad's parents really didn't keep kosher until he reminded them of laws related to keeping kosher. Later in life, his mother was far more observant than he became.

    One thing he definitely follows is the dietary laws. He will not eat shellfish, pork, etc. Ironically, at the last job I had before my current gig, my office mate was Jewish ... and he ate EVERYTHING. He told me how much he loved jambalaya when I brought a cup of it up from Safeway. He and I seemingly jockeyed for position when one guy brought in bacon and cheddar deviled eggs.

    Long story short: There are laws, but not everyone follows them.
  4. a_rosenthal

    a_rosenthal Guest

    Personal choice.
  5. maberger

    maberger Member

    like how you wear a three-button suit jacket, from the top button down:
    orthodox: always
    conservative: sometimes
    reform: never (except in shul).
  6. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    That's great.

    One step further, my brother was married by a reconstructionist rabbi who did not wear a yarmulke OR tallit during the wedding. Mother was most unhappy. But it was a good explanation when the marriage tanked.
  7. HC

    HC Well-Known Member

    Thanks and shalom, y'all. :)
  8. Guy_Incognito

    Guy_Incognito Well-Known Member

    Orthodox perspective:

    The 613 are rules - not customs, not optional. Yarmulka happens not to be one of them, not even mandatory from the Rabbis, which many things are. It is a custom, not particularly ancient, though one that has gained symbolic significance. Until the last 15-25 years ago, very few Jews wore them in the workplace, as it was very difficult to get hired. When I interviewed for a job in my former professional life, I went back & forth, decided to wear it the night before the first one. I remember talking about it to a classmatewho told me that he took out his earring for interviews.
  9. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member

    Kind of a big difference between a Yarmulka and an earring, but I get your point.

    As others already pointed out, the rules are the rules. It is just a matter of how closely one chooses to follow them.

    There are also what I call cultural Jews. Basically, they were born to Jewish parents and still identify themselves as Jewish, but they don't practice at all.
  10. I went to Jewish funeral recently.

    It was made quite clear that I had to wear one.

    I'm not Jewish, but it was neat all the same.
  11. a_rosenthal

    a_rosenthal Guest

    That could be precisely the reason the co-worker in question doesn't wear his. Keeping kosher, taking high holidays off... Those are things nobody needs to notice. Wearing a yarmulke... Everyone notices.
  12. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    I remember raising a big stink about wearing a yarmulke once. Of course, I was 16 at the time...

    I'm proud to say I still have the silver yarmulke I got from my cousin's bar mitzvah back in 1993. That's *my* yarmulke and has been ever since.
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