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Question from UB40

June 7, 2010

As stated on the first page- questions in comments will be transferred to posts so they can be properly answered and commented on after they have been answered.

QUESTION I have a question. If you had a close friend and they started believing in Jesus, what would you do? Would he be thrown out of his house where you live? Would he have to leave the village? Would his life be safe? Would you still be a friend.

Bottom line is what would the future be for an orthodox jew who believed in Jesus in your part of the world.

This is really one of those questions where you have a theoretical answer and what one would do when the situation actually presented itself. Thankfully, I have never been in this situation, but I hope that my practical response would be the same as my theoretical one.

First off, I live in a city of 8 million people. Of those 8 million people, maybe 60-70 thousand are Jewish. So, nobody would be thrown out of their houses or forced to leave anything. So, in terms of housing and lifestyle, the person would be unaffected. What would be affected is various other aspects of their lives. They would not be able to be a member of any synagogue in Johannesburg; if their children converted with them, they would not be considered Jewish and would not be able to go to a Jewish day school (In South Africa, over 90% of Jewish children are at private Jewish day schools. Those that cannot afford the fees, are sponsored by the community. A Jewish education is seen as the right of every child in the community, not a privelege). More than that, if they are a member of any Jewish organisations, whether it be a charity, social club or fraternal organisation, they would be forced to resign. They would not be able to be a leader in any Jewish organisation nor would they be accepted for membership in the Chevra Kadisha.

If the person died unrepentant, they would not be buried in the Jewish cemetary, they would not be able to get a Rabbi to conduct the services, they would not have kadish (the memorial prayer for the dead) said for them, their family would not mourn them in the Jewish fashion- thus there would not be shiva (the first seven days on intense mourning in which the family does not leave the house), no shloshim (the 30 days after the burial which is still very intense but the family leaves the house), no 11 months of mourning. of course I would expect family members to mourn them as they mourn the death of any loved one, but it would not be expressed in the Jewish manner.

In the social environment things would probably be very awkward for the person. Personally, I would not break contact, I would hope that my example and influence could lead them to repent and return to Judaism. This is in line with what is taught by HaRav Moshe Feinstein zs”l and why he stopped the custom of treating a convert out of Judaism as being dead. However, practically some things would change- obviously I would not spend Shabbos with them as their observance would be flawed by the inclusion of Christian concepts. Nor could I eat in their home as, once one is considered an apikoros, they are deemed untrustworthy and we do not trust their observance of the laws of kashrut.

In short- at an official level they would be considered like any other Christian and treated as such. Just as no Christian is a member of the Jewish community, so such a person would not be a member of the Jewish community. But, just as I have Christian friends (including one who is a deacon in one of the Catholic Communities in Johannesburg), I would keep the person as a friend, though, as detailed above, specific elements of the relationship would change.

2 Comments
  1. Jolie permalink

    Oh my you have a twitter account-I think the picture there is better.

    • Well, Rosh Pina Project steals there stuff from where they choose. I have nothing to do with them and really don’t care what picture they use. It has nothing to do with me.

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