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I am declaring an amnesty on Questions regarding Jews and Judaism, both in terms of ethnicity and religion. Apparently some of you don't know too many of us, and it's time to get those questions answered. My only request is that this doesn't devolve into a biblical argument and that I don't have to hear anything offensive. This is a one-day only special, so ask away.

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At what age the bat/bar mitzpha? (sp?)
How much studying, really?
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Hey, thanks G3! I'm always curious about these things!
How many years of Hebrew school? And are you really able to understand it afterwards (because I know several of us who had to go through "Confirmation of faith" classes really didn't get it even after 3 years... )
And what are Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashannah? I know they are the bigger/biggest holidays...what are they celebrating?
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Bar (boys), Bat (girls) B'nai (twins) mitzvah training starts when someone is about 11, in addition to Hebrew School studies. Ends at 13. After the event, they can continue on for confirmation at 15, but most people don't. (I, Go, didn't get my Judaism on until late, so I didn't start Hebrew School until I was 16, had to teach myself Hebrew to get in, and then got Bat-Mitzvahed the same week I graduated high school. ) You can really do it at any time in life, but not before you're about 13. The point of the whole thing is to welcome you into the community as an adult. The studying is less about the religion than learning how to chant the portion of the Torah you'll be reading. The chant is a very ancient thing and it's quite difficult to learn.

Most people don't know what the Hebrew words they're pronouncing mean much like when Mass was still said in Latin.

Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement, a one-day fast and prayer gig that is the spiritual equivalent of Lent. Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the new year, liturgically. Just like Catholics, we party first (like Mardi Gras) and then pray. Rosh Hashanah comes first, then 10 days later, YK. In between, you're supposed to be trying to become a better person, renewing old friendships, apologizing for hurt you've caused, visiting family graves.

Next.
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Why no pork?
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Falls under the laws of Kashrut, ie keeping kosher. Jews are commanded not eat things that are unclean ie would make them sick. In the days before refrigerations, pork was hard to keep from being spoiled. (Incidentally this is why no Jews died in the Black Plague, which was derived from bad pork, leading people to the "Those darn Jews poisoned the wells!" theory.) We're also not supposed to eat things that crawl on the ground like snakes, but as in all cases, when one's life is at stake, all bets are off. That is, if you're in the desert and the only thing you see is a snake, you're commanded to eat it.

Many modern Jews don't keep kosher on the grounds that most of it no longer holds. For example, refrigeration take care of pork. In fact, I, Go, have pork cooking in the crockpot right now.

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I think I have asked that already. Temporary Brain Fart
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explain the yamulke (sp.?) for the men
and

why do the orthodox men where their hair that way and (and dress in black)
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The yarmulke helps people keep the commandment (there are 603 others in addition to the Big Ten) to keep their heads covered in God's presence, ie everywhere. Religious women keep their heads covered, too.

I'm guessing you're asking about sidecurls. They're called peyos and the Torah says not to shave off that part of your hair if you're a man. Not everyone has curly hair of course, and the reason they get curled is because young boys twirl the hair when they're studying. They do a lot of studying, Orthodox people do.

They dress in black b/c they're into keeping it simple, just like the Amish.
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What exactly is sitting Shiva?
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Forgot to say Next.

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Who do the various Jewish groups think Jesus is?
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Do Jewish people prostletize?

Are there a million and one different denominations like there are in Christianity?
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Good question Mr. Pee-Dee, one that frequently goes unasked due to fear of offense. Most Jewish people think that Jesus was a rabbi. and they don't go any further than that.

Back in the history, one of several groups saw the miracles of Jesus and believed in him, and they became Christians. The rest didn't see or believe in the miracles and stayed Jewish.

The Jewish priests at that time were, like a number of Catholic priests through the ages, the most powerful and learned people of all. (In fact there are still places in Israel today where you can't go unless you're a descendant of one of them. More on this later.) So they thought anything that might deter from their power was a threat. Hence, they seeded the crowd with people whom they paid to make sure Jesus would get his, and when Pilate asked the crowd what they wanted, that's how come it went that way.

OK, about proselytizing, no one proselytizes in the same way that Christians do.

Next. This is fun.
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So (please forgive my ignorance, if this is an ignorant question) Jewish people don't believe in the Bible, they believe in something called a Torah?
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