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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

[Got Questions?]Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at

The deceased sages described within are of blessed memory, (assume a Z"L or ZT"L after their names) and the sages alive today should live to see long and good days (assume SHLITA). May Hashem grant complete recovery to the ill. Individual honorifics are omitted.

The FAQ was produced by a committee and is a cooperative work. The contributors never standardized on transliteration scheme from Hebrew, Aramaic, Yiddish, or Ladino to English. As a result, the same original word might appear with a variety of spellings. This is complicated by the fact that there are regional variations in the pronunciation of Hebrew. In some places, the common spelling variations are mentioned; in others--not. We hope that this is not too confusing.

In general, throughout this FAQ, North American (US/Canada) terms are used to refer to the movements of Judaism. Outside of North American, Reform is Progressive or Liberal Judaism; Conservative is Masorti or Neolog, and Orthodoxy is often just "Judaism". Even with this, there are differences in practice, position, and ritual between US/Canada Reform and other progressive/liberal movements (such as UK Progressive/ Liberal), and between US/Canada Conservative and the conservative/Masorti movement elsewhere. Where appropriate, these differences will be highlighted.

The goal of the FAQ is to present a balanced view of Judaism; where a response is applicable to a particular movement only, this will be noted. Unless otherwise noted or implied by the text, all responses reflect the traditional viewpoint.

This list should be used in conjunction with the Soc.Culture.Jewish reading lists. Similar questions can be found in the books referenced in those lists.

There are also numerous other Jewish FAQs available on the Internet that are not part of the SCJ FAQ/RL suite. An index to these may be found at

This FAQ is a volunteer effort. If you wish to support the maintenance of the FAQ, please see Section 20, Question 99 for more information.

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© (c) 1993-2004 Daniel P. Faigin <>