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Q. I have a nice Mezuzah, but no scroll, is that enough?

A. The other way around would be much better. The handwritten parchment scroll IS the Mezuzah, while the colorfully designed box is only an ornamental cover. I can get you a Mezuzah for about $30. It’s worth it.… Read the rest

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Q. Are Persian Jews different from Sefardic Jews?

A. Generally speaking they’re grouped together, and Persian Jews share many characteristics and customs with Sefardic Jews. Historically though, Persian Jews pre-date the divide between Ashkenasic and Sefardic communities, as they remained in the Iraq-Iran/Bavel-Persia area, where Jews were first … Read the rest

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Q. Is Challah meant to be pulled apart by hand, or cut with a knife? 

A. Sefardic / Middle Eastern Jews have a custom to pull the soft, luscious loaves apart by hand. Others have told me that their families have a similar tradition. Personally we use a knife, and there’s a lot of tradition … Read the rest

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Q. What’s a “Sheva Brachos”?

A. For a full week after marriage, the celebration continues. Each meal family and friends enjoy together with the bride and groom, is a Sheva Brachos meal, with 7 special blessings recited by guests, following the Grace after Meals (the … Read the rest

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Q. Does the Talmud say anything about the shape of the world?

A. Sure does. The Jerusalem Talmud (1900 years old), quoted in Tosefos (900 year old commentary printed alongside the Babylonian Talmud) says “the world is circular as a ball” (Talmud Avodah Zara 41a).… Read the rest

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Q. Is Veal Kosher?

A. According to the strictly technical rules of Kosher, and if it is prepared according to Kosher Law, Yes. Some Jews don’t feel comfortable with eating veal because of the conditions in which most such animals are raised, and that’s … Read the rest

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Q. Why are Bar-Mitzvahs at 13, and Bat Mitzvahs at 12?

A. Don’t you know? Girls mature earlier.… Read the rest

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Q. Why is the Jewish New Year in September? 

A. Well, The Jewish New Year follows a totally different calendar. Depending on the year, the Jewish New Year can fall at the tail end of September, too. Generally speaking, September seems to be a more reasonable start than January. … Read the rest

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Q. Is there history behind Yom Kippur?

A. Plenty. Moses came down with the 2nd Tablets on Yom Kippur, along with G-d’s pardon for the Jews’ first big sin. Yom Kippur is written right in the Torah, as a fast day, a day of atonement, the “One” … Read the rest

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Q. How did Jewish Cemeteries end up alongside UAlbany and in front of Crossgates Mall?

A. I’m in my 20’s yet remember clearly (I grew up in Albany) when Crossgates was built. The Uptown University Campus is only up since the very late ’60’s. Some time before that this area was undeveloped country, with lots … Read the rest

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