Readership Response

Akiva G. Belk, Director


Subject: Regarding Study Groups Northwest Suburbs in Illinois
Jul 1999

Iam looking for a study group to attend reg the kabbala. Perhaps in the northwest suburbs in Illinois. Do you have any referrals, Please contact me at:

Dear Heart In Hand,

We have exhausted our sources on shuls in your area. So we are posting this on our readers' response and maybe someone will be able to help. Hope you hook up with a study group soon. Thanks for writing. Please contact some of our sources on our link page. Try carefully searching on the web under Jewish communities.

All the best,

Rachel Gold

Subject: Gematria
Aug 1999

Hi, there. I'm a newcomer to the site and I have a question: Why don't you take the 'yod' into consideration when you count the letter value? All classical formations of the Hebrew letters begin with 'yod'.


Dear RCM,
There are many possibilities to the construction of Hebrew letters. Dr. Belk offers his views on the Gematria site. As this site expands, his intentions are to offer more Gematria constructions than the ones listed on his Gematria page. In no way does he want his readership to think these are the only constructions. There are many!

Thank you for your question and for sharing your observation.

Jewishpath has just undergone a move. We are seriously behind in our correspondence. Sorry for taking so long in responding.

All the best,

Rachel Gold

Subject: Periodic E-Mail Distribution
Aug 1999

Glad to hear from you.

I coordinate a support group for Torah-oriented kiruv professionals who use the Internet.

We distribute periodic e-mails with information and content.

Lately, we've been distributing Avi Shafran's Am Echad material.

Please let us know if you want to join. There is no cost or obligation.


Dear TB,

Thank you for the offer! We may take you up on it in the future, but at this point we are still learning the ropes of the Internet. We're learning slowly and steadily and are taking our time in building our knowledge of the medium. Jewishpath has a Board of Directors that makes these kinds of decisions. Our next meeting is after the High Holidays and we'll discuss it then.

We would be interested in knowing more about the e-mail or fax concept. If you have any information you wish to share with us, it would be deeply appreciated.

All the best,
Rachel Gold

After several communications we decided to do our e - mails lessons in house

Subject: Parsha E-Mail

Aug 1999
Hi there,

Do you send out a parsha sheet each week?



Shalom JC,

Presently we do not send out a parsha sheet each week. We will bring up this possibility for the future with the JewishPath Board of Directors. Presently our staff is small and entirely volunteers. Undoubtedly our board would like to offer this as a service in the future but will probably hesitate until our financial base is more established. We have only been on the Internet since May '99.

Thank you for writing.

All the best,

Rachel Gold

We now offer E-Mail Parsha discussion each week. You can sign upon

Subject: First day's Parsha for Rosh Hashanah
Aug 1999

I am looking for the Parsha for the first day of Rosh Hashanah ( this
Year on Saturday Sept. 11, 1999. Please e mail Thank You


Shalom DC
We would like to put a plug in for the Stone Chumash because in the front pages it lists the "Torah Reading, Maftir and Haftarah for Festivals and Other Special Occasions."
The Parsha for the first day of Rosh Hashanah is Genesis Ch.21. The Maftir is Numbers 29:1-26 and the Haftarah is ISamuel 1:1-2:10. It was nice to hear from you.

We wish you the best.
La Shana Tova,

Rachel Gold


Subject: Gematria / Aleph Bais Finish Deadline
Aug 1999

When do you expect to have the gematria sec. letters completed? this is most
helpful - i've decided to undertake (at last) learning the AlephBet.


Dear Wanderer of the Wilderness,
Dr. Belk would like to complete this first pass through the Aleph Bais, G-d willing, before the end of this year. But he has many responsibilities and does most of the writing for the JewishPath presently. We are very pleased to hear you enjoy our site. At a future date Z Publishing will be releasing Dr. Belk's new book entitled Revealing the Mysteries of Hebrew Letters and Numbers. The book format lends itself better to understanding Gematria because most readers do not have Hebrew fonts so we're forced to put them in a picture format at the top of the page which is very limited and more expensive.

Presently I am editing Dr. Belk's future book and I can assure you that you will want to have your own personal copy. Dr. Belk was very pleased to learn of your inquiry and wishes you the best in your endeavors learning the Aleph Bais as does the rest of the staff at JewishPath.

All the best,

Rachel Gold

Subject: Searching for a Shul
Aug 1999
Thanks for an informative and interesting Website. I think I read every story, article, and weekly portion I could find. I wonder whether you have any recommendations for someone (me) who wishes to become more observant, but doesn't have a clue? I was raised non-religious, maybe saw shul ten times as a kid - up to 20. I decided to try to be a better Jew. I learned Hebrew (in Israel, on an Ulpan), now read Chumash. Working on learning Rashi script, Aramaic, but nary a clue what I should be doing on a daily basis. I need a congregation. The Lubavitchers are kind, gentle folks who gladly teach, but I don't feel able to live their very strict lifestyle. Other congregations I've tried were very aloof. I felt unwelcome there. Any ideas? I'm in Chicago, so there must be something for me.

Any help would be welcome.


Actually, finding the shul that fits properly can be challenging regardless of the city size. In the Denver area, we have a shul that sounds like something you would enjoy in Chicago. I recommend that you call and speak to the rabbi. He is very understanding and very connected. His name is Yaakov Meyer at Southeast Center for Judaism: (303) 222-7200. Also, Aish HaTorah on the internet is another excellent source.

Dr. Belk would like to offer a few comments...
Be the best Jew that you can today regardless of the affiliation or nonaffiliatiion. Don't grade yourself by the standards of Jews who are very strict in their Yiddishkeit. That can be very discouraging. Instead, set reasonable goals that are just several feet beyond your comfort level. The appearance of very religious looking Jews can be very intimidating. Dr. Belk was once where you are today. As well as every member of the JewishPath staff. Spend a Shabbos with these Lubavitchers. The experience will be memorable and affirming for your Yiddishkeit.

All the best,
Rachel Gold

Attention: Letters Editor Past Prejudice
Aug 1999


I just got off the phone with the Superintendent of the Harrison County School Board in Gulfport, Mississippi, as well as a member of the Harrison County Sheriff's Office. I told them both the same thing - that what they're doing stinks.

What they're doing, as chronicled in an Associated Press story on Wednesday, August 18, is telling student Ryan Green that while he may wear his Star of David necklace to school, he can't wear it where it can be seen. The reason: administrators feared it could be mistaken for a gang symbol.

The first words out of both Mr. Arledge's and the Sheriff's Office representative's mouths were that the intent was not to ban a religious symbol, but to preserve safety. The first words out of my mouth were that their intent was completely irrelevant, and that their decision goes fully, totally and completely against absolutely every single thing that the United States of America stands for.

What smarts even more is the idea that innocent kids like Green are being punished, or at least forced to make odious and offensive accommodations, because of the ignorant punks who belong to gangs. Uh, here's an original thought: how about cracking down on the gang members instead of the nice kids?

Safety? I pointed out to Mr. Arledge that the ends of a cross can be easily sharpened and used as a weapon, and so another bright idea might be to outlaw the wearing of crosses. For some reason, he didn't think that was too good of an idea. Crosses, no. A Star of David, yes. Hmmm.

The American Civil Liberties Union has promised to sue the school district, and while I am no fan of the ACLU I say HURRAY for that. Casually dismissing someone's right to freedom of religious expression - someone from a different
religion than your own, naturally - is the most heinous non-violent crime one can be guilty of in America. It's 1999, for crying out loud! Haven't we as a nation learned this yet?

I recommend this lesson be hammered at long last into the heads of the simple folk of Harrison County, Mississippi - people who live in a part of the country where at least one religious symbol, the cross, has traditionally been used as a flaming lawn decoration.

Howard Riell
Wilkes-Barre, PA

Dear Mr. Howard Riell,
We were sorry to receive a letter informing us of religious bias in Harrison County, Mississippi and encourage our readership to respond as their hearts dictate to them.


Rachel Gold

JewishPath was pleased to learn of the school board's reversal...

August 24, 1999

Jewish Boy Wins Right To Wear Star Of David
By June Preston

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A Mississippi school board has reversed a controversial ruling that prevented a Jewish boy from wearing a Star of David pendant because the six-pointed star was sometimes used as a gang symbol.

David Ingebretsen, executive director of the Mississippi American Civil Liberties Union, said 15-year-old Ryan Green, of Gulfport, Mississippi, and his family were thrilled that the Harrison County school board changed its mind Monday.

"They were just delighted," Ingebretsen told Reuters. "Ryan went to school today, wearing his Star of David."

The boy's mother is Christian and his father Jewish, and he has been raised in both faiths. Over the summer, the boy's paternal grandmother gave him the pendant and explained its meaning as a symbol of his Jewish heritage.

When the youngster and his father, Tom Green, went to sign up for fall semester classes at Harrison Central High School two weeks ago, a teacher told him to wear the pendant inside his shirt "for his own good," Ingebretsen said.

The following day the boy returned to school for the start of the semester, still wearing the Star of David. A teacher ordered him to remove it.

The boy's father took the matter up with the school board at its meeting last week, and the board ruled that the Star of David could be mistaken for a gang emblem.

Wearing gang emblems is forbidden by school policy, and the board said law enforcement officials had advised them that a coastal Mississippi group known as the Black Gangster Disciples used a nearly identical six-pointed star as its symbol.

Friday, the ACLU filed a civil suit in U.S. District Court in nearby Biloxi, Mississippi, asking not for money but for protection of the boy's right under the First Amendment of the Constitution, to wear the star as a symbol of his faith.

The episode drew a huge outcry from Jewish and Christian leaders. Tuesday, Milton Grishman of Beth Israel synagogue in Biloxi and a leader of B'nai B'rith, a group that defends Jews against anti-Semitism, said the congregation was relieved at the decision.

"This was not the first time that a child wore a Star of David to school here, but it may be that his drew more attention because it was larger and he wore it on the outside of his clothing," he said.

Grishman attended a meeting with school board members last Thursday, the day after news of the incident broke, and said a B'nai B'rith official from New Orleans had swayed opinion by explaining case law on the issue.

The boy's lawyer said it was likely that the board backed down because the intense amount of publicity that the case generated concerned the local tourism industry. Gulfport and Biloxi are home to a dozen casinos that are the mainstay of Mississippi's coastal economy.

"It was a response to the pressure from the tourism industry on the coast. That's what caused the board to rescind its decision so quickly."

Ingebretsen said the ACLU has not yet decided whether to drop its lawsuit.

"The suit was not only concerned about Ryan Green's right," he said. "It was concerned abouteveryone's First Amendment rights. Besides, we as yet have not seen anything from the board in writing, so we want to take a careful look at what they say, if they say anything."

This matter was solved several days later to the Jewish Communities satisfaction...

Subject: purple blue
Aug 1999

gold and brass are similar
they both contain the color purple/blue
but one is superior...
although brass looks like gold
and does have value
it is not
that of gold
so too
there is an element of truth
in brazenness
but the truth of the torah
is superior

and so it is that
when we reach a point in time
when we realize
the extent of our own brazenness
and our eyes become open
and we hear
the truth contained in the torah
we become
the son of man who is raised up
and this level of understanding
receives as it's reward

Shalom PF,

Thank you for your poem. We have posted it in our August readers' response.

Wishing you the best in your endeavors to follow Torah Yiddishkeit,

Rachel Gold


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