frequently asked questions

"i'm patrilineal/ethnically jewish and want to practice, can i?"

I preface this with the fact that I am not a rabbi or spiritual authority. My opinions are formed through conversations with my communities. In the end, it is up to you. According to traditional Jewish law (Halacha/Halakha), Jewish religious identity is passed down through the maternal lineage. There are some movements that accept patrilineal Jews without conversion, while other movements do not. This means that in some situations, you may not be considered Jewish by some Jews. Many patrilineal Jews, especially those who were not raised in Judaism, choose to convert. Conversion does take time, but it gives you the chance to learn everything you didn't get a chance to learn growing up. It is also helpful in removing the feeling of imposter syndrome that some people may feel. In the end, whether or not you practice is entirely up to you. I, nor anyone, cannot make that decision for you.

 

this is specific to people with patrilineal heritage or non-practicing parents. for heritage that is further back (1 grandparent, etc, read the next one)  

"am I Jewish?"

You might be! It is important to note that "Jewish DNA" does not automatically make you part of the Jewish community. Halakha, as mentioned above, requires you to have a Jewish maternal line. However, finding out you had a Jewish great-great-great-great grandfather wouldn't change that. For many people, the two options are as follows:

1. conversion and becoming Jewish (religiously as well as by blood), or 2. sticking to having Jewish heritage, rather than becoming part of the Jewish community. As you're not religiously Jewish, this would be roughly akin to having Celtic heritage but not identifying as Celtic.

"is judaism a closed religion?"

Yes, like all Jewish things, it is debated as some people prefer the term semi-closed, but it is generally understood that it is a closed religion as in order to practice Judaism, you must be Jewish. The only ways to be Jewish are to be born into it or to convert (initiate).

"are converts "fully Jewish" and can they practice?"

Yes. 

"will you teach me how to practice"

No. My role is not to be a teacher of how to practice, but merely to share information, resources, and opinions. I may be able to answer your questions, but I don't feel comfortable teaching the "how to" of my personal practice. The exception may be in regard to generic workings like making candles, bundling herbs, etc.

I am not an elder witch, a rabbi, or a Kabbalist looking to teach you. This means that everything that I share will either have a direct source or a note mentioning that it is my opinion or personal belief. ​

"how do i convert?"

There are many resources for potential converts. Here is a starter guide

"why do you use the word witch and witchcraft"?

First and foremost, I like the word. Many Jewish people rebuke the word witch as it was often used to oppress Jewish people, even those who did not partake in mysticism. Many people who do the same thing that I do call themselves Jewish practitioners, mystics, sages, or just simply "Jewish". There is a long history of witchcraft in Judaism, but it is not always spoken about by that name. I often use the craft or the practice to denote my personal workings. As a Jewish woman, I feel a strong kinship with a word so steeped in history, but that is not the case for everyone. Witch is a self-identifier and you should not feel obligated to use it. Perhaps I will one day come across a better word, and if I do, I'll let you know. 

"how can you be jewish and a witch?"

​Easy: be Jewish and a witch. 

 

I was raised by a wonderful Jewish witch and therefore never saw any issue with the melding of identities. My childhood was an intertwined experience of traditional Judaism, Kabbalah, and the craft. As I got older and began to study Torah, I read the words forbidding witchcraft and was confused. My research led me down many paths, which I outline in the blog, "can you even be a jewish witch?" I realized that, like all things Jewish, there are many schools of thought surrounding witchcraft within the Jewish community (we love to argue, it's basically our favorite pastime) and while the Jewish community may never agree on the "legality" of witchcraft, it is part of our history and culture. It is part of who I am and my path has only ever led me closer to HaShem.

"where do i start?"

There are a lot of places to start and there is definitely no "right" place to start. When it comes to starting on the blog, here is my official reading list. 

What is Witchcraft & What are Witches?

Why didn't you know about Jewish witchcraft?

Can you even be a Jewish witch?

How to start practicing; a guide for new Jewish witches

How to build meaningful rituals

Once you've gone through those first 5, you should explore the rest of the blogs--my personal favorites are "the deal with the dybbuk" and "the months of the Hebrew year" (that one contains a calculator for finding out your hebrew birthday!

"you didn't answer my question here!"

So sorry about that! Feel free to reach out to me via the Contact page! 

with love, 

z

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z@jewitches.com