Tuesday, October 27, 2009

From Judaism to Islam & back again


Sometimes embracing a faith is easier than living with the people who profess that faith.

This was a lesson well-learned by "X," a young woman who was born a Jew, converted to Islam but last week stood before a rabbinical court in Jerusalem and declared her fidelity to Judaism.

Once she had made the decision to embrace Islam, it was easy enough for X to make the shahada: "There is only one God and He is Allah and Muhammad is his messenger."

But it was altogether a different story when it came to living with Muslims. The cultural differences were impossible to bridge. [...]


  1. This has been pandemic throughout the Sephardi world. Any idea how many Moroccan Muslims have the last name Kohen?

    It is in the tens of thousands.

  2. Nothing to do with the topic at hand! Please contain these things to the relevant threads.

  3. comment moved to rabbinic malpractice posting

  4. From the desk of Rav HeinemannOctober 27, 2009 at 10:18 PM

    I don't see the harm done by leaving comments at the freshest entry.

    When they are moved to "Rabbinic malpractice" that entry is off the current page and not simple to find.

    Ultimately it is up the baal hablog but many blogs allow schizoid adherence to the topic.

    One blog who experimented with this found that more people were interested in reading the latest news without having to search for it.

  5. Not only are there many Moroccan Muslims with the last name of Kohen, but there are also perhaps thousands of Moroccan Muslims who have Jewish mothers who married Muslim men.

    There was a takana in some Moroccan communities against the offspring of these unions to marry other Jews because so many Moroccan Jewish women were marrying Muslim men that the Jewish men did not have any women to marry.

    So the Rabbis had to institute a takana against accepting the fully halachically Jewish children of these unions back into the Jewish communities in Morocco.

    The King of Morocco, Mohammed VI's mother is a Jewish woman whose family name is BenHamu.

  6. JG,

    Please provide documentation for your claims.

  7. Mekubal,

    I thought it was fairly common knowledge among Moroccan Jews, that Latifa Hammou, the mother of King M IV was born Jewish. For obvious reasons this is not actually published anywhere that I know of.

    Rabbi Garzon-Serfaty, Chief Rabbi of Spain was teaching Torah classes at the palace.

  8. hmmm...

    I know many Moroccan rabbanim... none of them know this.

  9. Recipients and PublicityOctober 28, 2009 at 4:56 PM

    "mekubal said...JG,

    Please provide documentation for your claims."

    Not every statement on a blog or even in a serious conversation requires instant documentation.

    Some situations, like rabbinic endorsements for large organization that reach out to masses of people, need the endorsements from living rabbis who support it and can be asked for written documentation, but that is not the only way of obtaining reliable information in all situations.

    As you know, the testimony of witnesses is sufficient as court evidence and in bais din, think of "al pi shnei eidim yakum davar" or "hoda'as ba'al din k'meiah' edim dami" etc. Courts do not require documentation to support live evidence in every instance although documentation is obviously good and helpful.

    If documentation is the gold standard only in evidence, then mechanisms like chazakas, kabbalas (in the sense of handed down orla traditions), and even the Torah SheBe'al Peh (in the sense of the application and formulation therefof) are not needed.

    You know secular academics are not even impressed with what their colleagues the historians say even if its maximally researched, they only want archeological, geological and pure scientific evidence.

    In Jersey Girl's defense, she has been proven to be reliable in her sources and statements even though one may not always agree with her views or with the way she interprets her raw data or formulates her arguments.

    Perhaps you are being over-cautious in light of the recent ignominy that poster Roni/Tropper has faced for being unable to provide written haskomas for EJF, but that is of a different category and scale because EJF is a huge multi-million effort to impose new halachic policies on Klal Yisroel as it aims to institute mass proselytization to goyim while claiming it had "rabbinic endorsements" when in effect it had none in writing either as haskomas or teshuvos, so it was right in that situation to press them against the wall and ask for real and comprehensive and classical documentation demanding both haskomas and a teshuva to explain what they are up to. But in any case, that kind of "documentaion" is uniquely related to the halachic process, it would still mean nothing in a secular or academic setting that altogether does not care what rabbis say or how they say it or what the requiremnents are for accepting information.

    So of what purpose is it to ask Jersey Girl right off the bat if she can document a stement that according to her judgmenet, experince and sources is correct?

    Why couldn't you say, "are you sure" or is there some sort of ARTICLE anywhere about it. Withe words "documentation" you make it sound that you wowuld need an official paper from the department of internal affairs of Morocco to accpet her statement, rather unfair and jumping the gun when this is not a yichus search that needs to be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. Besides no one is running to accept them all as Jews, accept for Michaal Freund's Shavei Israel and EJF, and indeed if those kind of people want to FORMALLY be classified as Jewish, then yes a bais din or Israeli government ministry will no doubt hopefully do ITS job and start asking for documentation or sworn statements from rabbis and stuff like that.

  10. Recipients and PublicityOctober 28, 2009 at 4:57 PM

    Shikul hada'as is an important in every situation before jumping to ask for written documentation for every statement even those based on common knowledege and experience.

    This is only a blog first, so let's start with that step first, let's hear out what posters say as they contribute, and not jump at anyone and then ask them to come up with written IDs for everything. Jersey Girl herself has been guilty of this demand in the past too so hopefully she is taking note.

    In fact for a long time the Holocaust denial sector was on a roll because they too demanded to see "documentation" for the death of every last one of the six million or more murdered Jews, and it's taken decades for the right kind of documentation to come out, but that does not mean that Holocaust survivors or the Jewish people should have been told that their personal testimony and internal understanding of what happened was "fallacious" or "lacking" ch"v because there was little or no documentaion available to them for many decades after The Holocaust.

    In fact there is NO known document with Hitler's signature on it that authorizes the Holocaust and the killing off of every last Jew in Europe.

    There is the Hosbach memorandum of notes taken during a meeting where Hitler gave orders for the next big phase of the Final Solution but Hitler and all the top Nazis were very careful of where and how they applied their signatures. In fact, according to recent well-researched books, Hitler gave exemtions for not killing tens of thousands of "mishlings" (of partial Jewish descent) who were either sworn Nazis or devoted to its cause enough to be needed in the Third Reich, quite a few were top generals in the Wermacht fanatically loyal to Germany.

    So this whole subject of documentation is complex and can be misused and confusing as much as it can be of help and establishing facts.

  11. Well, actually I would also like to know whether this (Mohammed VI being jewish according to Halacha) is just a rumour or really true.


    Wikipaedia does not seem to confirm it...

    Where can we find further sources?

  12. This article does not seem to confirm it either.

    Could it be that Hassan's first wife, who is not the mother of the present king, was jewish?


    Sidi Mohammed, fils aîné du roi Hassan II du Maroc , est né le 21 août 1963 à Rabat. Sa mère, Lalla Latifa Hammou, deuxième femme du roi Hassan II, était une berbère d’origine roturière. Elle n'a jamais reçu de titre, tout au plus était-elle "mère des enfants royaux".

  13. This source does not seem to confirm it either:
    That's a quite serious french encyclopedia that appears in a new version every year.


    Lala Latifa Hammou, Berbère de la tribu des Zaïane, mère de ses 5 enfants et Famita Amoroqh, fille d'un caïd berbère, sans enfants. Enfants : Sidi Mohammed (voir col. c), Lalla Meríem (née 26-8-1962, ép. sept. 1984 Fouad Ibn Abdellatif Filali, divorce 1999), Lalla Asma (née 29-9-1965, ép. 7-6-1987 Khalid Bouchentou), Lalla Hasna (née 19-11-1967, ép. 8-9-1994 Khalid Benharbit),

  14. It is easy for people to edit details out of Wikipedia and other similar online profiles.

    This has been the case with NY Yankees announcer John Sterling who seems to be ashamed of being born with a very Jewish name. Every time someone inserts this detail, it is deleted.

    There have also been scandals in the frum community where the baalei davar keep a close eye on their profiles to quickly edit out damaging information.

  15. Yes, you are completely right.

    I did not say "She is not jewish".
    I just said: all the sources I found on Internet do not seem to confirm that she is jewish.

    The encyclopedia Quid cannot be edited as easily as Wikipaedia. It is a serious french encyclopedia that is updated every year and sold as a book.

  16. PS:
    One article said that Hassan II did not only have his first and second wife (who both seem to be berbers), but also other, lower-ranked wives.

    Perhaps one of them was jewish...

  17. When it comes to Muslims, you don't know who could have been forced into the harem.

    The Yated once had an article detailing how the most radical elements of Hamas in Gaza probably come from Jews taken captive hundreds of years ago in Hejaz (western Saudi Arabia).

  18. I spoke to someone from Morocco. They did hear that the King was in reality Jewish.

    They mentioned that it was common practice for over 1000 years for Arabs to kidnap Jewish women, especially in Fez and this is a reason why the Rambam did not remain in Morocco. There is also a famous story of a 17 year old girl from Tangier known as "the Tzadika" who was killed by an Arab prince when she refused to live with him.

  19. "did hear"
    means that there is a rumor...
    ... but does not say whether the rumor is founded.

    I also heard from a Maroccan Moslem in the late 80ier that "one of the King's wives is jewish"

    But which one?

  20. I am of two minds about demanding documentary evidence. On the one hand there are things I know with great confidence that I cannot prove with documentation, or generating the documentation would require inordinate effort. On the other hand all of us are regularly faced with so called facts we know to be untrue. The Internet allows such things to spread faster and with more anonymity.

    Somewhere between excessive standards of documentation and complete skepticism are sets of methods that can be applied without excessive effort. For example, in a constructive fashion one can ask for a description of the sources and what the writer knows about them. It is reasonable to question whether those who made the statements had a solid reason they would have known first hand. Or we can ask if this is a statement made reluctantly or with relish. You want to know if this was said at the time of the marriage or started becoming “everyone knows” a few years ago in Israel.

    I don’t know Jersey Girl because I am not a regular reader of comments, but certainly if I found someone consistently reliable as a source I would be inclined to believe them, but it still would not be automatic. My first reaction to the Jewish mother for the King of Morocco was "plausible but maybe just a local legend. I would love to know this is true for sure. I would love to have a reliable source." So I might have asked can you give me a source stating or suggesting this so if I post the fact I can be confident and I could defend the statement. If I were a regular on the blog furnishing support at whatever level, would help me decide how to respond to claims in the future.\

    I suppose the bigger issue than this claim is creating a culture that resists spreading things that turn out to be false, enlarges our ability to evaluate facts on our own, and thus enlarges our understanding by rewarding reliable participants with respect and marginalizes those who shout in place of discussing. I have seen too many discussions where participants who I think of as spewers of spam comments who bully by shouting. In my blog I have declared upfront that I will delete multiple posts of the same point which don’t address the subsequent comments because I feel they are abusing the space, wasting our time, and trying to have the last say without any justification.

    I have great faith that the internet even with anonymity, can become an intellectual community or put differently can emulate the Jewish tradition of arriving at better answers by arguing thoughtfully and respectfully.

  21. Apparently, it was a wife of Mohammed V and mother of King Hassan II, called "Mama Aisha" who was jewish.


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