Ask Wendy

Jewish World Review April 3, 2003 / 30 Adar II, 5763


One less Jewish doctor?; being prayed at


By Wendy Belzberg


http://www.jewishworldreview.com | Q: I recently learned that my cousin (a young doctor) is getting married. His parents are both Jewish. However, I remember that when he was born, he did not have a bris. He was circumcised, but not by a mohel. What is his status as a Jew? Shall I say something, or just keep quiet?

A: You can breathe easy. There is still the same number of Jewish doctors in the world. Jewish status is determined by the mother; if your cousin's mother is Jewish-even if his father is not-the good doctor is a Jew. This rule applies to all male children-whether they are circumcised or not.

The issue of religion aside, let me ask this: unless you are a generation older than your cousin, how do you happen to know about his circumcision? Surely you must have other things on your mind. If you haven't, you probably ought to broaden your interests and find some.

Q: Our middle son has cerebral palsy, is 23 years old and lives at home. Often on our outings to the mall, people will stop us to pray for our well- being, many times bringing up Jesus' name. My wife reacts rudely to these people. I smile and say thanks and walk on. I don't think it hurts for someone to pray for us; my wife feels they ought to mind their own religious business and butt out of ours. Otherwise we both welcome friendly people. Who is right?

A: Mind their own religious business or mind their own family business? I'm all for prayer. And though the mention of Jesus' name would also make me pause, I accept all forms of goodwill, good wishes and prayer. (I would probably draw a line at the Bible-thumping, proselytizing variety.)

I can't help but wonder if people would stop you and offer their prayers if you were walking in the mall with one of your other children. I suspect that your wife's reaction is as much about people minding her family business as it is about the mention of Jesus' name. The good wishes of perfect strangers in a mall could feel less like prayer and more like sympathy. That would not feel comfortable to anyone. Your son may have limitations that are more apparent than those of the other bargain hunters strolling through the mall. Remember that you and your family are in no more need of prayer because of it than any other shoppers.


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© 2002, Wendy Belzberg