FIS: so you are an orthodox jew, is that correct?
Jesse: yes it is
FIS: what is the difference between being an orthodox jew and a non-orthodox jew?
FIS: or is there no difference?
Jesse: it's like the differences between different types of christianity.
Jesse: orthodox judaism is quite a wide term, but it is the most religious
Jesse: as opposed to reform or liberal Jews who are more modern and try to wrap the bible to fit society
FIS: what are the differences between Christianity and Judaism?
Jesse: Christianity worships Jesus as the messiah, Judaism doesn't.
Jesse: also, Judaism follows the old testament, Christianity follows the new testament
FIS: Do Jews believe that Jesus actually existed or do they believe that his existence was fictionalized?
Jesse: we believe he existed. in fact, he was a Jew himself!
FIS: You just don't choose to worship him?
Jesse: (by the way, I have a problem with my internet connection where it keeps cutting out. just bear with me )
FIS: lol no problem
Jesse: We have no reason to worship Jesus, he was just another man.
Jesse: Actually, we are told that he wasn't *such* a great guy.
FIS: so in other words, the virgin mary wasn't really a virgin? heh
Jesse: hehe, not quite what I was getting at
Jesse: I actually don't know too much about Jesus, but I've heard a couple of stories about him doing some very un-Jew-like things.
Jesse: I don't want to offend anyone though, so I won't go into too much detail with my stories about him
FIS: What does it mean for something to be kosher? Could you explain the concept and why it is practiced?
Jesse: The word Kosher can be used in a couple of different ways. What I think you're reffering to is
Jesse: the idea of eating only certain foods.
FIS: yes thats it
Jesse: The basic idea is we don't mix meat and milk, we only eat certain animals which have been killed in a very strict manner and so on.
Jesse: The laws are quite intricate, even I only know it on a very basic level, but that's the general jist of it.
FIS: are the kosher laws still practiced today?
Jesse: Absolutly! I keep Kosher myself.
FIS: how does eating kosher affect your choices at the supermarket? do you avoid processed meats?
Jesse: I can't buy any meats at the supermarket at all, I buy my meat from a Kosher butcher who is supervised.
Jesse: We have an authority (more than three here in London, in fact) that checks the meat at the butcher, checks where it's slaughtered, checks the restaurants etc
Jesse: The laws vary slightly according to custom, but the basics are all the same.
FIS: we often see "kosher" dill pickles in the supermarket, are they marketing for jewish people?
Jesse: I guess so.
Jesse: Actually, loads of food that you eat is probably Kosher and supervised!
Jesse: Look for an "O" with a letter inside (usually a U or a P)
Jesse: Things like baked beans for instance, we have no problem buying off the shelf unless they have meat added. The supervision means we know that what we're eating is A-OK!
FIS: very interesting
Jesse: I know it sounds quite strict, but I'm so used to it, it's second nature. Besides that, I know what I can buy in the supermarket without looking for the supervision sign.
Jesse: The other law which I failed to mention is after eating meat, you have to wait 3 hours before you eat anything dairy.
Jesse: Some people wait 6 hours, it varies with custom.
FIS: have you always been Jewish or did you convert?
Jesse: I've always been Jewish, my parents are Jewish, their parents are Jewish, their parents are Jewish etc etc etc
FIS: Do you know how to speak Hebrew?
Jesse: I don't, but I'm hoping to learn. I do pray in Hebrew, so a few words I know.
Jesse: I should point out that the language spoken in Israel is Ivrit, which is modern Hebrew.
FIS: what is a bar mitzvah?
Jesse: When I boy turns 13 he becomes a man in the sense that he is now responsible for his own actions and now has a responsibilty to do all the commandments.
FIS: is there a similar ceremony for girls?
Jesse: yes, but it's when a girl turns 12.
Jesse: A boy reads from the torah (bible) aswell, which a girl doesn't do.
FIS: are there any other ceremonies during a person's life?
Jesse: when a boy is 8 days old he gets circumcised.
Jesse: and a wedding is a big event, but not really so religion-specific.
Jesse: although the 7 days of partying after is a great Jewish custom!
FIS: wow 7 days sounds like quite a time, do they still break glasses like in "fiddler on the roof"?
Jesse: Yup! And you just reminded me of possibly the most stereotypical movie about Jews ever made. Great stuff hehe
FIS: sorry, is the movie inaccurate in its portrayal of jewish culture?
Jesse: not so much, but that movie is set around 100 years ago, I think. I might be very religious, but I'm still a normal guy!
Jesse: and I still do normal things like everyone else
FIS: what sort of traditional jewish clothes are there?
Jesse: well at the moment I'm wearing jeans and a t-shirt, but I guess that doesn't count
Jesse: we don't really have any traditional clothes, but some branches of judaism wear cool hats (kinda like those furry russian ones).
FIS: what about those shirts with the fringes hanging from them that are always in movies?
Jesse: ahhh, the tallis! that's only worn during prayer on our sabbath if you're married, if not you don't wear them
Jesse: however, I do wear a vest with strings tied in carefully arranged knots all the time.
Jesse: I wear it underneath my clothes and tuck it into my jeans so you don't even notice it
FIS: are there any jewish holidays besides chanukah (sorry if i butchered the spelling)?
Jesse: oh yes, loads.
Jesse: in fact, probably too many to name
Jesse: but the main ones are Rosh Hashanah (new year), Yom Kippur (day of atonement), Pesach (passover), Shavuot (recieving of the torah), Succos (remembering the wandering Jews in the desert) and there's a few more minor ones aswell
Jesse: there's one great festival where you're actually meant to get drunk!
FIS: according to comedian adam sandler, christmas sucks compared to chanukah since it is 8 days instead of one. would you agree?
Jesse: we're commanded to eat donuts on chanukah, which makes it cooler than christmas!
FIS: lol cool
FIS: is there any story behind the 8 days?
Jesse: Yes, the story goes that we needed to light the menorah (special candlestick holder thingy) but we only had enough oil to make it last a day. then a miracle happened and it lasted 8 days.
Jesse: the story is quite a bit longer, but that's why we have 8 days
FIS: have you ever made a pilgrimage to israel?
Jesse: I wouldn't really call it a pilgrimage, but I have been to Israel many times on holiday simply because I love it there!
FIS: the news makes it sound pretty dangerous, is it really that bad?
Jesse: it depends where you go. Jerusalem is pretty dangerous. One of my brother's friends was blown up on a bus,
Jesse: his parents set up a charity in memory of him: www.yonijesner.org
FIS: that is very unfortunate, what is the source of the muslim and jewish tension?
Jesse: I believe it goes back to Isaac and Eesaw. Isaac's descendants became the Jews, Eesaw's descendants became the Arabs.
FIS: Why do you think so many people have persecuted Jews?
Jesse: I don't know. I think we may be seen as a threat, but I'm not entirely sure.
FIS: How does it make you feel to know that only 60 years ago Hitler was rounding Jewish people up and putting them in camps?
Jesse: It disgusts me. My great grandparents on my fathers side were killed by the nazis. I also have family on my fathers and mothers side who were in the Auschwitz death camp and are still alive today.
FIS: i recently visited the holocaust museum in washington DC and it made a deep impact on me, have you ever been there?
Jesse: no, I live in london.
FIS: how many people in the world do you estimate are jewish?
Jesse: a few million? I'm not entirely sure
FIS: what do you do in your free time?
Jesse: watch TV, play computer games, I play guitar, piano and drums aswell, hang out with mates... all normal stuff really.
FIS: what are things like in london after the recent attacks?
Jesse: people are using public transport less and less it seems
FIS: well i am out of questions, do you have anything else you would like to say?
Jesse: nope, I've said everything