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Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner


Write to me with questions about Jewish customs and law, history, philosophy and tradition for answers from a Conservative perspective or conversion. I am a graduate of The Jewish Theological Seminary and a member of the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly. Having served in congregational pulpits since 1970, I now am President of the Foundation For Family Education, Inc. a non-profit educational endeavor. I established it to create new formats of hands-on programs and provide free educational downloads at In addition to general informational questions I welcome your questions about programs for social action, outreach to dual-faith families, inter-faith clergy projects, healing services, education for conversion, adult education for the congregation and the community. If you have questions about Informal and Formal Education I am ready to share my extensive experience with Youth Activities, Camping and Religious School/Hebrew High School on a congregational, community and national/international level.

Experience in the area

I have served in a Conservative = United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) pulpit for more than 35 years and serve the Conservative movement, the Jewish community and the community at large on a wide variety of Boards and Committees. I have worked enthusiastically with dual-faith families and taught candidates for conversion with a great sense of fulfillment, and I am very proud of 25 years on the Jewish camping staff of Camps Ramah and United Synagogue Youth. My greatest source of pride is my family! Ask me about them, please!:-)

What do you like about this subject?

I received several degrees from the Seminary (JTSA) and have been a doctoral candidate in Midrash. Members of our family have studied at the Seminary. I have strong historical affection and respect for the Seminary's staff and programs after a relationship for more than 40 years. I would also welcome questions about the University of Judaism and Ma

What do you still hope to achieve/learn in this field?

The creative writings of our Sages in Midrash Aggadah deserve to be studied carefully and closely, mining them for hints and bits about life as it was lived by Jews thousands of years ago, their questions and their problems as they searched for meaning in the face of challenge. It's a form of "literary archaeology" which I relish.

Something interesting about this subject that others may not know:

I am fascinated by the fact that Jews have always had an enthusiasm about questioning their tradition, especially the texts (now written but have been oral and also in "scraps" of written records). I am impressed by our recovery from various resources - e.g. Cairo Geniza - the consistency of questions over the past several thousand years - generation after generation. People don't really change.

Something controversial or provocative about this subject

I am still hoping that as we continue to "dig" in the texts of our tradition and research the origins of early Christianity and Islam, we will discover much more than we know now about the origins of modern Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

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    K = Knowledgeability    C = Clarity of Response    P = Politeness
bill05/05/09101010dear rabbi lerner, again thank you for .....
Chuck09/14/08101010Thank you very much, Rabbi, and even .....
Timothy08/26/08101010His answer was very informative, and he .....
soheil07/08/07101010thanks a lot.this Q&A was useful .....

Recent Answers from Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner

2013-02-04 Infant Conversion problem:

Dear Adam,    Thank you for writing. This is indeed a serious question.     I would invite you to call me at 215-572-9175 - too much to cover in an email.    Secondly, I would urge you to convert this

2012-11-28 tallit:

Dear Eric,    Thanks for writing, and now that it is after Shabbat I can answer.    The only prohibited combination of cloth/material is mixing linen and wool. Some Jews will also have their materials

2009-05-22 conservative jewish congregation voting rights:

Dear Judy,    Thanks for writing, and yes the politics of congregational voting has arisen before.    A comment from me will not help you and would be inappropriately intruding into a congregation's operations

2009-05-04 jewish or not:

Dear Bill,    I taking the liberty of sharing with you part of an article from the 2007 edition of the Encyclopedia Judaica on the role of the majority in Jewish law and its support from within the Torah

2009-05-02 jewish or not:

Dear Bill,    Thanks for writing and I understand the confusion.    Judaism is not a Biblical religion.     Use the following model:    The US is founded on the Declaration of Independence, created on


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