Gershom's Jewish Link Launcher
Updated: October 18, 2001
There are literally thousands of Jewish sites on the Web. These are
just a few that I have found useful, some of which are also launchers
to more sites. My personal Jewish practice is Hasidic (Orthodox), and
this preference is reflected in this list. These are only suggestions
to get you started -- I accept no responsibility for your own experiences
as you surf the Web!
Antisemitism and Stereotypes
Converting to Judaism
Jewish FAQ menu
Kabbalah, mysticism, dreams
Afterlife and reincarnation, etc.
This is a site promoting the book of that title by Simcha Paull Raphael,
which is one of the best books on this topic available today. The site
has info on the contents of the book, some excerpts, reviews, ordering
info, etc. Very well-researched and footnoted, yet also readable and
acessible to the layperson. I highly recommend it as a permanent
addition to your reference bookshelf. You can also read an
Interview with Simcha Paull Raphael on his publisher's site.
This exhaustive set of study materials on the Chabad-Lubovitch
site explores the classical sources on this topic. Who will be
resurrected? When? Why? What happens after that? etc.
Well-documented and footnoted, with a strong reliance on the
Tanya (major 18th-century Lubovitch text) and lectures by the
late Lubovitcher Rebbe, Menachem M. Schneerson of Brooklyn.
(My major complaint about this site is that it is set up in frames
so you have to go through all their darned graphics each time before
getting to the next section of the discussion. Surf with graphics
off for greater speed. Scroll down to find the text because, with
the graphics off, some pages appear blank at the top.)
Reincarnation in Judaism
You will find a good discussion of "karma" and how it relates
to Jewish reincarnation issues in Part 2 of the
Reincarnation and the Holocaust FAQ.
Although this FAQ is directed at Holocaust issues, the Q's in this
section apply to other areas of reincarnation studies as well.
Also check the Jewish reincarnation page
of my online bookstore, which has info and links to several
excellent books on reincarnation in Judaism.
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In my opinion, this is the best basic Judaism site on the net. Written
from a traditional point of view, it presents Jewish beliefs, holidays,
practices, history, etc. in plain English, written for the general
public. Go here first for user-friendly info on Jews and Judaism.
Or, if you prefer to sit back in your easy chair and read a physical book,
try The Complete Idiot's
Guide to Understanding Judaism, which, of course, is not
really for idiots! Written by Rabbi Blech of Yeshiva University,
it uses the familiar "Idiot's" series format to explain
the basics in very accessible language. This just came out in November
1999 and is much better than Steinberg's stuffy old academic
standby, Basic Judaism.) It is currently my #1 recommendation for
rank beginners who want a user-friendly intro to Judaism book.
Go to this page to download "Speaking of Jews" (version 3.0),
a graphical DOS tutorial about language, stereotypes, antisemitism, and
other issues related to Jews. Discusses Jewish jokes, Shakespeare's
Shylock, the "angry Jehovah," Jews and money, Scribes and
Pharisees, "Are Jews a race?" And much, much more -- all in
a down-homey, easy-to-read style with buttons, graphics, and articles
that can be printed out. Try it for free -- it's shareware.
This husband-and-wife team, Mordechai and Kresel Hausman,
are Stoliner Hasidim who live in New York. They present clear,
down-to-earth explanations of some basic Jewish teachings from the
Orthodox viewpoint. In addition, they do a good job of dispelling
negative stereotypes about Orthodox Jews. Especially nice is a
feature called The Virtual Center of the Sephardic
has hundreds of links related to Sephardic
Jews, who are the descendants of Jews who were expelled from
Spain by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1492. Because
of their origins in Moorish Spain, Sephardic culture has a
Spanish/Arabic flavor which is quite differnt from the
Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish culture that is most often
portrayed in the media. On this site you can also hear some
authentic Sephardic music.
To purchase CDs of Sephardic music (and other Jewish music
as well) go to the music section of
Gershom's Book Shop.
All the Jewish answers to common Christian (and other) missionary
questions about why Jews do not believe in you-know-who.
The most extensive Jewish FAQ on the Web, it covers common (and not
so common) questions about basic Judaism, Jewish culture, Israel,
history, the Holocaust, different denominations, holidays, dietary
laws, practices, etc, etc, etc. Arranged in a very convenient
hypertext tree with several index levels, which lets you quickly zero
in on exactly what you need to know without having to download the
whole thing (which is humungous!) Everything you always wanted to
know about Jews but were afraid to ask...
More Jewish Link Launchers
This is the link launcher for the shamash.org site, one of
the biggest Jewish sites on the Web. It has a menu with a
"What's new?" feature, so you can check out the
latest links each time you visit.
Over 4500 Jewish links with a searchable index! You can
add your own links, too. Maintained by Steve Ruttenberg.
Maintained by Yori Yanover. One of the biggest Jewish sites on the net.
A wide variety of topics, articles, and forums on all kinds of religious
and social issues. Includes interactive bulletin boards and discussions.
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Converting to Judaism
As I have explained elsewhere, I don't do conversions.
If you are interested in exploring the possibility of converting
to Judaism, the following sites may be useful:
This site may help you to explore some of the issues involved, if you
do decide to consider conversion. Be aware, however, that this site
is written by a Conservative Jew (that's a denomination, not a
political stance!) with a subtly negative attitude about Orthodox
Jews. Although he is attempting to be "inclusive" of all
types of Jews, he is, in my opinion, also pushing the non-Orthodox
agenda. However, the site does explore some of the basic issues,
dilemmas, and problems which sometimes confront converts to Judaism.
The site also includes addresses of rabbis of all denominations that
you can contact for further info on conversion.
Also check out the Basic Judaism section
of my online bookstore, which has useful materials on
conversion, including books written by converts themselves who
share their personal tips and experiences.
Yes, they are. This article by Mordechai Hausman presents a calm and
thorough explanation of the Orthodox stance on this volatile issue
about "Who is a Jew?" At the same time, he also discusses
why a person cannot just declare themselves Jewish because they
"feel it in their heart," and why a proper conversion
according to halachah (Jewish law) is necessary.
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NOTE: Hasidim are Orthodox Jews and the practices are interwoven
with the Orthodox way of life. Some of these sites simply take it for
granted that you already know this, and that you know about Jewish
beliefs, theology, holidays, rituals, etc. If you don't, I recommend
some reading on basic Judaism first.
Due out in October 2001:
Around Sarah's Table: Ten Hasidic Women Share Their Stories of Life, Faith, and Tradition.
I haven't read it yet, but it's getting very good pre-publication reviews.
Read more on Amazon.com...
A very accessible FAQ written in plain language for the non-Hasidic
reader (all Hebrew terms are clearly defined in the text.) It defines
Hasidism, gives some basic background, discusses how it differs from
other forms of Judaism, some of the different Hasidic groups, what is
a Hasidic Rebbe, discusses specific religious practices and other
customs related to Hasidic clothing, haircut, social mannerisms, and
whether or not they really do it through a hole in a sheet...
Hasidic Links Page on Michael Graffam's website has connections
to material on Hasidic philosophy, history, stories, etc.
Specific Hasidic groups
There are about a dozen main Hasidic groups and many smaller
ones. Many groups purposely do not want a presence on the net,
for any number of reasons. The links below are for the groups
that do have websites. If you are aware of sites for
other Hasidic groups, please send me the URLs at:
and I'll add them here.
The Breslov -- Judaism with Heart
website is the homepage of the Breslov Research Institute, which publishes
works of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, the founder of Breslover Hasidism.
This is also the group which helped me make my
pilgrimage to Uman. Their website has an extensive selection of
teachings from the writiings of Rebbe Nachman, arranged by category.
Another good Breslov site is Benyamin Pilant's
Breslov on the Internet page,
which has, among other things, a searchable text library of over
3000 pages of Breslov materials! It also has LOTS of links to
other Breslov sites, in both Hebrew and English.
Lubovitcher Hasidim are followers of the Late Lubovitcher Rebbe,
Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, z"l. Lubovitch is one of the best-known
and most wide-spread Hasidic movements, with centers in just about every
major city where there are Jews. There are LOTS of Lubovitcher sites
on the web. (Hint: You will more easily find them by seaching for
"Chabad" rather than "Lubovitch&.QUOT;)
Chabad-Lubovitch in Cyberspace is
an official Lubovitch site which has good, basic info about this
major Hasidic movement.
Tanya, the basic Lubovitcher text by Rabbi Schenur-Zalman
of Liady (18th century) is now online, too.
The Modzhitzer (MUH-zhits-er) Hasidim are especially known
for their excellent music. Their new (as of Nov. 1999) site
features history, stories, and samples of music of Modzhitz.
(Be sure to read the story of the "Homeless Niggun.") However,
it's a Java-intensive site that may take a while to load if you
have an older computer system. Be patient -- the wait is worth it!
There is an unoffical Satmar site at
www.satmar.com which others tell me is up and running, but for
some strange reason I always get an "access forbidden" notice
on my system (?) -- but give it a try and see. I'm told it is mostly
political, i.e., anti-Zionist Satmar materials, etc.
Rabbi Gershon Aaron, also Satmar, has a totally non-political site
where he has posted some translations of Satmar teachings from
various Rebbes, etc. As his Web address indicates, he and his family
live near Duluth, Minnesota, where he is building a mikveh.
For a sociological approach to the community of Satmar,
you can go to the site of Jason Aronson, Inc. (book publishers)
An Interview with George Gershom Kranzler,, author of
Hasidic Williamsburg: A contemporary Hasidic Community.
In both his book and the interview, Dr. Kranzler, Ph.D., presents
a very positive approach to the sociology of the Satmar Hasidim
and others in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. His
focus is on the success of the community in both maintaining its
traditional life as Hasidim, and making it in the New World of
contemporary American society. Very informative!
Some of these sites are maintained by people who are not themselves
Hasidim, but who have an interest in Hasidic stories, philosophy,
history, culture, etc. Some are classical tales, oothers are
modern renditions of Hasidic themes.
has some great Hasidic stories, both traditional and modern, with
links to other Jewish storytelling sites. You can also add your own
stories to the collection and/or suggest more Hasidic storytelling
The official site for the teachings of the late
Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, may he rest in peace. Reb Shlomo was an
excellent storyteller and teacher, and Rebbe to many Jews from in the
60's generation. The Shlomo Carlebach Foundation was recently created
to collect and protect his materials on behalf of the Carlebach family's
estate, and for future generations to cherish and enjoy.
Authentic Jewish Reincarnation Stories
has four sample stories from Jewish Tales of Reincarnation by
Yonassan Gershom, including two about the Baal Shem Tov.
Miscellaneous Hasidic-oriented sites
This site promotes the book by that name, which is a first-person
account of the experiences of Robert Eisenberg, a secular Jew from Omaha,
Nebraska, as he traveled to different communities the Hasidic world.
I found it to be a fascinating look at how a sympathetic outsider
experiences the Hasidic way of life today. Especially interesting
for me was its candid description of colorful individuals within the
many different Hasidic communities, including Satmar, Lubovitch, Belz,
Breslov, and many others. A very good read.
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Why should I re-invent the wheel here? Go to Arnie Bernstein's
links page on the Shoah Dream Project site (see below), and connect
with Holocaust museums, libraries, discussion groups, etc.
A thought-provoking essay by a Chabad Chassid, exploring some of the
questions that plague us about the Holocaust: Why did it happen?
Where was G-d? Why didn't He stop it? etc.
Sometimes the number of "six million Jews" becomes too impersonal, and
we need to remember that each of those people had a name and a
life. You can see actual family photos from before the war, and read the
true story of one extended family of Polish Jews, written by Uri Nachimson,
son of the only survivor of the entire extended family, at the
Shoah Dream Project.
(Shoah means "Holocaust" in Hebrew.) The Shoah
Dream Project brings together accounts of dreams with Holocaust themes.
Arnie Bernstein did a great job of collecting these dreams and getting
them online, so please give it a read.
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Kabbalah and mysticism
The Judaism 101 site
(already described above) has a nice
that will give you a basic introduction to Jewish mysticism.
Download a DEMO for
49 Gates of Light, a user-friendly, interactive tutorial about the
Kabbalistic Tree of Life diagram. Based on the seven-weeks of "counting the
Omer" observance on the Jewish calendar. Fun and easy to use.
Devekut means "cleaving" or being on fire with devotion
to God (hence their flame motif.) This newly-developing site by
Zechariah Shamayim-V'aretz specializes in presenting materials and links to
authentic, Torah-observant (Orthodox) teachers and sources for learning
Kabbalah, Hasidism, and Jewish meditation. (Reb Zechariah personally
screens teachers and others before linking them to his site, to insure
that they are credible people who really "walk the walk.")
His site also sells his own meditation course materials, as well as
other Jewish spirituality resources.
The Jewish Spirituality
Links page has many links to interesting websites, online
kabbalah and Jewish mysticism study groups, retreat centers, etc.
This is a really eclectic list and I do not necessarily endorse
everything on it, but it does have some good resources. The Intro to kabbalah
pageon the same site has a nice historical overview, including
nice drawings of some of the major rabbinic figures.
While I don't normally go in for "debunking"
materials on my site, I think a warning is in order about the
Kabbalah Centres led by Phillip Berg, because there are just too
many bad reports about them lately. Before spending outrageously
exhorbitant prices for their books and ritual objects, I recommend
The Truth About the Kabbalah Centre published by the Task Force
on Cults and Missionaries in Los Angeles.
I am looking for more responsible sites which present Kabbalah
from a traditional Jewish point of view. Send suggestions for links
Daily or weekly lessons, study groups, centers, etc.
Torahfax in Cyberspace
is a daily (except on Shabbat and holy days) Torah lesson, written by
Zalmen Marazov (Montreal, Canada) in plain English from an Orthodox/Hasidic
viewpoint for "Jews on the go." You can read it online or get
the lessons by e-mail -- a nice way to start your day at the office!
Ozer Bergman of Breslov Research Institute writes a weekly dvar Torah
(lesson) which you can get by e-mail. Drop him an e-mail at
firstname.lastname@example.org to get on the
list -- and be sure to mention this website!
The Yakar Center for
Tradition and Creativity> founded by Rabbi Mark
Rosen in 1992 in Jerusalem, "fuses
creativity and tradition in a way that subtracts from
neither and inspires both," according to student
Sarah Shapiro, who is quoted on their website. Rabbi
David Zeller, disciple of the late Shlom Carelbach and
a member of the Yakar faculty, once described his approach
as "Orthodox Renewal," i.e., using the more
personalized spiritual approach of the Jewish Renewal
movement, but remaining within the parameters of halachah
(Jewish law.) Yakar offers a variety of programs on
various levels of study.
Nishma is a modern Orthodox site
based on the perspective of Rabbi Benjamin Hecht. It describes itself
as "a societal endeavor in understanding Torah." and seeks
to build responsible bridges between halachah (Jewish law) and modern
life. They produce a monthly lesson called ":Insight" which
focuses on the Torah perspective(s) of various ethical, moral, and
social responsibility questions, which you can get by fax or e-mail.
The Project Genesis
Global Learning Network has descriptions of a number of newsgroups
on various topics of Jewish law, the weekly Torah portion, study of
classical texts, etc. The approach is Orthodox.
Orthodox Union Online is the homepage
of one of the largest Orthodox Jewish groups in America. An especially
good site to learn about mainstream Orthodox responses to various
political and social issues, Israel, etc.
Want to find Talmud references quickly? Then go to the
virtual index of
the Talmud where you can search by topic (in English).
Eliezar Segal has put together a hypertour of
a page of
Talmud (in English) which will give you a good idea of who the
different rabbis and commentators are whose works are found on a page
of Talmud, and how they fit together in classical Talmud study.
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Do you have a good link to add here?
Send your suggestions and URLs to:
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