I’m Bob Kaiser, educator, blogger, and advocate for non-fundamentalist egalitarian halakhic Judaism.

Robert Me

Over the years my friends and I have been building an online havurah – that’s Hebrew for “fellowship” – engaged in Torah Lishmah – תורה לשמה – study for it’s own sake. We learn Torah (תּוֹרָה), Bible (תַּנַ”ךְ), Mishnah (מִשְׁנָה), Midrash (מדרש) and Jewish philosophy (פילוסופיה יהודית) – in a halakhic egalitarian Jewish milieu, without politics or fundamentalism.

We draw from the wisdom of classical rabbinic commentators, as well as modern modes of learning from non-Orthodox scholars. Think Conservative Judaism, Havurah Movement, Open Orthodoxy, The Jewish Catalog, Masorti Judaism, etc.

When it comes to history we consider Marc Shapiro’s “Changing the Immutable: How Orthodox Judaism Rewrites Its History.” No one is criticized for citing scholarship that doesn’t match ArtScroll. When it comes to theology we consider Marc Shapiro’s “The Limits of Orthodox Theology: Maimonides’ Thirteen Principles Reappraised.”

Join our Facebook havurah, Coffeehouse Torah Talk

Here’s a helpful glossary of Jewish words, and important rabbis.

What you need to know if you are converting to Judaism

When discussing Jewish topics with other Jews, understand that analytical criticism – argumentation – is a common mode of discourse. We see this in the Mishnah and Talmud, in every kollel, yeshiva or Hebrew school. Of course arguments are aimed at reasoning and conclusions, they are not ad homenim (aimed at a person)

In a deductive argument, premises guarantee the truth of the conclusion – but that is hard to do in religion, in general. So we usually see a combination of deductive argumentation, with some amount of inductive argument (one in which logic provides reasons for supporting the conclusion’s probable truth.)

In rabbinical Judaism, our premises are not secular atheism, or Christian texts, or Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist texts. Rather, our premises start with the Torah (five books of Moses) and Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), and read them through the evolving tradition of our oral law – including the Mishnah, Tosefta, Midrash, the two Talmuds and the responsa literature.

Responsa (Hebrew: She’elot u-Teshuvot,  שאלות ותשובות , questions and answers”) comprise the body of written decisions given by poskim (“deciders of Jewish law”)

A good overview of this topic may be found in History of responsa in Judaism (Wikipedia) and in Responsa in the Conservative/Masorti Jewish movement.

To e-mail us:

Absolute Talmud

Some great Biblical artwork

The Doré Bible Gallery Woodcuts by Gustave Doré (1832-1883)

Gustave Dore Art Images

Historie des Ouden en Nieuwen Testaments : verrykt met meer dan vierhonderd printverbeeldingen in koper gesneeden. Author: Martin, David, 1639-1721

This website is educational.  Materials within it are being used in accord with the Fair Use doctrine, as defined by United States law. Title 17 of the United States Code is the United States Code that outlines United States copyright law. It was codified into positive law on July 30, 1947.

§107. Limitations on Exclusive Rights: Fair Use

Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phone records or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use, the factors to be considered shall include:

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. (added pub. l 94-553, Title I, 101, Oct 19, 1976, 90 Stat 2546)


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