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All Questions Answered by
Rabbi Joshua Yuter

Question: What qualifies one to be a Jew both ethnically and religiously? Has it always been so? (From Jacob/Israel to now). The Old Testament (in part) uses a patriarchal (the male side) genealogy to substantiate parentage. Paul of Tarsus was considered a Jew , yet had a non-Jew parent [Editors note: this is not clear- the only source is apparently the Greek Scriptures, and Paul's writings which can be questioned. It is possible either that Paul's parents converted, or that Paul did. Tarsus was a very non-Jewish area]. I've read that a Jewish mother qualifies the children as Jewish for religious purposes. Please edify me as regards this topic.
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Question: How does Judaism view the occult and "new age" practices and ideas? For example, Tarot cards, ceremonial or folk magic, or astrology. I don't believe these things have actual supernatural powers, but I do find a lot of symbolic value in them. Provided one is not worshiping other gods or practicing another religion, can one be a Jew and still take part in these things for self-exploration or purely out of curiosity? If not, where would a Jew draw the line today?
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