Jews Should Not Get Tattoos

by • April 5, 2012 • Faith, How We See It, Verbal SnapshotsComments (0)

A picture of a personal statement.

Jews should not get tattoos.

I am not a rabbinical scholar or biblical historian, but I did grow up as the product of a solid Jewish education every Sunday from ages six to sixteen. My modern distillation of the teachings I have had in the areas of Judaism and our physical bodies is such that I have come to believe as an adult, that the human body is a vessel for the most precious thing of all, the soul – and you return it to G-d in the condition he gave it to you in – period. The more studied or orthodox or those born in earlier times would refer specifically to “You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselves: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:28).

Of course, keeping kosher is also part of Jewish law. I do not keep kosher and am comfortable with that fact. So why the ta-do about the ink?

As part of the Nazi killing machine, concentration camp inmates were stripped of everything, starting with their hair and ending with their lives, and tattooed with a prisoner number on their arm as they entered the camps. This was how the Nazis kept tabs on how close they were to the completion of their mission: the total elimination of Jews from the earth.

To that lost generation 70 years ago, being tattooed was a direct affront to their belief system and moral compass. They had no choice about being tattooed – I have a choice. I say the “no” they could not to honor and remember the 6,000,000 exterminated Jews and 6 million non-Jewish victims killed in this grimmest chapter of humanity.

This is my truth.

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