UN HQ Chanukah party 2018

For Immediate Release:


The first ever Menorah lighting at the United Nations was organized by Rabbi Yakov David Cohen, Director of the Institute of Noahide Code the sponsoring UN NGO, said  “I am heartened coming into the United Nations Headquarters with the Isaiah Wall which prophesies that “no nation will wage war against another nation, and the swords will be transformed into plowshares.” This historic event involved the lighting of the Menorah by Rabbi Elie Abadie at the Isaiah Wall. The menorah is lit to commemorate religious freedom, when a small Jewish army fighting for religious freedom defeated the mightiest empire of the time: The greeks, who were attempting to quash religious observance. During the lighting the names of the 11 Jews killed during the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre were read, then Rabbi Cohen spoke about “The fifth night of Hanukkah is the first night in which a majority of the lights on the Menorah are lit, this is the night in which the light overcomes the darkness, it is up to all of us whether Jewish or Gentile, White or Black, Hispanic or Asian, to add in light and make this world a better place. Then participants danced and sang traditional Hanukkah songs including “Maoz Tzur”.


Then The Grand Chanukah Ball was held at the UN express Bar just steps away from the general assembly hall, in attendance were Ambassadors and UN staff. NYC advocate Clark Pena Received the Ambassador of peace award for his work on peace. Then Mr. Pena presented Rabbi Cohen with a proclamations from the New York State assembly as well as from New York City Council recognizing Rabbi Cohen’s work on promoting peace and unity in the world.


The United Nations acknowledges human rights as well as humanity’s right to freedom, including that of religion.  This Menorah lighting ceremony was open to all, including visitors to the United Nations of all races, religions and ethnicities.  It was a celebration of all that unites us as human family that we are: our yearning for ever more light at a time that humanity hopefully emerges victorious with light over darkness, the forces of human rights and freedom successful over intolerance, and the ideals of the Noahide Laws prevailing throughout the world.  The Seven Universal Laws of Noah are means by which humanity strives to live in unity and peace. These laws for peace and unity encompass respect for G-d, for human life, respect for the Family, for other people’s property, the creation and respect of a judicial system, and respect for all creatures and environment.

UN HQ Purim 2019



The Institute of The Noahide Code at the United Nations has been especially active in 2018 throughout New York, Washington, and The United Nations.  In a special meeting on the 38th floor of The United Nations Headquarters, Rabbi Yakov D. Cohen, Founder and Executive Director of the Institute, met personally with the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Antonio Guterres.  The meeting was arranged to fall on Shushan Purim, after a historic and first time Megillah reading and Purim party at the UN Headquarters.  The Megillah attracted a myriad of UN employees, diplomats and members of the media, as well as those working for UNICEF, who attended to listen to the story of Cyrus’s family set in the land known as current day Iran.


It was interesting to see that the employees working for UNICEF, as well as other UN employees, listened to the Megillah reading, in particular and according to Wikipedia:  “In recent years, the Middle East was the subject of 76% of country-specific General Assembly resolutions, 100% of the Human Rights Council resolutions, 100% of the Commission on the Status of Women resolutions, 50% of reports from the World Food Programme, 6% of United Nations Security Council resolutions and 6 of the 10 Emergency sessions.”


The story of the Megillah takes place all over again throughout the world, wherever a Jew stands in the midst of all the other nations, and is constantly signaled out as such, and in the case of the United Nations, constantly diplomatically sanctioned.  But the Megillah also offers the lesson that Rabbi Mordechai gathered children to pray, thereby getting parents and families involved in doing good and saving the world while saving his own people.  That story, has resonance in the halls of the United Nations, where such emphasis is placed on the welfare of children, of families wrought apart by strife and war, and violence, where the hope resides in saving children, to save the world.


As a foundation for the meeting with Secretary General Antonio Guterres, for Jews at the United Nations there was light, joy, overt happiness and honor.   The Secretary General was extremely happy to meet with Rabbi Cohen, and acknowledged Rabbi Cohen’s efforts to shed light among those who transit through the UN.  Both gentlemen spoke about the Isaiah Wall in front of the United Nations where it clearly states the time when people will ‘bet their swords into plowshares’.  The Rebbe Rabbi Menachem M Schneerson referred in January of 1992 that the arms reduction agreement between the former USSR and the United States, particularly meant that Isaiah’s prophecy was coming to fruition.


It was in that very site of Isaiah’s Wall, that for the first time, a Mehorah was lit during Chanukah.  Illuminating the steps that connect First Avenue up to the leafy and beautiful NYC enclave known as Tudor City, the Menorah had as witnesses to its initial 2017 lighting, Ambassadors from Ukraine, Uruguay and the United States, as well as representatives from Azerbaijan, Canada and Slovakia, among others.  For eight days, a beacon of light -and victory for the Jewish people- could be seen from any floor of the United Nations Headquarters.  That there was sufficient oil to last eight days in the initial Chanukah story paralleled in 2017, that there was sufficient respect among the nations to value and to enjoy the light glowing from each additional lit lamp.  An everlasting symbol of Judaism stood tall and erect in front of a huge building where 193 countries often convene, to discuss how to put an end to poverty, to put an end to war, to teach people to live in peace with one another, how to uphold peace and security.

The Universal Noahide Code “UNC”, setting forth to the international diplomatic and religious community what philosopher Hugo Grotius cited as the basis for the 1945 United Nations Charter and thus, the cornerstone of all international law.  Grotius further pointed out that the “UNC” is the practical means, by which humanity may strive to live in unity and in peace and can thus fulfill its potential to see all the families of the earth blessed.  These laws of peace and unity encompass respect for G-d, for human life, respect for the family, for other people’s property, for the creation, respect for judicial systems plus respect for all creatures and the environment.

A day does not go by that someone at the United Nations and its corridors, does not approach Rabbi Cohen first just to say hello.  It is after all, not usual to see a Rabbi transiting through the building.  From the initial encounter, the Rabbi hands over to the person a ‘good card’, which reflects the Universal Noahide Code. During a recent encounter, a man said after hearing what the Codes entail:  ‘I could live by that’.  Just as Jews were able to be redeemed from Egypt and to this day is an ongoing and dynamic process, humankind too, shows its need to leave the constraints of everyday life and society, and to be elevated spiritually, to know its Creator.  The Noahide Codes do serve as a bridge to unite humanity, for peace and unity and love.  There is no better place to evidence this, as the United Nations:  a place which has a unique calling to beat their swords -and hate- into plowshares, transforming humanity into brotherhood, to a time when the whole world will only know Him.


Kosher and halal food in public schools

No child should leave Lunchroom or enter a classroom hungry:

Political, civic, and religious leaders from across the spectrum have united in a groundbreaking effort to secure school lunches that meet the religious requirements of the diverse population in New York City’s public schools.

September 6th, 2016 at 12 noon at the steps of Manhatten’s City Hall will host a dynamic gathering of top leaders to push proposed Senate bill S1032 to ensure the availability of Halal and Kosher lunches for every school that hosts twenty-five percent or more students from a faith community that has dietary restrictions.

Senator Tony Avella (D-QUEENS) is credited with pioneering this effort. He shares, “The population of residents in cities like New York City who practice a religious faith with specific dietary restrictions is rising….Offering students these types of food options during lunch not only accommodates their dietary restriction but also enhances students’ awareness and respect for diversity in cultures, religions, and ethnicities.” Another active contributor is Assemblyman William Colton (Brooklyn), “as a former teacher, I understand the importance of ensuring the proper and healthy nourishment of children to educational progress. I have cosponsored two legislative bills (A8474, Ortiz & A 4328 Sepulveda) to provide for such needs.” Hailing these efforts as basic to American democracy, Assembly member Jaime R. Williams (District 59 Brooklyn)states, “To be without such food due to governmental agencies not considering important religious ideals is contrary to all our great beliefs of our City, State and Nation. Diversity of our religions has always been a cornerstone of our democratic system and that is why I support and urge others to support the mandate that no child should leave a
lunchroom or classroom hungry.”

Awareness for this pressing need was galvanized by Mazeda Uddin, Muslim woman activist and humanitarian,founder of the S.A.F.E.S.T. advocacy organization and leader in meeting the needs of immigrant populations from
all over the world.

Mazeda Uddin reflects, “Often these children go to bed hungry because they did not eat a good diet during the day.The parents of many of these children are on minimum wage trying to make ends meet and struggling to give their
children a proper diet on a daily basis.”

This proposed bill is hailed as a testimony to the tolerance and diversity of New York City; at the forefront of world leadership in finance and culture, now the city is trailblaizing efforts at true coexistence. State Senator Jose Peralta (D-Queens) remarked, “I want to thank the South Asian Fund for Education, Scholarship and Training in its efforts to bring Halal and Kosher menus school cafeterias.” Adding his support, State Senator Jesse Hamilton said, “Our public schools must be sensitive to the needs of every student, so providing kosher and halal meal options to students is imperative. I urge the Department of Education to act promptly to ensure that no student goes hungry.” because of their religious background.”


Culture of Peace in UN

Culture of Peace in UN

SEPTEMBER 4, 2018/ UN Headquarters, New York
The Role of Parliaments for Promoting the Culture of Peace and Implementing the SDG’s
Co-sponsors: UNESCO, Missions of Sri Lanka, Benin, 
Civil Society Representatives:
Imam Agha Jafri/ Sec. Gen. -American Muslim Congress
Rabbi Yakov David Cohen, Pres. Institute of Noahide Code
Rev. Tomas de Valle, St. Colomba
Mark Weizman, Director of Government Affairs/ Simon Weisenthal Center
Sergio Kopeliovich, Founder/Director, New York City Peace Museum

Universal Noahide Code at UN HQ

Universal Noahide Code at UN HQ

10 30 2018

Universal Noahide Laws at the UN

One man had a dream once, that his children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. This dream was born out of the ashes of a crumbling belief that one man was worth more than another. This misguided idea, that a free man was still subject to the will of his former masters, was and still is a microcosm of a problem that is facing the world today.

The prejudice, bigotry, violence and wickedness that infects every nation is the result of a lawlessness born out of our tendency to forget our past. The nations of our planet face daily battles between people whose only real fault is ignorance of the laws given to mankind since the time of Adam. These forgotten laws are known as the Universal Noahide Laws and are ostensibly a paragon of ethical behavior meant to guide mankind to perfection through good deeds and to propagate knowledge and understanding of the Divine.

It should be the dream of all people that our children should not only live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, religion or social status, but that they should live in a nation that adopts these Universal Laws as the foundation of the existence of that nation.

In 1945, the United Nations was established to promote international co-operation as well as to create and maintain international order. The original 51 member states began with a vision that all nations, great and small, would benefit from a conglomerate of working together in their efforts to foster social and economic development, provide humanitarian aid, promote human rights and maintain peace between all nations. Today, over 190 countries have joined this international body in hopes that the infrastructure of peace lies within.

One of the principal organs of the UN is the Economic and Social Council, or ECOSOC. This 54 member council serves as a forum for discussing international economic and social concerns, as well as delivering recommendations regarding policy to be addressed to the entire UN body. ECOSOC deliberates with many non-governmental organizations , or NGO’s, that participate in the day to day activities of the UN. The Institute of Noahide Code-UN is an accredited NGO with consultative status promoting peace through the values set in place by the seven Universal Laws. These laws are the Key to opening up a dialog between people of all nations, regardless of creed, religion or social class. They represent the common bond of all people across the globe, the backbone of peace. These laws are the framework for building a bright future for our children.

The foundation for establishing these Universal Laws at the UN is already in place due to the tireless efforts of Rav Yakov D. Cohen, executive director of the Institute of Noahide Law. As our generation witnesses the moral decay of the society around us, like what the world recently witnessed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, it becomes a moral issue whether or not to become proactive in stopping this burning hate that is festering in regions all over the world. We are beginning to forget the lessons that we learned from the Holocaust, which included the greatest lesson, that even discrimination against one group of people will result in the unraveling of the fabric of our entire society.

If we forget those lessons, if we forget our past, if we forget the Universal Laws, then our dreams of a utopia world for our children will fade away and be forgotten. These lessons, laws and future go hand in hand. In order to make peace between all nations, then all nations must realize that it is time to stop dreaming and embrace our reality. All of our lives depend on the choices we make from moment to moment. Each new moment provides us opportunities to change who we are. Now is the time to make the Universal Noahide Laws a priority.

When enough people recognize the importance of the Universal Laws, people and nations can truly begin the healing process all over the world with a common goal of providing our children with their own moments and chances to build a future for their children, our grandchildren. If we lose sight of our responsibility to pass on the knowledge of these laws to the next generation, we forfeit our future.

By: Craig R. Lodice

United Nations: Inauguration of the Parliamentary Multi Track Initiative Council for the SDG’s and the Culture of Peace

United Nations: Inauguration of the Parliamentary Multi Track Initiative Council for the SDG’s and the Culture of Peace


An article from Cotidianul (abridged)

At the UN headquarters in New York on September 14, the conference entitled “Inauguration of the Parliamentary Multi Track Initiative Council for the SDG’s and the Culture of Peace” was organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Global Ethics. Emil Constantinescu [former President of Romania] was the chairman of the conference and gave the opening speech entitled “Global Peace Initiative from the Levant, the foundation for a new culture of peace,” his press office announced in a statement.

The presidium of the conference included Ambassador Ion Jinga, Permanent Representative of Romania to the United Nations, Ambassador Katalin Bogyay, Permanent Representative of Hungary to the United Nations, Lily Valchanova Liaison Officer UNESCO, Garry Jacobs, president of the World Academy of Art and Science and the World University Consortium, and S. Bekerman, secretary general of the Interparliamentary Coalition for Global Ethics.

Participants in Sessions 1 and 2, led by President Constantinescu included Giandomenico Picco, former Under-Secretary General of the United Nations and adviser to the Oxford Research Group, Master Jun Hong Lu, president and director of the Oriental Media Buddhist Association, Rabbi Elie Abadie, Director of the Jacob E. Safra Institute of Sephardic Studies at Yeshiva University, Imam Agha Jafri, founder of the American Muslim Congress, Wafik Moustafa, president of the Conservative Arab Network, Dr. Lahoucine Khabid, president of the Atlas Center for Diplomatic Studies, ZH Khurram, secretary general of the International Youth Forum, Dr. Boris Pincus, President of Religions in Dialogue, and Rabbi Yaakov D. Cohen, founder of the Institute for Noahide Code. . .

Speech given by Emil Constantinescu:

Global Peace Initiative from the Levant, the foundation for a new culture of peace

At its annual conference in 2011 in Berlin, the Academy for Cultural Diplomacy launched a project for a new type of relations between nations and states based on understanding instead of military pressure or economic conditions. . . It seems that this kind of relationship that gives peace a chance in the globalized world can find inspiration in the ancient world of the Levant. This is not only because the Levant was the cradle of cultural diplomacy, but also because many civilizations including the Egyptian, Jewish, Assyrian, Babylonian, Phoenician, Greek, Arabic empires Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires were created in the Levant where they expanded exchanges of goods and ideas. South-East Europe has long been in contact with North Africa and the Middle East, and the people who live here have a long and extensive experience in intercultural dialogue.

In 2012, the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Global Ethics took up the initiative and expanded it globally. In 2013, at the end of the conference organized in Bucharest with a wide range of religious, academic and parliamentary representatives, a joint project was set up for the initiative. Considering that the Global Peace Initiative from the Levant could serve as a benchmark and model to achieve peace in all areas of conflict around the globe, on 24 and 25 June 2013, the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Global Ethics organized a conference at United Nations headquarters in New York dedicated to promoting this initiative. The Romanian Parliament endorsed it with a message of support.


Question for this article
Religion: a barrier or a way to peace?, What makes it one or the other?

In March 2014, the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Global Ethics organized a new conference in New York together with the Foundation for the Culture of Peace, headed by Federico Mayor.

It is planned to present the Global Peace Initiative from the Levant to the Congress of the United States, the British Parliament, the Knesset of Israel and to many other parliaments, including those of Japan and Palestine. . . .

This project, dedicated to promoting a culture of peace, invites the participation of researchers and scholars in the humanities, theologians, writers, artists, architects, musicians to build a space of knowledge and understanding through co-operation and mutual respect. A culture of peace is based on a new type of relations, not only between states, but especially between peoples who share common values that were born long before the current nation-states.

The time has come for cultural diplomacy and recognition of the old legacy of the Levant, an alternative reading of the history of this region, especially prior to the wars and conflicts of the present millennium. It offers a new approach, emphasizing what we have in common and what can unite us: principles, values ​​and skills practiced in the past, that can now be harnessed to ensure not only the stability of this region as a whole, but also building a model of cooperation and trust for all countries. It does not mean that we should deny our past, but to assume it in its tragic dimension. . .

For quite some time international organizations such as UN, UNESCO and civil society have been trying to create a political culture of security through negotiation and cooperation. To promote peace and understanding in the world they have been looking for the lowest common denominator around which we can agree. It is a welcome step and especially in the face of the many immediate threats.

My belief is that we should propose much more. If we want to achieve true peace and understanding between people we should not focus on the lowest common denominator, but to refer to the highest common denominator – faith.

Modern and postmodern societies of the 20th century have promoted equal rights and freedoms regardless of racial and ethnic differences and equal opportunities for women. But all this tends to divide society rather than unifying it. A peace based on a common ideal would be ideal, although it is a difficult task, not a peace imposed under the pressure of fear, but a peace springing from the depths of consciousness of millions of people. The treasure of the philosophical, literary, artistic millenary history of the Levant can help inspire a spiritual revolution with a profound knowledge of the human being who has been torn for millennia in the struggle between the aspiration to love one’s neighbor and the tendency to use power to oppress them or to oppress others in their own interest. We can turn this vast pedagogy of suffering into a pedagogy of reconciliation.

Twenty years ago, millions of people in Eastern Europe with empty hands, were ready to fight and die for freedom and democracy against the greatest war machine in history. In a new millennium, we can rediscover faith. Not to use it one against another, as has been done throughout the long history of mankind, but to understand our purpose on Earth. Peace is the name of God, whether we are Christian, Muslim, Jewish or faiithful to Asian religions. Only human arrogance has made us forget the Lord’s message, whatever name we give it to him in the language or our faith.

If the Levant, the cradle of the great monotheistic religions, will carry out a political and visionary project adapted the great challenges of today, it will contribute not only to a new identity of the area, but also hdlp to create a different concept of the future world called into a new humanism.”.


Article from: http://cpnn-world.org/new/?p=7035

Kosher Halal food in public schools

Kosher Halal food in public schools

SAFESTBuried in the just released NYC Budget for fiscal year 2019 is a $1 million allocation for a “Halal and Kosher School Lunch Pilot,” one of a few “food initiatives” totaling $7.4 million.

City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, who has supported the introduction of halal and kosher food in the schools, said in a statement on June 14 that the pilot program is “a critical first step toward leveling the playing field for our students not only in the cafeteria, but in the classroom – because only when young people have access to sufficient healthy food can they reach their full academic and social potential.”

Stringer noted that just last month, his office convened Jewish and Muslim leaders, community stakeholders and food advocates “to discuss this universal food initiative and build momentum toward this longstanding goal.”

Mobilizing Cultural and Religious Ethics to Promote the U.N. Post 2015 Development Goals

Mobilizing Cultural and Religious Ethics to Promote the U.N. Post 2015 Development Goals

The U.N. post 2015 development goals encompass ethics inherent in many cultures and religions on issues of social and environmental justice.
The Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Global Ethics, in cooperation with the Institute of Noahide Code are launching a major initiative to create a global steering committee of religious leaders and cultural representatives to lead the efforts to harness cultural and religious ethics to promote these goals.

The ‘United Nations’ Headquarters faces the Isaiah Wall inscribed across from the main building. The quote from the prophet Isaiah was chosen as the founding motto for the world’s foremost organization for international peace. In his eternal thought, the day is mentioned when no nation will wage war against another nation, and when swords – the instruments of war – will be transformed into plowshares – the instruments for providing man’s sustenance. The Seven Universal Laws of Noah which are cited by the philosopher Hugo Grotius as the foundation for international law (the basis for the United Nations Charter) are the practical means, by which humanity can strive to live in unity and peace and can fulfill its potential to see all the families of the earth blessed. These laws for peace and unity encompass respect for G-d, for human life, respect for the Family, for other people’s property, for the creation, respect for the judicial systems, and respect for all creatures and the environment.

Leaders in the fields of culture and religion are invited to share their insight and wisdom with the leading UN officials to assure that the vision of the United Nations, to have a peaceful and civilized world in which economic justice and righteousness prevail, can be fulfilled. The goal of this summit is to develop a coalition of religious and cultural leaders to work with the UN to implement the development goals towards a culture of peace and prosperity.

  • GOAL 1 End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • GOAL 2 End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  • GOAL 3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • GOAL 4 Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  • GOAL 5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • GOAL 6 Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  • GOAL 7 Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • GOAL 8 Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • GOAL 9 Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization andfoster innovation
  • GOAL 10 Reduce inequality within and among countries
  • GOAL 11 Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • GOAL 12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • GOAL 13 Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts*
  • GOAL 14 Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  • GOAL 15 Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation andhalt biodiversity loss
  • GOAL 16 Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provideaccess to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  • GOAL 17 Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development


  1. United Nations Resolutions on the Culture of Peace as a Pre-Condition for Peace, Security and Sustainable Development (Goals 1-17)
  2. Religious and Cultural Values as a driver for the implementation of the UN Post 2015 agenda (goals 1-17)
  3. Ethical Finance to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere” (goal 17)

Peace Process in the Middle East Global Summit – United Nations Headquarters



13 Principles of the Jewish Faith

The Thirteen Principles of the Jewish Faith

by Rav Moshe Ben Maimon, the Rambam – Rabbi Moses Maimonides

שלשה עשר עקרים של אמונת היהודי

The RAMBAM, in his commentary on the Mishnah (Sanhedrin, chap. 10), refers to these ‘Shloshah-Asar Ikkarim’ or thirteen principles of faith as “the fundamental truths of our religion and its very foundations.”

  • Belief in the existence of a Creator and of providence
  • Belief in His unity
  • Belief in His incorporeality
  • Belief in His eternity
  • Belief that worship is due to Him alone
  • Belief that G-d communicates with man through prophecy
  • Belief that Moses was the greatest of all the prophets
  • Belief in the revelation of the Torah to Moses at Sinai
  • Belief in the unchangeable nature of the revealed Law
  • Belief that G-d is omniscient
  • Belief in divine reward & retribution in this world and in the hereafter
  • Belief in the coming of the Messiah
  • Belief in the resurrection of the dead

Yud Gimmel Ikrim – יג עקרים

From The Siddur (prayer book)

  1. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His name, is the Creator and Guide of everything that has been created, and that He alone has made, does make, and will make all things.
  2. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His name, is One, and that there is no oneness like His in any way; and that He alone is our G-d, who was, is, and ever will be.
  3. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His name, is not a physical body, and no physical phenomena can apply to Him, and that He has no form whatsoever.
  4. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His name, is the first and is the last.
  5. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His name, is the only one to whom it is proper to pray, and that it is not proper to pray to anyone else.
  6. I believe with perfect faith that all the words of the prophets are true.
  7. I believe with perfect faith that the prophecy of Moses our teacher, peace be to him, was true, and that he was the father of all the prophets, both of those who preceded him and of those who followed him.
  8. I believe with perfect faith that the entire Torah which we now possess is the same that was given to Moses our teacher, peace be to him.
  9. I believe with perfect faith that this Torah will not be changed, nor will there be any other Torah from the Creator, blessed be His name.
  10. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His name, knows all the actions and thoughts of human beings, as it is said, It is He who fashions the hearts of them all, who discerns all their actions. (Psalms 33:15)
  11. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His name, rewards those who keep His commandments, and punishes those who transgress His commandments.
  12. I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah, and, though he tarry, I wait daily for his coming.
  13. I believe with perfect faith that there will be a resurrection of the dead at the time when it will please the Creator, blessed be His name and exalted be His mention for ever and ever.

In what has become one of his most celebrated and well‑known works, Maimonides, in his commentary on the Mishnah, com­piles what he refers to as the Shloshah‑Asar Ikkarim, the Thirteen Articles of Faith, compiled from Judaism’s 613 com­mandments found in the Torah. The Thirteen Articles of Jewish faith are as follows:

  1. Belief in the existence of the Creator, be He blessed, who is perfect in every manner of existence and is the Primary Cause of all that exists.
  2. The belief in God’s absolute and unparalleled unity.
  3. The belief in God’s non-corporeality, nor that He will be affected by any physical occurrences, such as movement, or rest, or dwelling.
  4. The belief in God’s eternity.
  5. The imperative to worship Him exclusively and no foreign false gods.
  6. The belief that God communicates with man through prophecy.
  7. The belief that the prophecy of Moses our teacher has priority.
  8. The belief in the divine origin of the Torah(Bible).
  9. The belief in the immutability of the Torah(Bible).
  10. The belief in divine omniscience and providence.
  11. The belief in divine reward and retribution.
  12. The belief in the arrival of the Messiah and the messianic era.
  13. The belief in the resurrection of the dead.

It is the custom of many congregations to recite the Thirteen Articles, in a slightly more poetic form, beginning with the words Ani Maamin‑”I believe‑‑every day after the morning prayers. In his commentary on the Mishnah (Sanhedrin, chap. 10), Maimonides refers to these thirteen principles of faith as “the fundamental truths of our religion and its very foundations.”

The 7 Laws of Noah &…

The Seven Laws of Noah and
the Non-Jews who Follow Them

By Michael Kress

Sitting at a table at Mendy’s Kosher Delicatessen in New York, Jim Long pauses to say a blessing in Hebrew before biting into a massive hamburger topped with fried pastrami. “This pastrami is better than bacon,” he declares in his warm voice tinged with an Arkansan accent. The 58-year-old filmmaker—who no longer permits himself bacon—is in the city with his wife Carol, who sits primly beside him. They are here to speak at several Orthodox synagogues about their documentary, Riddles of the Exodus, which examines the biblical account through the lens of Egyptian archaeological finds.

The Longs are an observant couple. Hebrew phrases pepper their conversation—a b’ezrat Hashem (with God’s help) here, a baruch Hashem (praise God) there. Back in Arkansas, they keep a traditional Jewish home. “We’ve got blessings in ivrit [Hebrew] hanging on the walls, and menorahs on display,” Long explains. Each year, they build a sukkah and attend a Passover seder. “Our oldest grandson just turned six and already knows his aleph-bet,” Long boasts.

But despite the baruch Hashems, the menorahs, the sukkah, the avoidance of pork and the intimate familiarity with advanced rabbinic texts, Jim and Carol Long are not Jewish, nor do they have any plans to convert. They are Noahides: non-Jews who accept the authority of Jewish law and focus their lives around the Jewish concept of Sheva Mitzvot B’nei Noach or the Seven Commandments for the Children of Noah. This set of laws is intended for non-Jews and, according to tradition, predate the Ten Commandments given at Mount Sinai. “I believe exactly what a Jew believes,” Long tells me. “My belief system is exactly parallel to that of an Orthodox Jew. That doesn’t mean I am one.”

Unbeknownst to most Jews, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of Noahides, and most, like the Longs, are former Christians who’ve turned their backs on the faith. This is not the first time the world has seen a community of “Righteous Gentiles” who center their beliefs around Judaism but it is the first time in history that such a group has begun to organize as a worldwide movement. And that movement is being actively encouraged by some Orthodox Jewish groups—in particular, the Brooklyn-based Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidim.

About forty blocks north of Mendy’s deli, Rabbi Yakov Cohen scurries around a second-floor office at the Schneerson Center for Jewish Life, the home of Chabad on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

The 30-something Brooklynite with a close-cropped reddish beard, rarely sits still: he devotes his copious energies to helping out with the Chabad center’s core mission—classes, prayer services and other programs for Jewish residents of this tony Manhattan neighborhood.

His true passion, however, lies in reaching out to non-Jews through what are usually referred to as the “Seven Laws,” which he describes as pillars of universal morality that serve as a “balm for a world of conflict and immorality.” Jewish teachings say that God first gave these laws to Adam, then reaffirmed them as part of the covenant he made with Noah after the Flood. Just as the Jews have the Ten Commandments (plus an additional 603 mitzvot), non-Jews—all of whom are technically the children of Noah—have the Seven Laws, which command them to establish a legal system and refrain from murder, blasphemy, idolatry, adultery, theft and eating the flesh of a living animal.

“The non-Jews have the full length and breadth of Torah—they just have a different role in it,” says Cohen, his rapid-fire delivery complete with a yeshiva-ish lilt. “The role of every person is to be a good person, to bring divine light, to draw down godliness, Hashem, into the world. To do it as a Jew, as a non-Jew, it doesn’t matter. It’s the same light,” he says. “It’s the same Godly energy.”

Like virtually all Chabad Hasidim, Cohen seeks counsel in the words of Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the late Lubavitch rebbe, who died at age 92 in 1994 and is still affectionately referred to simply as the “the rebbe.” “Influencing non-Jews to keep their mitzvos, the Seven Noahide Laws… will assist our task of making the world into a dwelling place for God, and help bring about the arrival of Messiah,” Schneerson said in a 1987 speech during a Purim celebration. In response to teachings like this, thousands of his followers fanned out around the globe to battle what they saw as society’s moral degeneracy, bringing yiddishkeit to non-observant Jews and seeking out and supporting interested non-Jews.

About six years ago, Cohen founded Noahide.org, a website that serves as a sort of Noahide think tank, through which he runs conferences, publishes papers and counsels non-Jews from as far away as Scandinavia. Other Chabad-associated websites such as AskNoah.org and 7for70.com (meaning, seven laws for the proverbial 70 nations of the world) likewise seek to spread Noahide values to non-Jews in English, French, Spanish and other languages. Rabbis from Shimon Cowen in Australia to Immanuel Schochet in Canada offer halachic advice to Noahides and lecture about what Jewish tradition expects of non-Jews. In Israel, Chabad emissaries visit Arab and Druze villages to pass out literature about the Seven Laws and converse with the sometimes bewildered—but often receptive—locals. In addition to preparing the world for the Messiah, they see themselves as presenting moral values that will end the centuries-old animosities between Muslims and Jews.

“We, the Jewish people, especially frum people, have to be a light upon the nations and we have to tell them what Torah says,” says Cohen. “We have the responsibility to shed light on the world.”

Jack Saunders has a snowy white beard of biblical proportions.

Back in the 1980s he was a Baptist minister at Frazier’s Chapel Independent Baptist Church in Cohutta, Georgia, near the Tennessee border. But that was before the now 58-year-old Tennessean began to question the fundamentals of his faith and came to the conclusion that the gospel stories of Jesus and the entire New Testament are false.

“It was kind of disturbing,” he says of the experience. “But if you’re looking for truth and truth smacks you in the face, then you have to do something. You have to be able to confront it and say, ‘This is the truth’ and let go of your emotions.”

Saunders recalls how hard it was to express his doubts to his parishioners and admit that he had “been wrong for all those years.” The process was slow. For about a year and a half he preached only from the Jewish Bible, what Christians call the Old Testament. Then one Sunday morning, Saunders recalls, he stood on the pulpit and read from Isaiah 7:14, in which a young woman, interpreted by Christians to be a virgin, gives birth to Jesus. For the first time he let his parishioners know that he saw no hint of Christian prophecy in that passage. “That’s when everything, you may say, hit the fan.”

Some church-goers abandoned Saunders, but nearly half of the congregation’s 70 members were moved by the pastor’s change of heart and stayed as Frazier’s Chapel Independent Baptist Church removed its steeple and crosses. “At the time,” Saunders says, “the only thing we knew was what we were not.” After reading about the Seven Laws and studying with a rabbi, Saunders and his remaining flock became Noahides and redubbed their place of worship Frazier’s Chapel B’nai Noach Study Center. “I wanted to be able to read the Hebraic sources by myself,” says Saunders, who has since learned Hebrew. “I didn’t want to be lied to because I’d been lied to by all those Christians.”

It was Texas archaeologist Vendyl Jones who introduced Jim Long to the Seven Laws. The two met in 1993 when Jones appeared on the Dallas radio show that Long produced. A former Baptist preacher, Jones had grown dismayed with what he considered the anti-Jewish sentiments of the Gospels and sought council from rabbis, studied in Israel and became a Noahide. He is believed to have been the inspiration for the character Indiana Jones in the film Raiders of the Lost Ark and is the founder of the Vendyl Jones Research Institute—a nonprofit based in Grandview, Texas, devoted to Biblical archeology. Considered one of the pioneers of the modern Noahide movement, Jones fondly remembers meeting Schneerson in his Brooklyn home and the rabbi’s encouraging words: “‘Vendyl Jones, you are doing the most important work in the world.’”

Long found himself intrigued by Jones’s spiritual journey. Having drifted from denomination to denomination until he abandoned Christianity altogether, Long “was looking for something to fill the void.” Shortly after the radio interview, he began attending Torah classes and joined Jones on archeological digs in the Middle East.

For Pam Rogers, the break with Christianity was more wrenching. Rogers and her husband, Larry, who live in Tulsa, Oklahoma, were members of the Worldwide Church of God, a small Christian movement that observes the Sabbath on Saturdays, before becoming leaders of a Messianic Jewish congregation. In the early 1990s, a Jewish man befriended them and challenged them to prove the validity of the Christian Bible. As the couple tried to defend their views, they came to believe that the New Testament distorted the teachings of the Hebrew Bible.

The decision to become a Noahide threatened to break the Rogers family apart. Pam’s father, a Pentecostal preacher, refused to speak to her for four years. Larry lost his job because he refused to work on Saturdays. The couple almost divorced because Pam made the decision to build her life around the Seven Laws before Larry did. “We lose our children, our spouses, our identities,” Rogers says of the sacrifices that she and other Noahides are often forced to make for their faith.

Despite what might seem an obvious trajectory, following the Seven Laws is not a path to becoming a Jew, says Yakov Cohen of the Schneerson Center. “We’re not interested in membership,” he says.

Rather, the Chabad sees Judaism as a “universal religion” that offers salvation to everyone without conversion.

Jews are not known for proselytizing, and most Jews believe that Judaism prohibits it. David Novak—a Conservative rabbi and leading authority on the Seven Laws and what Judaism requires of non-Jews—debunks that idea. “Find me one halachic prohibition against proselytizing,” he says. The popularly accepted notion that Judaism opposes proselytizing, Novak argues, rests less on theology than on the fact that most of Jewish history has been a perpetual struggle for survival. “For most of the time, Jews couldn’t do it.”

Novak, who teaches at the University of Toronto, points to sporadic attempts to convert people to Judaism throughout history. The best-known effort took place during the time of the Second Temple, which stood from 515 to 70 B.C.E. Living under the Romans, Jews actively proselytized, with great success. Some non-Jews converted, others simply took on aspects of observant Jewish life and became part of Jewish communities. Called the “God Fearers” (Yirei Adonai), they are immortalized in the Book of Psalms.

While Jewish law does not prohibit proselytization, it does not call for a world of Jewish converts, either. The traditional messianic vision, as articulated most famously in the Book of Isaiah, is of a world at peace in which everyone acknowledges one God, even if all do not adopt Judaism:

And many peoples shall go and say: ‘Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares…

Even in a text as familiar as the Aleinu prayer, Jews regularly reference a vision of Jews and non-Jews under a monotheistic ruler—to many, a clear allusion to Noahides:

All the world’s inhabitants will recognize and know that to you, every knee should bend, every tongue should swear. Before You, Lord, our God, they will bend every knee and cast themselves down and to the glory of your name they will render homage, and they will all accept upon themselves the yoke of your kingship, that you may reign over them soon and eternally.


Since the earliest days of Christianity, Jewish sages have argued over whether the Noahide commandment not to worship “false gods” is compatible with other religions.


Islam, the rabbis hold, is acceptable because of its adamantly monotheistic stance. Christianity, on the other hand, remains a subject of contention, with many arguing that belief in the Trinity is polytheistic, and therefore out of bounds under Noahide law.

Another critical debate centers around whether the Seven Laws are a set of universal moral imperatives that people intuit on their own or are precepts that Jews must actively bring to the world. The dominant halachic attitude has been that Jews are not required to spread Noahide teachings to non-Jews. Moses Maimonides, the medieval Jewish philosopher and legal authority, disagreed. In his monumental 12th-century work the Mishneh Torah, Maimonides envisioned a society in which non-Jews would be governed by Jewish law, noting that they could choose to convert. “If they do not want to, we do not compel them to accept the Torah and the commandments. Moses did, however, command in the name of God to compel all people to accept the Noahide laws,” Maimonides continued. “Compel” may seem a particularly strong word, but Maimonides’s stance is clear: Jews must do what they can to teach non-Jews about the Noahide laws.

The 19th century Italian rabbi and famed Kabbalist, Elijah Benamozegh, also believed that Jews have a responsibility to guide non-Jews towards the path of righteousness. Shortly before his death in 1900, Benamozegh received a letter from Frenchman Aimé Pallière seeking advice on converting to Judaism. Benamozegh told the young man there was another way. “The religion of humanity is no other than Noahism,” the rabbi wrote to Pallière. “Here is the religion preserved by Israel to be transmitted to the Gentiles. It is the path which lies open before your efforts, before mine as well, to spread the knowledge thereof, as is my duty to do so.” Called the “first and last high priest of the Noahide religion,” Pallière is believed to have been the first modern Noahide. A talented writer, he learned Hebrew, lectured at the Orthodox Rabbinical School of France and urged Jews to follow Orthodox traditions.

Benamozegh believed “that mankind cannot rise to the essential principles on which society must rest unless it meet[s] with Israel. And Israel cannot fathom the depths of its own national and religious tradition, unless it meet[s] with mankind.” A half-century later, Benamozegh’s dream of a Jewish-supported Noahide worldwide movement would be seized upon by Schneerson. “Every Jew has the obligation to ensure that all the peoples of the world observe the Seven Noahide Laws” and that non-Jews, as well as Jews, “acknowledge God as Creator and ruler of the world,” Schneerson declared.

It’s a position that remains controversial. “If Jews are telling Gentiles what to do, it’s a form of imperialism,” Novak says. To him, the Seven Laws are valuable in constructing a moral foundation that enables Jews to speak out on social issues, but not as part of a religion around which non-Jews should structure their daily lives. “Why would any Gentile want to be told by Lubavitch—or any other rabbi—what to do?” Novak asks. “I am suspicious of anyone who wants to live this way.”

Novak isn’t alone in his suspicions. “With a lot of rabbis, there’s still this skepticism and fear that someone’s trying to infiltrate your shul and will end up being some sort of missionary trying to bring people to Christianity,” Jack Saunders says of the reception Noahides often receive when seeking guidance. Counseling Noahides is not the sort of subject covered in a typical rabbinical school education and rabbis tend to confront the issue only if approached personally by a non-Jew.

Barry Freundel, the author of Contemporary Orthodox Judaism’s Response to Modernity and rabbi of Washington, DC’s Kesher Israel, a modern Orthodox synagogue, is among the many rabbis who have never been approached by a Noahide. Freundel doesn’t share Schneerson’s belief that Jews are required to spread the Noahide laws to non-Jews—but he also doesn’t believe that Jews can ignore interested Noahides. “Once they are doing it, you are required to help them,” he says.

Carol Long wishes there were many more rabbis who were willing to work with Noahides. “They have to know there are actually people out there looking to them for leadership and spiritual guidance and who respect what they bring to the world.”

Today’s Noahide movement has no prescribed ritual and liturgical life.

Even the laws themselves—six out of the seven—are prohibitions such as “don’t kill” and “don’t steal.”

“We need to give more than ‘don’t, don’t, don’t,’” Larry Rogers says. If more people are going to become Noahide, “they have to have a life. They have to know there are life celebrations,” he says. “We’re trying to find our place with Hashem.”

To add greater meaning to their lives, some Noahides have created a lifestyle parallel to that of Orthodox Judaism: They study Jewish texts, pray and follow some of what are known as the “positive commandments”—rituals and other mitzvot. They’ve adopted portions of Jewish liturgy and prayers, removing all mentions of chosenness, to make clear that this concept only applies to Jews.

But “there are so many opinions about Noahide halacha,” says Pam Rogers. “It’s very confusing for us Gentiles.” The Noahide approach to Shabbat illustrates the difficulty of deciding which Jewish traditions to follow. Rogers and her husband try to avoid work and set aside time for a festive meal and prayer, but don’t refrain from using electrical devices. Others may shun the use of electricity but go out of their way to perform at least one activity over the course of Shabbat that distinguishes them from Jews. Jack Saunders, for example, writes a check. “I always do something that makes it known I’m not Israel,” he says.

From his base in New York, Yakov Cohen is working to bring structure to this mosaic of Noahide spiritual life. He and others are creating a Noahide siddur (prayerbook) to standardize prayers, and a liturgy of lifecycle rituals, such as funerals and baby-naming ceremonies. This year, one of the first Noahide weddings was held in Buffalo, New York, under a chuppa. The officiating rabbi spoke of the Seven Laws as the marriage’s foundation and sealed it with a contract modeled after the traditional ketuba. Rabbis are also working on the first-ever Noahide Shulhan Arukh—a comprehensive book of law pertaining to non-Jews, which will spell out the specifics of Noahide life, making clear which mitzvot are acceptable for them and which aren’t. “We know what they can’t do,” says Cohen. “Let’s see what they can do.”

Noahides are few, dispersed, often misunderstood and they crave community.

Lucky ones, like Saunders, find likeminded souls near home with whom to gather together to study Jewish texts, pray, discuss the challenges of the Noahide life and socialize. Local groups, such as the Chavurath B’nei Noach (the Fellowship of the Children of Noah) of Ft. Worth, Texas, serve as an important source of communal life for their members. Organizations such as The Root & Branch Association, Noahide Nations, Rainbow Covenant and B’nai Noach Torah Institute provide advice and support to Noahides wherever they live, often through the Internet.

No single organization, however, is widely recognized as representative of the worldwide movement. That’s partly because of the diffuse and ad hoc nature of Noahide organizations, but it is also reflective of the nature of the movement, which is composed of independent-minded people who have rejected their traditional faith and are willing to follow a largely uncharted spiritual path. “We’re very iconoclastic—we’re all about taking down the idols,” Jim Long says. Saunders puts it more pessimistically: “It seems like every time we try to organize, it doesn’t go well.”

The most recent effort to bring Noahides together comes in the form of High Council of B’nei Noah, an umbrella organization that seeks to fill the leadership vacuum. The High Council’s mission is to provide support for Noahides, educate the general public, serve as a liaison with the Jewish community and standardize Noahide beliefs and practices. Last January, members of the Council—which included Saunders and Long—were inaugurated in Jerusalem, where they recited the following oath:

“I pledge my allegiance to Hashem, God of Israel, Creator and King of the Universe, to His Torah and its representatives, the developing Sanhedrin. I hereby pledge to uphold the Seven Laws of Noah in all their details, according to Oral Law of Moses under the guidance of the developing Sanhedrin.”

The Noahide Council is supported by the respected Orthodox Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, best known for the edition of the Talmud that bears his name, but who’s also the leader of the “developing Sanhedrin” cited in the oath. Steinsaltz’s Sanhedrin is the most recent attempt to revive the Great Sanhedrin of 71 sages who met in Jerusalem until 425 C.E. to discuss matters of concern to the Jewish people and adjudicate disputes. Steinsaltz argues that both Jews and Noahides follow different parts of the same belief system and can even be considered members of the same religion. “Even from simply a utilitarian point of view, we Jews have hardly any friends in the world. B’nei Noah are by definition our closest friends,” he says. “So we should reach out to them.”

Already, the Council has been troubled by internal disagreements and criticism from outsiders. Some Noahides are unhappy that its members were appointed by the Sanhedrin rather than voted on, while others complain that all its members are American. Jack Saunders is among those who have left the Council, tiring of the strife though still supportive of its mission. “For me, it’s a wonderful thing,” he says, but cautions that “working out all the problems is going to be tough.”

Steinsaltz believes the Council—and the broader Noahide community—will overcome these rifts. Long also remains optimistic. A major conference for Noahides in Jerusalem for October 2007, during Sukkot, is in the works and Long hopes it will serve as an inspiration for Noahides worldwide. “We think that we could act as a gesher, a bridge, between Jews and Noahides,” he says.

As a child of a Jewish father, Philip Levy, a 28-year-old Noahide from the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC, could walk into any Reform synagogue as a full-fledged member.

But after drifting from Catholicism, his mother’s religion, to evangelical Christianity, he found meaning in Orthodox Judaism. Through the Internet and guided by the local Chabad community, Levy came to self-identify as a Noahide. He takes classes and attends services as a non-Jew at a Chabad synagogue and even created a website, novanoahides.org (nova as in Northern Virginia)—in the hope of meeting other Noahides who live nearby. So far, he has only found one.

Why doesn’t Levy take that last step and convert, so he can be considered Jewish according to Orthodox standards and become a full member of the community? Nearly all Noahides grapple with the conversion question, sometimes for years and without definitive conclusion. After all, they adhere to traditional Jewish commandments more strictly than most Jews and many can quote from rabbinic texts as well as yeshiva students.

Some have become Jewish, but they are a minority. For the rest, the reasons for not converting are complicated. “I was raised on bacon and eggs,” Levy jokes, “and if I had to give them up I don’t know what I’d do.” More seriously, he talks about an “attachment” to his “Gentileness” and his respect for his mother.

But for most Noahides the decision not to convert boils down to the fact that they find spiritual fulfillment in what they view as their role in the divine plan for the world: To follow the lead of the Jewish people—not become them. “Israel was chosen to be a nation of kings and priests and a light unto the nations,” Pam Rogers explains. “We decided if everybody converted, who would Israel have to be priests to?”

They believe that they can have a greater impact as non-Jews following the Torah than as Jewish converts, both by encouraging other non-Jews to live according to Noah’s laws and by calling upon Jews to observe their own traditions. “If I just converted and went out to the non-Jewish world talking about the Torah and the prophets and how great it was, then I’d just be another Jew running my mouth,” says Jack Saunders.

To those who take the long view of Jewish history, like University of Toronto professor Novak, the Noahide movement is destined to peter out, as did the Second Temple-era God Fearers. Eventually, Novak reasons, Noahides will return to their original faiths or convert to Judaism. “If you want rabbis to tell you what to do, why not convert to Judaism?” he asks. “It’s an untenable situation.”

A couple of months after meeting the Longs at Mendy’s Kosher Delicatessen, I called them at their home in Arkansas to ask how they envisioned the Noahide future, in 15, 20, or even 50 years. “There will be places in every state and nation where people can go to study and worship,” answered Carol. No other group of Righteous Gentiles has had the tools of modern technology with which to communicate, organize effectively and dispense information. This, Jim said, not only insures the long-term sustainability, but the growth of the Noahide movement. Then he asked me a question: “Do you know what kind of world we would live in if all nations honored the Seven Laws?” He took a quick breath and answered his own query: “It would be transformational. If we were to stop killing, stop stealing, establish real courts of justice everywhere in the world, do you see what would happen? We’d have world peace.”

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