Earlier today I asked a question about the background and history of a well-known Jewish folksong (What is the source of the words of the Hebrew folksong "Hevenu Shalom Aleichem"?). The question was edited by a moderator, I rolled back, and the question was promptly closed as off-topic.

Are questions about Jewish arts and culture really off-topic here?

2 Answers 2


Yes, Jewish arts and culture are really off-topic here. Though some may define Judaism in ways which include its culture, art, music, literature, etc., that is not how we define the scope of the Judaism Stack Exchange website (whose scope can be defined however the community decides, regardless of the definition of the word "Judaism"). See what topics can I ask about here to find out a bit about what we consider on topic. For our purposes, we consider Jewish culture to be about "Jews, not Judaism."

In your answer, you mention stories. We do indeed have a tag . Those questions are considered on-topic when they are questions about stories from traditional Jewish sources such as the Talmud or the Midrash or when they are about well-known Jewish figures in some way that relates to Judaism.

  • Counterpoint: What about judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/57681? Should that be closed as off-topic?
    – mweiss
    Jan 21, 2016 at 18:54
  • 1
    @mweiss It seems to me that those kinds of niggunim are meant to be used in a Jewish-religious context. But I can see an argument to close that as well.
    – Double AA Mod
    Jan 21, 2016 at 19:06
  • @DoubleAA I've voted to close that one. It needs work to be clearly on-topic and also clear about what it's asking.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Jan 21, 2016 at 20:50

Mordechai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionism, defines Judaism as

the evolving religious civilization of the Jewish people

(Judaism as a Civilization, 1934). As such "Judaism" incorporates within it not only scripture, liturgy, theology and praxis, but also other cultural expressions such as arts, music, cuisine and literature. I note that there is a music tag here. I realize I am not a very high-rep user on this site and am not thoroughly familiar with local customs but it seems very odd to me to construe "Judaism" in such a way that Jewish folklore is excluded. What about maiseh stories, for example?

  • 2
    Note that questions about arts, music, cuisine, and literature, in respect of their being expressions or descriptions of Judaism, the religion, can be on-topic.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Jan 21, 2016 at 18:42
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    I can define "Judaism" to be "the practice of whittling beech wood into forks" but that doesn't make it a standard definition for everyone.
    – Double AA Mod
    Jan 21, 2016 at 19:08

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