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Conservative Judaism/Words allowed in Jewish texts


I am going to visit my young nephew (family is reform/conservative) this weekend and wanted to bring him a book I found in a store. It is the story of the Old Testament in comic book form, illustrated with biblical scenes and people entirely recreated out of Lego pieces. I thought this would be a very interesting way to learn. I noticed, though, that in many of the captions (everything is in English), they spell out "Yahweh." I thought this was not acceptable, but perhaps it is? Thank you for your answer.

Dear Paulette

Thank you for writing and accept my thanks for your sensitivities.

If the word "Yahweh" is used, this often indicates that the book has a perspective which is more if not completely Christian. I would discourage it speaking very generally and not seeing it.

There is no such word. In German, early Bible scholars transliterated the Tetragrammaton - 4 letter name of God never pronounced - with the JHWH, and they translated this to English, the J became a Y.

The reason we can't pronounce the word/name is that the vowels that are printed in Hebrew books when the word is vocalized are borrowed from another Hebrew word, the vowels from a word that means "my/our Lord" meaning master.

The root of the word is apparently an attempt to use a minimum number of letters recombined to state "past/present/future" existence.  Hence, the name somehow signifies or did at least what we now call "the Eternal One."

Good luck and enjoy the family.

Rabbi Dov

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Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner


Write to me with questions about Jewish customs and law, history, philosophy and tradition for answers from a Conservative perspective or conversion. I am a graduate of The Jewish Theological Seminary and a member of the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly. Having served in congregational pulpits since 1970, I now am President of the Foundation For Family Education, Inc. a non-profit educational endeavor. I established it to create new formats of hands-on programs and provide free educational downloads at In addition to general informational questions I welcome your questions about programs for social action, outreach to dual-faith families, inter-faith clergy projects, healing services, education for conversion, adult education for the congregation and the community. If you have questions about Informal and Formal Education I am ready to share my extensive experience with Youth Activities, Camping and Religious School/Hebrew High School on a congregational, community and national/international level.


I have served on the National Youth Commission for more than 25 years and serve on the Boards of the Conservative Zionist movement MERCAZ and the World Council of Synagogues. I have always dual-families and taught candidates for conversion with a great sense of fulfillment. I am very proud of 25 years on the Jewish camping staff of Camps Ramah. My greatest source of pride is my family! Ask me about them, please!:-)

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