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Conservative Judaism/Five people who went to Hell permanently?


Hello. At a youth Saturday religious service I attended years ago, the person leading it said that most people who go to Hell do so temporarily, and make the analogy of it being like a washing machine for souls. He said that only five people are permanently in Hell, and one of them is a rabbi. It was a conservative(I think-that's the moderate one?) Ashkenazi service. Is this a widely-held belief, and if so, who are those five? (And if not, was the comment based on anything?)

Thank you for your time.

Dear Alex,

Thanks for writing and it is fascinating - but in my opinion not in our belief system - for various reasons.

Where was this synagogue and who was the person leading it? Rabbi? Cantor? Educator?

Sounds like a Kabbalistic style or Hassidic sytle comment.

I would need background that only you can provide, and the best person to explain where such
beliefs are written is the one who said it. Ask them fr the specific texts, books, scholar who would say such a thing.

I'm reminded of the ad about "truth" and the Internet. Too many people write on the Internet and too many people think that if they read or hear something, "it must be true."

Otherwise, in my opinion, forget it and don't spread such nonsense.

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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