Religion & Beliefs

Nice Jewish Boys (and Girls) Can Get Inked

If it seems like everyone and their great aunt has a fairy tattooed on their lower back, and if you're thinking of joining the crowd, check out the article in today's New York Times about the newish trend of people … Read More

By / January 24, 2008

If it seems like everyone and their great aunt has a fairy tattooed on their lower back, and if you're thinking of joining the crowd, check out the article in today's New York Times about the newish trend of people paying big bucks for elaborate temporary tattoos. Apparently the temp variety has gone all mainstream. The very end of the article quotes Michael Benjamin, the president of Temptu, a New York supplier of mock tattoos and body paints, saying "I get to be a nice Jewish boy who looks tough."

Temporary tattoos have been a part of Jewish life for centuries, especially in communities from North Africa and the Middle East. Intricate henna designs and henna ceremonies are common for people who are engaged. Hennapedia gives a nice summary of how henna is used in Kurdish Jewish tradition, and you can look at pictures from tons of henna ceremonies at onlysimchas.

It's a short journey from the rise of temporary tattoos to someone saying that if you have a tattoo you can't be buried in a Jewish cemetery. We've actually already covered that on Faithhacker before, but just to review, while permanent tattoos are specifically prohibited in the Torah, having one doesn't preclude your ability to be buried in a Jewish cemetery. In other words, they're definitely a no-no, but if you've got one, you can definitely be buried near your family, and fully participate in all synagogue rituals.

But now that there's rad fake tattoos, why get caught up in the real thing? May I suggest a big Jewcy tattoo on your left butt cheek?