Who or What is a “Noahide”?

The Kotel in Jerusalem, Israel

In my last post I mention, “Noahide”, and then later I thought there my be readers who don’t know who or what a Noahide is. Another term for Noahide is “Bnei Noah”, (Sons of Noah), some translators have also used the term, “sojourners”, in the Torah.

The term “Noahide” is not a popular word today, however I am hearing and seeing its use more often. I normally attend Chabad, however I happened to attend a Conservative Synagogue on a particular Shabbot. I was asked the usual question from the leader as we greeted each other, “are you Kohen, Levi, or Israeli?” My reply was, “I’m Noahide”. In return I received an inquisitive look, but no further questions or comments, just welcomed me to the service. Just as the service was about to start I was asked to do one of the aliyahs (Torah Portions). I replied, “but I’m Noahide,” the service was starting and no time for explanations. At the appropriate time I went up and read the Blessings. After the service, I asked him if he was familiar with the term “Noahide”. He wasn’t. So I gave him a brief explanation, and he acknowledged that it was inappropriate for me to have done the aliyah. Of which I agreed!

For the person not familiar with the term “Noahide”, here is a brief explanation. If interested you can do a search on the web and learn much more than I can provide here. When greeted by the Rabbi or a leader upon entering the Shul, and asked the typical question, “are you Kohen, Levi, or Israeli?”, if the reply is “I am Noahide, or Bnei Noah”, the person is saying, “I have not converted to Judaism, but I believe the same as a Rabbinic Jew”. You may ask the question, “why not just say I’m a gentile”? That reply is OK if you are of another belief than Judaism. This would not be the case for a Noahide. If your Christian, or Messianic, just say I’m Christian. This helps the leader that is greeting you to know who is in attendance. Noahide is not a religion, it may be seen as a way of expressing where I am in my walk with Hashem, with out any great explanation.

A Noahide or Bnei Noah, is a person who has not converted to Judaism, but may desire to at some time, or may choose to never convert. They typically attend Synagogue (or Shul) on a regular basis, and basically fit in with everybody else attending services. However, being Noahide and not Jewish, the Noahide follows the Noahic Covenant, consisting of the seven commandments of Noah. These commandments are actually seven categories of commandments. All of the 613 commandments in Torah are directed for the Jewish person, but many of them are for the Bnei Noah as well.

Much more can be written on this topic, but perhaps I may address it in portions as opposed to an all at once approach. Chabod has been a leader in the Noahide movement, and if anyone is interested in attending services as a Noahide I suggest contacting a near by Chabod house and talking with the Rabbi, or drop in for a service. Chabod is typically a very welcoming community. You may also enjoy visiting the Chabod website.

by, Jim Behnke

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