Religion is not developed or practiced in a vacuum. It influences and is influenced by almost everything else found in culture-food, sexual practice and taboos, rites of passage (birth, marriage, and death), entertainment (music, movies, art, literature, and sports), healing arts, and understandings of the natural world. This paper presents an annotation of sources used to show the Jewish history and belief in regard to tattoo body art.
Elliot Dorff and Louis E. Newman. Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 2008. Print.
This book questions the rights and obligations that people have over their own bodies in view of Jewish religious beliefs and practices. Elliott Dorff is a professor of philosophy at the American Jewish University while Louis Newman is a professor of religious studies and director of Judaic studies at Carleton College.
The volumes in the book present traditional and contemporary sources about specific topic which are then followed by hypothetical cases and study questions. The authors are Jews and they also resent their own convictions. One author states that Jews are not supposed to get body tattoos and that tattooing it is an act rooted in conflict. He states the only Jewish people he knew to have tattoos were holocaust survivors and that the tattoos were faded numbers inked on their bodies. Seeing tattoos on the holocaust survivors was a reminder of the persecution that the Jews have gone through from the time their religion was founded.
Beeler, Karin Tattoos, Desire and Violence: Marks of Resistance in Literature, Film and Television, McFarland. 2006. Print
Lucas, Rabbi Alan. "Tattooing in Jewish Law - My Jewish Learning." Judaism & Jewish Life - My Jewish Learning. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 July 2013.
This site presents a contemporary rabbi probe and rationale behind the biblical prohibition of Jews getting tattoos. The author of this article is a Jew and a Rabbi at the Temple Beth Shalom in Roslyn Heights, New York. Just like Beeler in the previous source, the author quotes Leviticus 19:28 as the one that prohibits Jews from getting body tattoos.
The author states that there is a disagreement on what actually makes tattooing a prohibited act. He quotes an anonymous author who said that the fact that tattoos are permanent mars on the body is what makes them unlawful in Christianity. The author quotes Mishnahs (a compilation of statements) to search for the reason behind the Jewish prohibition of tattooing. He also probes the possibility of biblical Israelites ever having body tattoos. He quotes Isaiah 49:16, “I (God) have engraved you on the palms of my hands” to have meant that God has not outlawed body tattooing.