Is it OK for a Non-Jew to get a tattoo with Hebrew letters?

Posted on Mar 11, 2015 | 0 comments

Question submitted to Ask the Rabbi” by:

Name: Jay

City: Liverpool

Age: 26

Profession: Military

Full Question:

“Hi, I have a question regarding tattoos. My grandmother passed away a few years ago and I have been thinking for a long while about getting her name tattooed in Hebrew as she used to wear a necklace of the same design, and I already have a few tattoos. Neither myself nor my grandmother are Jewish. However, she had very close ties with Jewish communities and would often spend summers visiting friends and family in Israel. I am aware that tattoos are not allowed and was wondering if it would cause any offense if I was to have a Hebrew tattoo?
Thanks,”

Rabbi Tully Bryks responds:

Thank you so much for your meaningful and sensitive question!

You are correct that permanent tattoos are prohibited according to Jewish law. That being said, we do not impose our laws on other people. We believe that all of mankind are the children of G-d. We also believe that as children of G-d, there are seven basic moral tenets that everyone should follow. The remaining 613 commandments of the Torah (Bible), plus the thousands of rabbinic commandments are only binding on Jews. As such, there would be no need for you to refrain from getting a tattoo, regardless of the language used. With regard to Holocaust survivors, it is interesting to note that some Rabbinic authorities have encouraged them them to keep their tattoos and wear them as badges of honor.

Regarding the question of causing offense, while I certainly can’t speak for anyone else, I view it as a beautiful gesture to your mother. In addition, the honor you are giving her is further magnified by the fact that you even took the time to ask this question to assure that your noble gesture was not tainted in any way.

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