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All Questions Answered by
Rabbi Dr. Goldie Milgram

Question: How to handle overnight unmarried guests?
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Question: May a husband and wife with mutual consent (and assuming niddah, seed spilling, etc. are not an issue) use handcuffs or other restraints or toys to spice things up? [Admininstrator's Note: Related questions can be found on JVO at: http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=67 http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=486 http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=978 http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=1130]
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Question: What is the Jewish perspective on genetic sex selection of children? Would the latitude (if any) given to genetically select against diseases apply to selecting for desired properties like intelligence or height?
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Question: I have a question regarding a charitable endeavor my shul is involved in. For many years, we have hosted homeless guests (from a nearby shelter) for a week in our building. About three years ago, we started taking them in during the week of Christmas. Our homeless guests are non-Jews. Someone from our shul contacts the local media (newspapers, TV) so that they would come out to film what we, a Jewish congregation, are doing for these non-Jewish homeless folks on Christmas. I find it very disturbing when the camera crew not only comes into the building, but also wants to go into the social hall/dining room, where our homeless guests usually congregate, to film in this area. I was there last week when the news crew came and, at that particular time, our guests were having breakfast in the dining room. One of our volunteers came to brief the guests about this, stating that, in filming guests at the table, only their hands and feet would be shown. Immediately after she left, all of our guests got up and left the room. I felt awful about this and I too left, in disgust. Every evening, we take the guests from the shelter, where they stay with us for dinner and sleep in our building overnight. In the morning, we then take them back to the shelter. But because this was Christmas day, the guests were to stay with us the entire day. This was their only day to have a leisurely breakfast, a time when they did not have to hurry to get ready to be taken back to the shelter. I felt that we spoiled their chance to have a (rare) peaceful morning by bringing in this TV crew. In a way, I also feel that we are "using" the homeless to gain attention, honor, and (perhaps) donations from the public for our shul. My own feelings are that we brought embarrassment upon our guests, and I believe it is wrong to shame or exploit the poor, especially for our own aggrandizement. It is my opinion that we should go back to hosting the homeless on a week other than that involving the Christmas holiday. This would solve the problem about causing offense or embarassment to some of our guests, as well as put an end to media coverage of how we, a Jewish organization, shelter the homeless at Christmas. I was wondering what your take on this situation might be.
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Question: How do I respond to my adult children's objections to burying my husband's ashes at Arlington vs. the local cemetery (that is out of my price comfort level). My husband served 2 years as LCMC. [Admininstrators note: Related questions are found on Jewish Values Online here: http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=178 and http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=223.]
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Question: Can and should a woman nominate someone to say Kaddish on her behalf?
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Question: I was brought up in a secular Jewish home. My grandparents were victims of the Holocaust. We celebrated the major holidays in a non-reigious way but with deep attachment to our Jewish identity, and perpetuating our family traditions. Can I consider myself Jewish in the full sense of the term?
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Question: My beloved mother, 97 years old, is in intensive care in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I am in Canada, and also sick with bronchitis. My question is: if she seems to be ready to pass (go to olam habah) and wants me to come see her before that happens, but I am not able to go, what should I do. [What obligations do I have to honor my mother's wishes when it affects my own health?]
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Question: My brother recently married a non-Jewish woman. I went to the wedding, not because I wanted to, but because my mother insisted I go. My husband and I sat in a corner with our kosher store-bought sandwiches (no kosher food in sight) and made a presence. It was a very uncomfortable evening, and has led to even more questions for me. I love my brother very much and want to be part of his life, but I truly do not want to be around his non-Jewish wife. We do not live in the same city, so it's not like we run into each other frequently, but I am not sure what I am supposed to do for the occasions that we do meet. I would consider myself modern Orthodox and my brother has gone beyond non-observant; he now considers himself an atheist. What is the Jewish view on these situations? Does one just try to be polite to the non-Jewish spouse to maintain a relationship with the Jewish family member? My husband and I hope to have a family soon. How do you handle exposing your children to something you are teaching them is wrong? I know the fact that I do not want to be at a table (or in the same room) as his wife hurts my mother tremendously (she does not like what my brother has done either, but fears losing him). Is my difficulty with my brother and his wife a lack of respect for my mother as her children cannot spend quality time together? I know there are several questions listed here. I thank you in advance for your assistance with this.
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Question: Should my wife be buried with her family at their family plot or should we buy two new plots and be buried side by side?
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Question: My son wishes to volunteer to help disabled children in a program that takes them in a pool in a local church. Given halacha re: entering churches and mixed swimming is this permissible?
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Question: My wife and I have no sexual relations, which I find frustrating. Masturbating has become the norm. I feel that divorce may be necessary, because I am missing the closeness of a relationship. I am Jewish and she is not. What do you advise?
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Question: At the beginning of my relationship, I communicated clearly to my s.o. that I considered pornography to be infidelity. My partner agreed that he would stop. He continued for years without my knowledge, even lying about his computer being broken in order to hide his use. At points he even described his use an an addiction. This deceit went on for 6 years. According to Jewish Law, is it fair to consider this infidelity equal to a physical betrayal? [Administrator's note: See an earlier related question and answer on JVO at http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=304]
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Question: Is revenge or vengeance permissible in Judaism? Has the view of this changed over time?
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Question: My son married a woman who converted to Judaism through the London Beth Din. She now refuses to follow any Jewish practice. Is her conversion still valid? They have a baby boy who is now a year and a half; will he be considered Jewish? By the way she forbids me to have any contact with the child. She is highly unstable and also prevents my son from having any contact with me or his brothers. I am in regular email contact with him. We are a shomer mitzvot family, though I doubt my son keeps anything now.
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Question: I'm making the transition into observant Judaism. I've already incorporated many different aspects of Jewish life and practice in my own. The one thing that is most difficult for me is finding kosher meats in my area, specially lamb and red meat, which are meats I love to eat from time to time. Can I purchase organic meats instead, which are more accessible in my area and in this way observe Kashrut? Thanks!
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Question: I'm a Russian Jew. I see myself as Jewish, even though I don't live Jewishly. I practice Buddhism, have non-Jewish boyfriends, and think that believing in G-d the way prayers show me makes man into a weak and helpless being. And yet I feel united with all Jewish women through the centuries when I light Chanukah candles, get liberated from Egypt and certain personal slaveries each Pesach (even though I don't keep any Pesach mitzvoth), and etc. It hurts me to feel that I would not be accepted as I am by other Jews. I don't want to comply and be "a good Jewish girl" just for the sake of it - it's not the kind of life I see for myself. Yet I want to find my place among my people and I don't know where it is... What can you tell me to help me? How can I find a way to fit into Judaism?
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Question: I was wondering. I've heard different things from different people, and was told a lot of different opinions. In Judaism, among Jews, what is considered as 'losing your virginity', particularly for a girl? I've always viewed it to be when a girl's hymen is broken by a man in a sexual act, but some people have been telling me otherwise. So my question is, 'What constitutes 'losing your virginity' for a girl?' What would change her status from 'virgin' to not?
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Question: A few months ago, I accidentally discovered that my wife of almost 3 years (the complete love of my life) was having an affair with another man. The circumstances were just horrific. I was just stunned and devastated to learn all this. I had no idea of my wife's frustrations, and no idea she was someone that was even capable of doing such a thing. We have been to regular counseling for months now, and even now my wife is still at a loss to completely explain what happened and how it evolved. Here is my question... Now, 3-4 months removed from the affair, I am still occasionally dealing with hurt and pain that I may never fully get over 100%. Nonetheless, I have forgiven my wife and chosen to stay with her. In spite of what occurred, I do love her tremendously. I do believe she is my beshert/soulmate. I am happiest when I'm with her, and I still see my future with her, and I believe that she feels the same way about me. Tears beyond tears have been cried by both of us, and my wife has expressed an enormous amount of regret, remorse, and an appropriate amount of self-loathing, all of which I judge to be genuine. At times, she has even suggested attending Shabbat services at our local synagogue to atone and ask G-d for forgiveness. For sure, I am not fully over what happened, and I may never be fully over it altogether. Likewise, she may never be able to get over the fact that she committed adultery and betrayed and acted against someone she loves. It is a terrible tragedy in both our lives that can never be undone. But I'm pleased to say that my wife and I are currently in a very good place. We are extremely happy with one another and extremely in love. And ironically, the communication which has resulted since the affair (which should have come prior to the affair) has taken our relationship to an even far better place in so many ways than where I perceived it to be prior to the affair. In short then, I have forgiven my wife. I hope that she can eventually forgive herself. Will G-d do the same? What does Judaism say about this situation?
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Question: I would like to convert to Judaism. My fiance is Muslim. He fully supports my decision to convert and has agreed to raise any children we may have Jewish, although he does not want to abandon his own religion. Is this a problem? May I convert in this situation?
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Question: Is a Jew permitted to enter a church, mosque, cathedral, temple, or the site of any other faith?
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Question: Why do we say “baruch dayan ha’emet” when someone dies?
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Question: Regarding immunizations for children who will be attending day (Jewish or parochial) schools: What is the Jewish view on whether this is obligatory or optional? What Jewish values or ethics are involved in this question?
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Question: When I was young, I was abused by my father. My mother, who knew, did nothing. Must I still honor them?
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Question: How should donors to synagogues be thanked?
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Question: We just got married, and I found out that my husband is suffering from impotency (impotence). If I didn't know about this prior to marriage, can this marriage be annulled? Isn't this a basic fact that I should have been told before I was asked to consent to marriage? What is the reason for marriage anyway, if not to have children?
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Question: What is the position of Judaism on the reaction to Osama Bin Laden's death? It's so complicated, a murder for justice. I'm not sure if it is correct to be glad or not about it. Is it really justice? Is there justification for this in or beyond Jewish values?
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