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All Questions Answered by
Rabbi Adam Greenwald

Question: The following question is based on an inquiry to The Ethicist column in the Sunday New York Times Magazine. When there are scientific studies that point to the media having an impact on violent behavior, is it unethical to write, produce or direct violent films and TV shows?
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Question: I want to be cremated,but my sister is very upset with my decision as she thinks if one is cremated one loses one's soul whereas if one is buried she says we'd be united again in heaven. She is Orthodox and I am a Reform Jew. Does she have any validity according to Jewish law?
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Question: Both my parents are Jewish. I live as a Jew, embrace Jewish values and culture, and believe in Jesus as the Messiah. I identify as a Messianic Jew. My question: Most rabbis dispute the validity of my faith and assert that I have lost my right to be called a Jew. I am troubled and perplexed by this prejudice. Why is there an empathetic understanding towards Messianic Chabadniks or Jewish Buddhists (JUBUs) but not towards Messianic Jews? Why am I ostracized while secular, atheist and non-believing Jews are accepted? [Administrator's note: A very similar question was posted and answered at http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=139. Messianics are not Jews by the definition of any branch of Judaism.]
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Question: I have been raised a Roman Catholic my entire life. I have always loved the Jewish faith and customs. I have recently discovered that my mother and her parents and her entire ancestry were Jewish. They converted to Christianity to avoid persecution in Poland before coming to America. I now have a whole history, culture and way of being that I was unaware of. I want to study and learn more of Judaism. I do not yet know if I want to convert. What should I do? Thank you for your answer. Eleanor
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Question: If Adam and Eve didn't have any girls, who did, or who had the next generation? [JVO Kids: 4-6]
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Question: Hello rabbi, I will apologize ahead of time for the words I'm about to write. I'm 14 years old, and from what I know masturbation is against Jewish law, but I find it really hard not to do so when my body really demands it. Maybe I could do it one last time because I haven't done so in three months. Please tell me what I can do that is acceptable within Jewish law and thought. [Admin Note: A similar question was answered on Jewish Values Online previously; see - http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=153.]
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Question: Why are closed adoptions discouraged in Jewish law?
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Question: Can one have an unveiling (of the monument) after the first yartzheit (year anniversary)?
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Question: During the High Holidays, in the process of teshuvah, we repent for past sins. I understand that in our (Jewish) view, repentance means that we are sorry for the sins that we have committed, we try to repair the injuries we have caused, we ask forgiveness from God and man, and we resolve to do better in the future. Christianity appears to have a very different idea of what it means to repent and atone for a sin, and how a sin is forgiven. Can you try to explain this difference, please (I understand that I am asking Jewish rabbis, and not Christians to speak to these differences)?
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Question: What is the Jewish perspective on the illegal immigration crisis in Israel? The Torah commands us to care for the foreigners and immigrants among us. Does that extend to illegal immigrants? Is it right to send them back, as is happening now, or are we obligated to take them in and help them?
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Question: Is it religiously permissible in Jewish law for a(n) (Orthodox) Jewish woman to make derogatory statements about another Jew (i.e., listing the individual's full name) on a blog that is viewable by the entire public? Wouldn't this be lashon hara (evil speech) or motzei shem ra (causing a bad name), especially in such a large forum?
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Question: My three Reform Jewish children have each married non-Jews. Each of them are raising their children as Jews. What is the best practice with respect to Christmas trees in their homes? [Administrator's Note: A question on this topic arises periodically, particularly in the December timeframe (for obvious reasons). For related responses that may offer additional information, please see other questions on the JVO website that address this topic.]
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Question: Small groups of violent ultra-Orthodox in Israel seem to have strayed from Torah values, which is a chilul Hashem. Are there collaborative or independent initiatives from the three main denominations to meet with and inform the ultra-Orthodox leadership how their violent actions (rock throwing, spitting on others, verbal abuse) negatively portray the Jewish people to the world?
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Question: Is there a special Jewish prayer that we can say at Thanksgiving dinner in commemoration that we were granted religious freedom in America?
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Question: The rabbi of our synagogue is always exhorting the members to come to services. Come for selichot, for shacharit every morning, for mincha/maariv on Shabbat afternoon. Honestly, I’m busy, I have work and family, and I don’t find prayer services particularly meaningful. Why should I go to shul? What’s in it for me?
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THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN ANSWERS PROVIDED HEREIN ARE THOSE OF THE INDIVIDUAL JVO PANEL MEMBERS, AND DO NOT
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