blog | about | contact | origins | help
 
All Questions Answered by
Rabbi Michael Schwab

Question: Hello Rabbis, I am a Gentile trying to convert to Judaism, but I am also disabled and dependent upon my immediate family for my food, shelter, etc. I am afraid that if I tell my family about my intended conversion, they will stop all support of me at an instant and I would be helpless in terms of money, shelter, and the like. Telling family about conversion is intimidating enough under normal circumstances, but in addition to that I am afraid for my material well-being should I tell them. I know G-d will provide in all things, but I sometimes wonder if I am meant to stay a Gentile in order to make sure I am provided for. I sincerely believe in the Tanakh and G-d's oneness, and want to live a Jewish life, but I have no idea how to do so without endangering my well-being. Any advice would be helpful.
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: My father is over 90. He has remarried and will not be buried with my mother, his wife of almost 50 years who has passed. I don't love my father. I don't believe he loves me; we have not spoken in years and when we have it just opens old wounds and literally makes me ill - physically and mentally. Both parents were abusive in different ways. Do I have any obligation to mourn?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: My question is about the Jewish ethics of using a false identity to post comments on the web. In particular, if I want to comment on something posted (perhaps in a blog, or write a review of some book or product), am I acting ethically if I create a 'fake' name and use an email address that can't be identified as me? Is the answer different if I am writing critical things about a product or work, even if I am telling my actual opinion and/or experience with it? Does this change if I am writing comments telling people about my own work and encouraging them to go see it on another site, or praising things that I sell? What are the boundaries? I know there are some because I recall an incident in which an academic created false identities and praised his own work, while denigrating others' works, and that was thought to be unethical, if not illegal. What do Jewish values and ethics teach in this area? Is it ever okay to use an alias or false identity, and if so, what are the limits or boundaries?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: I recently went away for Shabbat to a location with few Jews and no synagogue, and I forgot to bring my siddur (prayer book). However, I did bring my iPhone which has a siddur application on it (as well as a Torah application). In this situation is it okay to use the iPhone applications on Shabbat to allow me to say the prayers, study Torah, and recite kiddush and bircat hamazon (blessings before and after the meal)? How do I balance observing Shabbat with the use of technology to observe Shabbat?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: I would like a Jewish perspective of this question that appeared in the New York Times Magazine. "About 15 years ago, I was summoned for jury duty. The defendant was charged with two counts of murder. During jury selection, I was asked if I supported the death penalty. I don't. I'm unalterably opposed to capital punishment. But I feared that potential jurors who did not support the death penalty could be automatically disqualified by the prosecution. So I said I agreed with capital punishment. That way, if it came down to it, I might help spare the defendant from execution. But this violated the oath I had taken to tell the truth. Was it ethical for me to lie in order to possibly spare the life of this defendant"?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Please answer a question from an artist in Denmark whether there is such a thing as "typical" Jewish catchwords pertaining to ethical values in the Jewish tradition. An artist wishes to use the Hebrew words or acronyms for a memorial for Danish Jews who perished during WW2.
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: My parents used to take me to visit my grandparents. It seems that today children want their parents to come to their home to see the grandkids .Must I visit my son's home to see his children? Should they not visit me with their kids? I was recently told "you know where we live," as if it is my obligation to go to them to see the grandkids. What does Judaism say about this?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Currently I am in the process of finding an Orthodox Rabbi to sponsor me for conversion, but I heard that the Chief Rabbinate of Israel only accepts Orthodox conversions that were done with Rabbis recognized by Israel. I visited the Rabbinical Council Of America and clicked on the Conversion to Judaism tab, and it provided very useful information, but I want to know where can I find a recognized sponsoring Rabbi in the State of Maryland. For ALL DENOMINATIONS: Can I convert with anyone (Orhodox or other) not approved by the Israeli rabbinate, if I convert in the US? Will that conversion be accepted in Israel? [Administrator's note: A similar question is found on Jewish Values Online at question 848 which you can find by searching for Chief Rabbi in Israel, or entering link "http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=848" in your browser]
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Why do they use cheesecloth to cover the stone at the unveiling ceremony?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Is it possible to consecrate private property for a burial site? What are the requirements, according to Halachah - Jewish law (as opposed to secular law)? And if so, what kind of rituals does the consecration consist of and who may do so?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Are there Jewish sub-cultures (denominations, communities, burial societies, cemeteries) that permit the presence of photographs or etchings of the departed individual on the headstone. I was in a Jewish cemetery in Queens, NY, and I believe I saw some headstones with images. Is this halachically (by Jewish law) permissible? Preferred? Common? Is it determined by local custom?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: What can a “regular Jew” do to defend misleading media bias against Israel?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: My husband and I have been married for 19 years. Ten years ago, he was diagnosed with dementia, and more recently Parkinson's disease. Other health issues include heart failure and psychosis. I became a nurse to take care of him, and I gladly and willingly do so everyday. However, I have lost my intimate partner and friend. He is not the same man I married, and have been alone physically and mentally for 10 years. I have met another man who has been my friend for years. We have strong feelings for each other, though I refuse to leave my husband, as there is no one else to take care of him. If I were to have a relationship with this man, emotional and/or physical, will I be condemned by God as an adulteress?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: I, as a Pakistani Jew, would like to draw your kind attention towards those Pakistanis who intend to convert to Judaism, leaving the religion of their forefathers. Unfortunately, there are no synagogue(s) and no rabbi(s) here. What can be done? Can you advise or help those in this situation?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Why is the Book of Maccabees not read on Chanukah?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: I hear the question asked, but I have not heard a good answer to it: for both purposes of inclusion, and for Israeli citizenship, what is a Jew?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: It's tough to draw the line between socio-cultural practices and food wastage. Should we draw a line when preparing meals for Shabbat?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: How do you fulfill a sense of obligation and emotional ties when a person is narcissistic and self-serving?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: How are we supposed to feel sad about the destruction of the Temple? It happened so long ago – are we also supposed to feel saddened about the Jews’ enslavement in Egypt?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: What are the Jewish laws regarding respect and treatment of one's siblings?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Recently, certain whiskey distillers in Scotland made a decision to boycott Israeli products. Is a boycott the best/most effective response to a boycott? Is there a better way for Jewish leadership to guide their constituents to express their unhappiness or displeasure with a decision?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: I have been invited to a ceremonial stone unveiling that I will not be able to attend. I would like to acknowledge the event in some way, but I am not familiar with the acceptable customs and do not want to offend the family in any way. Is it appropriate to send a card or a gift of some kind to the family to acknowledge the event?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Does Judaism believe in"karma"?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Is smoking an occassional cigar or cigarette, without inhaling, against halacha? (because you dont really end up being unhealthy this way).
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Is there a problem accepting a business loan from a close Jewish relative with the understanding that the loan will be paid back with an extemely low interest rate, considering that Jewish law prohibits a Jew from charging another Jew interest.
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Veteran's Day is an opportunity to honor our veterans. What does Judaism say about defending one's country and fighting for freedom?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Is it true that the giving of presents instead of gelt (money) on Chanukah is a borrowed tradition from Christmas?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: The Harry Potter films revolve around the struggle between good and evil. How far does our faith allow us to go in the fight against evil?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: With the latest news of bombs sent on airplanes to target Chicago synagogues, people are justifiably even more nervous about terrorism than usual. But how do we reconcile being cautious with appearing in any way racist or prejudiced?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Are there any Jewish legal or religious traditions that run counter to celebrating Halloween, traditionally a pagan holiday, but now more or less a secular one?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Tea Party adherents claim global warming is a myth. As politicians spread such lies, and during an election year when odds are likely that Republicans will gain ground in Congress, the danger that fewer government programs will be put in place to combat climate change becomes more and more real. As Jews, how can we help to share scientific truths about global warming and continue to do our duty to repair the world?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: The 33 Chilean miners rescued on October 13 made a pact with each other while trapped underground for 69 days that they wouldn't share publicly the details of their experiences. But in the midst of their own poverty combined with significant media attention, some of them have broken that pact. Are they allowed to break a promise to each other in order to take care of themselves and their families?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: American political culture has become so polarized and there's almost no civility in public discourse. Judaism to me encourages intense discussions about laws and values, but is there a Jewish perspective on how one should debate and discuss political matters?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Is an "unveiling ceremony" (of a headstone in a cemetery) required by Jewish law - rather than by Jewish custom?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: What are your views on persons asserting Crypto Jewish heritage in the American SouthWest who want to claim Jewish status?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: What is done during a typical Shabbat?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: If G-d is omnipotent, why doesn't He clarify for us which religion is correct, once and for all, to stop religious wars?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: If a baby is buried before a bris milah (circumcision) or naming is he considered Jewish? Can he have a Jewish name?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: From a Jewish perspective, what level of personal honesty is required for a job interview and application? For example, if they ask you “have you ever taken drugs?" and I tried them once in college, do I have to admit to this?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Why can't Jews be cremated?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: What is the Jewish view on obligation to care for aging parents?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: What is the Jewish view on abortion? If abortion is not allowed, what if the baby was conceived out of wedlock?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Why do the rules of Kashrut not allow one to mix milk and meat?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Can a person who does not believe in God still be a Jew?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

LATEST BLOGS  view all blog entries

A Facebook Mitzvah

Posted on 04/27/2017 by Guest Blogger in Israel
by Ruchama StaplesAlmost four years ago, my husband and I made Aliyah to Nahariya. We didn’t have a car so we trekked...

Dancing With God

Posted on 04/25/2017 by Rivkah Lambert Adler in Reviews
I expected Dancing with God: How to Connect with God Every Time You Pray to be like a dozen other books about Jewish prayer...

The Mutation of Antisemitism

Posted on 04/23/2017 by Rivkah Lambert Adler in Holidays
Right after Pesach ends, Israel enters into the "Yoms" - Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Rememberance Day), Yom Hazikaron...

“Jews Are Not Drug Addicts”

Posted on 04/19/2017 by Ben Emerling in Health
Addiction is one disease that has no preference in religion, race, age or ethnicity. Anyone can be affected by addiction and...

What Jews Are Here To Teach The World

Posted on 04/09/2017 by Rivkah Lambert Adler in Holidays
Last night, I realized that the rabbi who gave a Torah class I had just attended and the rabbi who wrote a new book about...

10 Tips for a More Experiential Seder

Posted on 04/05/2017 by Tali Frank Horwitz in Holidays
by Tali Frank Horwitz I had an amazing, experiential seder 25 years ago. I was a guest for a second seder. I was cautioned...
JVO Panel  of Scholars
           
 
NOW ADD JVO CONTENT TO
YOUR WEBSITE A FREE SERVICE
 
Click here for instructions to embed the
JVO "JEW Q's" widget on your website.
 
Jewish Values Online | email: info@jewishvaluesonline.org

Home | Search For Answers | Ask A Question | About | Contact Us | OriginsUseful Links | Blog | Help | Site Map

Copyright 2014 all rights reserved. Jewish Values Online
 
N O T I C E
THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN ANSWERS PROVIDED HEREIN ARE THOSE OF THE INDIVIDUAL JVO PANEL MEMBERS, AND DO NOT
NECESSARILY REFLECT OR REPRESENT THE VIEWS OF THE ORTHODOX, CONSERVATIVE OR REFORM MOVEMENTS, RESPECTIVELY.