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All Questions Answered by
Rabbi Eric Yanoff

Question: What does Judaism say about video games? What kind of video games are permitted? [Violence, Dystopian, Sexually oriented, War themed, mental challenges, problem solving, mazes, role-playing, logic,and others.]
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Question: What is the Jewish view on large age gaps in relationships? I am a widow, and it has been five years since my husband passed away. I am in my late 30s and have no children. I have recently started dating a man who is 25 years my senior. Most of my family thinks I am completely crazy for being interested in someone so much older than me. How does Judaism look at such relationships?
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Question: I converted to Jewish over 20 years ago, married a Jewish man and raised my daughter Jewish. I do not practice the Jewish religion anymore because after my divorce I felt no connection. My daughter's one and only grandfather wants her to stay connected to the Jewish religion. Please let me know how I can help her stay connected. Is it necessary for me to practice the religion even though I have no connection:? Please help
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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: Is is proper to send an e-mail invitation to an unveiling? [Admin. Note: Similar or related questions are found at: http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=608 and http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=666.]
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Question: My BF, a chaplain for hospice (a Presbyterian minister) and I have just done our DNA. There are Jewish genetic lines, on both sides for me, but the remarkable thing was my BF was reported as Ashkenazi on his father's side. I am a Reform Jew so to me that makes him Jewish if he has Jewish genes. Funny thing is that my son's father (Catholic Spanish) also came up Ashkenazi. They are under the J line same as my own father. So, is he a Jew?
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Question: If a first child (daughter) of a father is born out of wedlock (my father married my mother after I was born, put his name on the birth certificate, but divorced her 6 months later) what laws and rules should I obey and how am I viewed in Jewish law? [Administrator's note: for answers on JVO regarding illegitimacy and the term mamzer vs bastardy, see http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=27 and http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=93.]
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Question: I am a 14 year old girl and a Conservative Jew. I am also gay. No one in my family knows. They are not homophobic. I wish I wasn't gay. Is it rational to pray to G-d to make me not gay anymore, or is there something I can do?
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Question: I want to know something about Jewish prayer. Do Jews praying have a ritual like 'wudu' (as Muslims do), the washing of their hands, in preparation to pray? Is it thrice right hand, thrice left hand? Before praying and/or after praying? Have you an online reference, with a picture, that you could direct me to view? Arash from Iran
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Question: My husband and I are Ashkenazic (not Sephardic) Jews and we are planning to name our daughter Isabelle or Ellie for short, after my husband’s deceased grandfather, Ilya. My living mother's name is Bella and she believes that these two names, Isabelle and Bella, are equivalent. In her opinion, by naming our daughter Isabelle we will be naming her after my mother and thus will bring misfortune to my mother. We both feel strongly about using this name and stressed many times that we are not naming my daughter after my mother. However, we would like to hear from Ashkenazic rabbis regarding this matter.
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Question: What is the Jewish view on factory farms? I am asking from the perspective of Tza'ar Ba'alei Chaim (Chayim) as well as our role as Jews to be moral examples to the world (or le'goyim). Are factory farms "kosher"? If the meat that comes from them only signifies they were slaughtered in a kosher way, how could a rabbi indirectly be approving of the very cruel factory farms? Shouldn't the value of avoiding unnecessary cruelty be one that is maintained across the spectrum of observance? [Administrators note: Similar questions have been answered on JVO in past. See www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=47. A search on the site for 'Kosher' or 'Kashrut' will find other questions and responses.]
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Question: I'm a bit overwhelmed in trying to sort out the various Jewish beliefs about the afterlife (I'm 61 and terrified). The overarching idea seems to be: Don't worry about it so much; Judaism emphasizes doing good works on Earth and that should be our focus. Well, maybe so. But having studied it all, I trust, have you reached any firm conclusions? I cannot bear the thought that this is all there is and all that implies. The Christians have such simple answers and feel-good stories---Judaism is hard. What can you tell me about this?
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Question: What can be done in the Jewish community to help get the word out and steer young couples with sexual conditions to proper treatment?
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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: When Jews and non-Jews abide by the same ethical and moral behaviors, what makes the Jews' compliance uniquely Jewish?
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Question: I am a Catholic. I love the "whoever saves a life saves the world" passage. My daughter is a health care professional and saves many lives. Is it disrespectful for me to use [a quote of] that passage on a gift to her?
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Question: I know many friends—honest, God-fearing people—who have no problem “stealing” entertainment in the form of illegal downloads. Why have we let our attitude toward this kind of theft become so permissive? Can we stop it? Should we? Or, as many people claim, since they wouldn’t have paid for the show/music in the first place, it’s not like anyone lost money on their download. What is right? What is the Jewish view?
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Question: According to political experts, the social protest movements in the U.S. lack clear demands and strong leadership. Should Jewish leaders stay on the sidelines or help lead?
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LATEST BLOGS  view all blog entries

The Hate That Is Being Revived Before Our Eyes

Posted on 08/17/2017 by Carol Silver Elliott in Beliefs and Practices
My father was born in Poland, born at a time when anti-Semitism was not just prevalent, it was a fact of life. Yet while Dad...

Criticizing Critics of Biblical Criticism

Posted on 08/14/2017 by Moshe Daniel Levine in Beliefs and Practices
One of the reasons why I love the Jewish blogging world so much is that at any given time there is a whole array of topics...

Social Media and God

Posted on 08/14/2017 by Moshe Daniel Levine in Beliefs and Practices
It is easy to tell what a society is deeply worried about by the entertainment it produces. In this case, it is clear that...

National Despair

Posted on 07/27/2017 by Rabbi Ben Hecht in Holidays
During these Three Weeks which we are presently experiencing on the Jewish calendar, we are not just marking the historical...

Intermarriage: The Beginning of the End

Posted on 07/23/2017 by Moshe Daniel Levine in Beliefs and Practices
Believe me, I completely understand why a Jewish community would want to do away with the ethnocentric notion of Jewish...

You Don’t Know What You've Got ‘Til It’s Gone

Posted on 07/21/2017 by Rivkah Lambert Adler in Beliefs and Practices
Every night, in my dreams, I walk around like an ordinary person. Then I awaken and I struggle to get up off the makeshift...
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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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