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All Questions Answered by
Rabbi Gary Pokras

Question: Are Jews outside Israel seen as part of the galut/exile, Diaspora, or a separate Peoplehood? In other words, how much emphasis is placed on Israel in defining Jews living outside it? Do you see the non-Israeli Jews and Israel as contributing to one another, independent from one another, or is Israel the center or focus?
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Question: My wife's aunt just died. I have resolved to only attend funerals of my closest family members (father, mother, sister, brother, and those with whom I have had a very close relationship). Must I attend my "aunt-in-law's funeral?
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Question: What exactly is the position of minhag (custom) in halacha (Jewish law), and when is someone bound to follow the community in something which is not purely halachic (according to Jewish law)? Where is the place of chumra (~strict interpretation) within Judaism? Thank you.
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Question: Israel's Interior Minister said that he is putting the needs of Israel first by sending back illegal African immigrants. But does Israel, of all countries, have a right to be xenophobic? Do we concentrate on our internal problems at the expense of isolating ourselves from the needs of others?
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Question: In some apartments and dorm rooms, people are not allowed to have open flames [by regulation or by law, usually for safety considerations]. I have seen many electric Shabbat candles, but not havdalah candles. What does one do to properly end Shabbat if they are not able to light the havdalah candle? Or are there electric havdalah candles available?
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Question: What kind of rules and customs do we have about ner tamid (eternal light) in a synagogue? Should it certainly hang from a ceiling or is it also kosher (acceptable) to put it on a top of the aron kodesh (Ark)?
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Question: My mother isn't/wasn't Jewish, my father is. I was raised Reform, had a bat mitzvah, [was Jewishly educated, celebrated holidays, identify as Jewish, participated in the Jewish community, did not participate in or celebrate any other faith or religion,] etc. If I have children with a man recognized as fully Jewish, how would they be seen in the eyes of Israel and the American Jewish community (particularly the Conservative movement)? How stable are Israel's laws around this -- could they change in 10 years? What about halachah (Jewish law)? I would really appreciate an answer, even if it's not what I want to hear. Thank you!
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LATEST BLOGS  view all blog entries

Donít Judge a Man by his (Head) Cover

Posted on 06/23/2017 by Moshe Daniel Levine in Beliefs and Practices
The other day I was asked if I will wear a kippah for the rest of my life. I immediately answered, “I think so”,...

If You Will It, It Is No Drum

Posted on 06/20/2017 by Rivkah Lambert Adler in Beliefs and Practices
Arguably, the most famous dreamer in the Bible is Yosef (Joseph) who not only had big dreams of his own, but who was gifted...

Sexism At Shul

Posted on 06/19/2017 by Deb Morbeto in Beliefs and Practices
When one looks at most major world religions through the lens of the female, it is not long until the words sexist or sexism...

The Noble Path of the Modern Prophet

Posted on 06/15/2017 by Moshe Daniel Levine in Beliefs and Practices
To be completely honest, I do not think that Halacha is something that must be followed in every instance. There are plenty...

Choices That Change The World

Posted on 06/12/2017 by Guest Blogger in Beliefs and Practices
by Ruti Eastman “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” – Randy Pausch, The...

The Wonder Woman of the Torah

Posted on 06/11/2017 by Dina Newman in Beliefs and Practices
Today’s film scene is swarming with superheroes. DC Comics and Marvel have moved from the pages of comic books to the...
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