All Questions Answered by
Rabbi Danny Schiff

Question: I would like to invite my sonís girlfriend to accompany us on a vacation. They are twenty-year-old college students. There will be three adult mothers and their young adult children all-staying in the same five-bed room rented house. My sonís girl friend is the only person who will not have a parent along for the trip (the girlfriend's parents are not part of the trip). Is it appropriate for a young Jewish woman to be invited in this circumstance, or is asking her placing her in an improper situation? I must add that both of these young adults are smart, mature people and wise well beyond their years. What does Judaism say about this? Thank you for your insight.
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Question: Can a non-Jew (or a person studying for conversion, but not yet converted) lead prayers? Is there a difference for different parts or prayers (e.g. Kabbalat Shabbat vs Amidah)? Is there a difference if there is a minyan or not?
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Question: I am a Jewish woman, as my mother is Jewish. My father is not Jewish. I was raised as a Conservative Jew. I am in a relationship with a modern orthodox man who is a Cohen (a descendant of Aaron, one of the High Priests). We want to marry, but we have been told there are restrictions on him marrying me, because in addition to other restrictions on Cohanim (High Priests), one of the restricted classes of women for Cohanim are those whose fathers are not Jewish. Can you please clarify this for me? Is this true? I have done a lot of reading and I keep seeing the restrictions for widow, divorcee, convert, but not for a Jewish woman whose father was not Jewish. Since my mother is Jewish and Judaism is a matrilineal religion - and I have read in some places Judaism doesn't even recognize the religion of the father - I am Jewish. If it is true that one of the marriage restrictions of the Cohanim is to a woman whose father is not Jewish, can you please advise on what we can do in our situation to marry?
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Question: There is a big debate in Israel over army service, and whether Haredim ("ultra" Orthodox) should have to enlist. The Haredim claim that they *are* defending the country, by learning Torah. Is it valid to say that defending the country by studying Torah and defending the country by putting your life on the line are truly equal?
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Question: What are the Jewish laws regarding respect and treatment of one's siblings?
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Question: Is it okay for a Jewish woman to wear short shorts, spaghetti straps, or bikinis? What concerns might there be as far as Jewish values? Is the answer different in the various denominations or movements of Judaism?
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Question: What is the Jewish perspective on stem cell research?
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Question: There is a big problem, noted again recently in the media, in the ultra-Orthodox community of not reporting child abusers and protecting them, rather than the victims. What can we do to stop this, get the criminals arrested, and protect the innocent victims? Does this reflect Jewish values, and is it in line with Jewish moral behavior?
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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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