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Question: This question is based upon a question that appeared in the "New York Times" magazine column "The Ethicist." The South Korean ferry tragedy evoked the maxim that the captain should go down with the ship. While, the captain has the duty to ensure the safety of the passengers and do everything in his power to save lives, should he be morally obligated to effectively commit suicide because he made a mistake?
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Question: According to Jewish values, are we allowed to breed dogs for money?
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Question: If a Jewish woman becomes pregnant using eggs donated from a non-Jewish woman, is the child considered Jewish or not Jewish? Who is the "real" mother, in terms of matrilineal descent - the woman who donated the genetic material or the woman who carried and delivered the baby? What about the possibility that was raised recently of combing the DNA of two women to avoid genetic diseases - how would that be seen? What does Judaism have to say about this?
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Question: What is the Jewish response to this question in the "New York Times Magazine" Ethicist column, May 19, 2013? It is common practice to decline to give colleagues and students a reference if one has nothing positive to say about them. When someone looks good on paper but is less competent in real life, is it ethical to act against someone to ensure that the work goes to someone who is a better fit? [There are related questions at: http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=31 http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=354.]
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Question: Is it a Jewish value to support the notion that government should do more to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor?
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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]
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Question: How should someone in the modern world fulfill the mitzvah for every Jew to write his own Torah scroll? If it's figurative or outdated, what's the modern-day equivalent? If one fulfills it literally, by commissioning or writing a Torah, can the Torah be donated or loaned to a synagogue, or must one retain ownership of one's Torah?
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Question: Does the mitzvah of pidyon shvuyim (redeeming captives) affect the way we look at prisoner exchanges? Does the mitzvah require us to do everything we can to redeem a captive, or are there limits?
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Question: I wanted to ask if it is okay for an observant (e.g. Orthodox) Jew to watch TV and use the internet (my internet browser does have a filter on it). I watch TV, but am careful with what I watch, as I don't want to watch series or movies that are inappropriate for any reason (vile language or other things). But is it against Jewish law to watch TV and use the internet? I ask because I know there are (ultra) Orthodox Jews who are completely against it. What does Judaism say? Thanks in advance for answering!
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Question: What is the Jewish perspective on stem cell research?
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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: From a Jewish perspective, is there anything wrong with attending a Mardi Gras celebration? Administrators Note: For answers to a somewhat similar question regarding Halloween, see on the JVO website http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=319].
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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?
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Question: Does Judaism allow couples struggling with infertility to hire a surrogate mother? What do Jewish ethics say about paying someone to carry another's child to gestation? Are there any limitations on who can act for this purpose?
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Question: What can we learn about Israel's vs. America's social protests? The majority of the Israeli public wholeheartedly supported the summer's social protest movement with peaceful large mass rallies nationwide, while in America, there was a lack of positive, peaceful support for the Occupy Wall Street protests.
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Question: Is it a sin to move a person's casket to another plot in the same cemetery? My mother does not want to be buried between her husband and her father-in-law and, if they move my father over one spot, the problem is solved.
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Question: I am a Christian, and I sent to my Jewish friends 'Shana Tova' greetings by email on the Jewish New Year. One of my friends emailed me back and thanked me for my wishes, and wished me the same good wishes, and also wished me 'Shana Tova'. While I feel honored he wished me 'Shana Tova' knowing I am not a Jew, I want to know if it is acceptable for Jews to wish a non-Jew 'Shana Tova', and if it is a common practice to do so. Is there a particular meaning to this? I have a deep respect for Judaism and I personally feel close to Jews.
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Question: I am frustrated with my son who is not motivated with learning Gemara. I try to be a good role model. He is a smart kid and does fine in his secular studies. I feel that he is starting to get turned off from Jewish studies. How far should I push?
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Question: My girlfriend believes that she is Jewish, but actually only her father was Jewish. She did not commit yet to undergo conversion. Meanwhile, I try to convince her that she needs to go to mikvah every month, but my friend told me that there is no point in her going to mikvah until she is fully Jewish. Please advise. Thank you.
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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: My neighbor strongly objects to my planting of a specfic grass type (Zoysia grass) saying that it will eventually overtake his lawn and he does not want Zoysia grass. Is there any Jewish moral reason why I must be considerate of his feelings?
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Question: What is the Jewish view about killing Osama bin Laden? Should Jews joyously celebrate his death? Assuming he was in fact unarmed should the Seals have taken him prisoner in acccordance with Jewish values?
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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?
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Question: If a woman has been in a coma for two years would Jewish Law permit disconnecting her life support in these circumstances? She was not given any other options when she was first admitted to the hospital, was on a respirator and gets her food from IV nutrition, and therefore, her husband feels as though he has no options other than to pull the plug. It has been two years of constant suffering and sadness for both him and her parents. What would Jewish Law say?
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Question: My father is near death, and among many anxieties I'm going through is the feeling of dread at having to arrange the funeral etc. I know this seems trifling considering what my dad's going through, but I'm also terrified of speaking in front of a gathering; I'll have to say something at the funeral...will it be OK if I just say I LOVED MY FATHER VERY MUCH, AND I MISS HIM TERRIBLY, then walk off the dais? Or do I have to mention this and that...Sorry, I'm "Fahklumpt" at the moment.
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Question: Does Judaism believe in"karma"?
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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.
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Question: How readily are Jews-by-choice - those who have undergone conversion - accepted to the rabbinical and cantorial schools of their respective denominations? What challenges or restrictions might they face before, during and after their education?
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Question: Are there any Jewish laws or ethics that govern salaries in non-profits?
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Question: Is the Agunah issue just an "Orthodox problem"? Or is it a "Jewish problem"?
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Question: If I know that a friend's husband is having an online "fling" - only online - is it my responsibility to tell her, the way I would if I knew about an actual affair? Or is there a difference?
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Question: A 60-year-old Orthodox Jewish male became ill with pneumonia, requiring mechanical ventilation and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. As a result, he became severely brain damaged and remains in a vegetative state months later. The hospital concluded that further resuscitation attempts (if called for) would be futile and asked the family to sign a "do not resuscitate" order. The family refuses due to their feeling of obligation to preserve life regardless of outcome. Since there is no hope for recovery for this gentleman, is there any way that a choice not to resuscitate this gentleman could still respect his and his family's religious beliefs? What does Judaism say about such a situation?
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Question: Jon Stewart called for sanity at his rally in Washington. Does Judaism provide a path for achieving this?
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Question: A San Francisco man has proposed a ban on circumcision. If such a thing became legal, what would that mean for the Jewish tradition?
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Question: It seems that some people want to live Jewish lives, but not go through the process of converting? Is it OK for a person to practice Jewish religious rituals if he or she is not Jewish?
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Question: Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who has been in a coma from a stroke for five years, is being moved to his ranch in the Negev Desert. How should Jews decide whether to keep family members in similar medical states alive?
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Question: Is plastic (cosmetic) surgery permitted by the Torah? Is there a difference in the Jewish view between reparative and elective surgeries? Does Judaism approve of cosmetic procedures (not life saving, and not physically reconstructive) if it makes the person feel better?
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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?
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Question: What if someone is experiencing problems at work, such as a hostile work enviroment. Perhaps the employer would rather give an employee a bad time, hoping they'll quit, as opposed to firing them (to avoid paying out unemployment benefits). How does one handle that situation? In this day and age, quiting a job might not be a good thing to do, because the next job might not be just around the corner.
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Question: I am a retired military officer who is eligible for burial in Arlington National Cemetery. I would like to be buried in Arlington Cemetery because I believe that it is important to demonstrate that Jews helped defend the US by serving in uniform. However, I understand that there are some Jewish rules (no burial in a mixed-religion cemetery, burial within 24 hours of death) that are not compatible with the procedures for burial in Arlington Cemetery, although there are quite a few Jews buried there. What is the basis for these burial restrictions - custom, tradition, law, etc? Is it a sin for a Jew to be buried in Arlington Cemetery? [NOTE: I was raised in the Conservative tradition, but I am not particularly observant at present]
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Question: I'm going into the Marines, but I also want to keep Shabbat. How can I do that? What can and can't I do regarding Shabbat pertaining to being a Marine, if I am based in the USA, as well as if I get shipped overseas?
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Question: May a Jew that went through a Reform Conversion move to Israel under the law of return?
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Question: Would you say someone of 16-17 years old, who studied Judaism for over a year, and is learning Hebrew is old enough to convert if their parents say they don't mind?
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Question: Is it true that music sung for Shabbat services should not be sung for a concert?
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Question: What is the Jewish faith's belief about afterlife or eternity?
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Question: I have been in a committed relationship for three years. While I'm not married and don't plan on getting married soon, my girlfriend and I do have sex. Is this considered ok, or is it going against the law of the Torah?
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Question: What are the causes of the disconnect between religious teaching and practice, and ethical personal behavior? How can religious people be influenced to act more ethically?
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Question: What is the Jewish view on "don't ask, don't tell" and gays serving openly in the U.S. military? Does it matter that gays serve openly in the Israeli military?
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Question: Alcohol seems to be a part of many Jewish holidays. At Purim we are even commanded to drink so that we can't differentiate between certain characters in Megillat Esther. Is there a Jewish perspective on drugs that would similarly impair our thinking? While some drugs certainly are dangerous to use, many would argue that marijuana - if used in moderation - simply makes the human mind think differently for a period of time, just as a few "l'chaims" do.
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Question: I get very frustrated when members of my Jewish community say they don't have time to be involved in the Federation or synagogue or other organizations because they're too busy with their job and/or family. We're all busy with the personal aspects of our lives, but some of us make time to be leaders in the Jewish community because we want to see it flourish. What is reasonable to expect from people in the Jewish community in terms of volunteering their time and resources?
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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?
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Question: Why is there not more modern resistance to the idea that the Talmud, written by rabbis, carries the same authority as the Torah, given by God at Mt. Sinai?
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Question: Can Israel be both a democracy and a Jewish state?
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Question: My reform family, in efforts to make sure that our 40 closest relatives can make it to our Passover seder, for the past few years has held the seder on the closest convenient date. This year, the "first night" seder at my house will be on Saturday following the Monday that is everyone else's first night. Is there anything in Jewish law that says this is a wrong/bad practice?
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Question: Are you bound to make amends to a wronged person, who does not know that you wronged them, directly to that individual or with G-d only?
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Question: There is so much debate today in Israel on conversions to Judaism. What are the basic requirements for conversion? How does this differ for Orthodox, Conservative and Reform?
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Question: As the son of a Pole who lost touch with his Jewish roots and married a non-Jewish woman, I went through the conversion process, including Brit Milah, Mikvah, and Beit Din, to reclaim that heritage. Why, as a person who prays daily, with regard to Aliyah, etc. am I considered less than a Jew in the eyes of those I view as family?
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