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All Questions Answered by
Rabbi Brooks Susman

Question: How are African-American converts viewed in Judaism?
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Question: When my frum therapist advises me to carry out my fantasies of female domination, when my wife's therapist agrees, when our couple therapist advises me not to fight against my inclination but to work this out with my wife, when the halacha allows it, when my love for my wife thru domination has never been so high, what should be the attitude of a frum Jew? Is it better to be machmir and try to be like everybody else, or to listen to the therapists who know me and my wife? What would Jewish values say I should do? Thank you for your answer.
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Question: Should I refrain from consuming media produced by celebrities who later became known as Anti-Semites? For example, the Lethal Weapon series includes Mel Gibson, although it was produced before he became known as an Anti-Semite. Another example is the music of Pink Floyd, which included Roger Waters, but was produced before Waters became known as an Anti-Semite. [Administrator's note: This issue appears in various forms. For example, one question on the website has to do with purchasing German-made autos (and other products): http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=991. In another context, many rabbis advise the couples they counsel not to use any music at their wedding composed by Wagner or Mendelsohn because they either worked with/supported the Nazi regime, or they were seen as destroyers of Judaism - which is why it is rare to hear "The Wedding March" by Mendelsohn at a Jewish wedding. Not too long ago, a fashion designer expressed vile anti-Semitic views, and there were repercussions, including at least one famous person publicly refusing to wear anything by him, or from the design house he worked for, raising a massive amount of negative publicity for that fashion house. The issue that underlies this question is whether the person, and their actions/politics, can be separated from the art they create. It deals with memory, repentance, forgiveness, compassion, and punishment, among other matters.]
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Question: I've been struggling with attending High Holiday services when I don't believe in God. I grew up Orthodox so the push from my parents to attend is quite strong, but I feel that the services are becoming less meaningful every year. I'm feeling very confused about what I should do: 1) attend services even though I don't find them meaningful because it would make my parents happy, or 2) do something meaningful during that time which pushes me towards my other values in life (friends, helping others, etc.)?
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Question: Should my wife be buried with her family at their family plot or should we buy two new plots and be buried side by side?
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Question: Is there such a thing as a Jewish race memory? I have what seems to be an overwhelming identity with Jewishness, yet I was not born a Jew in any sense. My father was the son of a Jewish mother who married out. He never put over Jewish identity within the home apart from his knowledge that he was Jewish. Yet I feel strongly that I ought to convert, and one of my strongest personal ambitions is to celebrate Passover. If you have any personal experience to add to this, I would be grateful. Am I mad to feel such a strong attachment where logically there is none? regards Dee
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Question: Hi. I have been dating a boy 7 months now and we were planning on marrying until we found out that my great grandmother on my father's side's conversion was done wrong which makes the rest of the family down not Jewish on that side. The problem is the boy I am dating is a kohen (Priest, descendant of Aaron). Would an orthodox rabbi marry us? I have very severe heart problems and every time I have to think about not marrying him it stresses me to the point that I have to go to the hospital and receive IV medicine if not worse. What can we do?
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Question: Do we have an obligation to correct misleading media bias when it comes to news coverage of Israel? For example, during rounds of rocket fire from Gaza, some media stations makes it seem like Israel is the aggressor, when they are actually the ones defending themselves against rocket attacks.
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Question: As no movement in Judaism completely follows all the "revealed" mitzvot (commandments), what right does any voice have in specifying which ones to follow?
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Question: My mother and I are presently having an issue about tznius. I wear long skirts and when skirts are just past the knee or a little longer, I wear pants underneath. I also prefer to wear long sleeves rather than 3/4 sleeves, and I generally do not wear red. My mother thinks that all this is unnecessary, and won't let me out of the house in more than two layers during the summer, although I never get overheated. If I feel that dressing this way is essential to my Judiasm, do I have to listen to my mother?
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Question: Does a parent have a responsibility to force a teenage child to keep certain mitzvot such as observing Shabbat or Kashrut?
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Question: Do you think that sometimes there are things that a person should simply not do because it would compromise their beliefs too much? Or is there always a workaround?
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Question: My daughter stopped speaking to me when I told her that she needed to start dieting and exercising . I feel that I followed the rule of treating others as I would like others to treat me. I'm very hurt by her actions. I refuse to apologize. Am I wrong?
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Question: The Founding Fathers seemed to think that believing in God actually mandated democracy; today many of the world's most religious people seem to think that belief in religious laws make democracy undesirable. What does Judaism think?
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Question: [According to traditional Judaism] At what age can a Jewish boy have his first haircut? What is the reason this might differ for the different streams in Judaism?
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Question: What is the Jewish view on celebrating "saint or spirit based" days like Halloween or Valentines Day? By now they are more commercial than pagan. Is there a problem in either Jewish law or custom?
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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: I just found out that my spouse has been chatting intimately (and suggestively) with a total stranger when I accidentally stumbled on his Skype dialogue box. I am extremely hurt. Should I be considering his actions the same as if he had an affair? What does Judaism say about ‘emotional affairs’?
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Question: What does Judaisam teach us is the responsibility of Jews living in the diaspora to defend the state of Israel?
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Question: What’s the most important message to learn from Chanukah? Is it a lesson about God’s miracle or about the Jews' overcoming adversity? Or is it about religious freedom?
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Question: What does Judaism say about regret? I'm not talking about regretting sins that I've committed, I'm talking about choices that I made and things I didn't do that I should have done that would have changed my life for the better. Thanks.
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Question: In what way should we welcome back men and women who spent time in prison? How about sex offenders?
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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: 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: How can Jewish values help us become happy?
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Question: What is done during a typical Shabbat?
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Question: Is it halachically permissible for an observant homosexual/lesbian couple to adopt a child and raise him or her as a Jew in accordance with Jewish tradition? As a follow-up question, is it halachically permissible for a Jewish school to refuse to admit the children of a homosexual/lesbian couple even though such school readily admits children of homes that are not Shabbat observant.
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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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