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All Questions Answered by
Rabbi Maury Kelman

Question: How can a socially isolated Jew with Asperger syndrome find a Jewish soulmate? [Administrator's note: A related question can be found on Jewish Values Online at: http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=860]
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Question: Can and should a woman nominate someone to say Kaddish on her behalf?
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Question: What happens at a Jewish funeral?
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Question: How should we respond to a letter signed by 15 leaders of Christian churches on Oct 5, 2012, calling for Congress to reconsider giving aid to Israel because of accusations of human rights violations (see New York Times article published: Oct 20, 2012)? [Administrator's note: This question seems again quite relevant in light of the vote by the Presbyterian Church USA to divest from companies doing business with Israel in June 2014.]
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Question: What are the obligations of the community to the individual? What is the responsibility of a synagogue to a Jewish member,specifically in terms of helping that congregant deal with extraordinary stresses of his/her life? What responsibility does the community organization have to that member, and particularly in regard to informing them of consequences of their behavior in advance? I know of a case in which an active member of the Jewish community (one who has contributed much time to the synagogue and has been extremely supportive to individuals in need) was ordered not to continue to have contact with the clergy for personal matters as a condition of continued membership. When the member violated this restriction (by leaving a telephone message for a clergy person when in distress), the congregant was told she/he could not at any time enter the doors of the synagogue at the threat of calling the police. The congregant did not receive advanced notice of this, but was told by a custodian upon coming to services that she/he could not enter. What Jewish values address this situation?
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Question: My Jewish brother is engaged to a Christian woman and will be getting married to her in a non-denominational wedding ceremony. My (nuclear) family is fairly observant and, agreeing with our rabbi, my wife and I decided that our children should not be exposed to this event. We planned that I would go to the wedding but my wife and young children (ages 11, 9 and 6) would not. My (non-observant) mother knows that the reason the children are not attending is because we don't want to expose them to a celebration of this intermarriage, and she has been giving my a lot of pressure to change my mind. I never told my brother the real reason because I didn't want him to feel like I was punishing him or for him to blame Judaism for the kids not going. I told him the reasons were financial and now I'm getting pressure from him too--he is offering to help pay for the plane tickets. I truly feel uncomfortable about the idea of the kids attending this wedding and celebrating this event which we are teaching them is wrong. On the other hand, I love my brother and I know how much he loves my children and I feel terrible about how disappointed he's going to be if they're not there. What other compromises can I, or should I, possibly make? How do I balance shalom bayit (peace in the home) with maintaining the integrity of the values we're teaching our children?
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Question: I heard a friend saying that we are at "the end of days" because the world has gotten so crazy, the weather seems to be changing, rules of morality and nature seem to have gone haywire. Do we as Jews believe in an end of days? Do we know when it is? [Ed. Note: see somewhat similar question at: http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=357]
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Question: I am reading my kids the biography of Benjamin Franklin and am completely in awe of his accomplishments and morality; He would write down his flaws at the end of every day. Can you give me names of any Jewish role models in the last 400 years with similar credentials to share with my kids as well?
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Question: Everyone knows most affairs happen at work and its easy to see why. Now that I am married, I'd like avoid that ever happening to our marriage, but I am so used to the banter and the latent sexual edge of office life. Are there any Jewish guidelines that can help me stay true to myself, true to my wife, and still a part of the office crowd?
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Question: With all the talk about democracy vs Islamic rule in Tunisia and Egypt, I was wondering how very different our own religion was.... If our very religious extremists had their way, would Israel be a democracy? How can we reconcile the modern ideal of democracy with the (seemingly) clear preference in our own texts for autocratic rule (monarchy)?
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Question: Some of Bernie Madoff's property is up for auction. While selling his wares to raise money to repay those he scammed is a good thing, isn't it kind of unsettling for people to want to own things formerly used by a fraudster? What does Judaism say about this?
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Question: Do you think a new Canaanite Movement, a la Yonatan Ratosh, could be appropriate for our times? Why not?
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Question: If a child is born to a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father, how is s/he named? Is it still ben (or bat) biodad's English name? Or..?
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Question: Given the serious commandment of kibud av' v'em (honoring father and mother), ought a person attend the interfaith wedding of his or her parent, even if they don't "agree" with intermarriage per se?
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Question: What self-censorship boundaries should there be on non-Israeli Jews in talking about Israel, if any? Is it disloyal for a Jew to point out the faults or flaws of the state of Israel?
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Question: Many of political candidates and leaders seem to have a conservative view of the role of religion in public life. What does our faith teach us about the influence of religion on public policy?
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Question: I pass a homeless man every morning on my way to work. How obligated am I as a Jew to give him money? Friends have said that it is better to give to agencies and charities that help the homeless, but I always feel horrible when I pass him.
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Question: I dislike my job & want to quit. I'd like to do it in a time frame that works for me, but I'd also like to do it in a way that's not offensive to my employers & allows them ample time to find a replacement. What's the best way - & the Jewish way - to address a touchy situation like this?
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Question: How can I politely, yet firmly, explain to Christians that their faith does not supercede mine; the Hebrew Bible is not merely the "Old Testament" and that Jews are not simply Christians without Jesus? I am concerned with Derekh Eretz (proper behavior), but also with clearly stating the validity of my views and beliefs.
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Question: I have heard that my grandma's parents came from Israel. How do I find out about that? Does that make me Jewish?
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Question: Are Jews required to do anything special to "repair the world" after the gulf oil spill? Is there a Jewish perspective on how this tragic accident should impact our view on offshore oil drilling moving forward?
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Question: What's the Jewish perspective on disciplining children? Are there limits on punishments that a parent is supposed to impose on their child?
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Question: Why can't Jews be cremated?
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Question: What are the basic differences between Christianity and Judaism (apart from the Christian belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ)? How do these differences show up in what we are told is ethical and correct behavior?
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