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All Questions Answered by
Rabbi Alan Yuter

Question: Is cremation and burial in a mausoleum okay in Judaism?
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Question: A person believes that she or he has been touched or violated in an unwanted, unsolicited, halakhically forbidden, and therefore abusive fashion. To report or not to report? Is there any reason in Judaism not to go to the police? Should Jewish law ever trump civil law in criminal matters? [Administrator's note: Related questions appear at: http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=700 http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=500]
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Question: Why are there Jews Against Circumcision? [See a related earlier question and answers at http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=166.]
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Question: The mother of my friend died, but donated her body to science. The university supposes to keep the body for 3 years. My friend would like to recite Kaddish for his mother even she was not buried. Is it permitted in this case, what is his status?
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Question: Can an atheist be a Jew? [Administrators note: similar questions exists on JVO at http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=142, and http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id-48.]
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Question: How important is it that my wedding is catered kosher, if I myself don't keep kosher? What Jewish values, moral, or ethical positions are involved?
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Question: I am an employee at a Jewish institution who was abruptly elevated to fill the role of my superior a few years ago when my superior unexpectedly retired. I was under contract with multiple years still to go on that contract. As the employing organization was in turmoil over the sudden retirement, there was a great deal of confusion, distress, a precipitous loss of supporters, and there was a financial crisis due both to the economic downturn and the loss of support. On taking the role of my superior, I turned my attention to reassuring the staff, retaining and recovering supporters, and providing continuity of leadership, in order to stabilize and to rebuild the organization. All those efforts have proven successful. Now that the employer has seen support re-established, and has largely restored and even begun to improve its overall financial position, I have asked them to renegotiate my contract to reflect my current position and role, the role I have actually fulfilled during the past several years, rather than continuing to hold me in the lessor role that I previously filled. The organizational leadership did not choose to bring up the issue, or consider making this change on their own. I have now raised it. Assuming that the renegotiation proceeds as expected, I will be confirmed in the superior role, and will be awarded a compensation commensurate with that role. My question is whether it is appropriate for me to ask the organization to compensate me for the difference in the amount I was paid in the junior role while serving in the role of the superior? In other words, am I owed 'back pay' for stepping up and fulfilling the more challenging role? I believe that there is an argument to be made that the organization may have transgressed several Jewish values and principles in this matter, including Kavod HaBriyot, Yosher, and perhaps even Geneiva. I am asking specifically in regard to Jewish values, not secular law issues here. What is your take on this?
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Question: Why are closed adoptions discouraged in Jewish law?
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Question: If a first child (daughter) of a father is born out of wedlock (my father married my mother after I was born, put his name on the birth certificate, but divorced her 6 months later) what laws and rules should I obey and how am I viewed in Jewish law? [Administrator's note: for answers on JVO regarding illegitimacy and the term mamzer vs bastardy, see http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=27 and http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=93.]
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Question: Why in Megillat Esther is the name of G-d not mentioned even once, considering that it was the hand of G-d that altered a near catastrophe for the Jewish people living in Persia?
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Question: Is there a Jewish point of view about respect for ancestors? Is there a name for it? How about all the dead, including non-Jews?
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Question: If a Jewish person who lays Tefillin develops dementia and begins to forget things is it okay for someone to help that person with the correct procedure and prayers for putting it on?
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Question: I am an egalitarian male. I have a mezuzah and pair of tefillin written by a female scribe, who is perfectly kosher within my beliefs, but obviously wouldn't be kosher in Orthodox beliefs. When I get the mezuzah and tefillin checked, do I have an ethical obligation to disclose the fact they were written by a woman to the (presumably) male scribe doing the checking?
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Question: From a Jewish view, what is the true name of G_d? It is my understanding that one name was given to Abraham and another to Moses. Can you please clarify this for me? As an example of the confusion, in the KJV (Christian bible, King James Version) there are three spellings of G_d, LORD and Lord and they each seem to have different meanings. So is there one true name of G_d to call upon and to pray to? Thank you for your response.
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Question: Should we still be spending time and resources on prosecuting Nazi war criminals, many of whom are old and sick?
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Question: What and where is the obligation to honor a parent's last wishes found? Must they be followed?
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Question: If a Jewish women has a hard time finding a place where she can bathe in a mikveh (ritual bath) after her menstrual period, what should she do if she is married (and observes rules about niddah/family purity)?
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Question: When placing a Menorah in a high rise lobby are there Jewish rules that need adhering to? Should it stand alone? Does it need to be placed on a white cloth? There seem to be some discrepancies among the residents in our building.
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Question: God warns us explicitly not to follow in the ways of the other nations. How does this apply to our custom to give gifts on Chanukah, which seems to have been taken from the very not Jewish tradition of giving gifts on Christmas?
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Question: If a newborn or child is adopted by Jewish parents and the child is raised a Jew, is the person Jewish since there is no way of knowing if the child came from a Jewish woman? Or, as in my case, the birth mother was not Jewish at time of the birth but did later convert once she married the Jewish birth father?
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Question: Beginning in the month of Elul we begin the process to think about our sins that we need to ask forgiveness. If we are granted forgiveness by Hashem on Rosh Hashana, is it only the “punishment” for the sin that is removed or is it also the sin itself that is removed from our past?
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Question: Judaism has changed and adapted over the course of time; polygamy, for example, is no longer allowed. So today is gay marriage something that Judaism should adapt to as well?
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Question: Is there anything we can learn from high-profile Jews caught in scandals? If you were going to reference Anthony Weiner (for example) in a weekly sermon, what would you say?
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Question: After conceivably the most powerful man in the world, the president of the United States, Barack Obama, called for Israel to withdraw to pre-1967 lines on national television, I find it exceptional that the next day on national television in front of the world, the Prime Minister of Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu, sitting next to Obama, was able to say, returning back to the pre-1967 borders was a risk that Israel simply could not take. As an American Jew, how do I reconcile my support for Israel's security while also supporting our President’s vision for peace in the Middle East.
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Question: What is Jewish law regarding eating cheese and bread and other foods that were made by non-Jews but don't have any non-kosher ingredients on the ingredient list? What if they have no hechsher?
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Question: Can you explain the value behind various Kosher certifications? Do all of them take the same things into consideration? If so - why so many? How did a commandment get politicized? And if not - what are the various considerations?
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Question: Many good initiatives - like phone-free driving or diets or teen celibacy - are based on the premise of making a pledge. What does Judaism say about these types of promises and pledges, and are there "religious" implications if you breach your pledge?
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Question: When buying a new car, I know it is the right thing to do to think of environmental concerns - miles per gallon of gas, CO2, etc...But are there any Jewish directives here? A What Would Moses Do kind of thing?
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Question: My religious neighbor points to the events in the Middle East and claims that we are seeing the end of days. It does feel rather scary and chaotic, but I'm not sure I believe in that whole concept. Can you explain Judaism's view on "Armageddon"? And could this be it?
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Question: For some time, the debate about downloading digital music and movie files has been raging in the legal community, and also among social/business ethicists. According to Jewish values - once a digital file is shared and is online - is it public property? Or not? If I buy a file (music or video), can I give it away to others?
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Question: I just found out that my daughter’s teacher created a Facebook persona (another teenage girl) in order to spy on her students and make sure they weren’t doing anything inappropriate online. I am incensed, and I approached her about this. She claims there were many breaches of “tzniut” and she was just doing her job. I strongly disagree and would like to take the matter to the principal. Thoughts?
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Question: From a Jewish perspective, what obligation is there for the head of household to carry life insurance? If so, when is this obligation no longer required?
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Question: Is Tu B'Shvat of any significance outside of the land of Israel, and if so, what is that significance?
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Question: There are a seemingly significant number of Christians who are claiming to be Jewish. Some of these are the deceptive and lying groups that are founded and funded by various Churches, like ‘Jews for Jesus’, whose purpose is to convert unwary Jews to Christianity, but others claim to be ‘Messianic Jews’ who do not seek to convert anyone, and who want to practice Jewish rituals while still being Christians. What is the Jewish view on these people’s actions and status?
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Question: When does reproof cross the line into criticism - regarding diaspora Jews and Israel in particular?
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Question: I consider myself a Conservative Jew, however I have recently begun to consider covering my hair (since I'm married) and only wearing skirts (not pants). I have started by wearing long headbands. What does that make me? Am I still a Conservative Jew? If not, what am I?
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Question: What does Judaism say that you should do when your partner is a closet drinker?
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Question: President Obama's administration was talking about possibly needing to reduce Social Security benefits and raise the retirement age to combat the deficit. What does the Jewish faith say about taking care of our society's elderly?
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Question: A question on Jewish funeral etiquette/proper behavior: What should one do when a funeral lands on the same day as a celebration - a Bar/Bat Mitzvah/wedding/Bris Milah/baby naming, etc.? What if one is a mourner - does that change the answer?
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Question: With the latest news of bombs sent on airplanes to target Chicago synagogues, people are justifiably even more nervous about terrorism than usual. But how do we reconcile being cautious with appearing in any way racist or prejudiced?
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