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All Questions Answered by
Rabbi Aryeh Klapper

Question: I am the Jewish Chaplain in a University in the U.K. Our graduation ceremony is held annually in our nearby city cathedral. The building is over 1000 years old and the experience is awe inspiring. One of my students is strictly orthodox and is concerned that he is not permitted to enter therein. He is also concerned that in entering the cathedral he will be walking through the attached cemetery where some of the graves are marked with a cross. He is not a Cohen so the cemetery prohibition does not apply. I would like to assure him that attendance by him and his parents will be permissible.
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Question: What are the Jewish values surrounding the "Right to be Forgotten," developed in Argentina? Should we have to perpetually face the consequences of an action even if it is out of date or far in the past?
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Question: Hello Rabbis, I am a Gentile trying to convert to Judaism, but I am also disabled and dependent upon my immediate family for my food, shelter, etc. I am afraid that if I tell my family about my intended conversion, they will stop all support of me at an instant and I would be helpless in terms of money, shelter, and the like. Telling family about conversion is intimidating enough under normal circumstances, but in addition to that I am afraid for my material well-being should I tell them. I know G-d will provide in all things, but I sometimes wonder if I am meant to stay a Gentile in order to make sure I am provided for. I sincerely believe in the Tanakh and G-d's oneness, and want to live a Jewish life, but I have no idea how to do so without endangering my well-being. Any advice would be helpful.
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Question: Is it OK to sing along with traditional black gospel music? I was raised in the south and in many ways raised by black women (think the movie The Help). While I am an observant Jew, I find the music happy, hopeful and it gives me peace when I am depressed.
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Question: I am Orthodox, and an artist. From time to time I go into Churches, not during services, to admire the art and architecture. I have no desire for any other religion, but know the Talmud in Avodah Zarah 17b says a Jew should not even go past the doors of a pagan temple. What is the leeway halachically and from a values point of view?
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Question: I recently received an inquiry about serving as a sperm donor for an infertile couple. Is it a Mitzvah to do so? What do Jewish traditions, thought, and values advise on this matter?
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Question: Is it appropriate for a rabbi (as a religious leader) to discuss partisan political issues either from the bimah or as part of a kiddush program in shul (synagogue) on Shabbat?
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Question: Please answer a question from an artist in Denmark whether there is such a thing as "typical" Jewish catchwords pertaining to ethical values in the Jewish tradition. An artist wishes to use the Hebrew words or acronyms for a memorial for Danish Jews who perished during WW2.
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Question: Does a funeral arranger (who is in constant contact with the deceased, caskets, etc) remain in a state of permanent uncleanness? Are there certain practices or principles that ought to be observed from a Jewish perspective as regards shaking other people's hands, handling food etc, or is regular washing of the hands acceptable?
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Question: Is a scheduled Hatafat Dam Brit to be postponed if the convert's mother is expected to die within the week? [Administrator's note: a somewhat similar question was posed in http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=650]
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Question: I want to know something about Jewish prayer. Do Jews praying have a ritual like 'wudu' (as Muslims do), the washing of their hands, in preparation to pray? Is it thrice right hand, thrice left hand? Before praying and/or after praying? Have you an online reference, with a picture, that you could direct me to view? Arash from Iran
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Question: I'm a Russian Jew. I see myself as Jewish, even though I don't live Jewishly. I practice Buddhism, have non-Jewish boyfriends, and think that believing in G-d the way prayers show me makes man into a weak and helpless being. And yet I feel united with all Jewish women through the centuries when I light Chanukah candles, get liberated from Egypt and certain personal slaveries each Pesach (even though I don't keep any Pesach mitzvoth), and etc. It hurts me to feel that I would not be accepted as I am by other Jews. I don't want to comply and be "a good Jewish girl" just for the sake of it - it's not the kind of life I see for myself. Yet I want to find my place among my people and I don't know where it is... What can you tell me to help me? How can I find a way to fit into Judaism?
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Question: When are gifts appropriate (for example, from family for a birthday vs from someone you are dating, and how expensive or elaborate is okay) according to Jewish thought?
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Question: Labor union strikes can paralyze a local economy. What is the Jewish position on striking and work stoppages?
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Question: Where does the concept of tikkun olam (repairing the world) originate, and is it a mitzvah (commandment) or does it hold the same level of importance as a mitzvah?
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Question: Lack of rain in Israel used to be a death sentence for its inhabitants—no water to drink, no crops, etc. Now, with modern technology (such as desalinization plants), a lack of rain is serious, but no longer life-threatening. Should we still institute fast days during a dry winter?
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Question: What is the major blockage to women entering the rabbinate, if any, in each movement? Why does it differ between them?
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Question: Small groups of violent ultra-Orthodox in Israel seem to have strayed from Torah values, which is a chilul Hashem. Are there collaborative or independent initiatives from the three main denominations to meet with and inform the ultra-Orthodox leadership how their violent actions (rock throwing, spitting on others, verbal abuse) negatively portray the Jewish people to the world?
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Question: Should we continue to mourn the destruction of the Temple in this day and age, when the Jewish people once again have sovereignty in the land of Israel?
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Question: Shouldn’t American Jews, who collectively benefit from living in a free and open democratic country, be supportive of the “gay marriage bill” that gives equal rights to another minority group, regardless of how we feel about their lifestyle?
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Question: The Torah describes Shavuot (Feast of Weeks) as a holiday based on agricultural themes. How did it come to be a commemoration of Matan Torah (the giving of Torah, Revelation)?
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Question: I invited a dear non-Jewish friend to my Pesach dinner for the second night. She wrote back stating that her other Jewish friends told her it would be inappropriate for her to attend. As a new Jew I find this off-putting. Were we not strangers in Egypt??
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Question: A colleague (actually by now a friend) slightly below me on the company totem pole is about to get really unfairly screwed over (excuse my language) by another colleague, his direct boss. I know about it, but I am not supposed to know about it. I could say something, but I could easily get in trouble because it will be obvious it was me. However, if I do, he may be able to preempt the worst of it. Are there any Jewish ethics to guide me here?
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Question: Is smoking an occassional cigar or cigarette, without inhaling, against halacha? (because you dont really end up being unhealthy this way).
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Question: Should American Jews in positions to be heard – communal leaders, writers, editors – refrain from criticizing Israel’s policies in public, or from publishing negative stories (i.e., the ‘racist rabbis letter’), for fear that others will take this critique and use it for anti-Semitic ends?
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Question: Is it possible/acceptable to have a bar/bat mitzvah after the normal age?
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Question: My boss always makes me feel stupid, is rude, puts me down all the time, gets other people to tell me how to dress, and so on. Is this in keeping with Jewish law and custom? Are there Jewish rules about how a boss is to treat an employee?
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Question: How should Jewish workers balance the issues of being treated fairly in the workplace, with maintaining necessary services and infrastructure? A case in point is the recent protests in France by hundreds of thousands of workers who felt mistreated, but whose actions threatened to lead to strikes that could cause gasoline shortages, cuts in train and air travel, bedlam at schools, and cuts to electricity. How does one balance the competing values of self-care with maintaining communal services?
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Question: What are acceptable means of teaching children about matters such as pregnancy and its potential complications? What does Judaism say about how we should teach our children values? Former President George W. Bush shared in his memoir that when he was a teenager, his mother, Barbara Bush, showed him her miscarried fetus in a jar. Is this kind of approach condoned in Judaism?
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Question: The Harry Potter films revolve around the struggle between good and evil. How far does our faith allow us to go in the fight against evil?
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