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All Questions Answered by
Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu

Question: Can an Orthodox Jew be a witness at a Conservative wedding? What about a Conservative Jew at an Orthodox wedding? Or a Reform Jew at an Orthodox wedding? Who can serve as a witness, and what are the considerations?
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Question: I have a question regarding a charitable endeavor my shul is involved in. For many years, we have hosted homeless guests (from a nearby shelter) for a week in our building. About three years ago, we started taking them in during the week of Christmas. Our homeless guests are non-Jews, and we have had a Christmas tree placed in our building for them. We have even brought in a "Santa Claus" to pay a visit to the children. As we are a Conservative congregation, there are, naturally, members who oppose the tree and other signs of Christmas in the shul building. I am one of those who also dislike the practice, however, I continue to volunteer to care for our guests. But I wonder, are we going too far, in terms of the Christmas celebrations? Our rabbi states that we shouldn't take offense because, after all, many of the symbols connected with this holiday are from pagan origins, rather than being specifically connected with Jesus. Personally, I view that (pagan symbols) as being just as bad, perhaps even worse! It is my opinion that we should go back to hosting the homeless on a week other than that involving the Christmas holiday. This would solve the problem about causing offense to some of our more traditionally-minded congregants (regarding the tree and Santa). I was wondering what your take on this situation might be.
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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: 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: I was adopted at birth, and had little religious teaching as a child. As a young adult I explored Christianity, but I was never able to fully embrace the concepts and beliefs that they expressed. At 40 years of age I established contact with my birth mother, who informed me that I am Jewish (she is not a practicing Jew, but is Jewish by heritage). After finding out where I come from I have spent the last few months looking into what Judaism is and what it means to be a Jew. I must admit it has awakened something inside of me, and I now think I know why I was never able to engage with Christianity. My question is how do I prove the bloodline, I have gotten mixed answers ranging from “a letter from my birth mother stating that that she gave birth to me and that she is Jewish” to “It cannot be proven and conversion is the only way,” or consult “genealogy records.” I would convert if that is the only way, but I would prefer to prove that I am Jewish by birth as I have daughters who will carry on the bloodline. What can you tell me?
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Question: I am an avid meditator, and given that the eastern meditative techniques are so prevalent, I have grown accustomed to doing certain "chakra meditations." However, the Chakras are an eastern concept, and Judaism has the sefirot. So for a Jewish soul, do the Chakras exist? Or, do we use the sefirot instead because our souls and bodies resonate with a different divine energy altogether?
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Question: An article (in the Science & Health section of the Feb. 14, 2012 edition of the New York Times) stated that a senior residence facility passed an edict that residents in the assisted living and nursing facility can not eat in the same dining room as the independent living residents. (I recommend you read the article). Some couples and friends can no longer dine together. Various reasons were cited for the decision, including space, mobility, safety and concern about depressing the independent residents. This is screaming out to me as a great discussion topic in Jewish values. I can point to the values of caring for the sick and disabled, treating your neighbor as you would like to be treated, honoring the elderly, etc., but I am looking for specific sources and quotes to use as a teaching lesson. Thanks.
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Question: What does Judaism say about dating and matchmaking and marriage after a young woman has had cancer and can no longer bear children?
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Question: We hear from many politicians (most often those running for high office) that 'Everyone agrees' on issues concerning when life begins, homosexuality, marriage, etc., all based on using 'our religion' as the premise for the assertions. Should Jews enter the discussion in religious terms based on Judaism and Jewish values and Jewish law, especially where they disagree with these assertions?
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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: How can Jews bring Judaism into celebrating Thanksgiving?
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Question: Why does Hillel choose “What is hateful to you, do not do unto your neighbor” as his version of “the entire Torah?” Why not “Love God” or “Keep mitzvoth.” HiIlel’s tenet is never actually mentioned in the Torah itself.
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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: 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: 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: 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: To what extent can/should donors to an institution - when donations constitute a majority of the budget - expect to have a say in that institution's policies?
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Question: How can we theologically understand weather disasters - from hurricanes and earthquakes to deadly blizzards and droughts?
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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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