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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.]
Reading your website concerning cremation, it appears the more liberal sects in Judaism discourage it, but tolerate the wishes of those who choose it, while the more observant or strict sects absolutely discourage or prohibit it, on various grounds. My thought was that cremation would be a way to be in solidarity with those who died in the WWII ovens, 9/11 and so forth, that their death circumstance was not a dishonor to them. A cremation, in my view, would dignify their situation. I do understand that the circumstance was not their choice, but nonetheless, it is their factual situation. Also, cremation would solve a problem for me personally. I'm a widow with two spouses buried in two states. Having two cremation urns would allow me to spend eternity with my two basherts, which would save me from making a choice of whom to be buried near. Any thoughts? Given what I read on your site about what Judaism says, is there any leeway? What Jewish values might help me to decide this issue, and resolve my problem concerning choosing which husband I should be buried with?
While I support tolerance, acceptance and unity for the Jewish people, I can’t help noticing that when I have visited the Kotel many times during morning hours, there does not appear to be even a minute base of women that want to pray in an egalitarian style minyan. At the same time there are thousands davening at the Kotel every morning peacefully, representing many threads of Judaism. Why all the commotion to create an area for egalitarian minyanim (prayer groups) on a regular basis at the Kotel, when there doesn’t appear to be the numbers to justify using very limited prime real estate for this purpose? My question is more about the need to accommodate a very small specific group for a once a month event. Wouldn’t it be great to see thousands of Jews show up at the Kotel every morning demanding an egalitarian style minyan? That would show a different level of seriousness to the Women of the Wall (WOW) cause. But, as of now, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Wishing for peace and unity for the Jewish people, I want to know what this is really about.
I am a religiously-unaffiliated philosophy professor seriously considering conversion to Judaism, and am currently learning as much as I can in order to make a decision. My reasons for wanting to convert are entirely my own - I find myself drawn to the religion's beliefs and practices and feel it may be where I belong. In my research I have found numerous books on the subject of conversion, however they normally focus on the process of conversion itself - the 'how'. Whilst this is certainly important, I feel I first need to tackle the question of 'should' on a deep and careful level. I would like to make a sincere spiritual and moral commitment, and I know that converting to Judaism is not a small or trivial commitment to make. Are you able to recommend any reading material that explores the question of 'should I convert?' in a deep and contemplative way? Something that explores not just the practicalities of the decision, but its deeper meaning in terms of one's moral commitments and relationship with God? I am particularly interested in the pros and cons in this respect, as I have sometimes encountered dire warnings that "It is better to be a righteous Gentile than to make a commitment that you cannot keep". I feel I will need to study and contemplate the pros and cons of conversions very deeply in order to choose wisely. Thank you for your time (and feel free to edit this overly-long question for clarity).
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.
 
I have a question for the rabbis. I am a non-Jewish male interested in marrying and starting a family with a Jewish woman. I am interested in converting to Judaism, but I have not done so yet. What are the implications of having kids with a Jewish woman prior to my converting to judaism and marrying her (my understanding is that I would need to convert before I could marry her)? The biological clock is ticking for kids (i.e., in late 30s). So, I am scared that if I take the time to convert first, then the Jewish woman might be too old to have kids when we get married. So, is it better to have kids first, then convert? Or, is there some kind of consequence for doing that that I am not aware of? That, is, if I get a Jewish woman pregnant without converting and marrying her first, does that bar me from converting to Judaism and marrying her later? Is there some kind of punishment for the Jewish woman in this situation (e.g., some kind of spiritual punishment like you go to gehenna or something bad)? Excuse my ignorance and the long question, but I am interested in the Jewish perspective on this. Thanks.
I am a non-denominationally affiliated Jew. I am not frum, but I am constantly working on observing more mitzvot and find myself enjoying different things about Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox communities. I want to know what the stance would be on me wearing a tallit katan. Up until this point I have not because I feel like it would be misrepresenting myself (I already wear a kippah and that alone often leads people to think i'm Hareidi even). It is not that I am offended by being seen as Orthodox, quite the opposite - I don't think I deserve to be viewed as that observant when I am not. I do not want to do something akin to chillul Hashem (or rather.... hillul frum communities? if that makes sense?) if I were ever to do something not-frum while donning them. However on the other hand I hold a firm belief that the mitzvot are not dependent on each other, and that every little step is progress. I also think that if a mitzvah or custom is going to make me better and has a meaningful significance to me, then it is appropriate to observe it. What are your thoughts, either on the points I mentioned, or new points all together in regards to a more "liberal" Jew wearing a tallit katan? Thank you for your time and knowledge.
I am interested in converting to Judaism. While I currently have no friends or family who are Jewish, I have been doing quite a bit of personal study, while praying to G-d for discernment on the matter, and feel deeply that this is the right choice for myself and my family. My husband is very supportive and has agreed for our family to live a Jewish lifestyle, he would like to learn more before making the decision to convert himself. I have two questions. First, is it possible for myself and our son (he is 4) to convert, with my husband's blessing, if my husband does not choose to as well? Second, there are only 2 synagogues in my area, both of which are at least a 40 minute drive from our home. One is conservative, the other reform. The nearest orthodox synagogue is about 2 hours away. Is it possible to receive our instructing of Judaism in a conservative synagogue, but the actual conversion (mikvah and so forth) in the orthodox one due to proximity reasons? I hope that makes sense.
Hello, I am currently converting to Judaism, and am nearing the end of my conversion. One reason I began this process was because I discovered that my mother’s family was Jewish a few generations ago. Apparently they assimilated or converted out because of anti-Semitism. While it occurs on my mother’s mother’s side (far back, however, not very recent) the only “proof” I have is that of a few family traditions and the knowledge of other family members that we “were all Jewish” I also have reason to believe that some of my family who did not emigrate were victims in the Shoah. While I feel the process of converting is valuable for me personally, I often wonder if, with some research, I would be able to prove that I’m already Jewish. One rabbi that I know puts very little weight to this, almost as if my Jewish heritage doesn’t matter, and that I should just focus on my own spiritual journey. I find that hurtful, especially given the whole background of my situation. I don’t want to act as if my Jewish family never existed! Somehow I want my conversion to be an honor to them and a remembrance for them. What are some ways to approach this situation that balances both the doubt about whether or not I am halachically Jewish with sensitivity towards my Jewish heritage and towards my ancestors who evidently suffered for being Jewish? [Administrator's note: Jewish Values Online cannot advise you on your personal situation. For that sort of advice, please see the Rabbi with whom you are working toward conversion.]
We live in Germany (I am American, my husband is German, working for a German airline). After various postings to foreign countries, we are now here permanently with our 12-year-old daughter. We have purchased a piece of property and will be building soon on it. Currently there is an old house on the property, in which many generations of the same family were born and raised, until the remaining elderly owner passed on with no heirs, just 1 year ago. The property reverted to the state, from whom we purchased it. Before the bulldozers come I would like to: 1. Pay tribute to the almost 100 years this family dwelt in the place. All who enter the old house express that it feels warm and inviting, with an overgrown but lovely garden. 2. Address any Nazi connections which may have existed. There is no indication of this in the deceased's history (I've googled him and asked many neighbors) but he was of that generation. 3. After the old house and yard have been removed and prepared for building, I would also like to bless the property prior to building. To summarize, I am interested in an appropriate Jewish: 1. dedication 2. acknowledgement of possible misdeeds 3. property blessing My upbringing was as Conservative Jew in San Diego, later practicing Reform.
In my girlfriend's parents' Orthodox community, it's fairly common for people to refuse to eat at other families' houses. Sometimes it's for kashrut [keeping kosher, observing the dietary laws] concerns (disagreements over acceptable heckshers) [hecksher=notation indicating supervision for Kashrut by a known group or organization], but the majority of the time it's for seemingly unrelated issues (e.g., the wife not covering her hair or wearing pants) that somehow also reflects on that family's kashrut observance for these people. I find that kind of divisiveness disturbing -- wasn't it "because of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza Jerusalem was destroyed"? [Administrators note: this refers to a story about sinat chinam - baseless hatred and shaming another.] Which is the more important Jewish value -- unity among Jews [klal yisra'el] or strictly maintaining your religious standards? Can they be reconciled?
I would like to hear your take on the article in The New York Times (October 2, 2012, "Tattoos to Remember," by Katherine Schulten). Livia Rebak was branded with the number 4559. Now her grandson, Daniel Philosof, has the same tattoo. At right, three men who stood in the same line in Auschwitz have nearly consecutive numbers. .WHY did Eli Sagir get a tattoo with the number 157622 inked on her forearm? WHY might this tattooing practice be unsettling or offensive to some? WHY did people in the camps “treat with respect the numbers from 30,000 to 80,000,” according to Primo Levi? About HOW many Holocaust survivors are still alive? etc. Judaism, as the article mentions generally frowns on tattoos (and body piercing) as it alters G-d's image. I will be using this lesson, for 8th and 9th graders. Others, in my school will be using it for 7th graders. Thanks.
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?
I am a Jewish woman, as my mother is Jewish. My father is not Jewish. I was raised as a Conservative Jew. I am in a relationship with a modern orthodox man who is a Cohen (a descendant of Aaron, one of the High Priests). We want to marry, but we have been told there are restrictions on him marrying me, because in addition to other restrictions on Cohanim (High Priests), one of the restricted classes of women for Cohanim are those whose fathers are not Jewish. Can you please clarify this for me? Is this true? I have done a lot of reading and I keep seeing the restrictions for widow, divorcee, convert, but not for a Jewish woman whose father was not Jewish. Since my mother is Jewish and Judaism is a matrilineal religion - and I have read in some places Judaism doesn't even recognize the religion of the father - I am Jewish. If it is true that one of the marriage restrictions of the Cohanim is to a woman whose father is not Jewish, can you please advise on what we can do in our situation to marry?
A non-married Jewish man, in a seriously committed relationship with the woman whom he loves with all his heart and plans to marry, made the biggest mistake of his life and committed one physical incident of infidelity with no emotional component, and which did not include any form of intercourse, but did involve pleasureful contact, when he was solicited by another woman, and acted in this way in a moment of weakness. If that man later confessed most of the pertinent details of the incident to his significant other, but minimized the full extent of the physical contact in his confession by lying about it, would Jewish ethics and values indicate that he must confess the rest of the details, and also that he lied to his significant other in the earlier confession? The S.O. has already moved forward and forgiven him for what he has revealed. Is the rest of the information irrelevant if the woman knows that she was betrayed and nearly the full extent of the contact? This man wants nothing more then to remain 100% committed to their relationship with all his mind, body and soul, but feels like he has kept something from her that she deserved to know and is suffering from guilt. Is this genevat daat (stealing the mind - deceit/deception/fraud)? Does this fall under preserving shalom bayit (peace in the home)? At this point further confession will only lead to more hurt, mistrust, pain to the innocent partner and deterioration of the relationship, with little benefit from the additional information to either party, and only feed her doubts. What should this man do, and can he repent and do teshuva for his unfortunate conduct? He has shown genuine remorse and vowed to never betray his significant other ever again.

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