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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?
I had a child with a Jewish man 33 years ago. At the time he wanted me to get an abortion, but I did not, and I did not tell him. He just found out of our son's existence a year ago. What if any are his obgligations to this child? He left when he found out I was expecting. We are now in contact with each other, and he came to meet his son this last month. Is this child entitled to have his father's last name? The child has always known who his father was. I raised this child by myself as I don't believe in abortion. His father and I do talk often now. For a lot of years I had no way to contact his father. didn't know where he was, but recently I found him and told him he has a son. I am not Jewish and don't know the laws in that faith, or if he has any obligations to his son. Any answers would help me. Thanks.
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.
My mother is 90 years old, in frail health but of sound mind. Last year, one of her 3 grandchildren and the youngest of my 2 sons died in an accident at age 29. My son and my mom were close. As an adult, my son moved to another state but made a point of visiting every few years. He has remained in contact with regular phone calls and other correspondence. My sister has demanded that my mother not be informed of my son's death. She argues that my mother will die in a few years anyway and so should be spared the sad news, and that the grieving process could hasten my mom's death. "Let mom die in peace." I've complied with my sister's demands. Whenever my mom asks me about my son, my rehearsed response is "Your grandson loves you dearly." But as time passes without contact from my son, I'm concerned that my mom has concluded that my son has lost interest in his grandmother. For my mom's sake, I'm uncomfortable with keeping her in the dark. But I'm also conflicted. I miss my son so very much. To include my mom in my own grieving would benefit me. After all, she is my mom. Any ideas?
I got married in Jan, and lost a baby at the beginning of March. My husband left me mid-March. He owes me money; he is in a bad financial way, and I have basically supported him. I paid for the wedding and basically paid for everything, even the rings. He's now refusing to give me a 'get' (a Jewish bill of divorce) [Administrators note: Making this person an Agunah - search for other questions on JVO using this term]. I'm am trying to get the rabbis to mediate, but he's turned vicious on me. I landed up in hospital with severe depression, and he basically said I was looking for attention. He's stalling the civil proceeding, but that's easy, its just this 'get' that I'm worried about. What can I do? I got married in an Orthodox setting, but an issue is that I, not my husband, purchased the ring [used in the wedding]. Can I annul the marriage because it was not 'kosher' since he did not provide the ring for the ceremony? How can I proceed under Jewish law and according to Jewish values? [Administrators note: Other questions on our website also touch on this subject. Please search for the term 'agunah' to find them.]
I recently lost my 23 year old son to an unintended drug overdose. My family is all beyond consolation. He did not "appear" to have a drug problem. He was living with his family post-college, in which he did well. He never pushed himself or really had goals, but he was so bright he always excelled. He held down a full time job after graduation, but he was caught 6 months ago stealing medication and other things in the home. He constantly lied to everyone. He started taking substances in his room and appearing "totally wasted". I started to get into conflicts with him over this not being acceptable. I consulted experts about what I should do. For his stealing I wanted him to show remorse and take responsibility for his actions by helping people less fortunate than himself - I wanted him to do do volunteer work at a hospice for people dying of AIDS, to maybe lessen his selfish self-destructive behavior, and because I thought he might learn what the fruits of drug abuse are. My wife said I was too severe on her baby,and a hospice was depressing. I wanted him to get in touch with Jewish culture and values. My wife laughed at me. I arranged for him to see a psychiatrist, but she did not learn enough about him in 6 months to help him. I am furious at my wife for undermining my efforts to help him. No one will know if my efforts would have have helped. But maybe they would. My wife refuses to say she might bear any responsibility for what happened because she sabotaged my efforts to help him.We have been married 35 years and have one living child, a 21 year girl who is much that our son was not. More pious than me. A scholar who hopes to go soon to medical school. She studied Hebrew and Yiddish and speaks to family in Yiddish. I know that I am just so angry, etc. Am I being unfair to my wife? Does it make any difference if she takes responsibility for prior actions? Unfortunately, it was never her nature to own up to the things she did. What should I do now?
A few months ago, I accidentally discovered that my wife of almost 3 years (the complete love of my life) was having an affair with another man. The circumstances were just horrific. I was just stunned and devastated to learn all this. I had no idea of my wife's frustrations, and no idea she was someone that was even capable of doing such a thing. We have been to regular counseling for months now, and even now my wife is still at a loss to completely explain what happened and how it evolved. Here is my question... Now, 3-4 months removed from the affair, I am still occasionally dealing with hurt and pain that I may never fully get over 100%. Nonetheless, I have forgiven my wife and chosen to stay with her. In spite of what occurred, I do love her tremendously. I do believe she is my beshert/soulmate. I am happiest when I'm with her, and I still see my future with her, and I believe that she feels the same way about me. Tears beyond tears have been cried by both of us, and my wife has expressed an enormous amount of regret, remorse, and an appropriate amount of self-loathing, all of which I judge to be genuine. At times, she has even suggested attending Shabbat services at our local synagogue to atone and ask G-d for forgiveness. For sure, I am not fully over what happened, and I may never be fully over it altogether. Likewise, she may never be able to get over the fact that she committed adultery and betrayed and acted against someone she loves. It is a terrible tragedy in both our lives that can never be undone. But I'm pleased to say that my wife and I are currently in a very good place. We are extremely happy with one another and extremely in love. And ironically, the communication which has resulted since the affair (which should have come prior to the affair) has taken our relationship to an even far better place in so many ways than where I perceived it to be prior to the affair. In short then, I have forgiven my wife. I hope that she can eventually forgive herself. Will G-d do the same? What does Judaism say about this situation?
My oldest daughter, now 15, has for most of her life lived and acted like a tomboy, rejecting most everything traditionally associated with femininity: dresses, long hair, girls' sports, etc. None of this was really an issue . . . we simply accepted her for who she was. About two years ago she began to develop some mental health issues and after seeing a number of specialists, it's been determined that my eldest is actually transgender, a boy born into a girl's body. Knowing this and what happens next is, of course, complicated. Part of the initial course of acceptance - and we accept this without condition - is that we all make the shift of referring to her now as "he" or "him". He has legally changed his name to a boy's name and his new birth certificate indicates he is male. He will be able to get a driver's license and passport that shows his gender as male as well. Meanwhile, nothing is being done surgically and he is not even taking testosterone. I've had a few discussions with my rabbi about things like a name change, having a bar mitzvah, etc. but it is early in the process. That said, it's dawned on me over the past few weeks that I no longer have a daughter. She is gone. The person, the life I thought would be there is no longer. It's not a death, per se, but it is a growing emotional loss. My question is "How do I mourn or grieve this loss?" It obviously doesn't rise to the level of sitting shiva but I've recently felt tempted to stand for the Mourner's Kaddish. Is that too much or inappropriate?
My brother recently married a non-Jewish woman. I went to the wedding, not because I wanted to, but because my mother insisted I go. My husband and I sat in a corner with our kosher store-bought sandwiches (no kosher food in sight) and made a presence. It was a very uncomfortable evening, and has led to even more questions for me. I love my brother very much and want to be part of his life, but I truly do not want to be around his non-Jewish wife. We do not live in the same city, so it's not like we run into each other frequently, but I am not sure what I am supposed to do for the occasions that we do meet. I would consider myself modern Orthodox and my brother has gone beyond non-observant; he now considers himself an atheist. What is the Jewish view on these situations? Does one just try to be polite to the non-Jewish spouse to maintain a relationship with the Jewish family member? My husband and I hope to have a family soon. How do you handle exposing your children to something you are teaching them is wrong? I know the fact that I do not want to be at a table (or in the same room) as his wife hurts my mother tremendously (she does not like what my brother has done either, but fears losing him). Is my difficulty with my brother and his wife a lack of respect for my mother as her children cannot spend quality time together? I know there are several questions listed here. I thank you in advance for your assistance with this.
I have a question about names. I am converting to Judaism, and my mikvah date is in just a few weeks. I have been exploring Judaism and learning for about 3 years. I have already picked a Hebrew name, which my rabbi at the time began to call me by. I found that I liked being called my Hebrew name, and began to use that name rather than my birth name/English name. I don't ask my parents or siblings to refer to me by my Hebrew name, though they know I use it. I want to legally change my first name to my Hebrew name. However, a friend suggested that maybe this would be disrespectful to my father, who named me for his deceased mother. My friend made the case that even though my English name is not a Jewish one, since my parents followed the Jewish tradition of naming for a deceased relative, I should not legally change my name. Is it disrespectful to my father to change my name? What is the Jewish perspective on name changes?
I am a 52 years old man, raised Conservative, who has had to contend with autism my entire life. Oftentimes it is not the condition which affects me more than it is peoples' attitudes towards it. For example, back in my early 20's I was back East working on my Master's degree and had ample opportunity to at least consider dating Jewish women. However, the two that I hit it off with dropped me quicker than a hot potato once their parents learned from my parents that I have autism. Back then (30 years ago), it was considered by such families as grounds to be an unsuitable suitor, much like a family history of cancer or mental illnesses also was then in those days. I had far more successful relationships with women of other faiths who themselves or whose families were a whole lot less judgmental regarding either the fact that I am Jewish OR have autism. The Jewish families who interviewed me said I was unsuitable for their daughters, and had given me to understand that I was not obligated to marry because my disability had made me expendable, and that my progeny were not essential to maintaining the numbers of their people. I took them at their word and married out, so I wouldn't live a lonely and childless life. Did I settle? Yes. Because life is unfair, and one can only make the best with what one is given. I decided that with such a cold reception I would take a cold and hard look at what Jewish life meant to me, and I decided that martyring my chances to be married by waiting for the right one to come, just to sanctify God's name, was far more than I reasonably expected God to ask of me, because the autism issue would come up each and every time I sought a besheret (soulmate/match). I am asking what Judaism would say to me today in light of the situation I found, and the choices I made. [Administrator's note: A somewhat related question appears at http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=860.]
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.]
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'm a single male Jew, 35 years old, well established in my career. I am now at the point where I am considering dating for marriage. I know intermarrying is wrong. However, I am terrified of dating a Jewish girl for fear her family would inevitably discover my entire family is dead, and that I would be by definition be a poor choice for suitor into any good family. All grandparents are dead. My father died of old age, my mother and sister committed suicide (presumably due to abuse by father). I've had my share of abuse by father as well, which has affected me. I've been nonobservant and have not gone to synagogue for the entire past decade just to avoid being reminded of the hurt. I've engaged in a lot of therapy, which has helped me to hear, an that is why I am even considering dating at all. Do I just throw up my hands, tell myself I am not fit to marry, and just live for work? Or would the other side be at all understanding of my background and situation? What should I do and how can I balance the mitzvot to marry and have a family, against my situation which makes me question if I can be a decent spouse and parent and fulfill the obligations to a family?
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?
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 know that it is not law, but custom, regarding Ashkenazim not naming babies after living relatives. However, I am very torn as I am about to have my 3rd (and last!) child. We have named our other 2 children's (English) middle names after deceased relatives. My grandmother is 85 and not doing well but we don't expect her to pass away anytime in the immediate future. I am her only grandchild and I would really like to honor her by naming our upcoming baby with her name as our baby's middle name; however I do not want to be doing something horribly wrong in other's eyes. Of course I do not wish my grandmother would die but the reality is she will at some point in the near future given her age while my child will likely live a long life and I think honoring my grandmother with her name as my child's middle name would be a special way to honor her. What do you think? My husband is fine with it but my in-laws are not sure. I am a convert (Conservative) so my family doesn't really have much input (however my grandmother is Jewish). Thank you!
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?
My parents are quick to disbelieve any medical issues I have, and often get angry when I seek treatment. They think I'm a hypochondriac, though I usually only seek medical attention after I'm sick enough that my friends start to get worried. This came to a head last summer, when I was suffering from clinical depression. My mother vehemently argued with me about whether I was depressed and told me not to get counseling, when I was in fact suicidal, and those arguments drove me further into depression & towards hurting myself. I'm seeing a therapist now, and the mental issues are clearing up. However, I'm still in a bind about how to deal with my parents. I know that honoring your father & mother is a mitzvah, but how do I honor my parents when listening to them -- or, sometimes, even speaking with them at all -- can be hurtful or even dangerous? What can Jewish values, ethics and law tell me about how to handle this?
Is a husband obligated to provide for his wife? My husband and I have been married for one year. We are both in our sixties. I agreed to sign a prenup because my husband (who is financially quite comfortable) wanted to protect his estate for his son. I have worked all my life and have always taken care of myself. I earn about half of what my husband does and never inherited any family money. The bottom line is that the prenup became very contentious and I saw the final version at the signing - 48 hours before our wedding. Our guests had already begun arriving. I walked out of the signing and spoke with my attorney who advised that this document was the "best he could do given that my husband started on the process two weeks before our wedding." Against my better judgement, I signed it. Within the first three months of our marriage I wanted it changed. We went to a therapist and he agreed to make changes. There have been continuous fights and multiple promises from him (lies) to make changes.To date, nothing has been done. My fear is that if something happens to him I will not be able to afford to live in the apartment that we presently share. My husband owns the apartment, our prenup stipulated that I pay him rent. EVERYTHING he has goes to his son. I secretly discovered his will- which he refuses to discuss with me. In order to be in compliance with state law he is obligated to leave me something. He is leaving me 2% of his estate and a minimum monthly allowance (administered by his son whom I don't care for) toward the apartment upkeep. Prior to our marriage I was an independent self-supporting woman had an apartment which I could easily afford, lived quite comfortably, and was not dependent on anyone. I gave away most of my furniture, have lost my apartment, and if something happens to my husband will be dependent on the generosity of his son. Even more shocking is that in his will it states, " If I am unable to keep up with the monthly maintenance for the apartment, the estate has the right to evict me in 90 days." My husband and I dated for 5 years prior to our marriage.I lived with him for two of those years although I always kept my own apartment. I saw him as generous of both his time and money to charity, overly generous towards his son, and as a well-liked and respected member of the community both professionally and socially. Until the prenup, I never experienced this side of him or had any indication that he would behave like this. Is this a moral and ethical way to treat one's wife ? What can I do?
If a person advanced money for the care of his mother [parent], can he then say that he wants the whole sum returned, and not agree to be part of a 4 way division of the estate to the four siblings? This would effectively mean that he would not contribute at all towards the costs of the care of his mother, because he is charging his siblings for the cash he forwarded to the estate to pay for the care of his mother. Is that money he does not pay considered interest, and would it be excessive usury (25%) and not allowed? What do Jewish values say about this situation? CLARIFICATION: This is the fuller scenario: My mother a'h' was hospitalized and then sent to a nursing home where we supplied extra aides for the night shift to watch her. It was very costly. I suggested to my 3 siblings that we should sell my mothers house, or take out a mortgage or an equity loan or a reverse mortgage on her home to cover these costs. My brother said no, he would not do that. I pointed out that our mother had a house, social security, some other money, and a rental income from a lease on the first floor of the home, so no one should be responsible to pay from their pocket for her care because she has income and can afford it herself. He (on his own) decided to shell out the cost of her care from his own pocket, rather than take it out of the value of the property. The total bill for expenditure that he gave out from 2004 till 2008 was $300,000 for aides in the home. Now skip to the present. Mother died in 2008. It turns out that my brother had been given a power of attorney over the property, though he did not tell us this. We want to settle the estate. We finally sold the house. He wants the whole sum of money he shelled out paid back to him, before we settle. The result would be that he would not pay his one-fourth share of the $300,000 costs ($300,000 divided by 4=$75,000). He refuses to accept anything less than the $300,000 amount because he shelled out the total amount, and now he says he is exempt from paying his share for the care of my mother. In other words, effectively, he is charging the estate $75,000 dollars for the use of his money, or a fee of one-fourth (25%). Is this legitimate per Jewish law (Halachah)?

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