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All Questions Answered by
Rabbi Yehuda Leonard Oppenheimer

Question: What is the Jewish view on putting the good of others before what is good for oneself, even when it may conflict with what it good for oneself? (I'm not talking about life and death issues here.) [Administrator's note: I interpret this question as asking about altruistic behaviors, such as Taharah for a deceased person. Respondents may read it differently - if so, please explain your understanding.]
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Question: My father's last words were that he never wanted to see my sister again. I never told my sister about this, but my sister's last act was to have herself buried next to my father without consulting me. I feel that I should commemorate my father by placing some barrier or inscription between his gave and hers. How would I do that?
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Question: I converted to Jewish over 20 years ago, married a Jewish man and raised my daughter Jewish. I do not practice the Jewish religion anymore because after my divorce I felt no connection. My daughter's one and only grandfather wants her to stay connected to the Jewish religion. Please let me know how I can help her stay connected. Is it necessary for me to practice the religion even though I have no connection:? Please help
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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 is proper to send an e-mail invitation to an unveiling? [Admin. Note: Similar or related questions are found at: http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=608 and http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=666.]
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Question: [In light of the Shoah] Is it ethically alright to purchase a German made car? If not, is there a specific Jewish law against it?
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Question: I have been curious about what happens when a Jew decides that Jesus is the "messiah", or accepts any other religion. Does he/she immediately became Christian or something else, and stop being a Jew? I think it is a confusing topic and I was hoping someone could explain please.
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Question: Why do they use cheesecloth to cover the stone at the unveiling ceremony?
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Question: There is a big debate in Israel over army service, and whether Haredim ("ultra" Orthodox) should have to enlist. The Haredim claim that they *are* defending the country, by learning Torah. Is it valid to say that defending the country by studying Torah and defending the country by putting your life on the line are truly equal?
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Question: There is a big problem, noted again recently in the media, in the ultra-Orthodox community of not reporting child abusers and protecting them, rather than the victims. What can we do to stop this, get the criminals arrested, and protect the innocent victims? Does this reflect Jewish values, and is it in line with Jewish moral behavior?
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Question: My father is Jewish, my mother had a Catholic upbringing but doesn't identify with a religion. I was raised Jewish and had a Bat Mitzvah in a Reform synagogue at age 12. In order to be recognized as Jewish in a Conservative or other Jewish communities, should I "convert to Judaism?" Or does the fact that I've been deemed a Jewish adult by the Reform community count me as Jewish for these other communities?
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Question: We are told in the Torah that certain actions will cause karet, i.e., that the person will be cut off from the nation. What about those Haredi fanatics who are harassing people and vandalizing property? Shouldnt that earn them karet as well? Why should they continue to be part of our nation?
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Question: I know this has been asked before, but my situation seems "impossible" though I believe with G-d all things can be done! I am a married woman, currently Catholic, married to a devout Catholic man with six devout Catholic children. I KNOW I am supposed to be Jewish. I cannot any longer set aside G-d's calling, much like He called Samuel and after three tries or so, Samuel finally realizes that it is G-d who is calling him. I desperately want to convert and am now, after all this time ready. My husband will be supportive and will come with me to classes, though I am not certain he will convert. The children will be another story. Can we lead two lives--them a Catholic life and me a Jewish life--but as a family celebrate both? (Though I will choose not to participate at Mass or rosary or anything Christian-related). I pray and hope with all my heart that this is possible.
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Question: Are "yibum" and "chalitzah" (ceremonies related to the process of levirate marriage) still relevant today?
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Question: As a science museum with an exhibition that has a human brain in it what is our obligation to alert orthodox Jewish visitors to its presence?
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Question: Are any of the considerations of granting a Kashrut certificate things like humanitarian treatment of the animals prior to slaughter? Good treatment of workers in the factory? Etc? How can you have kosher goose liver pate, for example? Isn't that an internal contradiction?
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Question: If a pre-programmed "Shabbat elevator" is acceptable, then could a pre-programmed autonomous boat, trolley or automobile be used on Shabbat?
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Question: Can a woman initiate a Jewish divorce if a husband refuses sexual relations?
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Question: Passover is around the corner and I was wondering how much of the pre-Passover madness is really necessary. Must we really Spring Clean like the Good Housekeeping ladies, or is getting rid of bread and cookies enough? And as to the products in the stores - my goodness!! I feel a little bit like the holiday has become a corporate festival, commercialized like Christmas. Is there an answer to the madness??
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