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All Questions Answered by
Rabbi Dov Fischer

Question: 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.]
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Question: Are the obsessions with money, celebrities and athletes, and maybe even Ivy League education, a form of modern day idol worship? My understanding of idol worship is when human creations or people themselves replace G-d and/or are worshiped as a god, this is idol worship. How do rabbis view idols in the modern sense? What does it mean to avoid worshiping idols?
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Question: My father was Jewish. I am married to a Jewish man. My children were raised in a very Conservative Jewish way, and have married into almost Orthodox families. I consider myself a Jew. Where can I convert to be accepted as fully Jewish in ALL Jewish communities?
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Question: I would like a Jewish perspective of this question that appeared in the New York Times Magazine. "About 15 years ago, I was summoned for jury duty. The defendant was charged with two counts of murder. During jury selection, I was asked if I supported the death penalty. I don't. I'm unalterably opposed to capital punishment. But I feared that potential jurors who did not support the death penalty could be automatically disqualified by the prosecution. So I said I agreed with capital punishment. That way, if it came down to it, I might help spare the defendant from execution. But this violated the oath I had taken to tell the truth. Was it ethical for me to lie in order to possibly spare the life of this defendant"?
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Question: I am a Jewish man interested in marrying a Jewish woman. I often ask women why they want to be with someone Jewish and they tell me it would be "easier" or it would make their mothers happy. These to me don't seem like good enough reasons. My reasons are strongly tied to character traits, mainly accountability, that I associate with Jews. What I wondered was what do you consider the biggest and most tangible problems with interfaith marriages?
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Question: There is a prohibition stated in the Torah that a person can't wear a garment that has both wool & linen in it. This law is called 'Shatnez'. Do all denominations of Judaism follow this law? If so, how is it observed? If not, why is it not observed?
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Question: A married friend confided that she had an affair with a colleague. They had full contact and pleasured each other sexually - completely, but short of intercourse. She now feels very bad about it and has left that workplace, as well as terminated the relationship. Her husband has no idea that anything was amiss. She wonders about the following: Is she obligated to inform him? Is she considered an adulteress? What is the status of her marriage? What can she do for teshuva?
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Question: What exactly is the position of minhag (custom) in halacha (Jewish law), and when is someone bound to follow the community in something which is not purely halachic (according to Jewish law)? Where is the place of chumra (~strict interpretation) within Judaism? Thank you.
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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: How can we try to be respectful and understanding of the ultra-Orthodox when they are at the forefront of hostile activities like rioting at places which are open on Shabbat and fairly recently, vandalizing a girlsí school in Bet Shemesh because it bordered their neighborhood?
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Question: How can we truly, practically implement ďvíahavta líreacha kamochaĒ (you shall love your fellows as yourself) into our everyday life? Itís one of Judaismís most famous sayings, yet with small pockets of infighting and hatred among groups of Jews in Israel, it seems to have been forgotten.
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Question: My Jewish high school recently announced plans to spy on student's computer usage by requiring us to install software letting them remotely watch and block computer use. What does Jewish law have to say about this violation of our privacy?
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Question: I am a soon to be converted Jew by Choice. The problem is, practicing Judaism is really causing problems in my marriage with my non-practicing Jewish husband. I realized how important religion was to me when we had our first child. In the last two years, our marriage has been fraught with arguments because he doesn't want to raise our children Jewish. He did participate in a baby naming, doesn't sulk everytime I light Shabbat candles as he once did and has agreed to a Jewish preschool, but I still feel like it's an uphill battle to raise our kids Jewish. He had trauma in his youth (abuse) that occurred at his shul for which he will not seek counseling. Am I right to keep pushing like this? I certainly want to be sensitive to my husband but feel like I'm repressing my own identity and the Jewish identity of our children.
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Question: What does Yom Haatzmaut mean to proudly identified American Jews? Is it purely an Israeli holiday which we celebrate vicariously as allies / co-religionists, or is the creation of Israel something to celebrate even if my personal values do not include ever living there?
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Question: Must one drink at Purim to fulfill the mitzvah? If so, how much? What about alcoholics in recovery? Where did this idea that you are to drink come from, anyway?
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Question: I'm 38 years old and would like to have children before it's too late. I just broke up with someone, and feel that my time might run out before I find Mr. Right. What is the Jewish view on single women using IVF to bring kids into the world? I think I would make a great mom, and I have a lot to give a child / children.
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Question: I am very disturbed by the wasteful behavior at my synagogue. Every Kiddush after shul uses tons and tons of disposable goods, throws out a lot of half eaten food and half consumed plastic bottles of soda. Isnít there a massive level of communal sin in this type of disposable behavior, particularly as our landfills overflow and our economy is so bad. How is this Jewish behavior?
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Question: Does Judaism have any thoughts on press issues such as the Wikileaks fiasco? In Jewish thought, when does freedom of the press and the public's right to know become a security threat? This issue has come up again recently with the arrest and trial of Julian Assange, and other leaks of other government documents from various sources. What does Judaism say about this?
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Question: Veteran's Day is an opportunity to honor our veterans. What does Judaism say about defending one's country and fighting for freedom?
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Question: What is Judaism's view on the current same-gender marriage debate? Is Judaism completely against homosexual relationships? Is it for only civil unions? Is it for complete marriage?
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