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All Questions Answered by
Rabbi Abe Friedman

Question: 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?
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Question: I have a question regarding my status as a Jew and whether it is proper to call myself one. My father is Jewish, my mother is not. I had a bris milah performed by a rabbi shortly after I was born, but was then raised Catholic by my mother. I always identified with being a Jew and when people ask I answer affirmatively. I have made aliyah to Israel and am studying in ulpan if that makes any difference. If I am not considered Jewish, I plan to undergo a recognized conversion. What is involved in that?
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Question: How do Jewish values apply to this question, which appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Ethicist column. I am a single woman in my mid-20s. I recently learned from my dear friend that she has developed a longtime pattern of cheating on her husband of five years. I understand cheating happens for various reasons - but if I remain friends with her, am I condoning her ongoing behavior? If I am "anti-compulsive-cheating," do I therefore have to be "anti-her?" I value many aspects of our friendship, but don't see her (or my) views on philandering ever changing. What is the Jewish response to this?
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Question: I am an egalitarian male. I have a mezuzah and pair of tefillin written by a female scribe, who is perfectly kosher within my beliefs, but obviously wouldn't be kosher in Orthodox beliefs. When I get the mezuzah and tefillin checked, do I have an ethical obligation to disclose the fact they were written by a woman to the (presumably) male scribe doing the checking?
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Question: When choosing between two food types, one of which is healthier than the other, does Judaism have anything to say about which to choose? For example, I recently read a study (www.sciencemag.org) that wild salmon is much healthier and contains far less toxic organic contaminants than farmed salmon. As such, would it be a mitzvah to buy the wild salmon and not the farmed salmon? Further, how would it be treated (prohibited permitted, discouraged, or not addressed) in Jewish law to buy the farmed one? Thank you!
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Question: 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.]
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