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All Questions Answered by
Rabbi Carl Perkins

Question: I sing in a choir and we sometimes have performances in churches. People who don't know me assume then that I am Christian (without me doing anything obviously Christian). Do I need to correct their mistake and tell them that I am Jewish?
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Question: What is the Jewish view on bone marrow transplants? What is the opinion on being a Jewish organ donor if Jews are supposed to be buried within 24 hours of death? [JVO Kids: 7]
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Question: How does completing a service project have anything to do with B'Tzelem Elohim? [JVO Kids: 4-6]
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Question: If ones daughters married non-Jews, can their children and spouses attend the Pesach seder according to Jewish law and custom? [Administrator's note: See http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=384 for a similar question answered on JVO earlier.]
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Question: What should you do when your personal values are in conflict with a certain ethic at work? What does Judaism say about this?
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Question: If a Jewish person who lays Tefillin develops dementia and begins to forget things is it okay for someone to help that person with the correct procedure and prayers for putting it on?
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Question: I'm making the transition into observant Judaism. I've already incorporated many different aspects of Jewish life and practice in my own. The one thing that is most difficult for me is finding kosher meats in my area, specially lamb and red meat, which are meats I love to eat from time to time. Can I purchase organic meats instead, which are more accessible in my area and in this way observe Kashrut? Thanks!
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Question: Is the true Jewish ideal to sit and learn Torah all day? What about when it's at the expense of earning a living and, in Israel at least, defending your country? When did the "kollel life" become the norm and not the exception? Didn't our ancestors, even from the time of the Bible, fight battles and hold down jobs?
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Question: 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?
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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: 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: Why do [most] synagogues around the world position the Torah ark so that the congregants face in the direction of Jerusalem? What is the source for the spiritual concept that prayers do not ascend directly to heaven but rather go first to the Jerusalem Temple and from there upwards [if this is the concept]?
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Question: Is it normal or acceptable to be confused about the truth of God this day and age? Can one have doubts or be uncertain and still be a "good Jew?"
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Question: Do Jews believe in adoption? If so, if the child is raised a Jew, including having a bar mitzvah, will the child need to undergo Jewish conversion as an adult since he does not know if the birth mother was a Jew?
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Question: Why do women cover their eyes when lighting the Shabbat candles?
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Question: I sometimes find it difficult to contain my emotions in front of my child when I feel that certain teacher’s methods for teaching are damaging my child’s “self esteem”. I don’t want to teach my child that it is okay to speak disrespectfully about their teacher; at the same time I don’t want my child to think that improper actions by a teacher are acceptable. Any tips?
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Question: My girlfriend believes that she is Jewish, but actually only her father was Jewish. She did not commit yet to undergo conversion. Meanwhile, I try to convince her that she needs to go to mikvah every month, but my friend told me that there is no point in her going to mikvah until she is fully Jewish. Please advise. Thank you.
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Question: Naama Shafir, an Orthodox Jew, has recently gained stardom by scoring 40 points to lead the University of Toledo to victory in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament championship, a game that took place on Shabbat. She was crowned the basketball tournament’s MVP. After the game, she walked about two miles home, and did not take part in any interviews. Would it be fair to say that Naama is a great role model to all girls in general, because she is pursuing her dreams, while holding steadfast to her Jewish values and commitment to religion? Or is there a problem with her actions because she apparently violated the Sabbath restrictions by playing? How should we view what she did?
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Question: Does Jewish law mandate universal health care?
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Question: Can a woman initiate a Jewish divorce if a husband refuses sexual relations?
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Question: What is the Jewish view on celebrating "saint or spirit based" days like Halloween or Valentines Day? By now they are more commercial than pagan. Is there a problem in either Jewish law or custom?
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Question: Is there any Jewish Law-derived imperative for the private corporate owners of the recently discovered natural gas find offshore Israel to share their profits with the State to fund social programming? I know there is a controversy about this in Israel. Any solution in Jewish Law?
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Question: A Jewish co-worker often uses the word “goy.” It really irks me. Is it truly Jewish to think of everyone else (non-Jewish) as an “other”? Many classical Jewish texts I’ve read seem to take this view. How can this coexist with the modern concept of plurality, and how can these texts be relevant today if they seem so offensive to the modern ear?
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Question: What is the Jewish view on selling one's body parts for money? Selling organs in the U.S. is illegal and would therefore fall under the prohibition of dina d'malchuta dina, but what about selling eggs, sperm, hair, or being a maternal surrogate when primarily motivated by cash rather than to do a mitzvah?
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Question: Is there a Supreme Being that created man or did man create a Supreme Being because of a need not to be alone in the Universe?
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Question: Is it preferred for an intermarried family, in which there is a celebration of both Jewish and Christian traditions, both to light a Chanukah menorah and to decorate a Christmas tree in their home, or should they just have the Christmas tree? In particular, what is preferred when the circumstances involve the teaching of their children about Jewish tradition? What is best way for them to proceed?
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Question: I get very frustrated when members of my Jewish community say they don't have time to be involved in the Federation or synagogue or other organizations because they're too busy with their job and/or family. We're all busy with the personal aspects of our lives, but some of us make time to be leaders in the Jewish community because we want to see it flourish. What is reasonable to expect from people in the Jewish community in terms of volunteering their time and resources?
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Question: Can an observant Jew be a freemason?
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Question: I just found out there is medicine made from pigs, like insulin and some others. Is this kosher, coming from a pig and being medicine and not food? And on the other hand, there are also organ transplant components made from parts of a pig (like skin, and some internal organs). Is this kosher? The pig is not being eaten, it is just the source of the transplant component. If we can use human transplant components (which certainly aren't kosher to eat!), can we use pig transplant components? Thanks!
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Question: If a person has a terminal illness what does Judaism say about that person ending their own life?
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Question: Shalom. How do you in Judaism 'Honor your Father and Mother' when you disagree, argue, debate, and disagree some more, and they don't respect you? Isn't it better to agree to disagree and stay distant, than to be in their presence and be disrespectful? Like David to Saul? Jeroboam to Solomon? [sic]
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Question: Is masturbation a 'sin' according to Jewish law? I am not married, and find it very hard not to engage in this behavior. How would you suggest a single man abstain from masturbating, if it is not permitted?
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Question: What is the best advice you can give to a victim of domestic violence, whether a spouse, parent, child, boyfriend, girlfriend?
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