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All Questions Answered by
Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky

Question: The mother of my friend died, but donated her body to science. The university supposes to keep the body for 3 years. My friend would like to recite Kaddish for his mother even she was not buried. Is it permitted in this case, what is his status?
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Question: My mother was Jewish (I didn't know her) my father gentile. Does that make me Jewish? Also what does that make my son and daughters?
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Question: We have made decision not to attend weddings between Jew and non-Jew as a statement that we do not approve of intermarriage. But now that our Jewish nephew has married a non-Jew, we felt that we should give him a wedding gift since it was after the fact. We felt that not attending the wedding was enough of a statement. I know that it sounds illogical, but we didn't want our family to think that we are mean people, but rather we were only making a statement before the fact and would not change the situation. Were we wrong in giving a wedding gift after the fact in this situation?
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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: Sometimes my girlfriend and I discuss the possibility of having sex in public places, I am open to doing this but would like to get someone's thoughts. We do not intend to do it literally in front of people, we mean doing it in a dark corner of a night club or something where people can't really see but we are still in the public.
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Question: What is contemporary Jewish thought or interpretation of the Stand Your Ground law? [Administrators note: As in the Florida law that grants the right to use a gun without retreating if there is a "reasonable" fear for your own life - note the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman incident and the court case that followed]
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Question: Can Jews of one ethnicity adopt holidays and customs of another? For example, some Ethiopian Jews celebrate “Chag HaSigd” around Sukkot, and Moroccan Jews celebrate “Mimouna” after Pesach. Is there anything wrong with an Ashkenazi Jew taking on these celebrations?
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Question: Is Tu B'Shvat of any significance outside of the land of Israel, and if so, what is that significance?
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Question: Is it “wrong” if I have no desire to live in Israel? I like my friends, family, community, job, etc. where I am now. I support Israeli causes, but I have absolutely no desire to pick up and live there
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Question: I understand that Judaism takes a relatively more lenient position on abortion than do other religions. What is the position on "embryo reduction" - selectively aborting one or more so that others have a better chance of survival?
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Question: I have heard that gossip is considered the same type of sin as murder in the Jewish religion. Could you clarify the reasons for this?
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Question: How can we truly, practically implement “v’ahavta l’reacha kamocha” (you shall love your fellows as yourself) into our everyday life? It’s one of Judaism’s 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: Do you think we have we lost sight of the “original” tragedy of Tisha B’Av – the destruction of the Temple – in all of the more “modern” tragedies? Or is it supposed to be this way, since 9 Av is our national day of mourning, perhaps it’s natural that the tragedies of long ago are mourned less and less as time goes on.
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Question: What is the position of Judaism on the reaction to Osama Bin Laden's death? It's so complicated, a murder for justice. I'm not sure if it is correct to be glad or not about it. Is it really justice? Is there justification for this in or beyond Jewish values?
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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: A colleague (actually by now a friend) slightly below me on the company totem pole is about to get really unfairly screwed over (excuse my language) by another colleague, his direct boss. I know about it, but I am not supposed to know about it. I could say something, but I could easily get in trouble because it will be obvious it was me. However, if I do, he may be able to preempt the worst of it. Are there any Jewish ethics to guide me here?
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Question: The rules on what constitutes Passover chametz vary according to Ashkenazic and Sephardic traditions. Since we are all Jews, what really prevents those of Ashkenazi descent from eating foods such as rice or legumes during Passover? [What is the basis for following the tradition, custom, or minhag that one was brought up in, and when, if ever, may one properly change it?]
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Question: Is there an obligation for every Jew to visit Israel (at least once, if not annually....), particularly now that it is no longer an arduous journey? If not - why not???
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Question: Why are there no "kashrut" standards imposed on products that are good vs bad for the environment? Shouldn't aluminum pans and non-bio-degradable plasticware be "treif"?
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Question: Given the serious commandment of kibud av' v'em (honoring father and mother), ought a person attend the interfaith wedding of his or her parent, even if they don't "agree" with intermarriage per se?
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Question: When does reproof cross the line into criticism - regarding diaspora Jews and Israel in particular?
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Question: Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook, made a very public $100 million donation to the Newark, N.J., school system. What would the rabbis say about making such a notable gift? Can it be seen as a way to entice other philanthropists to follow in his footsteps? Should donations be made publicly, or is this counter to Jewish values?
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Question: Can a Jew be buried with a tattoo or body piercing? How has this changed over time, if it has, and what is the reason behind the prohibition?
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Question: Is there a Jewish-specific perspective to the recent oil spill in the gulf? In general, what is the Jewish view on the importance of our environment? Are we obligated to respond - either financially, socially, or otherwise - in a manner different than non-Jews?
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Question: Sustainability and environmental protection are becoming popular discussions these days and I want to play my part in the movement. Is there anything that Judaism forbids me to do to help the environment?
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