Rabbi, I have a problem

Can we put a limerick on our father's tombstone?

June 9, 2014

Question: When we wanted to erect a headstone for our father, we wanted to include a favourite limerick of his. It was humorous but certainly not rude. However, the burial society told us it would be inappropriate - were they being over-officious?


Is there an acceptable alternative to circumcision?

May 4, 2014

Question: My niece did not want her son circumcised and instead had a “simchat brit” ceremony performed by a Progressive rabbi. But my husband was outraged and boycotted the occasion. Now my niece will not speak to him. Was he right to take such a stand?


Can we scatter our father's ashes in our garden?

March 31, 2014

Question: My father has asked to be cremated when he dies. My two sisters and I each want to have his ashes scattered in our gardens, so we are thinking of dividing his ashes between the three of us.


Should we return our wedding presents if we divorce?

March 2, 2014

Question: I was having doubts about my fiancé before our wedding and should have pulled out but I thought it would be less disruptive if we went through with it. However, we agreed to divorce only three months afterwards. Should we return the presents?


Should there be a secular conversion process?

February 1, 2014

Question: My son is going out with a nice non-Jewish girl who is interested in Jewish culture but won’t consider conversion as she is not religious. I read a proposal somewhere that there ought to be a “secular” way of joining the Jewish people. Do you think this is a good idea?


Should I put my mother-in-law in a home?

By Simon Rocker, December 27, 2013

Question: My husband wants his frail mother to come and live with us. But she is a cantakerous old woman who I believe will be a disruptive presence in our house. I know we’re supposed to respect our elders but for the good of our family, I believe that she should go into a home. What should I do?


Should I split my estate equally between my children?

December 1, 2013

Question: I am an elderly widow with children. I have been thinking of revising my will to give a larger share to one child who has done more to care for me and is less well-off than her siblings. But I am worried this could lead to resentment in the family after my death. What should I do?


What can I do if I am haunted by a dybbuk?

October 6, 2013

Question: A few weeks ago I started being pursued by an angry dybbuk who whispers curses at me and sometimes manifests itself as a menacing grey form. Please tell me how I can get rid of it. Is there anyone who knows how to perform an exorcism?


What kind of message does the story of the binding of Isaac send?

September 4, 2013

Question: I have always been troubled by the story of the binding of Isaac, which we read on Rosh Hashanah. Its moral seems to be that we must be prepared to put obedience to God’s will above reason and compassion. What kind of message can it have for Jews today?


Is it more important for a chazan to have a good voice than be observant?

By Simon Rocker, August 4, 2013

Question: Our synagogue services are often led by one of our most respected members, but he no longer has much of a voice. Some of us would prefer someone who can sing better, even if he is less observant. Are we right to want a change?