Rabbi, I have a problem

Should I believe in a Jewish hell?

August 25, 2011

Question: I always thought that Jews don’t believe in hell but then someone told there is a place called Gehinom where wicked souls are sent. I find the whole idea of eternal punishment troubling. What should I believe?

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My wife has become too religious, how can I cope?

July 28, 2011

Question: My wife was always more observant than I am but she has become more religious. I don't mind taking our boys to shul on Shabbat, but now she wants me to stop taking them to football on Saturday afternoon too.

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Could a Jewish parent bury their dead child with their teddy?

June 16, 2011

Question: A non-Jewish friend of mine lost a three-year-old child and put his teddy bear in the coffin. Would a Jewish parent in a similar situation be able to do the same?

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I'm not Jewish, can I go to a Jewish school?

May 12, 2011

Question: Our synagogue has been approached by a non-Jewish family who want their child to go Shabbat services in order to qualify for entry to the local Jewish school. The school rules stipulate only that children have to attend services a certain number of times a year, not whether they are Jewish. What should we do?

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Our parents want a lavish simchah, we don't - what do we do?

March 31, 2011

Question: My fiancé and I are happy to have a small wedding. But my parents want a larger simchah to invite all their friends and relatives, and are willing to pay even if it means financially stretching themselves. How do we sort out an increasingly stressful situation?

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Should I give in to my in-laws' superstitions?

March 10, 2011

Question: My in-laws want us to tie a red ribbon on the cot of our new baby to protect from the evil eye. I am adamant that I'll have no truck with such superstitious mumbo-jumbo but my wife says it can't do any harm and I should give in just to humour her parents.

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Should I correct my elderly mother's eating habits?

January 27, 2011

Question: I often eat with my mother, who is in her late 80s, but she sometimes mixes up the meat and milk crockery. If her home is no longer reliably kosher, should I do something, or out of respect for a parent, say nothing?

Rabbi Naftali Brawer

Naftali Brawer is rabbi at Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue.

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What should I do about my screaming neighbours next door?

December 29, 2010

Question: We are regularly disturbed by the sound of our neighbours screaming at each other through the walls. Do you think we should have a word with their rabbi about what is going on or only intervene if there were any indication of physical abuse?

Rabbi Naftali Brawer

Naftali Brawer is rabbi at Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue.

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Are Chanucah donuts bad for obesity?

December 2, 2010

Question: It's hard to encourage healthy eating habits in your children when the foods we have for Chanucah — latkes and doughuts — seem just the opposite. Shouldn’t rabbis be doing more to combat the threat of obesity and do you have any ideas for an alternative festival food?

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Is it better to ask a male acquaintance to help me conceive or to use artificial insemination?

November 12, 2010

Question: I am a single woman in my late 30s. I despair of finding a suitable husband but I am anxious to have a child before it is too late. From a Jewish point of view, is it better to ask a male acquaintance to help me conceive or to use artificial insemination?

Rabbi Naftali Brawer

Naftali Brawer is rabbi at Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue.

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