Rabbi, I have a problem

Should I invite my estranged grandmother to my wedding?

January 28, 2010

Question: I haven’t seen my grandmother for years. The man she married, after divorcing my grandfather, sexually abused me when I was young. I am getting married and do not want to invite her to my wedding but, if she turned up uninvited, I wouldn’t want to create a scene by having to remove her. What should I do?

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In hard times, which charities should we give preference to?

December 23, 2009

Question: We are struggling to make ends meet. Is it better to try to pay our shul fees and contributions to our children’s school for Jewish studies in full even if it means stopping our other charity donations, or reduce all of them by an equal amount?

Rabbi Naftali Brawer

Naftali Brawer is rabbi at Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue.

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Can my hungry baby eat meat with milk?

November 26, 2009

Question: I have a young baby of seven months and I have just started to wean. Like a good Jewish girl, she eats her chicken with gusto but I have been told that to ensure she continues to grow, she needs milk with every meal. So I am permitted to mix meat with milk?

Rabbi Naftali Brawer

Naftali Brawer is rabbi at Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue.

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Can I marry the man I promised my late husband I wouldn’t?

October 28, 2009

Question: My late husband was always wary of a man whom he thought was interested in me. When he was dying, he made me promise not to marry him and I agreed. Two years later we have become very friendly. Am I still bound by my promise?

Rabbi Naftali Brawer

Naftali Brawer is rabbi at Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue.

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If you had to choose, would it be better to attend Kol Nidre or Ne'ilah on Yom Kippur?

September 24, 2009

Question: I am 24, live at home and I’d rather go to work on Yom Kippur. But I have agreed to come to shul for a couple of hours in order not to upset my parents. Which part of the prayers would it be better to go to — Kol Nidre or the concluding service the following evening?

Rabbi Naftali Brawer

Naftali Brawer is rabbi at Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue.

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How truthful do I have to be when giving a job reference?

August 20, 2009

Question: A friend of mine asked me to be a referee for a job. He is desperately in need of work at this time but I know something that, if I were his prospective employer, would make me have reservations. Should I simply gloss over this and give him a glowing reference?

Rabbi Naftali Brawer

Naftali Brawer is rabbi at Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue.

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Can I let my sick parent fade away?

July 30, 2009

Question: A relative of mine whose mother has dementia was advised by a doctor to let her fade away on a saline drip rather than receive medical treatment. Does respect for parents require us to seek help to keep them alive in these circumstances — or let them go?

Rabbi Naftali Brawer

Naftali Brawer is rabbi at Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue.

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Tax evasion through legal loopholes. Is it ethical?

June 17, 2009

Question: A relative of mine whose mother has dementia was advised by a doctor to let her fade away on a saline drip rather than receive medical treatment. Does respect for parents require us to seek help to keep them alive in these circumstances — or let them go?

Rabbi Naftali Brawer

Naftali Brawer is rabbi at Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue.

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How can I be Jewish if I don't believe in God?

May 21, 2009

Question: I was brought up Jewish, I am a Zionist, and I am proud to feel Jewish. However, I might not believe in God, I cringe at many practices undertaken by our (and any) religion, I am not kosher and I struggle to motivate myself to go to synagogue. Am I, and how can I, be Jewish?

Rabbi Naftali Brawer

Naftali Brawer is rabbi at Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue.

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Our late mother pretended to be Jewish. What do we do now?

April 23, 2009

Question: Our mother was married in an Orthodox synagogue in the UK and buried next to my father in a Jewish cemetery. However, we discovered that she was not in fact Jewish - she only pretended to be - and never converted. What should we put on her headstone and how does this affect my siblings’ and my Jewish status?

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