Rabbi, I have a problem

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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Can't rabbis act to lower Pesach prices?

March 26, 2009

Question: Pesach is expensive enough as it is, but in these economically difficult times, many families will be finding it harder to pay their bills. Do products like coffee really need a kosher-for-Pesach label and can’t rabbis do something to make the festival more affordable?

Rabbi Naftali Brawer

Naftali Brawer is rabbi at Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue.

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Do synagogues makes life uncomfortable for single people?

February 26, 2009

Question: I am a single man in my early 40s and, as I get older, I am becoming more conscious that Judaism is a family-centred religion. My immediate family do not celebrate festivals. For many years I have gone to a synagogue on my own but I am finding the prospect is less alluring as the years go by. What can you suggest?

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Can one sit shivah for a dear friend that happens to be an animal?

January 29, 2009

Question: Can one sit shivah for a dear friend that happens to be an animal? My old horse has died at the age of 29. He was a faithful companion who won me many rosettes in shows, and I want to know how I can mark his passing.

Rabbi Naftali Brawer

Naftali Brawer is rabbi at Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue.

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Should we leave out the sixth verse of Ma’oz Tzur?

December 23, 2008

Question: Recent editions of the Singer’s Siddur have restored the sixth verse of Ma’oz Tzur, which prays for the enemy to be thrust into ‘the darkness of death’. I teach in a cheder and I find it hard to accept that this is suitable to be sung by adults, never mind children. Should we leave it out?

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Should a charity accept donations from someone with a stake in internet porn?

November 20, 2008

Question: I am a trustee of a charity and we are all worried about the impact of the current financial crisis. We were recently offered a significant gift for a particular project but we discovered that the prospective donor has a large stake in internet porn. Should we take it?

Rabbi Naftali Brawer

Naftali Brawer is rabbi at Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue.

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