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All Questions Answered by
Rabbi Noam Raucher

Question: I have a question about names. I am converting to Judaism, and my mikvah date is in just a few weeks. I have been exploring Judaism and learning for about 3 years. I have already picked a Hebrew name, which my rabbi at the time began to call me by. I found that I liked being called my Hebrew name, and began to use that name rather than my birth name/English name. I don't ask my parents or siblings to refer to me by my Hebrew name, though they know I use it. I want to legally change my first name to my Hebrew name. However, a friend suggested that maybe this would be disrespectful to my father, who named me for his deceased mother. My friend made the case that even though my English name is not a Jewish one, since my parents followed the Jewish tradition of naming for a deceased relative, I should not legally change my name. Is it disrespectful to my father to change my name? What is the Jewish perspective on name changes?
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Question: May a husband and wife with mutual consent (and assuming niddah, seed spilling, etc. are not an issue) use handcuffs or other restraints or toys to spice things up? [Admininstrator's Note: Related questions can be found on JVO at: http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=67 http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=486 http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=978 http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=1130]
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Question: This question is based upon a question that appeared in the "New York Times" magazine column "The Ethicist." The South Korean ferry tragedy evoked the maxim that the captain should go down with the ship. While, the captain has the duty to ensure the safety of the passengers and do everything in his power to save lives, should he be morally obligated to effectively commit suicide because he made a mistake?
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Question: Rabbi, I live in a small area without many Jews. When I am traveling for sports, is my only option for food a cold salad? Is there a priority for the laws of Kashrut? [JVO Kids: 4-6]
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Question: In the story of Purim, why was Esther willing to marry a non-Jewish king? What do we learn from this?
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Question: Can we (those of us who feel support for it) feel justified with our sense that Netanyahu was correct in his decision to finally cut privileges of jailed Hamas militants in response to the Palestinian Islamist movement's refusal to allow Red Cross visits to Gilad Shalit for over 5 years? What does Judaism say about this?
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Question: Why is sefirat haomer (the time of counting the omer - the period from the second night of Pesach/Passover to Shavuot/Feast of Weeks) considered a period of mourning?
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Question: Where does Hoshana Rabba come from? What are its traditions? Why do we celebrate it?
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Question: Should we look for or expect to see “Jewish values” in US presidential candidates?
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Question: Regarding immunizations for children who will be attending day (Jewish or parochial) schools: What is the Jewish view on whether this is obligatory or optional? What Jewish values or ethics are involved in this question?
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THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN ANSWERS PROVIDED HEREIN ARE THOSE OF THE INDIVIDUAL JVO PANEL MEMBERS, AND DO NOT
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