Birthday Maze

From: Anna Dear Rabbi, My friend and I have the same birthday. If our birthdays are the same, why are the Hebrew dates for our birthdays different? Her Hebrew birthday is after mine. Dear Anna, If you and your friend had literally been born on the same day, you would both celebrate your birthdays, secular[…]

Ancestral Merit

From: Bracha Dear Rabbi, Would you please explain to me the notion of ancestors’ merit benefitting or affecting a person? How does this work and in what ways is it expressed? Dear Bracha, The notion you refer to is called zechut avot in Hebrew, or the merit of one’s forebearers. It describes the general or[…]

New Teshuva

From: Netanel Dear Rabbi, I became a ba’al teshuva years ago. Since then, I did teshuva on all my sins, and haven’t done any serious new ones. So what should I be focusing on during this whole period of repentance spanning Elul, Rosh Hashana, the Ten Days of Teshuva and Yom Kippur? Dear Netanel, As[…]

Sandek

From: Marshall Dear Rabbi, I found your recent article on the Brit Milah ceremony very informative and interesting. There you mention the role of the “sandek”. Could you please elaborate on the meaning of that word, the source for the honor, who the honor is given to, and what is its significance? Dear Marshall, As[…]

Brit Milah Ceremony

From: Patricia Dear Rabbi, My daughter converted to Orthodox Judaism and married a Jewish man. They are expecting to have a boy, which of course will mean circumcising the baby according to Jewish practice. As gentiles, we would like to know what to expect about the ceremony in order to 1. Avoid as much as[…]

Summer Camp

From: Aviva Dear Rabbi, I have been appointed “activities director” of my shul’s summer camp. I’m supposed to come up with a theme for the camp which will fuse exciting activities with Jewish content. So, I was wondering if perhaps you had some ideas for a camp, or maybe just some approach one could use[…]

Conversion Controversy

From: Britney Dear Rabbi, I and many other non-religious Jews are very upset about the intolerant position of Orthodoxy against non-Orthodox conversions. Who are the rabbis to decide what conversion is kosher or not? And shouldn’t they be interested in maintaining the unity of the Jewish People rather than causing divisiveness? Anyway, many converts are[…]