Ask the Rabbi

Rabbi Alex answers questions big and small--and goes on a few tangents--in this monthly interview podcast.

“Ask the Rabbi” is a monthly interview podcast produced here at Beth El.  Each episode features a question for the rabbi submitted by a listener. Nancy Langer hosts the show–her job is to present each month’s question and keep Rabbi Alex on topic, but the lively discussion often leads her to ask the rabbi more questions!

Episode Archive

Episode 1: Dinner with the (Inter)Faithful

Joanne asks, “Our son recently moved in with his non-Jewish girlfriend and has shared with us that he intends to ask her to marry him. I want to be supportive, but I am worried that he is rejecting his Jewish identity—or worse—that he will raise his children in another faith. He has invited us to dinner to meet his fiancée’s parents, but I am too upset to go. What should I do?"

Episode 2: Do Jews Talk to God?

Jordan asks, “I have noticed that many of my non-Jewish friends and family members talk to God. That is, they seem to be able to check in with God on a daily basis, almost like having a conversation. I was not raised to do this and frankly find it kind of strange. On another level, though, I wish I felt more connected spiritually, and I wonder if talking to God would help with this. Do Jews talk to God, and if so, how?"

Episode 3: December Dilemmas

This month we received several questions about Chanukah--how to celebrate it--how to spell it--how to negotiate it during a holiday season predominated by Christmas. It seems like the so-called December Dilemma has gotten even more complicated as the years go by. Instead of answering one of the questions we received, we're going to try to cover a few of them at once by asking a larger question about celebrating Chanukah during the increasingly manic and politically fraught Christmas season. Is there still a December Dilemma? And if so, what is it and how do we deal with it?

Episode 4: Courage and Love

Bonnie asks, "In light of society's general view of organized religion (Islam is evil . . . Jews are evil . . . Conservative Christians are evil . . .) and in the face of global terrorism acting out against religion, ethnicity, and freedom of choice, how should Jewish people approach their public display of 'Jewishness'? As I put up Chanukah decorations with my daughter the other day, I wondered if I unnecessarily placed a target on my household to a crazy person who doesn't like Jews? At the same time, I know that we should be proud of our heritage and who we are and that we shouldn't cower in the face of danger. Are we more scared now? (maybe it's just me?) How do we balance our true self while trying to be protective and safe in today's society?"

Episode 5: About Gay Marriage

Shelley writes, “My friends Anne and Deborah are getting married in the spring. They're both Jewish, their families are open and accepting, and after the recent court rulings they will not have trouble getting a state-issued marriage license. They are having some trouble planning the ceremony, though. Anne really wants to have a Jewish wedding, but Deb thinks a rabbi will not agree to do it, and since they do not currently belong to a synagogue they haven’t spoken to a rabbi and are kind of at an impasse about it. What can you tell them about the Jewish views on homosexuality? Would you perform a gay marriage? Why or why not?”

Donate to a Fund

Honor or Remember a Loved One with a Donation!

Recent blog posts

On Grief

The following is the text of Rabbi Amy’s 2018 Yom Kippur sermon: A few months ago, I was out for dinner with my book club.  At the end of the meal, along with the check, the waitress gave us a handful of wrapped sesame candies.  One of my friends said with a wistful smile, I…

Read More
Read more

Jenna’s Squad Gets Crafty

Jenna’s Squad got crafty this month!  First they decorated triangle-shaped Rice Krispie Treats for a gluten-free mishloach manot treat (see directions below.)  Then they decorated masks with feathers and gems.   This 7th grade group of girls is all ready for Purim! Ingredients Homemade Rice Krispie Treats cut into triangles Lollipop sticks 15 oz bar of…

Read More
Read more

Spiegel Religious School Update

Our kids have been busy participating in many fun programs and events! On February 4, our Chaverim students participated in the annual World Wide Wrap. Synagogues from all over the world take part in this one-time-a-year-event, held on Super Bowl Sunday. Rabbi Alex taught students and parents how to put on tefillin, and students had…

Read More
Read more