Ask the Rabbi: 30/05/14

Ask the Rabbi: 30/05/14

Rabbi Schochet
Rabbi Schochet

This week Rabbi Schochet tackles intermarriage, feeling like an ‘old maid’ and the burning of the Star of David in THAT video. 

Read Rabbi Schochet’s blog at or follow him on Twitter @RabbiYYS.

  • So upset over son’s fiancé

Dear Rabbi

My son has dated a woman for a year and they recently announced their engagement. I was thrilled, until discovering her father is Jewish, but her mother is not. I’m devastated. I’m not observant, but the one no-go area for me is marrying out. My husband says she can convert, but I doubt that would happen. What’s your view?


Dear Regina

For years I’ve been saying that when children start to date and bring the boy/girl home to “meet the parents”, questions need to be asked to determine the Jewish status.

It doesn’t have to be forthright. A subtle: “Where are your family members?” could also prove informative and any red flags would require exploring the matter further before the relationship progresses.

But the problem doesn’t end there. I have dealt with cases where the boy/girlfriend was presumed Jewish because the family were members of Reform, and only after love blossomed and it was “too late” it was determined the mother or maternal grandmother underwent a Reform conversion, much to the upset of the traditional Jewish parents for whom halachic Jewish status is important – as it should be.

This also meant no opportunity for an Orthodox wedding. In some instances, it impacted on the Jewish status of the child, thus resulting in the couple veering away from their family synagogue. As controversial as this sounds, the question and follow-up research is important so people don’t end up with a situation like the clearly upsetting one you are now dealing with.

To add insult to injury, your son’s girlfriend has no real interest in Judaism, otherwise she would have expressed it. If she were to do it now, it would only be for the sake of marriage and not out of real conviction, which is what conversion necessitates.

The best you could do at this point is to have a word with your son and explain the predicament. I know love is blind, but if you persist and express to him your real concerns – and, more importantly – put on a united front with your husband, then you might yet be able to open his eyes and set him straight. Good luck!

  • Why not count after a shiva?

Dear Rabbi

Why is the Omer not counted at the end of an evening shiva service? I understand mourners count without a blessing until after the funeral, but surely the solemn nature of counting the Omer is not inappropriate for a shiva house?


Dear Eleanor

Your question presupposes counting the Omer is a solemn service. It is not. The Omer count is a biblical mitzvah (although, according to most, in the absence of the Temple and the associated sacrifice, it’s only a rabbinic obligation) and is disconnected from the solemnity of these days related to the passing of Rabbi Akiva’s students.

Nevertheless, the only reason we would not count during the evening service in a shiva house is because the evening service is usually conducted at 8pm – too early to count the Omer, which must take place after nightfall.

  • Seen as an ‘old maid’ at just 24!

Dear Rabbi

I’m a 24-year-old woman from a very religious community in Manchester. I like to think I’m attractive and outgoing. People don’t understand why I’m not yet married. In my circle I’m already considered an old maid.

But I look at divorce rates – even in religious circles – and it scares me. I don’t want to be a single mum with two kids 10 years down the line. More religious singles are also starting to think like me.


Dear Penina

It is true, more young adults are starting to think like you and it’s an indictment on society as a whole that people are delaying marriage because of the breakdown of the family. Recently, I learnt there is an average of 10 divorces a month in the Manchester Jewish community – a devastating statistic. But your awareness and conscientiousness should not prevent you from seeking your special guy – especially one who shares your concerns. Then, together, make sure to always keep working at it through life.

  • Burning issue is so despicable

Dear Rabbi

What’s your view on the Magen David burning in Stamford Hill during Lag B’Omer?


Dear Justin

In a word: “Despicable.”

Watching the video sent chills down me – I found it reminiscent of what our worst enemies do, whether back in the days of the Holocaust or in present-day Gaza. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, be it religious or political.

But to denigrate, especially like that, is nothing short of religious bigotry – making those responsible no better than the radicals and zealots of other faiths.

It also gives Judaism as a whole – and Orthodoxy in particular – a bad name. In short, it is a chillul Hashem (desecration of God and Judaism) through and through.

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