Jewish Life

Am I Jewish? (Establishing Jewish Lineage)

Dear Rabbi Simon, I am trying to prove my maternal Jewish connection. I have found my great grandmother’s grave in a Jewish cemetery written in Hebrew, would this suffice if I could establish a link between me and her or would I need more proof? Thank you. Dominic Dear Dominic, Thank you for your question. If you can establish your…

COVID-Era Sheva Berachot

Dear Rabbi Simon, We are making a sheva berakhot in the garden this evening – if it does not rain. There are three separate tables that will not come near each other. But  I feel that the cup of wine which is passed around to 7 different people for the Blessings at the end is a weak link, since a)…

A Torah Study Question

Dear Rabbi Simon, On a few occasions, my parents have called me as I’m about to learn Torah with my study partner (eg via Zoom). My parents are in a distant time zone so not so easy to call them back, but I do speak to them daily. I feel they need some chizuk (encouragement) in these tough times. Usually…

Remote Amen

Hi Rabbi Ben Gedalya kindly patched me this morning live to hear the Torah reading at Shacharis. Is it OK to answer amen to the birchot ha-Torah etc over the phone as it is in real time or is this not appropriate due to not being physically present? Thanks Shimon Dear Shimon TY for your interesting question. There are different…

Urban Orchard

Dear Rabbi Simon, I would like to plant a fruit tree (or maybe more than one) in my garden (good for the environment, good for the soul). WRT consuming the fruit, I noticed in last week’s Torah reading the prohibition of orlah (Lev. 19:23), ie fruit produced in the first 3 years of a tree’s growth, which I understand applies…

Transgender Medication

Dear Rabbi Simon As a pharmacist I am seeing more and more prescriptions for ‘transgender’ medication or medication for these operations. Is it halakhically a problem for me to dispense/deal with such medications? I’m guessing it’s not a problem because our customers are generally not Jewish (I work in London, not Tel Aviv) but just want to be sure it’s…

Beracha for Gluten-Free Matza

Dear Rabbi Simon I have a box of kosher for Passover Manischewitz gluten free matzo style squares at home. On the box, it says it is not a replacement for seder matzo. It was one of the post-Pesach bargains I picked up this year. Its listed ingredients are potato flour, potato starch, potato flakes, tapioca starch, palm oil, vinegar, egg…

Ma’aser Questions

Dear Rabbi Simon I hope you are well. I have a couple of ma’aser question if you don’t mind. I recently donated to the Hendon Evening Beis’ charity campaign and I just wanted to check that this donation would be included as ma’aser money? Also, is one able to give a donation from a salary that one has not been paid yet? As…

Questions & Answers
this week

Questions and Answers

Ask the Rabbi: Quinoa on Pesach
Dear Rabbi Simon,
Where do you stand on quinoa (and the kitniyot ban) for Pesach?
Many thanks,
Dear Tzippy,
In line with other American authorities, I am in favour of quinoa. Although I reject completely the voices (mostly from Israel) seeking to abolish the ban on kitniyot entirely, IMO we do not need to include in the prohibition pseudo-grains that were unknown in the Old World until modern times. Best to buy with a Pesach hechsher though, to be free of any possible wheat contamination.
Rabbi Rashi Simon
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