General

Officiating at a Stone-Setting

Dear Rabbi Simon, Does a rabbi have to officiate at a stone-setting? My late brother was Reform, I am Orthodox. We had a Reform rabbi for his funeral which I did not like at all. I know an Orthodox rabbi cannot officiate at the cemetery and I was wondering if I can ask one of my family to do it. Thank…

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…

‘Tis the Season

Note: This Q&A is based on a recent text message exchange. Dear Rabbi Simon It is the time of year that I send out cards and gifts for work to buyers at businesses that I supply. I am never quite sure if I need to just write ‘seasons greetings’ which always feels wrong for those that I know celebrate Christmas.…

Yahrzeit Observance

Dear Rabbi, What is the significance of the anniversary of the death (known as yahrzeit, literally “year’s time”) of a parent? David Dear David TY for your Q, which touches on both philosophy and practice (albeit not strictly speaking in the realm of halakhah, Jewish Law). Philosophically, the concept of yahrzeit reflects our belief in the immortality of the soul,…

Yahrzeit Observance #2

Dear R Simon, Following on from last week’s Q&A on the significance of yahrzeit, is there a non-kabbalistically inclined take on this? For example, I recall hearing that kaddish only became associated with mourning in the medieval period. Also the idea that some say kaddish with their own psychological benefit in mind, as opposed to an elevation for the neshamah…

“Kvatter” – what do I need to know?

Hi Rabbi, I have been given the honour with Debbie to be Kvatter at a Bris tomorrow. What am I expected to do? And what does the honour entail? Thank you. Regards David Hi David, Kvatter (Kvatterin in the feminine) is the Yiddish term (probably from the old German meaning “in place of the father”) for the woman and man who…

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,
Tzippy
***
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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