Forward Thinking

You're the Rabbi; What Would You Do?

By Susan Armitage

  • Print
  • Share Share
Thinkstock

When traditional Jewish law, or Halacha, hampers observance for congregants with disabilities, rabbis face tough questions. At a recent conference, Orthodox rabbinical students in Manhattan grappled with disability-related dilemmas.

What would you decide? Step into the rabbi’s shoes and let us know what you think in the comments section.

Question 1 Your impoverished and shrinking synagogue has 10 steps up to the entrance. You don’t know that you have any congregants who can’t climb steps, and you’ve already taken a pay cut of 10% this year after Hurricane Sandy damaged the building. You’re the rabbi; what do you do?

Click here to read “What Happens When Jewish Law Hampers the Disabled?”

Question 2 Yehezkel, 24, is a yeshiva graduate who served in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, where his jeep hit a mine and he suffered several injuries — including the amputation of his left arm, upon which he would normally put his tefillin. He asks to see a Jewish chaplain and asks, “Rabbi, I want to put tefillin on again. What do I do?” You’re the rabbi; what do you say?

Question 3 Your blind congregant Maureen brings her seeing eye dog into the synagogue. There is a stir in the men’s section and one of your congregants comes over to protest, saying, “An animal is muktzeh, rabbi. I understand that Maureen needs her service dog to get around, but does he have to come in where the aron kodesh is?”

The next day, you call Maureen to discuss how the synagogue can be of help to her. You intend to bring up the issue of the dog. Before you get to it, she says, “Rabbi, I’m so glad you asked me to come in. You know that I lost my vision later in life and I never learned Braille. Shabbat is a long, lonely day for me. Once in a while someone comes for a visit but it’s very hard. Is it permissible for a visually impaired person to use a computer or radio on Shabbat to help provide auditory stimuli so she does not become depressed?”

You’re the rabbi; what do you do?

These situations were adapted from cases presented at a conference for rabbinical students at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: you're the rabbi, orthodox rabbis, jewish laws, forward thinking, halacha

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.