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!
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • 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.