Q: Every night as I drive home headed to the highway and sit at a stoplight, I always encounter people holding cardboard signs asking for money. I never know if I should give or not. As a practicing Catholic, I am well aware of Jesus teaching to love thy neighbor and treat the least among us as we want to be treated but I also know that ...Read more
Q: Was there a female goddess inside the ark of the covenant? I don't know why I feel that there is a female part of God. I sincerely do need clarity on this. -- U
A: The only things inside the ark were the tablets of the law, the broken pieces of the first tablets that Moses smashed, a golden jar filled with the manna the people ate during ...Read more
Every year before Thanksgiving I honor a personal tradition of making a list of people and things for which and for whom I am thankful this year. The one twist to my list is that I never put on the list the people (family, friends) and things (home, food, job, nation) that always appear on the normal Thanksgiving ...Read more
Q: Dear Rabbi, I met your good friend Father Tom Hartman many years ago, as he was a very good friend and spiritual adviser to my brother-in-law's family. I share your respect for him, as he was indeed an impressive man. I am writing today regarding the Catholic Church's view and stand on suicide and its repercussions, if any. I assume you will ...Read more
I spend most of my time defending religions and the religious among us. I am happy to do this because I believe that religion generally gets a bad rap in certain circles. I believe that in a culture of selfishness, religion teaches generosity. In a culture of loneliness, religion teaches community and in a culture of cynicism, religion teaches ...Read more
Take my liver, please!
Q: Dear Rabbi Gellman, my name is (K) and I am writing to ask a favor of you. I am hoping you might consider writing a column on organ donation. I do not know how you feel about it, though as a faithful reader of your column I would think you might be in favor of it. I have been an organ donor for years and now I am in ...Read more
The cycle of holidays during the year includes three distinct categories:
Category I: Sectarian Holidays
Of course, the year is filled with totally and purely sectarian holidays like Christmas and Easter and Passover and Ramadan and last week's Diwali, which are only intended as celebrations for the believers of a...Read more
I have just concluded my Yom Kippur prayers and their litany of atonement, and buried amongst my confessions is my sin of not writing more about Hinduism and Jainism and Sikhism and Buddhism and the other so-called Eastern religions (after all they are only Eastern when viewed from the West). These faiths represent ...Read more
Q: One of my dear friends is dying from ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). We are a group of women who have grown up next door to each other, from toddlers to now senior citizens (YIKES). I am struggling (as we all are) with watching my friend slowly slipping away. She can no longer move or speak; we ...Read more
Q: I wholeheartedly agreed with your recent column about dying and hospice. My dilemma is why is it different for animals? Why do we get to play "God" and end their suffering just because they are dying, have lost bladder control and are ruining the carpet? I have always felt that nature should take its course, even if my rug is at risk. We just...Read more
Q: If one has a disease which, if left untreated, will result in death, is it a sin? Is it suicide to refuse treatment? What is your opinion about right-to-death issues (euthanasia) for terminal patients? (No name or address, as I do not want to be identified by any person)
A: What a person who is terminally ill (I am going to assume that the ...Read more
Even though I am retired, every Jewish New Year I preach a sermon at my synagogue, Temple Beth Torah, in Melville, N.Y., and I cut it down drastically and summarize it in my weekly column. This helps my readers (both of them) know what is on my mind during these Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom ...Read more
One of the most important spiritual byproducts of religious holidays is the charity they produce from religious folk who feel the special urge to share their blessings during the times of joy marked out for them in their sacred calendars. Muslims give zakat, charity, with great zeal and love during the sacred month of Ramadan. ...Read more
A 9/11 story for children by Rabbi Marc Gellman adapted from his book "And God Cried Too: A kid's book of healing and hope." (Harper Collins, 2002)
Angels like to sit on clouds and look down at the earth. In the daytime, they like looking at the clouds and the sun making sparkles on the sea. In the evening, they like looking at the lights. One ...Read more
On this recent Labor Day my thoughts turned to the spiritual nature of work. We all know the economic nature of work but there is something deeper and higher about work if we will just pause and consider it between the hot dogs and mattress sales.
The first spiritual element about our work that I would lift up this year is pride....Read more
My recent column on how some religions define membership by blood and other religions define membership by belief raised a great many questions. Many about who is Jewish?
Q: After reading today's God Squad (Sat. Aug. 24), I'm wondering if you would call the Blood Religions a race? Are Jewish people considered a race since they ...Read more
What am I?
Q: I am 54 years old, baptized Catholic at 20 years old. My Mom was Protestant and my father was Roman Catholic. I was never baptized as an infant and took classes with a priest at 19 and decided I wanted to become a Catholic. We just found out that my mother's family was really Jewish. What am I? I am a practicing Catholic with a ...Read more
In honor of the start of school, I want to renew my invitation to answer high school students' questions about God and the meaning of life. Last year I received a bunch of questions from Mercy High School, a Catholic high school in Middletown, Connecticut. They have a theology class in their junior year and have been kind enough to use my ...Read more