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Dear Rachel Week by Week

My Friend Committed Suicide
I just found out that someone I was quite close with committed suicide. I am so shocked and overwhelmed by the news, but I am also feeling incredibly guilty...
Insecure at Work
I am constantly feeling undervalued and unappreciated at my job. I have a great position with a lot of freedom, which intellectually would seem to suggest that they are happy with me and my work. Yet continuously I feel that I am being marginalized and unnecessary...
Husband Won't Say
While I know that my husband loves me, I still feel the need to hear it and it hurts me that he can’t say it, even when it is so important to me. Am I making a big deal out of nothing?
Difficult Passover Guests
This year, for the first time, we are hosting the family Passover Seder. We were very excited to finally be able to have everyone in our home, until we found out that distant cousins, who we find very offensive, plan on coming . . .
Cleaning for Passover
I am a student rooming in an apartment with another Jewish girl. Though neither of us is religious, I decided that I'd really like to be kosher for Passover this year, but my roommate is up in arms about having to do an intense cleaning...
Inappropriate Purim Costumes
I was so excited when my teenage daughter told me she wanted to attend a Purim party. Being that she does not seem so interested in Judaism, I thought this was such a positive step, until I saw what she plans on wearing for her costume . . .
Sister Has Become Religious
I am Jewish but was not really raised with any religious observance. Last year my sister went to Israel for a year abroad in college. The person who has returned is someone I don't even recognize. She calls herself a "baal tshuva"...If she is a religious Jew, will she be able to stay close with me?
Untalented
This might sound stupid, but I feel like there is nothing that I am good at. I have friends that are great writers, or singers or cooks, yet I can't think of anything that I can do that is unique...

Embarrassing Guest
There is a woman who, although good-hearted, is quite aggressive in the way she speaks to people and has offended friends of mine in the past by telling them how she thinks they should live their lives. I'm making an event in the near future...
Unemployed Husband
About nine months ago, my husband lost his job. I then started working full time and my husband has taken over some of my previous duties (car pool, dinner prep etc.). Unfortunately, he is becoming more and more angry over it, and extremely resentful...
Is Giving Chanukah Presents a Non-Jewish Custom?
I am having a very hard time, as the holidays approach, with teaching my children the beauty of Chanukah and not having them see it as a Jewish x‑mas. I know it has become somewhat of a tradition to give children gifts during Chanukah, but is this really a Jewish custom?
Fertility Problems & Family Events
Unfortunately, my oldest daughter does not have any children though they are still trying and praying. Lately though, she and her husband have stopped attending family events. I understand that it is difficult for her to be around other children...but her siblings are starting to resent her...
Friend's Child is Terrorizing Mine
A good friend of mine invited us over for dinner and when I told my daughter we were going there, she started to cry and said this woman's daughter is the meanest girl in the school. I am not sure if I should tell her mother or not?
Halloween Tradition?
My husband keeps telling me that Halloween is American tradition and that there is nothing wrong with our six-year-old trick or treating, but something just doesn’t feel right. I think whole holiday is weird and I don’t want my child dressed up as a skeleton and going to strangers' homes? Am I overreacting?
Sudden Mood Swings
The man I am thinking of marrying can be very sweet and kind. But just when we are getting along well, he suddenly changes...
Remarrying with Teenage Children?
I am a 50-year-old man, and I have been widowed for the last two years. I would like to start dating again, but my daughters, now ages 14 and 16, feel very differently . . .
School Transitions
My oldest daughter just began first grade and is having a really hard time. She cries all the way to school and when I drop her off. It is heartbreaking. On top of that, my kindergartner has begun to act out on the way to school also...
Waiting for an Apology
I had a falling out with a close friend and feel I wasn’t at fault. I’ve been waiting for her to apologize, but she hasn’t. Finally, I am ready to forgive her, but I don’t even have that opportunity. I just want to put this situation behind me . . .
Fallen Out of Love
I am married to a good and kind man, though I simply no longer feel the kind of love I should feel toward him. Is there anything you can do when you have fallen out of love?
Second Generation Holocaust Survivor
I am a second generation Holocaust survivor with parents who both went through Auschwitz. While my parents both clearly had a relationship with G‑d, they were not observant and were in too much pain to ever discuss what Judaism meant to them...
Missing My Independence
I am an only child, and while my parents are very loving, they were always too involved in my life. They micromanaged almost every aspect, and I wound up feeling like I couldn't do anything without them...
First Trimester Blues
I’m in my 1st trimester of pregnancy and while I’m grateful to be pregnant, I’ve been feeling so lousy and am hardly coping with my life. My husband has been supportive and kind, but I sense that he is beginning to lose patience...
My Husband Does Not Want a Kosher Kitchen
...We have been happy together for the last two decades. Over the past few years I have taken an interest in a more traditional Jewish lifestyle. My husband, on the other hand, couldn’t be less interested...
Eating Disorders
The pressure of dieting and physical appearance is something that my eight-year-old daughter is already aware of! Occasionally she will pat her round little belly and ask me if I think that she is fat. She is a little chubbier than some of her friends, but certainly nothing unhealthy or out of the ordinary. Should I put her on a diet?
I Am Not Attracted to My Date
I was just set up on a date with a wonderful young woman. I really enjoyed her company and spending time together. However, I just wasn’t attracted to her . . .
Unwanted Anniversary Gift
My husband bought me a necklace for our 1st anniversary, and while I appreciate the gift very much, I don’t really like the necklace...
Looking for Mr. Perfect
How do I know when I have found “the one?” I’m worried that I keep passing on great guys because there were no fireworks like I expected when we met. And I am scared that while I wait for Mr. Perfect, I am letting go of Mr. Almost Perfect . . .
My Son Is Called a Wimp!
Our 10-year-old son is a very sensitive boy. My husband is not an overly sensitive person. He has very little patience for our son’s gentle nature; in fact, he calls him a wimp...
Recently, I started reconnecting with a lot of friends through a social networking site. At first it was great and exciting to see all of their pictures and find out what is happening with their lives. But the other day my ex-boyfriend tried to "friend" me, and my heart stopped...
Daughters Don't Get Along
My two daughters are just not close at all. They are fourteen and sixteen years old, and spend most of their time together fighting. I have tried everything to get them to be closer . . .
Keeping Kosher
I have recently begun studying more about my Judaism, and one of the things that I would like to try to do is to eat only kosher food. The problem is that my parents really are opposed to this . . .
Jewish Day School?
Recently my husband and I have begun to increase our Jewish observance. From learning in our local Chabad house, we have begun trying to keep Shabbat and have started to eat only kosher food. We are hoping to very soon make our entire kitchen kosher as well. Our dilemma though pertains to schooling for our children...
Emotionally Cold Upbringing
I grew up in a very emotionally cold environment. My parents showed very little love or affection, and they couldn’t tolerate when either I or my siblings showed emotion. The result being that I have a hard time now dealing with my emotions...
Husbands That Cheat
With all the recent news stories about philandering husbands, I am starting to worry about my own. What can I do to help ensure that he won’t cheat on me?
Stuck in the Past
About three years ago, my husband was going through a very hard time, and he was very mean to me. After a couple of very rocky years, with me wanting a divorce many times, things seem to have stabilized. My problem is that I just can't get past the past. I really don't think that I have fully forgiven him for those bad times. Why is this so hard for me?
Husband Refuses Counseling
We barely spend any time together, hardly communicate, and more recently have been having screaming fights that leave me crying in my room. I still love my husband, and I want to work things out. I even suggested to go for counseling, but my husband refuses...
My Child Self-Harms
My son came home from kindergarten with scratches on his neck. When I called the teacher to ask what happened, she explained that he did it to himself . . .
My Parents Don’t Want Me to Dress Modestly!
My family and friends won’t accept that I want to wear only skirts. How can I help them understand my choice to dress modestly?
Is This Relationship Abusive?
I was starting to lose all hope that I would ever find someone, when I met Ethan six months ago. From the beginning he was attentive and kind. He seemed very in tune to my needs, and would buy wonderful presents. The first few months of our relationship were nice. However, I am starting to get very concerned about things . . .
My Seven-Year-Old Won't Eat!
My seven year-old son won't eat. He's as thin as a stick and the only thing that I can get him to eat is spaghetti. I'm worried that he's not receiving enough vitamins and minerals and that he is too picky of an eater. Do you have any ideas?
Obnoxious Teenage Daughter
I have a teenage daughter (age sixteen) who has turned into a totally obnoxious individual! She used to be a sweet girl, but for the past year or two, things have been getting more and more out of hand...
Competing Daughters
I am having a problem with my two teenage girls. They are doing reasonably well at school, and they each have a nice set of friends. The problem arises at home.They are both hyper sensitive and vigilant about how much attention/gifts/privileges the other gets. If one of them feels slighted, that's when the explosion happens!
My Child Hates School
My son is a gifted student who suddenly hates school. He complains constantly and is very stressed out and anxious. He desperately wants to switch schools but I am not sure if that is really something we should consider mid year...
Feeling Empty
I am a happily married woman, and I have three wonderful kids. On the outside, nothing seems to be wrong; however, inside I am a mess...
My Son is Obsessed with Possessions
My seven-year-old son is very into possessions. He can remember everything that he was ever given, who gave it to him and why he got it. He is constantly going around the house asking me about different objects, if they belong to someone, and if not, if he can have them. Also, he wants to keep total junk...
Anti-Social Daughter
My husband and I are active community members. We have always valued being the ones that help shape a community, rather than just being one of the followers. And we have worked very hard to instill this philosophy of community activism into our children. However, our eldest daughter doesn't like to get involved with anything...
Attention Seeker
Every week the same scenario plays out at our family game night. My ten-year-old daughter starts up with her siblings and when we say something she gets very upset. I mean she throws a tantrum and says some variation of us not loving her. Nothing we do seems to work...
Mother-in-Law's Help
I am due to have twins in a little over a month. My mother in law has decided that she will come to stay with us for a month to help me get back on my feet. I am a nervous wreck about her coming...
Overloaded
I have just been promoted as a CEO for an up and coming hotel chain. This is a job that requires extensive travel and time. However, there has been an increasing amount of tension in the house when I get home...
Destination Wedding
I'm planning my dream wedding but it seems to be turning out as a nightmare for everyone else. I want to get married on the beaches in Hawaii but a number of our family members can't travel that far or afford it. While it is very important for me to have them there, this is my special day and I feel it should be the way I want it. What do you suggest?