From the desk of Rabbi Leonard ( Yehuda ) Blank, MS, BCC
Director of Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud Harabbonim

I would be remiss if I did not mention my mother whose yartzeit was yud tes Kislev. She grew up across the street from MTJ Yeshiva. She helped care for her siblings when her parents died and followed in her mother’s foot steps (my grandmother ztl formed a Tomchei Shabbos amongst other gemilus chasadim acts of kindness on the LES). She became the president of the MTJ Yeshiva Sisterhood raising tens of thousand’s of dollars for the yeshiva. The entire yeshiva, talmidim. rabbeim, kollel and Rosh HaYeshiva came out to give her honor by her levaya. She was very close to Rebbitzten Shima Feinstein ztl as well as the Rosh Hayeshiva HaGoan HaRav Moshe Feinstein ztkl and mishpacha. Her father, my grandfather ztkl was a magid shiur at the age of 13 in Minsk Russian, here on the LES and was known for his gaduls in Torah learning, mitzva observance and his kindness for others no matter what their background was. When I refer to my mother, I can only think about the strong kesher the Rebbiztens of our member Rabbonim have , the tremendous encouragement they give, their own leadership roles guiding, caring and sharing their love for the Aibershta and the role they have in their support and care for their husbands, congregants and others in their communities. The roles the wives have are always with tremendous tznius, modesty, humbleness and a guiding light to so many. Many, in addition to being a Rebbitzen also hold meaningful positions, jobs, and have professionals careers . On Chanukah, we know the vital role Yehudis had in helping Klal Yisrael. In fact, from Sara Imainu our first Matriarch, and through the generations we acknowledge the role many of the women had and their impact in Jewish history.

I would like to acknowledge the unbelievable work and Kiddush H our professional chaplains ,as ambassadors of the Jewish faith in the diverse fields they work in. It is always a challenge and takes a lot of training, education and most of all the proper chinuch to know how to care for others in the proper derech. For that matter, we must give praise to all who work in the secular fields, professional careers or other jobs and positions. We must be cognizant of how and what we say and do.

Throughout the year, we will continue to offer educational, professional degree and non degree programs as well as other educational programs for the RAA members their wives and adult children. These programs help with career opportunities, skill building and other meaningful opportunities that will be announced as time goes on. There will also be announcements of other programs and events. Not all programs and events are exclusively for chaplains, but as with previous events were for the entire membership and also often for the Rebbitzens as well.

I want to mention how proud I am that Rabbi Elchonon Zohn of NASCK, the National Association of Chevra Kadisha will be presenting at the next RAA/Igud meeting. I had the honor of working together with Rabbi Zohn a number of years ago and can attest personally of his dedication, devotion, knowledge and expertise in so many issues dealing not only with kavod hames and end of life issues, but his ability of reaching out to so many of different Jewish backgrounds helping them understand the importance of kavod hames and appropriate preparations for themselves. He also has many printed materials and recordings on these areas as well as how to approach the issues of cremation. He has been called upon by many professionals as well as members of government, elected officials and Rabbonim. He has given presentations throughout the United States and In spite of his unbelievable schedule , he always finds the time to respond not only to emergency situations, but to offer guidance to anyone seeking his advice. Also, through Rabbi Zohn is the EMES wallet card with emergency medical instructions.

There is much excitement in the air about the forthcoming siyum Daf HaYomi with Agudah and the siyum with Dirshu. Many will be attending either or both. What a tremendous simcha for Klal Yisrael. Words alone cannot describe the experiences to be together with approximately 98,000 at MET Stadium filled with tremendous kedusha. I had the zchus of attending previous ones and they were electrifying.

Please keep on reading the RAA weekly newsletters for future events and programs and if you missed any, please go to our website for archives on any of my articles or other RAA information- past and present. May you all have a FREILICHA CHANUKAH.