From the desk of Rabbi Leonard (Yehuda) Blank, MS, BCC
Director of Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud Harabbonim
With the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and many of the leaders and heads of states of different countries throughout the world coming together In Israel, proclaiming their support of never again I would like to share just a few experiences of hospice chaplains and patients who survived the Holocaust.
Many hospice chaplains have or had Holocaust survivors as their patients who shared their most intimate life stories with them. One woman who befriended the chaplain shared how she would never give up. She met death many times during the infamous camps, she recited the viduy many times, so she was not afraid of her possible demise which could happen at any time. She wanted to live as long as possible. As long as the Holy One gave her the breath of life, she would thank Him for the nachas she had from her entire family, to keep on reciting her Tehilim, doing whatever mitzvos she was able to do, and continue to see the Jewish people grow together dismissing whatever the Nazis tried to eliminate. The numbers on her arm were her badge of courage. Through the years she was proud to share with others how she remained strong and steadfast keeping her faith in the Aibershta. The memories of the atrocities she saw and all that she endured would last her a lifetime. She looked forward to the chaplain visits and also shared how one day, she will be reunited with all of her loved ones again. On the day she would return to the Holy One, the chaplain when he arrived, was told by one of her daughters that her mother was in her bed and possibly he could not see her. When her mother heard the chaplain was downstairs, she requested he come upstairs to see her. She wanted to thank him, not only for his visits, not being judgmental, not telling her nor her daughters what they should do, but for being there for her. Even though she had a rav who was close to her and her beloved husband of blessed memory, there were personal moments in her life she only wanted to share with her chaplain who was also a rabbi and not even her own family. She gave him many brachos and told him this would be the last time they would see each other. Another story shared by a Survivor how she escaped the hands of the Nazi’s and others. She was one of those who did not look Jewish and was able to blend in. One day, she and her very young daughters witnessed the shooting of men, women and children at the banks of the Danube River They were told to remove their shoes before being shot – their bodies falling or being pushed into the river. This woman shared how she saved her daughters and what she went through during and for years after. The overall theme by the many who survived the Holocaust was how much life meant for them and how much they wanted to go on living. They not only wanted to be part of the future of the Jewish people, but how their faith in the Holy One, the Aibershta was so important. It is not unusual for the chaplain to shed tears together with the patient and family members. A number of these patients were filmed, and their stories documented.
The chaplains are well versed in end of life halacha Jewish laws, customs, rituals and prayers in addition to their expertise in chaplaincy bring tremendous comfort and meaning of life – even to the very end for their patients and loved ones With the permission of the patient and or health care proxy, the chaplain will consult with the rabbi of their choice for spiritual and halachic guidance and when necessary with the patient’s social worker or mental health provider for other professional support.
HaGaon HaRav Ephraim Oshrey ztkl who, I was zocher to know from the Lower East Side, lost his entire family in the Holocaust. He eventually remarried and began his life anew with their children. Though he was a Litvish rav, his rebbitizen came from a Chasidisha background and that is how their sons and daughters grew up. Rabbi Oshrey was the rav in the Kavno ghetto. He authored the 5 volume “Shaalot U’ Teshuvot Mimaamakim – Questions and Answers from the Depths” which is in Hebrew and later on a translated version volume in English “Responsa from the Holocaust”. Rabbi Oshrey hid in the ghetto the manuscripts of his responsa in tin cans and after his liberation, returned to find them. He compiled the hundreds of crucial concerns and questions the Jewish men and women had. Their questions, what to do according to Jewish laws and customs, even under such horrendous life and death situations. Yet, they had to know. It meant so much to them no matter what the next moment held for them. Amongst the many serious questions asked of Rabbi Oshrey, some seemed so mundane, so simple. But, because of the dire circumstances keeping mitzvos was no easy task and Rabbi Oshrey had to know what was permissible and what was not. Many Jewish men, women and yes, even children risked their lives – often giving of their lives just to observe whatever mitzvos that meant so much to them. Many from Kovno as from other ghettos survived and so many did not. In later years amongst his various rabbinic responsibilities and positions in New York City, he was also the rabbi of the famous Beth Medrash Hagadol on the Lower East Side. The same synagogue of the well-known Rabbi Jacob Joseph ztkl. ( HaGaon, HaRav Yaakov Yosef ztkl).
What then, can we learn from the past and apply it to the present and the future. For one, we all need each other. We must have achdus. We must be caring for each other and for those who are not only dear to us, but for others as well. We should be proud of our heritage and continue to promote how much the Aibershta means to us like Avraham Avinu and Sara Imainu.
We should also be proud to identify ourselves as Jewish. In the Torah reading we learn how the Jewish people, the Bnei Yisrael continuously retained when they were in Mitzraim/ Egypt their Jewish identity.
It is interesting to note that even though many of the world leaders have publicly stated their desire of promoting peace, tranquility, goodness and to overcome anti- semetisim, yet, those ideals still have not found favor amongst many of the citizens in the countries of those world leaders. Let us hope we can truly overcome adversity and our adversaries. Let us continue to be like Avraham Avinu and Sara Imainu and be looked upon by others with kindness and truth.
The past two week, I included information and the ad for COPE. For information on what the benefits are by registering through and with TTI, please contact TTI .
And now please read the following from TTI.
Breaking News! Early Childhood Education teachers can qualify for $20,000 raise
By: E Gordon
Due to a major breakthrough from NY City, all certified Early Childhood Education teachers will receive a $20,000 pay raise in increments leading up to October of 2021. This astounding raise will only be accessible to those with an Early Childhood Teacher’s certification. To obtain a NY state teacher’s certification, one must hold a Bachelors and Masters in Early Childhood Education. While some may think that the process to achieve this goal is long, difficult and costly, there is one unique method that has proven otherwise.
TTI has created a new route to reach this goal. Educators in NY can earn a Bachelors of Education and Masters of Early Childhood Education in 2 years for only $32,000! The new, innovative Bachelors allows students to study from home at a self-paced rate, while the Master’s degree meets only once a week on Sunday (including time off for the summer). Upon graduation and with TTI’s guidance, students apply for their teaching license, and pass the necessary exams to earn their certification. TTI students have a 100% pass rate for the state EdTPA exam!
One of the leading benefits of TTI’s Master’s program is that students can apply for Transitional B Certification as soon as 16 weeks into the program. Transitional B Certification allows a student enrolled in a specialized Master’s program to begin working in a job that would typically require a Master’s degree plus teacher’s certification. With this temporary license they can access a higher paying position just 4 months into their Master’s degree. This is only available through select college programs, and TTI is proud to be one of them. Therefore, Early Childhood teachers in TTI’s Masters program will be able to access the first part of their salary raise as soon as they receive their Transitional B Certification!
TTI is happy to assist those who are looking to take advantage of this new opportunity. For any questions you may have, please reach out to 877-RING TTI or email email@example.com. For important information from TTI. ( PLEASE SEE THE ATTACHED AD FROM TTI) Special TTI discounted fee for members of the Rabbinical Alliance of America/ Igud Harabbonim.
And now for important information about CAHE Center for Allied Health Education. Applications for Spring and Fall 2020 now being taken . There is a special Shomer Shabbos schedule. The courses CAHE offers can upon successful completion of all requirements lead to opportunities with meaningful positions. (PLEASE SEE THE ATTACHED AD FROM CAHE) .Special CAHE discounted fee for members of the Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud Harabbonim. For additional information about CAHE contact them at 718-645-3500. Quite interesting, on the CAHE flyer ad, also gives the schedule for Mincha and Daf Yomi.