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

There was once a situation in a synagogue where one person requested the window near him to be closed. Another person requested the window to be kept open. Rather than compromising and working a solution such as changing seats, or working out a compromise when the window can be closed, open, just a little and so on, they both ended up leaving the synagogue. One of the most well known role models was Aharon HaKohain Gadol who sought and brought peace, kindness and goodness amongst and between each other.

Unfortunately, there is so much turmoil in this world, with such hatred for others it is difficult to find solutions and what is even more disturbing is when people act out their hatred in violent ways bringing and causing harm to others and destruction of property without any care of how much that destruction will bring loss of property, loss of income, loss of quality of life and sometimes loss of life in order for their own agenda no matter how meaningful they feel it might be, just so that others should take notice.

It is heartbreaking when police officers are the target of such violence. I take this personally, with the knowledge of how so many in the police departments, throughout our country do care about those who they protect and defend, risking their lives every day and night of the year. Just because they wear the uniform and shield does not make police officers the enemy. There are also thousand’s who serve and are not in uniform risking their lives. Look what happened to the detective in Jersey City. Being a police chaplain as I was is not just about invocations, blessings and speaking at various functions, it was spending time with the men, women and often family members offering spiritual and pastoral care and counseling. When one is down, the whole department feels it.

On one of the occasions having to respond to a police officer hurt on duty. I was rushed to the hospital and came upon a sea of blue. Many requested, I please pray for their comrade and give my blessings – many of them with tears flowing from their eyes. I met with family members, and even hospital staff. They brought me into the emergency room while the doctors and staff were working with all of their might to save him. It was hard for me to hold back my tears. I even met with the hospital chaplain. Usually, the chaplain of the officer’s faith would respond, but I was the closest to the hospital and until the other chaplain was able to respond,I was there for that very special human being. We were all family, weeping and praying. Each officer offering their prayers from their hearts. This police officer unfortunately died. Often, I would go with officers on patrol, or visit the various precincts even after midnight. Most of the time, I was in uniform, and the respect accorded to me with or without my cap on my head and my kippah, as many referred my yarlmuka, prominently showing never changed anyone’s attitude towards me. It makes no difference of their religion, their culture, their background, members of the police in the many different departments truly deserve our support. When you see a police officer, especially if his post is in front of a synagogue, offer a greeting. It is truly a wonderful Kiddush H with many from the Jewish communities acknowledging the wonderful work of police departments. Just this week, a check of close to $50,000 was given by a prominent Jewish community group from Brooklyn, NY to the family of Jersey City Detective Joseph Seals who made the supreme sacrifice. We should also be proud of all the police officers who serve with distinction and proud of their Jewish Heritage, many who also wear their kippah and uniform with pride. Recently, in San Antonio, Texas, Seth Frydberg became Bexar’s County newest Deputy Sherriff and while all his colleagues were wearing their wide brim Texas hats, he was proudly wearing his kippah and uniform as his shield was being put on him.

Speaking of chesed. I recently was with a relative who had to be from Thursday until Motzei Shabbos in Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital. The entire staff were very courteous, caring and understanding of the patient needs for the Sabbath/Shabbat/Shabbos. Yes, many were familiar with all three and if a staff person was not familiar with those needs, quickly inquired and was quite sensitive. What was so comforting were the bags brought to the room on Friday and also available in the Bikur Cholim room filled with all kinds of traditional delicacies, including grape juice and challah. The Bikur Cholim has special hot water urns and warmers for the other traditional food and the refrigerators are filled with other delicious foods and beverages. Many of these items came from Satmar, Square, Chesed/24 and from Bein Ish Ubein Achiv led by Rabbi Yizchok and Rebbitzen Horowitz .But on the bag was only a note from Rebbitzen Horowitz. But, what was so nice was the visit from some of these organizations wanting to know if there was anything else needed including food for after Shabbos. One woman who I met from Satmar was so sincere in her approach and never intrusive. All she wanted to know if there was anything else we needed. In the Bikur Cholim room came young and older men, women and children. They came from many different backgrounds, wearing many different styles of clothing, and kippah, yarlmukas, black hats, no hats and often no kippah at all. Yet, whoever entered, felt comfortable and it so nice to hear each other often wishing a refuah shelaima. I would be remiss not to mention the hospital chaplains who visit patients during the week . We also received a visit on Shabbos from a member of the Congregation Kehilot Jeshurun. On Motzei Shabbos fresh delicious food was brought to the Bikur Cholim room. Yes, there is so much good in this world, even amongst the turmoil. The Aibershta doesn’t give up and we should not give up.

A flyer was sent to those on the RAA email list about a major conference call with Rabbi Glatt MD who will impart vital information and the halachic and medical implications about two life threatening contagious illnesses, the Novel Coronavirus and Influenza . This conference call is only for Rabbonim, Chaplains and Rebbitzens. Please see the attached flyer and information about this conference.

Also attached are also flyers from TTI, YIEP and a brand new flyer with information from CAHE the Center for Allied Health Education.

Thank you for taking the time to read not only my articles, but all of the RAA Weekly Newsletter. Please go to the RAA website for additional articles and information.