From the desk of Rabbi Leonard (Yehuda)Blank, MS, BCC
Director of Chaplaincy and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim
August 14,2020

“Don’t add fuel to the fire”.

Through the years in my various positions, I have come across men and women who were not nice to others (to say it mildly). I have attended seminars and myself have given presentations and in services about how to deal with staff that are not pleasant or considerate to fellow staff members or care givers. Even worse, those who are not nice to people they are responsible for such as in a nursing rehab, personal aides for those who are homebound, with dementia or other various reasons.  Here is one example of an employee in a facility being inconsiderate of others. She took her partially finished cup of coffee and cake wrapper and threw them to the floor. She was asked why she couldn’t throw it away in the garbage can. After all, another employee will have to clean it up. Her response “well that is her job”. But when the response to her comment was, “but she is an employee just like you. Why would you want to make a co-worker have to clean up your spill”? Her response, “who cares, that’s her job anyways”. I would sometimes come across an employee who would share her/his distaste of a family member who was disrespectful, used language not appropriate or not appreciative for what he/she feels should have for the work caring for their loved ones. Often that was true, and my sensitivity training was how to respond, to understand and validate their feelings, but be a caring employee no matter what the family member or care givers might say. There are times however, when employee’s do not see their own behavior and attitude towards others. I remember attending an in service being given by another presenter. She said to the employees about a certain scenario “what if it were your mother” and a particular employee said out loud “who cares”. I have served as a presenter, as a panelist, offered workshops on topics relating to end of life issues, palliative care, spirituality, depression, dementia, coping with loss and  grief, stress management, cultural sensitivity, caring for all backgrounds and successful strategies of self-care. The fundamental relationship with all is caring about your fellow human being as well as oneself. Acknowledging and validating the concerns of others is important. I am pleased to say that most employee’s I have met were conscientious, caring, devoted with attitudes that were appropriate.

It seems as if society has in certain ways changed its norm. It is disheartening what is happening throughout our Country. Having peaceful protests is one thing, rioting, vandalizing and destroying public and private property, costing millions of dollars in tax payers money, harming others, taking anger out on with serious acts of bodily harm to police officers, protesters taking their anger to the homes of government and elected officials instilling fear in them and their families. All these things and more are occurring with impunity is frightening. What about free speech? Even free speech has gone out the window with the fear of reprisals for speaking out against, disagreeing with such protests or the stand they are taking. Why is fuel being added to the fire? There are many reasons, but does the end justify the means? Recent comments by various individuals that breaking into stores and taking food and merchandise is necessary for survival for those in need. Yes, there are many who do not have many essentials for everyday living but should breaking the law be the only way to obtain any of those items. What about the owners of those stores? What about their financial loss or the employees who now lost their jobs?  One of the serious backlashes is the increase of rhetoric against Jewish concerns, certain religious rituals, synagogues being vandalized and of course Israel. Our Country is made up of law-abiding citizens who abhor violence in every way possible in communities throughout America. Jewish leaders and organizations continue to strive to have peaceful coexistence with our fellow citizens of diverse backgrounds, as well as collaborating with other organizations. No one wants police officers to use their weapons unnecessarily or act in ways unbecoming or unworthy of their shields. If they are, then they should resign. However, the present climate is so anti-police, those honest, dedicated, and devoted police officers of every rank and department are met with such negativity the pride of being police officers is being diminished. Through the years, I have met very caring, dedicated, devoted, sincere, police officers, many who have made the supreme sacrifice protecting and defending others. We need to rally together bringing harmony, kindness, understanding and good will. Hopefully, only goodness will prevail, and the fuel being thrown into the fire will eventually cease.

It is important for all our readers to encourage your relatives, your neighbors, your friends, your congregants, to complete the United States Census and to register to vote. There must be not hundreds, but thousands who have yet to complete the Census and are not even registered to vote for the candidate of their choice. That can translate into possible loss of vital services and needed assistance for your communities. Of course, everything is up to the Aibershta, but we must do our histadlus. It is so important to make a Kiddush H. No matter what is happening in our City, our State, our Country, we must always be cautious not to have neighbor or friend vs neighbor or friend.  We must not add fuel to the fire. We must not be drawn into discussions or conversations which could lead to desecration of what and who we truly represent or chas vshalom serious consequences due to lashon harah. If you have noticed, there is no mention of any names of government or elected official, names of any groups or organizations in this article.

Moshe Rabbainu appealed to Klal Yisrael to observe all that had been taught to them. Not to forget all that HaKadosh Boruch Hu did for them, and not to forget, what happened to all those who went astray. We have been given the gift from the Aibershta as Rabbonim and Chaplains to do so much good. There is a lot to be proud of. The biggest pride is how wonderful role models we all are in the vital work, the Avodas H we do every single day and night of the year. We must continue to be mispallel to the Aibershta to be able to continue our Avodas H. We have in our midst, many erlicha Yidden who are not only involved in Klei Kodesh, but in many professions, bringing pride in the work they do. We are also blessed with thousands and thousands of erlicah Yiddim in their everyday work making a Kiddush H. How we treat not only each other, but how we interact with others who are from diverse backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities, religions are so important. There isn’t enough that could be expounded upon in a Rabbi’s drasha on midos tovos and being an erlicha Yid. Even a simple holding the door for someone, saying thank you and you’re welcome goes a long way. In my last week’s article, I mentioned about being concerned about how someone else might perceive one’s self. What about how others perceive us in the public eye.

My dear and beloved wife Keila Lutza bas Shalom HaKohen A”H was makpid on making a Kiddush H and always encouraged myself ,our children and grandchildren to be concerned about having proper midos tovos, not speaking loshon harah and not to take the Ribono Shel Olam for granted. She was makpid on not adding fuel to the fire which can only bring sinas chinan. Boruch H we have the holy Torah to guide us in our daily lives.

If everyone including those who are adding fuel to the fire would heed the following, perhaps there would be more peace on this world. “All people are precious because they are all made in the image of G. When one showers others with Kindness and Respect, one honors G Himself”. This is from the Alter of Slabodka which I received from the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation. I once shared it in one of my prior articles and felt it appropriate to do so again. I used to have it on my office door at the Nursing and Rehab where I was the Director of Pastoral Care and Rabbi of the facility and synagogue which has since closed its doors. I also shared it with many others in some of my other positions. I have included it with this article with permission from the Chafetz Chaim Heritage Foundation. I once again want to acknowledge and thank Rabbi Doniel Kramer for his ongoing emails to the Orthodox Jewish Chaplains Roundtable with important and valuable information for professional chaplains. If you are a professional Orthodox Jewish Chaplain and would like to be included in the Roundtable, you most send to Rabbi Kramer at his email where you received your CPE chaplaincy training, what identifies you as Jewish Orthodox and where is your present chaplaincy position. Rabbi Kramer will contact you directly.

The Rabbinical Alliance is also proud to have launched for all members in good standing a wonderful and brand-new Retirement Plan. Please read the following information about this plan. Also included in this newsletter is about the importance of completing the US Census form which was printed in last week’s RAA newsletter and two flyers from Testing and Training International.
Thank you. Sincerely, Yehuda Blank


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