From the desk of Rabbi Leonard (Yehuda) Blank MS, BCC
Director of Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbanim
September 3, 2020

Hodu La H Ki Tov Ki Liolom Chasdo We give thanks to the Ribono Shel Olom that HaGaon, HaRav Dovid Feinstein shlita was able to return home after several lengthy hospitalizations. Please continue to be mispallel Dovid ben Shima for a complete refuah shelaima so that he can continue to join all the Gedolim in leading us to the final redemption. Though, we are genuinely happy with such good news, on the other hand, we are deeply saddened to learn of the nifter of HaRav Moshe Greenberg zt” l. He was the Rav of the Young Israel of Midwood for many years. His sister is Rebbitzen Malka Feinstein sol zein gezundt and the brother in law of HaGaon HaRav Dovid Feinstein. It is a tremendous loss for Rav Dovid and Rebbetzin Malka and their entire mishpacha he was remarkably close to. Rav Greenberg zt” l not only was an Adom Gadol as a Rav and his gadlus in Torah, he was a an anav, very modest, humble, kind, caring and loved by many throughout Brooklyn, NY and elsewhere.

We are also saddened to have learned about the Chief Chaplain Alvin Kass of the NYPD who was mugged while taking his daily walk on the Upper West Side. Thank goodness, he was not seriously injured. He has been with the NYPD for 54 years and the longest serving member of the NYPD. He went through the higher ranks, beginning with the rank of Inspector. Eventually receiving 4 stars as one of the highest-ranking chief’s in the NYPD. He has represented the Department in many prestigious ways and is distinguished for his eloquent speech’s and articles he has written. He is also the Spiritual Leader of the NYPD Jewish Shomrim Society. I know him since my days as the Jewish chaplain of the New York Housing Police, the Spiritual Leader of the New York Housing Police Jewish Shotrim Society and the NY Housing Police branch of the Fraternal Order of Police. We wish him a refuah shelaima, a speedy recovery from the injuries he sustained in the mugging attack.

This past Shabbos was the first Shabbos, I was away from my apartment since Sukkos,the first time that I was together with my grandchildren since Purim and the first Shabbos away in 27 years without my dear and beloved wife Keila Lutza bas Shalom HaKohen A”H to be at an upstate family afruf for a grandchild. The air and view breathtaking, the environment so full of Shabbos Kedusha, joy and happiness being together with the families of the Chasan and Kallah.  I went with my family the next day to a local farm. What a beautiful sight to be held. Amongst all the visitors in the play area, farm store and  vegetable picking fields were also Jewish men, women and their children from different backgrounds all adhering to the policy of wearing a mask or face covering wherever requested to do so, as well as social distancing. For me, this trip and event was on the one hand uplifting and the other hand a challenge to keep my tears hidden from everyone. Even the scenic trip back to NYC was challenging remembering all the many routes my wife and I traveled enjoying each other’s company. Oh, my goodness, how strange it is to feel these emotions. Yet, as I told my cousin whose mother my aunt died a week afterwards my wife’s petira that neither her mother or my wife are no longer suffering .They are in a beautiful place we should be thankful for Gan Eiden, HaOlom Habaw. I remember participating in an online group by OHEL with Dr. Blumenthal for those with spousal loss. There was another Jewish man whose wife recently died. He mentioned to Dr. Blumenthal of his serious concern of forgetting his wife in due time. Dr. Blumenthal shared his sincere and professional thoughts that this person will not forget his wife even though there might be moments when he is not thinking about her or any other time. I did speak to Dr, Blumenthal on several occasions who’s heartfelt erlichkeit, his sincerity and professional approaches were very meaningful and caring and I am proud to be able to share that with this readership. I have mentioned this on other occasions as well, we all need chizuk from time to time, whether it be from another Rav, a Gadol , a chaver, a relative or the helpful advice from a professional such as Dr, Blumenthal and other’s at OHEL. I am grateful to have had and continue to have the support of chavarim, relatives, as well as Dr. Blumenthal when needed.

Through the years in my professional life, gave presentations on spirituality and mental health, depression, and other vital topics , spearheaded a mental health coalition in response to suicides of the senior populations, executive director of a health care coalition, director of special programs for a social service organization, some of which I mentioned in previous articles. I collaborated with other professionals including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and other mental health professionals and collaborated closely with a magnificent social worker Martha Pollack LCSW with events, programs, presentations we did together throughout NYC. We did workshops for frontline staff on various topics.  My list of other professionals and organizations I have collaborated with through the years including at MJHS is too lengthy for this article but will be sharing with you as time goes on. I therefore appreciate how important it is to not feel ashamed, not be embarrassed, not feel it is below one’s dignity to seek professional advice for oneself, congregants and others. I know personally Roshei Yeshivos and well known Rabbonim who have either referred or recommended individuals with serious conditions to seek the advice of a mental health professional or other professionals even though they themselves gave countless of hours helping those individuals.

One of my favorite topics is making Kiddush H. Often we take things for granted. We can overlook fabulous opportunities. Perhaps maybe not even giving it any thought. Perhaps thinking it might be a minor thing to do. Pirkei Avos teaches us to do what might seem to be a minor mitzva as a big or important mitzva. I am sure everyone could write a long list of all conceivable act’s of Kiddush H we could everyday and even put them into categories. I would like to share one recent one with you. I was a passenger sitting in the front seat of my son’s mini van going to the afruf. He stopped for gas at a station on the Palisades Parkway. While the gas was pumping, the attendant washed the front window. I gave him a tip of a few dollars. He was so appreciative, his eyes opened, with a joyful expression and smile. He said thank you and G bless me. I thanked him and wished him well. He came back again to say thank you. It was obvious we were Jewish. I did not do so to prove a point, just being nice to another person. We are ambassadors of the Aibershta. It does not take much to make a Kiddush H and it surely does not take much to make a Chilul H. Aside from the positive interactions we have daily with others, we can promote Kiddush H. Maybe we should have a Kiddush H campaign.

Regarding the latest precautions and information about Coronavirus, you can read about them available in the various online sites and other Jewish news media. There has been an increase in articles and statements as of recent. So, please check them out.

Reminder to complete the US Census and also register to vote. Communities can lose out on vital services without the Census forms being completed. Regarding who to vote for, that is not a question that could be answered here, but whoever is not registered to vote cannot and should not complain if it is too late to complete the registration form.

Thank you and sincerely yours,

Sincerely, Yehuda Blank

Please see the MJHS flyer about the virtual Holocaust program and tour of the Jewish Heritage Museum, you must register to join the program as well as the virtual tour next week. Also the flyer regarding back to school issues and concerns.