From the desk of Rabbi Leonard (Yehuda) Blank M, BCC
Director of Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim
917-446- 2126
February 12, 21 *

In my last week’ article I began with discussing my follow up regarding COVID 19. This past Motzei Shabbos Rabbi Dr. Aaron Glatt in his COVID-19 zoom presentation with vital information there were 1,000 viewers. He stressed the importance of seeking truthful information about the various vaccinations and about COVID from the medical experts and he surely is one of them. Yes, there has been Boruch H a reduction in certain areas in the US, but there are still cases including in our own communities with COVID and a number have been hospitalized, some in serious conditions others have been able to be discharged due to new treatments. Many who contracted COVID have been able be treated at home. But the mere fact there are still many who are contracting this virus with new strains of virus being spread, as I mentioned last week must be careful. Hopefully, as time goes on there will be enough vaccinations available for all who want to reduce their chances of getting or giving COVID. It is also important to remember it is possible for a person to be asymptomatic have minimal symptoms and could pass the virus to others. It used to be when someone did not feel well, one might take pain and fever reducers. Today, it is important to contact one’s medical professional asap to determine if his/her symptoms are COVID or not. Heaven Forbid, should someone have any symptoms no matter how light or insignificant he/she feels it might be, whether it be COVID or the flu, how tragic it could be should that person go to any public area and transmit the virus and or flu or for that matter any virus. Boruch H our communities have become more knowledgeable and cautious. Let us be mispallel that this and all illnesses will be gone. We should all join not just in prayer, but with achdus caring for each other. From all the way back to our Avos and Imahos through the present may we be inspired to do the right things and be Mekadaish H. Honestly, I often wonder if we are supposed to be careful of lashon harah and sinas chinam, why read about or view in certain on line sites about anyone who is making a Chilul H or those who are in positions of influence saying, doing things, or have opinions that are antithesis of all who are interested in being Mikadeish H. We must be cognizant of the influence on the children of Klal Yisrael. There are so many beautiful programs, activities, books, magazines, etc for all ages including adolescents, young adults, adults through the senior years, but all of those are only as good as we want ourselves to “walk in the ways” of the Ribono Shel Olom. He loves Klal Yisrel and gives us on a “silver platter” with many shiurim and topics beyond the imagination available via regular classes many with social distancing, but also on zoom, phone call in and other means as well. We also have many presentations and webinars for those who use zoom and many via call in, on topics of spirituality, how to care for others, ourselves, diverse topics of the impact of COVID in more ways than one

Last week I mentioned about Rabbi Dr. Twerski and the profound impact he had on Klal Yisrael and the world at large. So many were spellbound when they learned the famous song Hoshia Es Amechaw Uvawraich Es Nachaleschaw from Dovid Hamelech “Save Your nation and bless Your inheritance tend them and raise them up forever” (translation from Artscroll Interlinear Siddur recited within the shacharis tefilla of Hodu La H and from Artscroll Interlinear Tehilim/ 29:10). He gave much inspiration via his presentations, books, periodicals and quotes to name just some. These words he put into song was indeed sang at his funeral. He was such a proponent of self esteem, to be proud of one’s self, to find self worth, not to harm one’s self through hateful relationships, addiction, or alcoholism- but a person can find the way out and have a meaningful life. One could find goodness and peace in one’s self and meaning in life. Here are some of his quotes. “Happiness is self fulfillment. If a person neglects fulfilling any capacity or trait that he has, there is an inherent feeling of unhappiness. ““If we took the effort to realize, what we really are, the strength and capacity that we have, the wonderful traits that we have, and develop them to the fullest, then we will be happy.” According to Twerski, self awareness is the key to happiness. When you get to know and understand yourself in the deepest sense, you will realize what your true strengths and desires are which will help you attract the right people, the right circumstances and the right opportunities into your life leading to fulfillment and to happiness.” (Taken from one of his presentations). My Aishis Chayil was such an inspiration on me, she was such a supporter of what I did and believed in finding happiness and goodness. Most of all to be caring for all people no matter what one’s background might be. She wanted so much for me to continue in life all that we believed in. I was so proud of her accomplishments, especially how she was so well liked and respected by many in the community and at her employment until she had to leave due to her illness. She was so natural in what she said, did and cared for. She only meant the best and that is how she influenced all our children and everyone we had contact with. Such erlichkeit. Every one of my programs and activities I was involved in throughout the City, she was my biggest fan and that is how our children were brought up. She was grateful and encourage all my activities and programs I was working on and should continue later in life.

Yesterday, as part of my requirements for Board Certification I participated in what is called “Peer Review” an opportunity to review in a sense life’s journey these past years since the last peer review, challenges in life and professionally, ways to meet the challenges where continued growth is beneficial. There were two other professional board-certified chaplains participating. Their feed back, their comments, their encouragements and words of praise as well as words of comfort were truly meaningful. Continuing educational credits are also part of the board-certified requirements by the National Association of Jewish Chaplains, one of a group of cognate professional chaplaincy organizations officially designated to confer board certified chaplaincy. Clinical Pastoral Education which is a requirement towards BCC for many years has been recognized by the United States Department of Education. Of course, there are professional chaplains who also attend colleges and universities gaining other degrees. For me this time around the peer review was an experience that was a challenge, as I reviewed what has transpired these past recent years, my accomplishments and how I was inspired, encouraged and shared so much with my wife Keila, through the years and all through her illness and death. She took so much pride in me, our children and grandchildren. It brought back many memories -all so positive. I have not shed such tears in awhile as I did at this peer review. I am grateful to my peers for their kind, meaningful and supportive words they shared and gave me. I am now bringing new programs, webinars, presentations and relationships with other organizations all under my private banner of my wife who made helped me do the same in my previous positions. Yet, I am truly fortunate to have a wonderful supportive family, friends, and colleagues these past years since her illness and death and during my journey of bereavement including my dear Rebbe, Rav Dovid ztkl and his Rebbitzen tichia. I continue to fulfill many of those things my wife wanted me to keep on doing and especially about her. I have written about those and other important things in life in many of my articles, in a letter I composed which I had distributed via mail and email as the family is receiving the Rebbitzen Shima Feinstein Award (she was Rav Moshe Feinsteins’ Rebbitzen) at the MTJ Virtual Dinner on February 24th. Since her petira, I have become more spiritual, more thoughtful and appreciation of the Tefilos, Tehilim and my relationship with G which gives me so much hope. I take my wife’s quote to heart and so thankful it is being shared by so many and in many venues throughout the USA.

Listening to Rabbi Avraham Twerski’s ztkl presentations, his beliefs from his heart of self care and appreciation are so important and meaningful especially with life’s many challenges. It is important to recognize our own talents, our own creativity, our own abilities, and whatever shortcomings we may have, to know there is still so much to life even in difficult times. However, each of us can find opportunities of helping each other reach one’s potentials, and heights- way up to the sky. We can all offer kind words, tender words, words of significance, words of praise of sincerity. But we must believe them and not offer words that are not of hope. We must choose our words properly and with insight. Even just offering our support or when appropriate holding the hands of those we are caring for. Rabbi Dr. Twerski stood up for what he felt and knew was the wise and correct ways of life and how to deal effectively and professionally with much care for those he was treating and for those he gave advice to.

Who gave the first prescription? The Holy One, He told Moshe take two tablets. Was this meant to be funny? It is interesting though. I am not sure I made it up or I heard it from someone, but in truth, He is the only One who can heal the world, but like anything else, we must do our hishtadlus. H helps those who helps themselves. We must not put a stumbling block in front of a person, but rather offer whatever help and support we can give whether it be financial, emotional, spiritual, or a helping hand making a person’s life easier, beneficial and meaningful. If by what we do will bring joy, happiness and or relief, are true gemilus chasadim. In Ahavas Chesed by the Chafetz Chaim “Man enjoys the fruit of this mitzvah in this world; while the stock is stored up for the world to come. The merit stands by him to rescue him from all trouble, Come! See for yourself how great this mitzvah is. It is one of those mitzvoth, the fruit of which man consumes in this world, while the stock remains in the world to come, as is asserted in the Mishnah (Peah 1.1) Chazal (Yerushalmi ibid.) adds that chesed stands by man until the end of all generations, as Scripture (Ps.103.17) states:” And the chesed of G endures for ever an ever for those that fear Him.” The effect of charity on the other hand lasts only for three generations, as we find (ibid.), “And His charity for the sons of sons.” Now, acts of loving kindness are designated as the “chesed of G” because, through them, we cause G to exercise this Divine attribute, as we have previously asserted in chapter 3. Its merit also stands by man in his hour of need and rescues him from his troubles, as we find in Avodah, Zarah (17): (Sefer Ahavath Chesed Hebrew and in English by Feldheim Publishers).

We recite everyday in our shacharis tefilos, musaf on Shabbos, Yom Tov and Rosh Chodesh in the Shemoneh Esrei Sim Shalom -Establish peace, goodness, blessing, graciousness, kindness, and compassion upon us, and upon all of Israel Your people. Bless us our Father, all of us, as one, with the light of Your countenance, for with the light of Your countenance You gave us, H, our G the Torah of life, and a love of kindness, righteousness, blessing compassion, life, and peace. May our tefilos in this prayer and all our prayers be answered and may we be zoche the right directions to take that will only be Mekadeish H and bring Moshiach Tzedkeinu Bimheira Veyawmeinu the Geula Sheleima Amain.
Sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank


Ohel & The Rabbinical Alliance of America present:

The Age of Anxiety:
Helping Our Community, Helping Ourselves
A workshop for Rabbis & Rebbitzens of the Rabbinical Alliance of America

This workshop will discuss the increased prevalence of anxiety in the age of Covid. 
It will provide practical information on how to help our congregants, as well as self-care strategies for clergy and community leaders.

Monday February 15 at 8:30 pm

Introductory Remarks by:
Rav Eytan Feiner
Rav, Congregation Kneseth Israel (The White Shul)

Presented by:
Dr. Norman Blumenthal
Ohel’s Director of Trauma & Crisis Response

Click To Register

Please send any questions or comments to Rabbi Yehuda Blank at