Rabbi Yehuda (Leonard) Blank MS, BCC
Vice President of Professional Development and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim
917-446-2126  rablenblank@gmail.com
<><><>Thursday November 9, 2023, Cheshvan 25 5784<><><>

Are we to escape ?  Escape from what?

Are we to hide? Hide from what?

What is the achdus that we seek?

We are proud, but proud of what?

What more can we do in addition to the rituals?

What does H want from us?

True love in marriage, in friendship and in our relationship with G

This article is not about guns, missiles, bombs or violence.
It is about T.L.C. Tender Loving Care.

We all want shalom. We all want the hostages to be returned. We all want
the world to understand the desire of the Jewish people to live in peace.

We must never forget that everything is up to Hakadosh Baruch Hu.
We must always remember that our tefilos, our bakashos, our emunah
and our bitachon is vital for Klal Yisrael and for each of us as individuals. We are all family. From all backgrounds. We must care for and about each other.
The Torah, our heritage, our mitzvos, our customs belong to all of us.

I have included a remarkable article from Matzav November 8, 2023  “Global
Shortage of Tefillin, Mezuzahs,’ Amid ‘Jewish Awakening of the Souls

We are grateful to President Joseph Biden, to the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Mike Johnson, to United States Senator Chuck Schumer, government agencies and to all elected officials of all political affiliations throughout the United States of America for their support against anti-semitisim.

On the bottom of this article is a link to the video of G Bless America
and a link to the video of the Star Spangled Banner, our USA national anthem.
How different these two songs are in comparison to what is voiced
at different types of protests. 

We should be patriotic, proud Americans and to remember the Veterans of our
United States of America Armed Forces who gave their ultimate sacrifice for
our country, for those who were injured during the various wars and those
who are recent Veteran’s and to remember them on Veterans Day.
We should also pray for the safety of all members of the U.S.A Armed Forces
wherever they are stationed in the world today.

There was another rally for Israel this week attended by 10,000 in Manhattan and not a single act of violence, no arrests for disorderly conduct, and they made a Kiddush H. There will be another rally in Washington DC on November 13th, with announcements by major Jewish organizations and synagogues encouraging Klal Yisrael to attend. This rally will make a statement of our brothers and sisters who care for each other and let the world know of our ACHDUS.  It will convey a message, to the leaders of government and universities that we condemn all forms of anti-semitisim. Hate and violence against anyone Jewish and for that matter anyone not Jewish is incomprehensible. We are living in America and it is the responsibility of all of our leaders in this country, a country of freedom and democracy to uphold the laws of humanity and respect all people no matter their religion, their ethnicity or culture. If our chaplains can minister to men, women and children of diverse backgrounds with sincerity, care and kindness, why shouldn’t others do the same? Let us be mispallel with the help of the Ribono shel Olam that our messages will reach the hearts, minds and souls of others to seek the truth and find ways of bringing peace, tranquility and remove any hatred from our brethren. At the bottom of this article I am including the prayer from my Moments of Inspiration last week. I am also including the song G Bless America and our National Anthem, the Star Spangled Banner.  We give thanks to Hakadosh Baruch Hu for being able to live in the land of the free and to practice our religion in freedom as Americans.

We are living in a challenging time when there are Jewish brethren living in  communities around the world who are frightened to show their Jewishness. I’ve mentioned this in previous articles, but when it comes close home we have a better idea of the fear that many are experiencing. We have many things to be proud of and to be thankful for here in the USA despite the rhetoric that is being shouted out angrily by various groups. There is no escaping. We cannot try to blend in hoping our adversaries will not recognize that we are Jewish. Are we to hide who we are? Heaven forbid. We should be proud of who we are. Just look at what is happening in many of the college campuses. It is appalling.

For me personally, I grew up in a neighborhood that was diverse and in fact, my friends in the apartment building were from many Jewish backgrounds  and my building included many non Jewish friends and neighbors. Yet, we all got along with friendship and respect for each other. My Jewish neighbors included the famous Cantor Moishe Oysher, his sister Fraidela Oysher a famous Yiddish singer, whose daughter grew up to become the well known Maryln Michaels, Hagaon Rav Heinken zt”, the Demeka Rebbe, Rav Halpern zt”l , the Lashkavitza Rebbe zt”l,  the famous Anderson Yiddish Theater, and lots of other famous personalities and Rabbonim. Though, my neighborhood was considered a very good neighborhood, when growing up as a child going with my mother uptown or to different places, I wore a beanie something like in the Archie comic books years ago. I wore my yarmulka in my building and neighborhood, but for some reason, wearing a yarmulka outside the neighborhood was not something I did. My parents mentioned that even upstate New York, there were places they remembered years before that were off limits to those who were Jewish. Of course, later on you had what was called the Borsht Belt. There were hotels that also catered to the Orthodox Jewish clientele. Through the years, more and more kosher stores opened up selling exclusive kosher only items as well as pizza stores and other kosher restaurants. Many bungalow colonies changed to mostly Orthodox Jewish colonies. The face of many upstate towns and villages changed as did the shuls in each village. Many might know that a train would make stops at many of those towns. Yes, things have changed, times have changed, but what has not changed is anti-semitisim but to a degree never so blatant, never so open and never so close to home as what we are seeing today. Yet, I grew up having and giving respect to one and all with the importance of Kiddush H. My Rebbe Rav Dovid Feinstein zt”l imbued in me the importance of knowing my boundaries, my Yiddishkeit, who I was, and how to remain a devout Orthodox Jew and still be able to do the professional work I did after having left chinuch. I was fortunate to be in his daled amos as well as other role models in the world of Rabbonus and the world of other professionals who also made a Kiddush H. They were as devout as one could be in their frumkeit, yet were successful and did exceedingly well in the professional secular world. The apartment building I presently live in, is as diverse as can be and have very nice neighbors from all backgrounds. It is not healthy to wonder if anyone has ill feelings towards me because I am noticeably Jewish. I surely hope not. I relate to others with respect , kindness and niceness. I have not changed. I cannot change the way people think of me being a Jew. I am proud of who and what I am. There are times when I wear a cap because it might be more comfortable, but I do not want to hide my Jewishness. All those who are Jewish should make every effort to join together as one family and stick together. We should all  pray G’s guidance and protections for Jews throughout the world and of course in Israel. 

Being Jewish is not about bagels, lox and cream cheese, not about flanken, knishes, pastrami or corned beef sandwiches and other Jewish themed delicacies. It is about our holy Torah. Eating and drinking only kosher, enjoying and observing the Shabbat, the beauty of Mikveh and Taharat Mishpacha  and so many other really beautiful mitzvos are gifts that are ours to enjoy, to keep and bring holiness into our lives. They are for all of Klal Yisrael. G does not differentiate but loves each and every Jew. All of us should be loving and caring of all our brothers and sisters without being judgmental. 

At the last Siyum Hashas held at Met Stadium it was attended by close to 100,000 men, women and children of all ages and Jewish backgrounds even in the cold weather. There were no armed guards who inquired ticket holders about their Jewish affiliation. Everyone who attended, did so because of how much the learning of the Talmud, the culmination of the entire shas was to be celebrated by the masses throughout the world including at Met Stadium. weather. Learning the Daf has become a sought after responsibility that brings  joy throughout the world. Thousand of copies of the Daf Yomi  were prepared for the Chayalim. There are so many online sites for Torah learning. People can learn Talmud, Shulchan Aruch, Mishna Berurah, the Sedra, Jewish laws and customs and the list keeps growing by leaps and bounds via Dirshu, Al Daf from the OU, Torah Anytime and so much more. The desire for learning, exploring ways of doing mitzvos is exploding. There are so many other sites and organizations such as Aish, Partners In Torah and Oorah that are for those with limited backgrounds or just beginning to learn. Also, BJX (Brooklyn Jewish Xperience) with Rav Moshe Fingerer and Rav Yitzchok Fingerer have brought young adults with limited backgrounds back to Yiddishkeit.  One of the most well known Maggidei Shiur of Daf Yomi is Rabbi Eli Stefansky with his Mercaz Daf Yomi. He just celebrated a Shabbaton at a hotel in Connecticut with 720 who attended and over 900 who attended the siyum on Motzei Shabbos. Shabbos. The list of thousands who join him every day online and in person keeps growing from all over the world. His is just one of many Maggidim Shiurim online, on the phone in synagogues, and throughout the world. This is another way of having achdus, all in the name of Torah and love of H. Of course, the ritual washing of the hands, reciting the bracha of al netilas yadaim, and hamotzei on the bagel, cream cheese and lox is important followed by Grace after the meal, Birkas Hamazon. Just from one bagel, cream cheese and lox, look how many mitzvos one can have. Regarding the various brachos/blessings, there are many booklets that have those blessings not only with English translations, but phonetically for those unable to read them in Hebrew. 

The most important thing is for all of us to show our love, our kindness, our care, our sincerity to each and every one of our brothers and sisters,  no matter what their background is . It is important to be loving and kind with friendship (and I don’t mean Friendship cottage cheese) welcoming and inviting to one and all of our brothers and sisters. 

From Matzav November 8th, 2023 “Despite reports of Jews being fearful to display their faith outwardly amid rising antisemitism globally, so many Jews are reconnecting with their faith that supplies are short, according to the largest Jewish network, Chabad-Lubavitch.

“There’s a global shortage of tefillin and mezuzahs,” Rabbi Motti Seligson, a spokesman for Chabad, told JNS.

“We’re seeing an immense amount of people wanting to connect, wanting to double down and leaning into their Jewish identity and practice,” Seligson said. “People wanting to start putting on tefillin daily, putting a mezuzah on their door, lighting Shabbos candles, coming to synagogue or Shabbos programming to be with other Jews.”

Many are also wearing yarmulkes and necklaces with Stars of David. “They’re saying we’re part of the Jewish people,” Seligson said.

He allowed that some of the renewed or new connections are “in response to being rejected by circles, where some Jews felt at home in the past,” but Seligson said much of the movement is affirmative, or what he called a “Jewish awakening of the soul.”

A new survey that Chabad conducted of 211 of its shluchim, representing each U.S. state, bears that out. More than 86% of the emissaries have seen increases in attendance at programs, services or both since Hamas brutally attacked Israel on Oct. 7, and some 98.6% reported seeing an increase “in personal practice related to Jewish traditions and observances among community members.”

Also since the Oct. 7 attacks, 77.3% have observed a stronger sense of “Jewish pride and confidence,” 93.4% have witnessed a stronger “connection to the Jewish people or desire to connect to other Jews,” 88.2% said their communities have “a stronger connection to Israel and her people” and 85.8% reported that their community members have a “deeper connection to their own Jewish identity,” per the survey.

Chabad emissaries also report that their communities are scared, which 81.5% said.

In addition to tefillin, mezuzah and Jewish jewelry, emissaries reported that community members were wearing more shirts with Israel Defense Forces emblems and are increasingly reciting Shema.

Also since the Oct. 7 attacks, 77.3% have observed a stronger sense of “Jewish pride and confidence,” 93.4% have witnessed a stronger “connection to the Jewish people or desire to connect to other Jews,” 88.2% said their communities have “a stronger connection to Israel and her people” and 85.8% reported that their community members have a “deeper connection to their own Jewish identity,” per the survey.

“The survey reveals a significant surge in Jewish engagement worldwide, showing a staggering rise in personal Jewish practices,” according to Chabad.

“The vast majority of Chabad rabbis reported that they are seeing a heightened sense of Jewish pride, connection to Israel and stronger Jewish identity among community members,” it added, “with their personal anecdotes underscoring a widespread emotional response and drive for Jewish pride and confidence in the face of antisemitism.”

The International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries, which brings 6,500 rabbis and Jewish leaders to New York City, runs this year from Nov. 9 to Nov. 12. It is the largest gathering of rabbis worldwide and the largest U.S. annual gathering, Chabad says. 

Being Jewish is a combination of rituals, mitzvos, being kind, caring, doing chasasdim, and of course loving G. But there is so much more such as Shalom Bayis, bringing marital bliss into the home, not speaking loshon hara/slander, being sincere, being honest and being a loving caring person. In prior Moments of Inspiration, I shared many examples of Kiddush H and the importance of being ambassadors of H and Klal Yisrael.

We are all aware of the importance of shidduchim also for the older men and women in their thirties and forties. But, what about those who are in their fifties, sixties, seventies and even older? Why don’t they also count? Why shouldn’t an effort be made for those who are older?  Previously, I shared stories about older, widows, widowers, divorced and older singles who were never married (remember older is not being old) seeking to getting married.  

Helping to bring happiness to other people’s lives of any age is a tremendous zechus. Just this week, I received a call from someone who asked me for advice about a young woman who is in her fifties regarding a shidduch with a young man in his fifties. Whatever we do to help others with any chesed should  always be done Lesheim Shamayim. My motto is, no strings attached, just my tzitzis. 

The tefilah below speaks from our hearts, our minds and our souls. May H protect and guide us so that all of Klal Yisrael will be united as one family. With all the holiness we can bring to each other, will hopefully bring us the geula sheleima bekarov amein selah. May we truly have Am Yisrael Chai, Chaveirim Kol Yisrael, Shalom al Yisrael and always be proud of our heritage and who we are.

From: Between Me and You, Heartfelt Prayers for Each Jewish Woman. Compiled and adapted from the prayers of Rav Noson Sternhaltz by Yitzchok Leib Bell. Published by Nachas Books Jerusalem/New York. With Introduction by Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller. Acheinu Kol Beis Yisrael. “The prayers of Rav Noson Sternhartz (1789-1844) are powerful- very powerful. Indeed, they can be life-changing. Rav Noson was the closest disciple and foremost interpreter of the teachings of the Chassidic master Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810), great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov.” Rebbe Nachman taught that prayer is the primary gate through which we can come close to G and have a relationship with Him. By prayer, he meant not only our formal prayers, but also those private, personal prayers to G that we say in our own words and language. The Rebbe called that latter type of prayers hitbodedut, or being alone with G. He said that the highest form of personal prayer is that based on the Torah teachings of the Jewish sages.” (For the entire preface see Between Me & You.)  (Another word for our private prayers/tefilos are bakashos)(The English are condensed). 

Click here for the link to the video G Bless America.

Click here for the link to the video of the Star Spangled Banner.

Sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank