Chaplaincy Commission Update

From the desk of Rabbi Leonard ( Yehuda ) Blank, MS. BCC
Director of Programming, Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim
April 29, 21  ^^^^^^

After this article, there will be three more articles I will be dedicating to my wife Keila Lutza bas Shalom HaKohen – two before her yartzeit and the third after the last memorial for this year- a yartzeit siyum being held the night after Shavuos. A culmination of my articles which included when my wife was quite ill and the following months after her petira leading up to the final memorial for this year. I still receive thanks from those who have found my articles comforting and inspiring, from others who have gained another way of seeing what is has been for a husband, a widower lens not just in the realm of grief and bereavement, but in the impact in my life. In general the feelings, the emotions , the journey, my journey and how I have been able to live a “normal” life, an active life a meaningful life and at times somewhat lonely. But there is one word I have never thought of and to my knowledge, have not used throughout my articles. That word is EMPTINESS. That is the key and missing word not mentioned. There has been a void, in my life. Sure, I have mentioned how I miss her, missing all the things we shared and did together, with our children, family and others. EMPTINESS – but something has been missing. A gap in my life. So here is another analogy. It is possible for a person to have a gaping hole due to an injury which eventually closes up. Sometimes on it’s own and sometimes with stiches. Eventually, a scab forms and covers that hole, not to be seen again. I have filled that gap with the many diverse things I have been doing, professionally and personally. My feelings of loneliness and sadness started to dissipate. Meaningful activities, prayers, Torah learning, the various programs I have been working on has helped fill the gap. New experiences, friends, colleagues and relationships and the feeling of hope has help shape, create and fill any moments of loneliness with a rededicated life.  With new relationships on the horizon, with joy of connecting with family, and finding the kindness, joy and meaning has helped shift the feelings to a happier place in life. None of this comes easy, but the desire to “go on in life” not being swamped or heaven forbid, drowning in self pity, being as productive as possible is so important. I have been reminded from those who I am close with how much my wife would be proud of what I am doing and how much she wants me to be happy.  Happiness can be defined in different ways. Unfortunately, COVID has prevented many including myself from going places, doing things – even a shul kiddush has been mostly nonexistence. This includes having guests over in general let alone without wearing a mask.  For many, not being able to get the vaccination for months due to age requirements or the fear instilled by those who preached about not taking the vaccination was horrendous and only added to the sadness in life. Many of my readership have heard or read about these thoughts, but until it hits home, find it difficult to really feel the challenges many of us face. I just ordered new easy to do cookbooks, as I’m back to cooking etc. I’m even having the first day of Shavuos two guests for a Shavuos meal that I will be preparing. Having these guests is meaningful for me in more ways than one. Especially it will be the yartzeit of Keila Lutza bas Shalom HaKohen A”H. Also, having company for a meal together is really a big thing. I even reviewed the menu with them. And now with various restrictions being lifted, I hope to be getting “my feet even more wet” but still being cautious whenever necessary. Rather than the day of her yartzeit to be remembered how and when she died, to remember how important doing mitzvos and kind deeds because of our Torah which meant so much to her. And the kindness she bestowed on to others. Even as late as yesterday, I am reminded by others of her radiant smile filled with her happiness and joy of life-with practically no one ever suspecting how serious her illness was. [...Click headline above for more...] 

Chaplaincy Commission Update

From the desk of Rabbi Leonard (Yehuda) Blank, MS.BCC
Director of Programming, Chaplaincy Commission 
and External Affairs
917-446-2126 rablenblank@gmail.com
March 18, 21                                                                                                                                   ***** [...Click headline above for more...]