Welcome to the weekly newsletter of Igud HaRabbonim, the Rabbinical Alliance of America, in which we share news for and about members, including communal news, announcements, publications, Divrei Torah, press releases and media mentions.
In this newsletter:
• Divrei Torah: Shemos
• Jewish Press: Rosh Chodesh Teives
• Upcoming Yahrtzeits 21 Teives-28 Teives
• 5TJT: Anti-Semitic Rhetoric
• 5TJT: Support for Chief Rabbi
• Chaplaincy Commission Update
• Letter from Rabbi Pesach Lerner about Five Billion Dollars for Torah projects
• The Rabbinical Alliance of America Objects to Anti-Semitic Rhetoric in Traditional and Social Media
• RAA Issues Letter of Support for Sephardic Chief Rabbi Chacham Yitzchak Yosef Shlit’a
Please let us know about your family simchos and l"a aveilus, book publications and career changes or milestones, so we can share as chaveirim our life events. Send updates to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the desk of Rabbi Leonard (Yehuda) Blank MS, BCC
Director of Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/ Igud HaRabbonim
I continue to receive referrals requesting job positions as chaplains in health care facilities and other institutions. Even though some of those seeking such positions have various types of educational degrees, there is no substitute for Clinical Pastoral Education and if possible, to seek Board Certification from a reputable chaplaincy organization authorized to confer BCC. Many well-known hospitals and other health related facilities request their chaplains to have taken CPE. I have been asked though, is it possible a health care facility would be willing to accept someone without CPE- my response-that is up to the requirements of each individual institution. For additional information about CPE, where CPE is given please contact me at the email or cell number given above. Please note, that CPE is an intensive course and just like any other degree or certificate program, it is not for everybody.
It is truly unbelievable how many organizations, elected officials and others are in the forefront of addressing anti-Semitism in one way or another. Our own Rabbi Mirocznik just had an event With approximately 300 Staten Island community leaders ,residents, elected official, police, clergy and others attending. I just would like to make mention about Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg, and his address at the State of the State New York Assembly and State Senate in Albany this past week. As you know some of his congregants were seriously injured in a home terrorist attack on Chanukah. What a Kiddush H to witness a Chassidic rabbi speak so sincerely and exhilarating dressed in his Chassidic garb, with long peyosim flowing. He spoke so eloquently, with a heart filled with thanks to the Aibershta and also offering his appreciation to the Governor, police and others. What a wonderful ambassador not just for Chasidim , but for all of Klal Yisrael.
At the 13th Siyum HaShas, there were men and women who attended in the cold weather at MetLife Stadium from all Jewish backgrounds. No one had to be a member of Agudah, but of wanting to join together with achdus for Kvod HaTorah and Kvod Lshaim Shamayim. The world witnessed how it is possible also at the Barklay Center and at other locations throughout the world, the wonderful midos that could be seen and heard from the many news accounts about those who attended . But we must not forget, no matter how much we try to be who we are , all the chesed that is done, all the constant Kiddush H, we must not let our guard’s down. There is a time for action, a time to speak up, a time for appropriate collaborations, a time for achdus, but all the time, never forgetting we too are ambassadors of the Aibershta.
Not long ago Agudah published lists of hundreds of orthodox professionals who attended mainstream yeshivos, graduated and obtained professional degrees and have retained their identity as being orthodox . The Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim takes pride in having a membership of distinguished rabbonim many who are also in the professional world.
We offer opportunities through different venues to pursue advanced degrees and certificates as well as for their spouses and adult children and will continue to bring to light new and different programs in the months ahead. This includes informative and educational programs and events which are beneficial for rabbonim in particular.
And now more news from TTI about the famous COPE Jr. Accounting program. With TTI, students begin with COPE’s Jr. Accounting program. This is a series of accounting and business courses that result in a Jr. Accounting certificate, as well as college credits that are applicable to a full degree. Once students complete the program and affirm that they would like to continue on for the full Bachelors of Accounting, leading to the CPA exams, they continue with TTI’s guidance through the program. RAA members would receive their TTI membership discount at that point.
This program has graduated many successful graduates, many of whom have positions in prestigious firms across the country.
Classes begin on February 24th and classes begin one week before the program begins.
This round is for men only. The women and mens classes will begin again in September.
(PLEASE SEE THE ATTACHED AD) For additional information please contact TTI or myself.
COPE is a division of Agudath Israel of America Community Services Inc.
PLEASE VISIT THE RAA WEBSITE, INCLUDING EARNING A DEGREE . YOU WILL SEE INFORMAITON ABOUT YIEP, CAHE AND TTI.
Please read below and respond. This is a major effort to 1) prevent anti-religious groups from getting BILLIONS of dollars from communal funds and to 2) direct those funds towards Torah projects. The outcome of this election can change the nature and future of Eretz Yisroel for decades to come. Rav Elya Brudny discussed the importance of this effort at the recent Agudah convention. On the Eretz HaKodesh website, you can see articles about the potential negative outcome if we do not mobilize to counter the anti-Torah forces.
The ERETZ HAKODESH slate includes leaders of Igud HaRabbonim — Rav Ya’akov Klass and Rav Mendy Mirocznik — as well as other respected rabbonim.
Please see below and respond positively to enlist support among baale batim so we have an overwhelming success.
L’Kvod Morai V’Rabosei,
Our Torah and Mesorah are being challenged. Liberal Jewish groups are gathering tens of thousands of votes for the upcoming WZO Congress American Election in order to advance their agenda in Israel and the Diaspora. It’s up to us to stop it.
Every 5 years, The World Zionist Organization (WZO) holds an election to vote in the members of its Congress (the decision-making body of the WZO) and executive board members of the other national Israel organizations. This is a unique opportunity for the American Orthodox community to affect the culture and atmosphere of Eretz Yisroel.
152 delegates are voted in from the United States. These American delegates will be selected to:
Decide leadership positions in key national Israel organizations
Create policy that affects Jewish education, Shmiras Shabbos, and tradition at the Kotel
Set standards of marriage, divorce and conversion
Manage the allocation of hundreds of millions of dollars in funding toward various causes in Eretz Yisroel and around the world
Decide on the direction of the $1 billionannual budget ($5 billion in total)
The outcome of this election is CRITICAL to the Torah atmosphere of Eretz Yisrael. That’s where the Eretz HaKodesh Slate comes in. Gedolei Yisrael have directed us to act for Torah. Our goal is to vote Torah representatives into the WZO Congress so they can stand up for what we believe in.
To that end, we’ve put together a slate of delegates that represent the Yeshiva, Chasidic,Sephardic, and Israeli Torah communities of the United States. If our representatives are elected to the WZO Congress, they will have an enormous impact on the Torah standards and traditions of Eretz Yisrael.
Numerous Rabbanim, including HaRav Asher Weiss and HaRav Yitzchok Berkowitz of Yerushalayim, and HaRav Elya Brudny of New York (as reiterated at the recent 2019 Agudath Israel of America National Convention), feel that there is much merit in this endeavor and are encouraging us in our efforts.
We need YOUR help to accomplish our goals. We need Rabbonim, mechanchim, menahalim, and community leaders to spread the message of the campaign, and to encourage Torah Jews to vote to protect Torah values. Without representation from our communities in this election, the influence and funding will get placed in the hands of those that will encourage policies that are anti-Torah.
There is too much at stake for us to remain silent.
We need YOUR leadership. We need your community activists to get involved. We need you! Visit our website EretzHaKodesh.org to learn more about who supports us and please look out for our ads in upcoming papers and magazines.
Please reach out to us to discuss how you and your community can help shape the destiny and future of Eretz Yisrael.
Rabbi Pesach Lerner
Co-Chairman and Delegate, Eretz HaKodesh Slate President, Coalition for Jewish Values Executive V.P. Emeritus, National Council of Young Israel
The Rabbinical Alliance of America — Igud HaRabbonim, representing over 950 American rabbis — commends Governor Phil Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal for calling to stop the spread of hate on a local Facebook group, Rise Up Ocean County. For a long time, this group has hosted broad anti-Semitic content and comments in the context of changing demographics in Ocean County, New Jersey. Internet providers and content hosts need to act responsibly in their role as platforms for ideas that affect the broader culture, and can lead to bloody violence.
The Rabbinical Alliance of America expresses strong concern over Paul Mulshine’s January 12, 2020 column on NJ.COM, titled, “Governor Phil Murphy joins a Facebook food fight on overdevelopment in Lakewood,” objecting to the governor’s and attorney general’s call for editorial control on social media. Mulshine supports first ammendment freedom in spreading hatred and bigotry, objecting to attempts to influence Facebook to exercise sound editorial judgment. Unfortunately, Mulshine himself agitated against Orthodox Jews in this very article. Writing in the context of accusations of Jewish political influence, Mulshine says that, “A group of 11 elders called the Vaad interviews the candidates and makes its endorsements, which the voters wisely follow.” The term “Elders” holds ominous historical significance, alluding to the infamous book, Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a hateful forgery that has served as the handmaiden of anti-Semites for over a century. Such inflammatory language only serves to fuel the bigotry that is found in the Facebook group Rise Up Ocean County.
Further, Mulshine singles out Orthodox Jews by discussing only zoning and development plans that affect them while ignoring all other zoning and development changes under consideration in Ocean County. This focus on Jews and their influence, rather than broader demographic and settlement trends throughout the state and country, raises grave concerns. More than ever, this country needs journalists and commentators who can add sober context and evaluation into overly heated socio-political conversations.
The Rabbinical Alliance of America objects to this normalization of anti-Semitism in traditional and social media. If a Facebook page such as Rise Up Ocean County agitates against Jews in its posts, it cannot take refuge in the claim that the expected responses are just comments. On its face, this group appears to be a source of hatred and bigotry. The tenor of Rise Up Ocean County seemingly targets only Orthodox Jews, with inflammatory content about Orthodox Jews unrelated to development and occurring in other states. This reflects concern not just about over-development in Ocean County but a desire to keep out Orthodox Jews. This bigoted, un-American behavior is a symptom of the tumultuous times in which we live and must be opposed by all good people who cherish civic rights and responsibilities.
More than ever, this country needs unity and tolerance. As we witness the increasingly violent outcome of anti-Semitic rhetoric, we expect the media to use sensitivity and sound editorial judgment to report and comment on the news in a responsible way.
The Rabbinical Alliance of America calls upon editors and content managers of traditional and social media, including Facebook and NJ.com, to provide a clarification for these examples of irresponsible journalism and communication. The first ammendment allows writers, journalists and commenters free speech. It does not free them, their editors and their hosts from responsibility and criticism.
By Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht, Norwalk, CT
Member of the Presidium
“For the sake of Zion, I will not be silent, for the sake of Jerusalem I will not rest, until her righteousness comes out like brilliance, and her salvation burns like a torch.” (Isaiah 62:1)
On behalf of our membership – over 950 Orthodox spiritual leaders serving throughout the USA and Canada – the Rabbinical Alliance of America -Igud Harabonim express its unqualified support for the Rishon LeTzion Rav Yitzchak Yosef and the recent pronouncements regarding Conversions to Judaism.
The RAA concurs with Rav Yosef on the absolute necessity that proper procedures are adhered to as they pertain to conversions to Judaism –that they be exclusively according to HALACHA.
Furthermore, we are appalled at the blatant distortions and misrepresentations of the Chief Rabbis statement that were disseminated out of context to the world press – twisting the Sephardic Chief Rabbis words to assure condemnation of the Chief Rabbis office. We are perturbed that those who seek to dismantle the office of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel do so for partisan reasons, primarily due to antipathy to Jewish law and tradition as practiced for millennia.
We at the RAA are fully cognizant that the Chief Rabbis words have nothing to do with hostility, animus or racism of any segment of Israel’s population; nor were they expressed for political consideration. The RAA supports the Chief Rabbis words as having everything to do with protecting the integrity of Jewish identity and adherence to classical Halacha as codified in the Codes of Jewish Law.
The Office of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel is an essential and unifying institution and must function as an independent authority for all matters pertaining to GIYUR – CONVERSIONS and issues pertaining to RELIGIOUS IDENTITY and PERSONAL STATUS as indicated and codified in the CODE of JEWISH LAW – HALACHA & SHULCHAN ARUKH.
The time hallowed and established heritage of our people (Halacha) serves to preserve the unity of the Jewish people of all levels of observance. In fact, these standards serve to protect the world Jewish community from the escalating and alarming rate of assimilation and intermarriage.
May the One who makes peace in the Heavenly heights make peace upon us and upon all Israel, Amen