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: Nitzavim
• Upcoming Yahrtzeits 27 Elul-5 Tishrei
• “Fulfilling the Divine Will” – Rabbinic Guidance, Teshuva, Hate Crimes, Yeshiva Funding and More on the Front Burner at Igud HaRabbanim’s 33rd Annual Chai Elul Siyum HaShas
• Chaplaincy Commission Update
• Yamim Tovim Position Available
• Choose a Masechta for Chai Elul 5782 Siyum HaShas
• Jewish Vues: Chai Elul Siyum HaShas
• Jewish Voice: Chai Elul Siyum HaShas
• Arutz Sheva: Chai Elul Siyum HaShas
• COL: Chai Elul Siyum HaShas
• HaModia: Chai Elul Siyum HaShas
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 email@example.com.
A new year is around the corner. Members of Klal Yisroel are pulling out all the stops to merit a Kesiva V’chasima Tova. Both at the individual and communal levels, there are so many berachos and yeshuos that are so badly needed. As always, Klal Yisroel looks towards its rabbanim for leadership, guidance, advocacy and chizuk.
In front of the ornate Aron Kodesh of the Sephardic Lebanese Congregation on Avenue T in Brooklyn, and later in the simcha hall downstairs, leaders of the Igud HaRabbanim/Rabbinical Alliance of America and other distinguished guests crystallized the calling of leadership in our day. This has been the Igud’s mission since 1942, when it was founded by gedolim such as Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky zt”l, Rav Gedaliah Schorr zt”l and Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz zt”l, and later encouraged and guided by the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt”l & Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l. The Igud currently has a growing network of nearly 1,000 diverse rabbanim across the country, as well as a Beth Din led by Rav Herschel Kurzrock, and a robust government advocacy operation.
For the 33rd consecutive year, the Igud held its flagship gathering on Chai Elul, the birthday of the Baal Shem Tov and Baal HaTanya zt”l. The annual gathering’s highlights include a Siyum HaShas, cumulatively completed by the Igud’s rabbanim; and a convocation summing up the Igud mission for the year ahead.
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, Executive Vice-President of the Igud, emphasized the consistent and fearless leadership that the Igud’s rabbanim represent regardless of the issues of the day. “Rabbanim must often take unpopular positions,” he candidly explained. “The Igud provides the tools for them to succeed.”
The highlight of the multi-hour event, no doubt, was the Siyum HaShas. Rabbi Shaul Kassin, Chief Rabbi of the Syrian Community, made the Siyum on the entire Talmud. Rabbi Kassin explained that the Siyum symbolizes that the Igud’s rabbanim are not content merely with learning and leading the tzibbur around the clock. “The rabbanim show that they want to do ‘retzono shel makom,’ fulfill the divine will,” he exclaimed in an address replete with profound Talmudic insights. Rabbi Leibel Wulliger Rosh Kollel, Nachlas Dovid, of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, made the Has’chala HaShas with an impassioned series of Talmudic interpretations.
At this rabbinic convocation, the RAA honored the following members of the NYPD: Hon. Dermot Shea, Police Commissioner of the City of New York, received the Distinguished Guardianship Award; Chief Jeffrey Maddrey, Chief of Community Affairs, received the Exemplary Community Leadership Award; NYPD Chaplain Dr. Imam Tahir Kukiqi received the Exceptional Partnership Award; and NYPD Deputy Inspector Richard Taylor, Commanding Officer, Community Affairs Office of the Chief of Community Affairs, received the Outstanding Community Service Award.
The following dignitaries were in attendance: Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein; Councilman Kalman Yeger; Pinny Ringel, representing Mayor Bill de Blasio; Simon Sebag, representing Public Advocate Jumanie Williams; Pinny Hikind, representing Comptroller Scott Stringer; Rabbi Eli Slavin and Gabriel Torres, representing Congresswoman Yvette Clark; District Leader and NYC Council Candidate Ari Kagan; and NYC Council Candidate Steve Saperstein, among other dignitaries that attended the event to discuss the concerns of Torah Jewry with the Igud. Additionally, Rabbi Nissim Zeev, founder of the Shas Party and former Member of the Knesset; Rabbi Aharon Zeev; Rabbi Yeruchim Silber, Agudath Israel’s Director of New York Government Relations; Rabbi Josh Mehlman, Chairman of the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition; Rabbi Chanania Sperlin, Executive Vice-President of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council; Rabbi Berish Frelich; Rabbi Zvi Berkowitz; Rabbi Shlomo Braun; Rabbi Avi Greenstein, CEO of the Borough Park Jewish Community Council; Rabbi David Heskiel, NYPD Clergy Liaison (CAB) Organizing Committee; Rabbi Chesky Blau; Rabbi Ari Weiss, Staten Island Shomrim; and Mark Meyer Appel, President and Founder of the Bridge Multi Cultural Project were in attendance. The following top brass of the NYPD were in attendance: Deputy Chief Joseph Gallucci, Inspector Marlon Larian and Inspector Max Talentino.
The Siyum HaShas and dinner was dedicated in memory of Rabbi Meir Shapiro zt”l, Chief Rabbi of Buenos Aires and Igud Chairman, and his Rebbetzin Pearl Yita Shapiro zt”l,by Rabbi Pinny Shapiro and family.
The event began with greetings by the host, Rabbi Eliyahu Elbaz the Mara D’atra of the Sephardic Lebanese Congregation, and an invocation by Rabbi Leonard (Yehuda) Blank, MS, BCC, Director of Programing, Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs for the Igud, and former New York City Housing Authority Police Department Chaplain. Subsequently, Rabbi Michael Meir Melnicke, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, RAA/Igud and Chairman of the Siyum HaShas and Dinner presented awards to Commissioner Shea, Chief Maddrey, Chaplain Imam Dr. Tahir Kukiqi and Deputy Inspector Richard Taylor.
Commissioner Shea addressed head-on the startling rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York. Commissioner Shea assured the rabbanim that the NYPD and its Hate Crimes apparatus are taking the issue seriously. “We are not going backwards as a city,” he said.
Rabbi Yehoshua Hecht, chairman of the Igud presidium, Rav of Congregation Beth Israel Chabad of Norwalk, CT, passionately articulated the Igud’s official convocation agenda for the coming year. Top agenda items include: lobbying for a mandated daily moment of silence, recognizing the Creator, in educational institutions across America; urging the Jewish Federation organizations to increase their support for Torah education; supporting the integrity of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate and its fealty to Halacha; and promoting awareness that the Igud is an authentic voice of American Jewry, whose Torah observant bloc is growing fast.
The event concluded with the climactic Siyum HaShas. This was the culmination of a year of learning of Igud’s rabbis, who divided the entire Talmud for individual study, and the beginning of a new period of study. Each new year has its own set of challenges but we constantly return to the Talmud for guidance. As the inspirational ceremonies concluded, the Igud’s rabbanim returned to their respective communities, with chizuk and a clear mandate for their avodas hakodesh in the year ahead.
From the desk of Rabbi Leonard (Yehuda) Blank MS. BCC
Director of Programming, Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud Harabbonim
917 446 2126 firstname.lastname@example.org
September 2, 2021
15 months have passed = Personal reflections = Rosh HaShanah the New Year
My last article of this year 5781. Looking back at so many challenges, changes, difficulties, sadness, happiness, joy and meaning of life. Those who celebrate the secular New Year, have a count down until the Times Square ball comes down, symbolically the old is out and the new is in. For many there are the parties, the celebrations, horns blowing, and shouting happy new year. How different do we celebrate, or I should say bring in the New Year. The only horn blowing is the Shofar. O Holy One, my tears I shed from my eyes, praying from my heart for forgiveness, praying to be inscribed in the “good books” for a good and sweet year. Amongst these days, we remember many things that have occurred reminding us how delicate life has been. I have mentioned in the past that H does not want our days to be filled with sadness and tears, but to find happiness, giving kindness to each other, to others and for ourselves. So, if that be the case, why do many things that happen which bring us unhappiness and sadness? We can find multitudes of reasons, but we do not know why G does things that seem to puzzle us. Yes, we are only human. That is often said when we humans do things, we know are not appropriate. H does love us. Of course, He knows we are only human, but we must know He is as we say Shema Yisrael Hear O Israel H is our G the One and only G. “Love of H is one of the two pillars of true Divine Service” (Mesillas Yesharim 19) “ From there you will seek H, your G, and you will find Him, if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul”. ( Devarim 4:29)
Rabbanim, Rebbitzens, Chaplains, must have big and strong shoulders to carry the weight of all the difficulties, the hardships, the challenging times of those who truly believe in H, but in times of need, when understanding, care and help is needed, it is sometimes difficult to have and keep ones emunah, faith strong and steadfast. I personally have shared for over a year my own challenging times. I shared my own trials and tribulations sometimes with uncertainly, but I wanted to seek the truth, I wanted to understand, I wanted to accept true faith. Boruch H, I can look back as one who has climbed a tall hill and to look down of how far I have come. Life can never be the same, but life can be beautiful with new, wonderful, and remarkable beginnings. If we did not have a positive attitude filled with hope and faith, then why request brachos from rabbanim. Even rabbanim seek brachos from their mentors and other great rabbanim. I am grateful to the Ribono Shel Olam for all His kindness. To have the desire to be successful. To overcome moments of difficult. Finding opportunities of meaning of life and to be able to persevere. For having dear family, friends, colleagues, esteemed rabbanim, and others. I am proud to have meaningful and professional relationships with the leadership of other organizations and agencies.
At my grandnephews wedding this past Sunday evening, I was experiencing lot’s of simcha. After the chupah, I met a woman who asked if I remembered her. She remembered my wife (A”H) and was hoping to meet her to invite us to her and her husband’s home for a Shabbos. She was so full of smiles – what was I going to say? I have had such an experience when telling someone my wife was nifteres would not be a good choice at that time. So, I was not going to tell this woman the same. However, where was my wife for her to say hello? I tried to evade, but to no avail. I tried to give a nice response like she is away, but where? Can’t say on vacation. Could have said, she was unable to attend. But maybe she did attend the chupah together with the Chasan’s grandparents A”H and great grandparents A”H (my parents and sister and brother-in-law) Anyways, it came out. I shared how much we enjoyed the Shabbos when we were by her some years ago. She wished me well and thanked me. Then later that evening, I received other people’s blessings to have simchas for myself as well as the family. Going from one situation of brief moments of feeling melancholy to feelings of hope after receiving kind words and blessings for the New Year. It is now 15 months since my wife was nifteres. Her legacy and mesorah continues through the entire Brady Bunch plus one and all the grandchildren and great grandchildren. For me her legacy is my continuing all that is related to Torah, Avoda, Gemilus Chasadim, maysim tovim, happiness, simchas hachayim and a meaningful, positive life to go on as she wished. The entire family and I wish the same for Klal Yisrael especially for all those who have gone through difficult times to have a wonderful year 5782. Everyone should be mispallel and have in mind for all who need a refuah, shiduchim, parnasah, hatzlacha, simchas hachayim, participating in many simchas and maysim tovim.
Nothing comes by without the guidance of the Ribono Shel Olam. Nothing happens without His making anything and everything possible. He gives us the bechira to make our decisions, to set our course and direction we want to take, or we hope to take. But there too, we do so with hope, emunah, faith, betachim and the desire for our decision making should be appropriate and with His love for us. Last week in my article, I shared my hakaros hatov to several individuals for what I gained, incorporated, learned from, and carried over to my professional life. Success in addition to the help of the Ribono Shel Olam are those who have been supportive and helpful through the years. Success is not just me, myself, and I. Through those years, there have been many who were extraordinary for their assistance, support, and advice to numerous to mention but who I have been grateful for. Their friendship I truly appreciate.
Rav Dovid in previous years during peril, difficult and challenging times for Klal Yisrael mentioned the tefilah (supplications) of Tachanun recited on Monday and Tuesday’s is a tefila for Klal Yisrael. There are also two personal tefilos found in the weekday Shemone Esrei towards the end of Shema Koleinu for forgiveness and the other personal tefila for livelihood. Many who recite these two, do so at the conclusion of the Shemone Esrei rather than by the Shema Koleinu where names of cholim are often mentioned. Many also add personal bakashos to the Ribono Shel Olam also at this point. O Heilika Tate, who else can I cry to, beseech to from my heart if not to You.
The importance of putting aside ones own personal concerns when giving care to another person. Rav Dovid ztkl was coming out of a hospital after having been together with family -his granddaughter who was nifteres, a truly difficult and sad time for him. Yet, when a person met him as he was leaving the hospital telling them exciting news of the birth of a child, Rav Dovid had smiles, gave his mazel tov and brachos without any expression of remorse. Rav Dovid was full of kindness. Kindness, and appreciation for even the little things in life, let alone what might be considered momentous occasions. “The beginning and the end of the Torah is the performance of loving kindness.” (Sotah 14 a) “In the house of Avraham they were kindhearted”. (Bereishis Rabbah (53) When I was the Director of Pastoral Care and the Rabbi of the Bialystoker Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation there was a Catholic patient who was grateful for our relationship. She gave me a present before she died of a book that was precious to her- 14, 000 Quips and Quotes for writers and speakers by E.C McKenzie, Wing Books Baker Book House Company. I would like to share some of the following quotes. “Kindness makes a fellow feel good whether it’s done to him or by him”. “People will overlook the faults of anyone who is kind”. “Kindness is a warm breeze in a frigid climate, a radiant heat that melts the iceberg of fear, distrust and unhappiness”. “Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see”. “Kindness is the insignia of a loving heart”. “Kindness is like snow it makes everything beautiful.”
Once again, I want to thank all my readers for taking the time to read my articles. I hope you found them of some value and for joining me in my many journeys and reflections, personal and professional. I once again want to thank Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, Executive Vice President and Hanhalah of the RAA for their support, encouragements for all my past, present and future work on behalf of the RAA with the emphasis on being Mekadeish H and Achdus.
We recite in the Selichos
Aneinu H Aneinu- Answer us, Answer us. Hu Ya aneinu, may He answer us.
Kesiva Vechasima Tovah / A Shana Tova Umesuka
הנה מה טוב ומה נעים לגמור כל הש״ס בדיבוק חברים. בשנים שעברו היו רק רבנים אחדים שלמדו כל הש”ס בשביל איגוד הרבנים. בשנה הזאת השתתפו הרבה מחברי האיגוד לגמור את כל התלמוד וגם בשנה הבאה עלינו לטובה מתכבדים אנו להזמין כבודכם להשתתף בסיום על ידי לימוד מסכת לסיים עד ח״י אלול תשפ״ב.
פטרון הש״ס הוא ידידנו עוז המנדב מידי שנה בשנה הנגיד הנכבד הרב בנש״ק רבי פנחס שפירא הי״ו וזגתו החשובה אשת חיל תחי׳ לע״נ הוריו היקרים נבג״מ אביו הרב מאיר בן הרב ישכר דוב זצ״ל ואמו פערל יוטא בת הרה״ג שלמה ע״ה.
In past years, a few members of Iggud HaRabbonim finished Shas each year in time for the Chai Elul Siyum HaShas. This year, many members joined together to learn the entire Talmud and next year we are again opening up the learning to all members. Some masechtos were quickly taken. Please look at the list above and email Rav Duvid Katz which masechta you will learn and complete before Chai Elul 5781. email@example.com
Edited by: TJVNews.com A new year is around the corner. Members of Klal Yisroel are pulling out all the stops to merit a Kesiva V’chasima Tova. Both at the individual and communal levels, there are so many berachos and yeshuos that are so badly needed. As always, Klal Yisroel looks towards its rabbanim for leadership, guidance, advocacy and chizuk. In front…