Baltimore, MD - Aug. 24, 2016       
Baltimore, MD - Aug. 25, 2016 - These short videos of Doniel Lansky, a'h, singing Nishmas were shot in April at the Ksivas Sefer Torah for Mercaz Torah U'Tefilah.
New York - US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump met with minority Republicans in New York on Thursday, including his former Republican campaign rival Ben Carson. Trump said his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party at large have done “little work” for African-Americans, and said he will make this a “focal point” of his speeches moving forward. Trump said America cannot become ‘great again’ unless blacks, Hispanics and others—“everybody”—are involved in the process.
Baltimore, MD – Aug. 25, 2016 – Please be aware that Park Heights Road between Glen Avenue and Pinkney seems to be completely closed off to vehicular traffic with police activity. Currently, traffic is being rerouted to both Cross Country and Reisterstown Road.
Umm Al-fahm, Israel - On the rundown streets of Umm al-Fahm, an Israeli-Arab city of 50,000, locals in smoky cafes are reluctant to speak. Violent crime at the hands of drug gangs is rife here. Reprisals are common. Israeli Jews rarely set foot in the city. “The gangs are in control,” said a man who refused to give his name, standing beneath two security cameras that he said were pointless since the police rarely came. Cities like Umm al-Fahm illustrate a stark division within Israeli society: the growing lawlessness in parts of the Arab community, which makes up 20 percent of Israel’s population and frequently complains of discrimination. With murder rates and other criminal activity far higher among Arabs - 59 percent of all murders are committed by Arabs, p...
Rio De Janeiro - Brazil’s Senate on Thursday began deliberating whether to permanently remove President Dilma Rousseff from office, the final step in a leadership fight that has paralyzed Congress and cast a pall over a nation in the midst of a severe recession. Brazil’s first female president is accused of illegally shifting money between government budgets to mask yawning deficits. Detractors say she did that to shore up support and argue those maneuvers exacerbated the recession in Latin America’s largest economy. Rousseff denies wrongdoing and says her enemies, including the country’s elite who have fumed about her Workers Party’s lock on power the last 13 years, are conducting a “coup.” Senators are now embarking “on their mos...
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Los Angeles - It’s a conspiracy: The 2016 campaign features one candidate who warned against the “vast right-wing conspiracy” and another who was a leader of the so-called “birther” movement. Donald Trump and his surrogates hint at a mysterious “illness” afflicting rival Hillary Clinton. Pushing back, Clinton warns of murky ties between Trump and the Russian government, insinuating that her Republican opponent may be a puppet of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Rumors and innuendo long confined to the far reaches of the Internet are dominating the presidential race, forcing Clinton to grapple — once again — with the kinds of whispers that have dogged her family for decades. Clinton has largely avoided discussing the conspira...
Bear, Delaware - Delaware State Police investigators were trying to determine Thursday how a woman fell 35 feet to her death from a zip line platform at a state park. Tina Werner, 59, of Felton, was waiting to ride the zip line at the Go Ape Tree Top Adventure at Lums Pond State Park in Bear on Wednesday afternoon when she tumbled from the platform, authorities said. Participants are equipped with climbing harnesses and carabineers that clip onto safety wires throughout the treetop course, which spans seven acres and includes four zip lines and a variety of swings, rope ladders, bridges and trapezes. According to the website of Go Ape, which is based in Frederick, Maryland, and operates attractions in 15 states, patrons receive a 30-minute training session before being turned l...
Daily Halacha
Chodesh Elul

From Rosh Hodesh Elul until after Yom Kippur  is a time of (Divine) favor.  Although, throughout the entire year,  the Holy One, blessed be He, accepts the repentance  of those who return to Him wholeheartedly,  in any case, these days (between the 1st of Elul and Yom Kippur) are more special  have been set aside for repentance,  because they are days of mercy and favor.  Because on Rosh Hodesh Elul, Moses ascended Mount Sinai  to receive the second set of stone tablets  and spent forty days there,  descending on the tenth of Tishrei,  which was then the finish of the atonement period1  From then on, these days were set aside as days of favor,  and the tenth of Tishrei as the Day of Atonement. 2  It is the custom in most places  to fast on the day preceding Rosh Hodesh Elul  and follow the order of prayer (termed) the Minor Day of Atonement  to prepare one's heart to repent.  If Rosh Hodesh Elul falls on Shabbat,  one advances (the fast) to the Thursday before it.  The Ari (lit; The Rabbi, our master, Rabbi Isaac Luria), may his memory be a blessing,3  wrote:4  ''Surely (a man) does not lie in ambush (to murder), but G-d  (who) caused this to happen, then I will provide for you (a place for you to take refuge)''  the first letters (of the words spell) Elul.  To tell (us) that this month  is (like a place of refuge,) a time of favor when (G-d) accepts (our) repentance  on the sins done throughout the year.  It also alludes to (sins) committed inadvertently  that also need repentance during this month  The Rabbis5 have also noted6  ''And G-d, your Lord, will circumcise  your heart and the hearts of your descendants''  the first letters (of the words spell) Elul  and also7  ''I am for my Beloved and my Beloved is for me''  the first letters (of the words spell) Elul  and also8  ''a person (sending gifts) to his friend and (giving) presents to the poor.''  the first letters (of the words spell) Elul  (The verses) allude to the three things, which are repentance  prayer, and charity,  which must be done eagerly in this month.  ''And G-d will circumcise...'' alludes to repentance;  ''I am for my Beloved...'' alludes to prayer,  which is ''a song of lovers'';  ''Sending gifts...''  alludes to charity. (KSA 128:1)
1) For the sin of the Golden Calf.
2) Moses went up to Mt Sinai for 3 consecutive 40 day periods; for the first forty days, Hashem taught him the entire Torah and gave him the first set of stone tablets, which Moses subsequently smashed when he came down the mountain and saw the Jews dancing around the Golden Calf; Moses then spent the next 40 days begging Hashem to forgive the Jewish People; the final forty days was spent receiving the second set of tablets.
3) Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-1572), renowned as the greatest kabbalist of modern times, is commonly known as the ARI, an acronym standing for Elohi Rabbi Yitzhak - the G-dly Rabbi Isaac.
4) To explain the verse Exodus 21:13.
5) lit; the explainers of lists.
6) Deuteronomy 30:6
7) Song of Songs 6:3
8) Esther 9:22

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A man is in custody and three people are dead after an apparent crossbow attack on a residential street in Scarborough on Thursday afternoon. Paramedics confirm the deceased are two men and a woman, all adults. Another male was taken to hospital with minor injuries. It happened at Lawndale and Argo roads near Eglinton Avenue East and Markham Road. Homicide detectives are on scene and have launched an investigation. No further information is currently available. It’s not the first time a crossbow has been used to end a life in Toronto. In December 2010, Zhou Fang shot and killed his father with a crossbow in a busy east end Toronto library. Two years later, Fang was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 10 years.
Baltimore, MD – Aug. 25, 2016 - It is with deep sorrow and regret that BaltimoreJewishLife.com informs the community of the petirah of Daniel Lansky, A’H, husband of Elana (Zylberminc) Lansky, father of  Coby, Aaron and Gabi Lansky, son of Rabbi & Mrs. Nachum Lansky. The levayah will take place today at Levinson’s at 4:00 PM  - Kevurah at Agudath Israel Cemetery 6300 Hamilton Ave Rosedale, MD 21237 Shiva will take place at 6529 Pebble Brooke Road Baltimore, MD 21209. Shacharis- 8:00 AM Mincha/Maariv- 7:30 PM Mincha Friday- 3:00 PM Bila HaMaves LaNetzach...
Parsha Hashavua
Parshas Aikev: Who's the Stranger?

I´m a stranger in a strange land..


- Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter


In Parshat Ekev, we are confronted with one of the most compelling – and counter-intuitive – obligations in all Torah.  “You too must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Deut. 10:19)  This mitzvah actually appears thirty-six times, double chai, in Torah.  We have heard it so often and referred to it so regularly that we often lose sight of its power and unsettling demand.  We do so at our peril and diminishment.


Too often, we have “tamed” this mitzvah to fit our needs rather than confront the profound – and gracious – imposition that it places upon us.  But listen to this command with fresh ears, with the ears of our ancestors, with the ears of a people and a world for whom communal identity was fundamental to self and existence.  This command tells us to go against everything that our instincts teach us.  It tells us to look beyond the familiar and the safe and to see in the one who is different and alien the same fundamental goodness and holiness that God bestows upon all His creatures.


Astonishing!


Why should we look beyond our safe and familiar boundaries and welcome this alien into our embrace?  Because his experience and his status is understandable to us.  After all, we were gerim in the land of Egypt.  We too know what it means to be the alien, the “other”, the feared and the reprehensible.  That experience should inform our understanding of the plight of others.


Too often, it does not.


Even knowing, as Ramban teaches, that we are commanded to love the ger because Hashem loves him.  We know this because Hashem certainly loves us and we were strangers too.  Our experience, of pain, our sense of disassociation teaches us that God loves the stranger.  And, if God loves the stranger so should we. 


Sefer HaChinuch tells us that when someone leaves his family and his country of origin to become a “stranger” in a new environment, it is a very difficult adjustment.  To survive and to thrive, the stranger needs help and support.  We are obligated to provide it.


Our understanding of the ger and this mitzvah must be rooted in our Mitzrayim experience.  For we all must experience the pain and angst of the galut, of the wilderness of our souls; none of us can be born redeemed.  It is only in our wandering and our wrestling with our lives and our experience that we appreciate redemption and the grace God affords us.  Without galut there is no grace and redemption.  Without the ger there is no citizen. 


Our destiny is bound in the success of the ger.  Just as our own experience as strangers brought us to the foot of Sinai, we must recognize that in every ger is the potential for a Sinai experience.  It is our obligation to help, not hinder; to open our hearts, not harden them.


This mitzvah asks us, demands of us, to challenge the very heart of who we are, to be willing – no, to be more than willing, to actively pursue – embracing the experience of the ger, to care for the ger.


For we were gerim… 


* * *


Such a powerful command.  Is it any wonder that so many seek to shirk it?  Even the most “religious” among us seek to wrestle from this command its essential demand.  How?  By defining the “ger” in comfortable and familiar terms. 


This mitzvah challenges each and every Jew to go beyond, to reach out, to extend a hand, to develop relationships – beyond one’s familiar “turf”.  Yet, many observant Jews are inclined to look at gerim with crossed eyes.  What?  Me?  Who?  Many observant Jews avoid any possibility of crossing paths with the ger.  Most turn a blind eye, telling themselves, “I have enough with our own.”   They view the ba’al teshuva with even greater scorn than they do the ger.  Who would want to marry into a ba’al teshuva family?  Who needs the hassle?  After all, “if you aren’t born with it, you can never catch up…”


This perspective dims the consideration to other gerim.  The divorced.  The older, single person.  The widow. 


There is always a “reasonable” excuse.  “I can’t handle that.”  “That’s not for me.”  “I can’t handle those tears at my Shabbos table.”


“What am I, a social worker?  I’m just a simple Jew.”


What about that OTD person?  Oye!  God spare me from him.  Keep him away from my chevra.  Keep him away from my community, my shul.  After all, I can’t be responsible for every failure out there.


Can I?


 “You shall not wrong a stranger, nor oppress him; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 22:20).


* * *


In Ekev, God tells us that we are responsible for the ger.


But who is the ger


I posed this question to my son, Nathan.  He responded with a thoughtful answer which demands our attention.  “People think that the admonition not to mistreat gerim is a directive at a specific group of people who have unique circumstances that qualify them as ‘gerim’.  I think the directive is different.  I think anyone in any social situation can feel like a ger.  The new kid in class.  The new guy at the office.  In fact, in any social situation there is likely to be someone that feels like a ger—doesn’t have to be a new situation, it’s just the inevitability of a social dynamics.”


With this thoughtful reply, he enlarges the understanding of what it means to be a ger to those whose place in life makes them feel like a ger!  Even the one who is part of the community can sometimes feel like a stranger. 


Haven’t we all experienced that feeling?


This understanding of the mitzvah encourages us to look for the ger in every situation and respond supportively and caringly to them, it encourages us to see in the eyes of the estranged divorced men and women who have lost their home, Shabbos table, dignity, and confidence, that stranger that we were once in the land of Egypt! 


The teens who have become estranged from their homes, yeshivas, shuls, and communities? These OTD?  Gerim.  To be treated not with scorn but loving kindness.


Why?  Because we were gerim in the land of Egypt.  Now they are gerim in their own mitzrayim (narrow, tight place).  They are boxed in.  Lost.  And God commands that we treat them with respect, loving kindness, decency.  God commands that we treat them in a way that makes clear that redemption is just ahead.


* * *


We invest so much of our lives to belonging, to being part of our community.  Our sense of self, of decency and dignity come from how we see ourselves reflected in the eyes of those closest to us, the eyes of those who we number amongst the “we” of our lives.  We are taught from a young age to fear the stranger.


“Do not talk to strangers!”


The “other” is a threat to everything we hold dear; to everything we invest our time and efforts to preserve.  In English, “strange” and “stranger” is derived from the root ejhs.  The derivation gives rise to such terms and ideas as “out of the ordinary”, “unusual”, “striking”.


These terms, and what they imply cause us to shiver, fearing the damaging potential they represent.


We are seeing the rawness of these emotions played out in the current political atmosphere, in which immigrants and people of color are feared as “the other”.  They diminish us.  They rob our jobs, our resources, our land.


Strangers.


 According to some, they are criminals, rapists, gang members.  They are, in short, anything but human, anything but God’s creatures currently in the galut but in search of their coming redemption.


God does not accept our fear, our incendiary words, our hateful speech and behavior.  “You shall not wrong a stranger, nor oppress him; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 22:20).


When we stood at the foot of Sinai, perhaps we had already forgotten the fear and shame of being gerim.  God demands that we remember, not for ourselves but for others who still feel those demeaning emotions even as we bask in the light of grace.


Who is the ger?


We all are.


Who is in galut?


We all are.


Who stands at the foot of Sinai?


We all do.


Together.

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London - An easyJet flight from London’s Gatwick Airport to Belfast has faced an hourlong delay after two crew members got into an epic shouting match. Shocked passengers tweeted about the argument that grew so heated that the two crew members had to be removed from Wednesday’s flight. Dan Lobb, a television presenter on the flight, described the scene as “unreal.” He tweeted: “This is quite incredible. We’ve all worked with people we don’t get on with right? But this tiff means a 1 hr flight is delayed!” The low-cost carrier confirmed what it called a “verbal disagreement” and apologized to passengers for the inconvenience. The company said Thursday that the safety and welfare of EasyJet passengers and employees requir...
Philippines - A Filipino fisherman in western Palawan island has found possibly the world’s biggest pearl, but he didn’t know it. For 10 years, the 34-kilogram (75-pound) pearl was hidden in a bag under a bed. The fisherman’s family would rub it with their hands before going out to sea in the belief it would bring them luck, said relative Aileen Amurao. Amurao, who is also Puerto Princesa city’s tourism officer, said Thursday that the man gave her the pearl last month for safekeeping because he was moving to a new place. The pearl was sitting on a bench in her home for weeks until she found time to check the internet, and she was shocked to learn that it could be the world’s biggest at 2.2 feet (67 centimeters) long and 1 foot (30 centimeters) wide...
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Tehran - Iran’s defense minister said on Thursday four of his country’s vessels accused of harassing a U.S. warship were only doing their job, and Tehran would confront any American ship that entered its waters. The vessels from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) conducted what a U.S. defense official described as a “high speed intercept” of the warship on Tuesday in the Strait of Hormuz. The official said two of the Iranian vessels came within 300 yards of the USS Nitze in an incident that was “unsafe and unprofessional,” underlining the tensions that remain more than a year after Washington and other Western powers reached a landmark nuclear deal with Iran and lifted sanctions. Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said Thursd...
Baltimore, MD – Aug. 25, 2016 - It is with deep regret that BaltimoreJewishLife.com informs the community of the petirah of Mr. Chaim Avrohom Benyowitz, father of Rabbi Yoel Benyowitz, Rabbi Yirmiyahu Benyowitz and Rabbi Gidon Benyowitz. The levaya will take place tonight in Eretz Yisroel at 10:00 pm. Shiva will be observed at the Benyowitz home – 4010 Labyrinth Road beginning this afternoon until after Shacharis Wednesday morning. Davening times are as follows: Shachris  (Fr, Su, Mo-Wed) -  7:30 am Mincha (Th, Su-Tu) -   7:00 pm Maariv  (Th, Su-Tu) -  9:00 pm Friday Mincha  -   4:30 pm Bila HaMaves LaNetzach...
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Washington - Mylan NV said on Thursday it would reduce the out-of-pocket cost of its severe allergy treatment EpiPen through a discount program, a day after Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton joined lawmakers in criticizing the drug’s high price. The company, which did not lower the drug’s list price, said it would reduce the patient cost of EpiPen through the use of a savings card, which will cover up to $300 of EpiPen 2-Pak. Price of the product, acquired in 2007, has zoomed to $600 from $100 in 2008. For patients previously paying the full list price, the card effectively reduces their out-of-pocket cost exposure by 50 percent, Mylan said. The company said it is also doubling the eligibility for its patient assistance program, which will eliminate ...
New York - Global messaging service WhatsApp says it will start sharing the phone numbers of its users with Facebook, its parent company. That means WhatsApp users could soon start seeing more targeted ads on Facebook — although not on the messaging service itself. The move is a subtle but significant shift for WhatsApp, which has long promised to safeguard the privacy of more than 1 billion users around the world. WhatsApp is giving users a limited time to opt out of sharing their information with Facebook, although they must take the extra step of unchecking a box to do so. It also says Facebook won’t post phone numbers online or give them out to anyone. But the giant social network has been looking for ways to make money from WhatsApp since it bought the service t...
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Brooklyn, NY - Police are hoping that a driver with Taxi and Limousine Commission license plates will come forward after hitting a six year old boy yesterday in Borough Park. The driver of the black Toyota Sienna hit the boy at 4:13 PM Wednesday at the intersection of Fort Hamilton Parkway and 41st Street. Police said that the boy was crossing the street with his family at the time of the accident. Britt Argueta, of Eben-Ezer Winner Wireless Video located at the corner of 41st Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway, caught the entire episode on surveillance video. The video shows the minivan running the red light at Fort Hamilton before striking the boy who had stopped for a moment to pick something up off the ground.  The boy was pushed several yards by the minivan which then ...
New York - A Mississippi firefighter who received the world’s most extensive face transplant after a burning building collapsed on him said Wednesday that he feels like “a normal guy” for the first time in 15 years. Patrick Hardison, 42, said he can now eat, see, hear and breathe normally, thanks to last year’s surgery. He has a full head of hair and hits the gym twice a week. “Before the transplant, every day I had to wake up and get myself motivated to face the world,” Hardison told reporters at NYU Langone Medical Center. “Now I don’t worry about people pointing and staring or kids running away crying. . I’m happy.” Hardison was a volunteer firefighter in Senatobia, Mississippi, when a building collapsed on him in 2...
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Jackson, MS - Nigel Farage, a key figure in the successful campaign to get Britain out of the European Union, lent his support to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Wednesday, saying Trump represented the same type of anti-establishment movement that he masterminded in his own country. Farage appeared with Trump before a cheering crowd of thousands at a rally in Jackson, Mississippi. Farage partly based his Brexit drive on opposition to mass immigration to Britain that he said was leading to rapid change in his country. His appearance came as Trump sought to moderate his own hardline stance against illegal immigration. In remarks broadcast on Wednesday, Trump backed further away from his vow to deport millions of illegal immigrants, saying he would be willing to wo...
Ramapo, NY - A fatal collision last night on a major thoroughfare in Monsey took the life of an 18 year old young woman from a well known local family. Shaindy Mashinsky, daughter of Rabbi Yosef Mashinsky, was crossing Route 59 at approximately 8:50 PM Tuesday near Augusta Avenue just west of Route 306 with her younger sister when she was struck by a minivan traveling eastbound on the busy roadway.  The younger Miss Mashinsky, whose name and age were not released by the Ramapo Police Department, had just reached the south side of Route 59 when the collision occurred, but the elder girl was still in the roadway. Paramedics treated Shaindy Mashinsky on scene and transported her to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla in serious condition with injuries to her head and body...
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