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Have you heard the news? Bnos’ exciting new middle school girls’ program is starting. Middle-schoolers are too old for Bnos Shabbos groups, and for years we had no way to include them in Bnos. Then came Bnos One on One, where we paired middle school Little Sisters for individual activities with high school Big Sisters. Building on that success, we wanted to give 6th, 7th, and 8t graders their own group activities, too. We spent the summer planning events, activities, a curriculum, a theme, and middos lessons with cool acronyms. We worked on a song and set up an exclusive hotline....
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Kol Yisrael arevim zeh bazeh – all Jews are responsible for one another. This is a principle we strive to ideally live by as Jews. We create communities, build shuls and yeshivas, celebrate Shabbas and Chagim together, focus on our connections to family and other community members. We identify as a nation – one people – emphasizing our relationships with each other, doing acts of chesed and caring for one another. Loving and protecting our most vulnerable community members, helping those who are sick or in pain, and offering support are arguably the ideal paradigms of this Talmudic imperative. We would like to believe that substance use and addiction is not something we Jews are affected by, but that is simply not the case. In our work at CCSA, including our support grou...
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Baltimore, MD - Oct. 20, 2021 - On Sunday night, October 24th at 7:30pm, the Baltimore City Health Department and The Associated will host a live virtual Town Hall meeting with the Orthodox Jewish community about COVID-19 vaccination. You’ve got questions and concerns, let’s bring those to the table and hear answers from experts and community leaders. The panel of presenters will include Rabbi Jonathan Seidemann, Dr. Kendra McDow, Dr. Naor Bar Zeev, Dr. Susan Lipton, and Councilman Yitzy Schleifer, and will be moderated by Laura Kurcfeld - VALUE Baltimore’s Vaccine Coordinator for our community. We will cover all the hot topics on people’s minds relating to COVID-19 vaccination – breakthrough cases, kids and teens vaccination, fertility concerns, myocardi...
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Baltimore, MD - Oct. 14, 2021  - Last year, Hashem closed our shuls, yeshivos and schools. It caused us great spiritual pain and led to communal soul searching and personal introspection. Rav Reuven Leuchter asks rhetorically whether Hashem is ‘angry’ with us? Rav Leuchter answers that Hashem is not angry, but that Hashem wants something different from us. The newest kehillah in Baltimore, Netzach Yisroel, currently located in the Heather Ridge Clubhouse, and led by Rabbi Yisroel Roll,  is rising to the challenge by offering a shir chadash in our Avodas Hashem. Geared for families with children and grandchildren who are seeking spiritual growth, Netzach Yisroel offers passionate Carlebach minyanim, shiurim with a geshmack for hashkafa and inspired Avodas Hashem, an...
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Baltimore, MD - Oct. 12, 2021 - The Baltimore City Health Department will be hosting two COVID-19 vaccine clinics at the Weinberg Park Heights JCC on Thursdays, October 21st and November 11th from 11am-3pm on both days, in the Early Childhood Center wing. All three vaccine options will be available, Pfizer (ages 12+), as well as Moderna and J&J/Janssen (both for ages 18+) through LifeBridge Health staff. Walk-ins are welcome or you can also pre-register at COVAX.BaltimoreCity.Gov Stop in for a short time to get this important health care matter taken care of…bring your friends and family and support them in making the decision to get vaccinated now. To “sweeten” the decision, you can choose from either a $10 FREE Kosher Dunkin Donuts Gift Card *or* a FREE 1-Week Pass...
Nicholas Burns, President Joe Biden’s nominee for ambassador to China, appears to have changed his tune on the back-and-forth between Washington and Beijing regarding the novel coronavirus, telling the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the U.S. ”needs to investigate” and that the Chinese ”need to answer questions,” the Washington Examiner reports. Burns, a retired career diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to NATO, used his confirmation hearing to stress that China poses ”the greatest threat to the security of our country and the democratic world” in the 21st century. He also said the U.S. ”cannot trust China on Taiwan” and that the most important thing the U.S. could do ”is to deepen our security coope...
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Baltimore, MD - Oct. 17, 2021 - A unique Gemora shiur is being offered to the Baltimore community by Torah Together.  Gemora Fundamentals will be presented by Rabbi Nosson Friedman starting Sunday, October 24th from 8 – 9 pm at Congregation Shomrei Emunah.  Rabbi Friedman, a Rebbi at Mechinas Ner Israel for over 40 years, offers his expertise in teaching the skills talmidim need to build a foundation to learn independently.  Rabbi Friedman explains the idea behind this class: “There is no greater feeling of fulfillment in learning than to be able to learn a piece of Gemora on your own in its original text. Many people are unable to do this because they never acquired the proper foundation for learning Gemora or have gaps in training and practice. I'm excit...
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Baltimore, MD - Oct. 18, 2021 - Bonei Olam by the numbers: 23 Baltimore couples currently being worked with.  7 babies born in the past 12 months. 16 couples assisted by Bonei Olam this past year.  Help Bonei Olam this Sunday 10/24/21 as we have our online fundraiser so we can say "YES" to every couple who approached us for help.
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Baltimore, MD - Oct. 20, 2021 - Check out the Bonei Olam photo cutouts at Market Maven and 7 Mile.  Snap a pic of your kids and email your photo to for a chance to win a free photoshoot with Leba D Photography!
A father and son practicing as Orthodox rabbis in America have been accused by anti-missionary investigators of being covert evangelical Christians. The claims regarding M and C Fisher (not their real names) would allegedly cause disastrous halachic problems for the Jewish community if true, given that the two men apparently wrote Torah and mezuzah scrolls, participated in ritually preparing the dead for burial, and conducted weddings, divorces, and even conversions. The Fishers have been accepted and welcomed in a number of Orthodox Jewish communities in locations across the United States, but investigations have so far failed to uncover any evidence that they are actually Jewish – either born or converted.
Parsha Hashavua
Parshas Vayeira - Hineini: Abraham's Test and Our Future

And Abraham raised his eyes and saw - behold a ram! - afterwards, caught in the thicket by its horns, so Abraham went and took the ram and offered it as an offering instead of his son (Bereishit 22:13)

Who dares imagine Abraham’s heart at that awful moment when he was tested and called to place his son, his only son, the son he loved, upon an altar to be sacrificed?  Who could fathom his soul in that moment of utter obedience to God?  And let us be clear, the moment was solely about Abraham’s faith and obedience.  This act was no punishment for some transgression on Yitzchak’s part, for Yitzchak had made no transgression.  He was pure.

The God who asked Abraham to sacrifice his son is the same God who revealed Himself to Abraham and had given him Yitzchak as the fulfillment of His promise and covenant with Abraham.  This God before whom anyone but Abraham would break, was now testing Abraham – v’HaElokim nisa et Avraham – to use his own hand to sacrifice the son of his old age, the son through whom that promise, and covenant would be realized. 

Midrash teaches us that the Torah uses the word nisa to suggest elevation, like a nes, a banner flying high above an army as it marches forward.  So immediately, we sense that in this test, God is exalting Abraham; that in his earlier trials Abraham rose higher and higher until here, at the moment of the Akedah.  This was the ultimate test.  After this, Abraham could reach no higher. 

God would never again speak directly to him. 

Abraham, the man of perfect faith, passed this nisayon.  In each and every detail, his faith directed him.  “He took in his hand the fire and the knife, and the two went together.” (22:6) We, lesser men, tremble just in the reading of this awesome narrative.  We avert our eyes as, “Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son.” (22:10)

“No!” our souls cry out. God would never allow this!  And indeed, an angel called to him from heaven.  “Do not stretch your hand against the lad nor do anything to him for now I know that you are a God-fearing man...” (22:11-13)

Being stopped with the knife held high is almost as disquieting to us as the test itself!  What are we to think?  What was Abraham to think? 

Rav Soloveitchik explains, “…[man] belongs to God, body and soul. God owns human existence at every level – physical, spiritual, and social.  From time to time, God calls upon man to return to Him whatever is His.  He demands that man give not a part but the whole of himself.”  Abraham was the perfect servant of God.  He was willing to give all.  When God told him to sacrifice his son, Abraham surrendered without argument or debate.  Unlike him, we argue with God against any minor misfortune or challenge.

Where does that leave us?  What are we to make of this “test”?   As Jews with emunah, we know there is something here for us; this test was not just for Abraham.  There is more than the p’shat of this story; there is something here that speaks not just to Abraham’s faith and experience but to our own. 

The Pesikta Rabbasi teaches us that the Akedah took place on Rosh Hashana, which is why the Torah reading for the second day of Rosh Hashanah is the parasha of the Akedah. Throughout our Rosh Hashanah prayers, we ask God to, “…mercifully remember today, the Akedah of Yitzchak for the sake of his offspring.”  Here we learn that God’s response to Abraham’s perfect faith is a promise to us; a promise of Jewish survival and triumph; a promise which sustains us to this very day. 

When I taught history in Yeshiva University, I would often challenge my students to explain why we still walk the earth while Rome, Greece, Byzantine and all the other great empires rose and fell; why we, Am Yisrael – without land, without armies, without resources – survived despite a wicked Haman in each and every generation rising to try and destroy us. 

I told my students that the explanation resides in that long-ago moment on Moriah when, “Abraham raised his eyes and saw – behold, a ram! afterwards, caught in the thicket by its horns...” 

“How does this explain our survival?” my students demanded. 

That day, I told them, Abraham was shown that his test was not only about his individual faith.  That faith he had been called upon to demonstrate many times.  By this test, God created the means for Abraham’s descendants to survive all adversity.  

In Bivolari over a century ago, R’ Yisrael Antonier asked my grandfather HaGaon Rav Bezalel Zev Shafran ZT’L to explain the Onkelos translation of the pasuk, “Vayisa Avraham et einav, v’hinei ayil ahar ne’ehaz b’sevakh b’karnav as “Abraham raised his eyes after these and saw that one ram was caught in the thicket.”  His question about the translation was insightful.  Unlike Onkelos, the Torah does not say ayil echad (one ram), rather it says ayil ahar (other or another ram)Andy yet, there was no other ram!

My grandfather referenced a number of texts in his response to the query, which spoke to us and not Abraham.  First he quoted Rav Yudan, After (ahar) all the generations, your sons will be caught up by sin and ensnared by troubles, but they will be ultimately redeemed by the horns of this, as said by the prophet Zechariah (9:14) “The Lord God shall sound the ram’s horn...”  Then he turned to Rav Hanina b’r Yitzchak, All that day, our father Abraham watched that ram get stuck in one thicket, extricate itself and go free, get stuck in a tree, extricate itself, and go free, get stuck in one forest and extricate itself and go free..... It should have said that it was caught by its horns; since it says “caught in a thicket by its horns” – they derive, the R’baz explains, that the ram constantly extricated itself and went free.  So Hakadosh Boruch hu said to him, “So will your children be caught up by their sins and ensnared by kingdoms from Babylon to Media, from Media to Greece, and from Greece to Rome.”  Abraham, hearing this, was taken aback and asked, “Will it be like this forever?”  God said, “They will ultimately be redeemed by the horns of this ram, as it says (Zechariah 9:14) “The Lord God shall sound the ram’s horn...”   

Based on these readings, my grandfather suggested that far from a mistranslation, Onkelos’s translation made perfect sense, for he was alluding to all these events throughout the generations. Likewise, his translation of “one ram” is correct because there was only one ram there. 

God showed Abraham the future which was surely even more frightening for his eyes to behold and his heart to contemplate than our own looking back.  There has hardly been a time in all history when someone, somewhere did not try to destroy us, through violence or assimilation. 

As Abraham raised that knife on Moriah that morning, he saw beneath that sharp edge not just his son but the future of his people.  In that moment of revelation, his heart was surely broken… but then “suddenly” a ram appeared, caught in the thicket by its horn – that very same horn, that one horn that will be sounded to herald the ultimate redemption. 

In wrestling with this difficult – and seemingly incorrect – translation from Onkelos, my grandfather made clear that to the man of faith there is more to the text than “meets the eye”.  A faithful Jew sees “deeper” than the mere text of the story and sees the hand of God writing a narrative of ever greater meaning.  All Jews understand that in the sounding of the shofar there is a call to teshuvah, a call to repent and improve.  The believing Jew knows that in that powerful blast there is also a call to better wrestle with and understand the mystery of Jewish survival, a mystery first revealed and explained to Abraham during the most exalted and frightening test any man could ever confront – when the promise of the future was on the altar before him, about to be eliminated by his very hand.

In the words of my grandfather Rav Bezalel Zev Shafran zt’l

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Since March 2020, foreign tourists have been largely barred from entering Israel. Today, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett approved a plan which will allow vaccinated and recovered tourists into the country, as of Nov. 1. It should be noted that the plan still must be ratified by the government, and changes in details may still occur. At this point, it appears that travellers who have been vaccinated with Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, Johnson and Johnson or Sinopharm vaccines within the last six months will be granted entry into Israel. Additionally, travellers who have recovered from Covid will be allowed to enter Israel with proof of a positive PCR test performed at least 11 days prior to entering Israel (but no more than 180 days ago).. If more than six months have passed sin...
A mezuzah torn from the door of the Hillel House at Northeastern University prompted condemnations from Jewish groups and university president Joseph E. Aoun, who said Wednesday that campus police are still investigating the incident. “No matter its origin, this despicable act has left members of our Jewish community justifiably upset, saddened, and even fearful,” President Aoun said Wednesday. “They are experiencing firsthand an instance of senseless hate, coming at a time when the ancient scourge of antisemitism is on the rise across the US and around the world.” The ritual scroll of parchment, traditionally affixed to the doorposts of Jewish homes, was discovered to have been ripped from the Jewish center’s entrance on Monday, as students arrived for morn...
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Facebook's oversight board rebuked the social-media company for not being forthcoming about exempting high-profile users from its rules, and said it is drafting recommendations for how to overhaul the system, following a Wall Street Journal investigation into the practice.
A salmonella outbreak that has sickened more than 600 people in 37 states has been linked to various types of imported onions, federal health officials said Wednesday. "Throw away any unlabeled onions at home. Do not eat, sell, or serve red, white, or yellow onions imported from Mexico and distributed U.S.-wide by ProSource Inc," the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned in a tweet. The CDC said 652 people have been infected with salmonella -- and there have been 129 hospitalizations. No deaths have been reported. "Epidemiologic and traceback data show that one source of infections in this outbreak are whole red, white, and yellow onions imported from Chihuahua, Mexico, and distributed throughout the United States by ProSource Inc," ...
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The study was performed while the delta variant was the dominant strain of coronavirus in Israel A study of 200,000 Israeli adolescents shows that Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine is 93 percent effective in stopping symptoms of Covid-19, and almost as effective in protecting the immune system of the delta variant from the virus, researchers said Wednesday. The study, conducted by researchers from Israel's health organization Clalit, Harvard University and Boston Children's Hospital, compared 94,354 young people between the ages of 12 and 18 who received the vaccine with the same number of unvaccinated people of the same age group. The study was performed while the delta variant was the dominant strain of coronavirus in Israel, which led researchers to conclude that the...
The release will be followed by a subscription video-on-demand service called TMTG+ Former US president Donald Trump announced plans to launch his own social media app, TRUTH Social. In a press release issued by Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), the company stated their mission was "to create a rival to the liberal media consortium and fight back against the 'Big Tech' companies of Silicon Valley."  TRUTH Social is available for pre-order in the Apple App store, and has plans to begin its beta launch for invited guests in November 2021, with a nationwide rollout scheduled for the beginning of 2022.  The release will be followed by a subscription video-on-demand service called TMTG+ which will feature entertainment programming, news, and podcasts. Trump, ...
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Five additional cases of the new variant of Sars-CoV-2 have been detected in Israel. The new variant, so far known as AY4.2, has begun appearing in various parts of the world, most notably in the United Kingdom, where it is estimated that as many as ten percent of daily new cases are caused by this new mutation of the Delta variant. The first case to have been discovered in Israel was that of an eleven-year-old boy who had recently returned from Moldova and was already in quarantine when his test came back positive. Once his case was confirmed to have been caused by AY4.2, the Health Ministry commenced a new investigation of confirmed cases over the past few months, and discovered five more cases of the new Delta mutation. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held a&n...
Turkish media on Thursday reported that the government arrested a cell of 15 people over the past month, who were caught spying for the Israeli Mossad, Kan News reported. The 15 were working in five cells, the report added. The media also published photos of several of the suspects. According to reports in Sabah and Gazetevatan, the "agents" are both Turkish and foreign citizens, and all are of Arab descent. The Turkish claim that the suspects were passing information on foreign students in Turkish universities to the Mossad, especially about those who can work in the security industry in the future. The newspapers added that there was also tracking of "Palestinians." According to the report, within the past month the Turks arrested three cells, the members of...
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One woman died in a four-vehicle crash Tuesday on Interstate 695 near Greenspring Avenue, according to police. Two people were taken to area hospitals following the wreck, which began with a tractor-trailer, authorities reported. Paula Jeanne Roberts, 62, of Baltimore, was taken to the University of Maryland R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, where she later died, officials said. The crash happened before 3:30 p.m. on the inner loop of the beltway, police reported. A Volvo tractor-trailer hit the Dodge Caravan that Roberts had been driving, pushing it from the road into a jersey wall, according to authorities. Then the tractor-trailer rear-ended a Hyundai Santa Fe and sideswiped a Toyota Avalon, police said.
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