ספירת העומר : 49 - היום תשעה וארבעים יום שהם שבעה שבועות לעומר
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Baltimore, MD - May 25, 2020 - For nearly 40 years, I had the honor of serving on the Baltimore City Council. I am appalled by the current state of our City. I’ve never seen our local leadership so out of touch with reality, unable to act and unwilling to lead. Never. The mayor and council president seem numb to the death toll, steadfast in pointing blame and more focused on passing resolutions and pursuing political quarrel than saving lives and actually changing the course of Baltimore’s history. I join in claiming that the 2020 mayoral election will be the most important in a generation. If that fact has yet to resonate, take it from me - this is my 21st election - and I assure you Baltimore is at a juncture unlike any other. Having assessed candidate after candidate, none...
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Baltimore, MD - May 22, 2020 - Coronavirus isolation making you feel disconnected? ETZtalks, Etz Chaim's new online Jewish experience, is providing inspiration and learning to thousands of Baltimore's Jews have enjoyed the online presentations - so join!  Sunday? CHARLIE HARARY (here)  Monday? Special presentation on Conversion featuring Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer, Rabbi Moshe Walter, Rabbi Daniel Rose, a panel discussion of four converts with Rabbi Shlomo Porter, and Rabbi Chaim Gottesman! (here) What about Cheesecake? On Tuesday, join Bracha Shor from Good & Sweet Baking for a special Cheescake Bake (here)   Full information how to join can be found at www.etzchaimusa.org/ETZtalks.
The U.S. Embassy warns U.S. citizens living in Yehuda And Shomron or intending to travel to the area to maintain “high vigilance”. “The U.S. Embassy advises U.S. citizens residing in or considering travel to the West Bank and Gaza to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. Violence can occur with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, government checkpoints, markets and shopping facilities or government facilities. U.S. citizens should carefully consider risks to their personal safety and security when considering visits to sites and events that are potential targets,” the embassy statement said. Read more at Arutz Sheva.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a new executive order Thursday that will allow private store owners to refuse service to people who are not wearing a mask.
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Most recent Statements/letters/etc. from the Baltimore Vaad HaRabbanimVaad HaRabbonim Of Baltimore: Guidance For Hosting Company for Shavuos 5780 (May 24, 2020)Vaad HaRabbanim Of Baltimore: We Feel That It Is Time To Begin Reopening The Community - First Stage In Reopening Will Allow For Outdoor Block Minyanim (May 20, 2020 @ 1:25 PM)Baltimore's Vaad HaRabbanim - Continue Current Procedures & Protocols (May 15, 2020)Vaad HaRabbonim Of Baltimore: "We Must Continue Adhering To Distancing Standards" (May 6, 2020)Baltimore's Vaad HaRabbanim Reiterates "Social Distancing Protocols Must Continue in Full Force" (Apr. 20, 2020 @ 3:50 PM)Vaad HaRabbanim: Chametz Items That Will Be Delivered After Pesach May Be Ordered On Chol Hamoed, So Long As Payment Is Not Finalized Until After Pes...
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Baltimore, MD - May 27, 2020 - We, the undersigned, believe our community needs to support Mary Miller for Baltimore City Mayor. She has extensive business experience from her years as an executive at T. Rowe Price and she also has intimate knowledge of the government from her time leading a group in the U.S. Treasury Department after the last financial crisis. A poll came out recently showing her tied for the lead with Sheila Dixon. Click here for more info from that poll.  Click here for more about Mary and visit her website to watch her present her plan for our city - https://electmarymiller.com/splash Below the signers is a quote from our former shomer Shabbos Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. We think Baltimore City has been going in...
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Baltimore, MD - May 12, 2020 -  HaRav Sheftel Neuberger Shares His Voting Preferences for the Upcoming Election
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When Yom Tov falls on Friday, there is an allowance to prepare on Yom Tov for the needs of Shabbat. Normally, it is forbidden to prepare food on Yom Tov for use the next day. However, when Yom Tov falls out on Friday, one may prepare for Shabbat on Yom Tov if he symbolically began the preparations before Yom Tov. This symbolic preparation is known as an eiruv tavshilin. Every household must set aside one baked and one cooked item; usually an egg and a matzah/challah are used. The blessing of "al mitzvat eiruv" is recited and the items are held in the hand while saying the prescribed formula. One who forgot to prepare an eiruv tavshilin may still prepare for Shabbat if he lives in a city in which other Jews prepared them. And now for more details: 1. Which activities does the ...
Torah is eternal, encapsulates the word of G-d and, therefore, exists beyond time and place. For this reason, Torah was delivered atop a lonely mountain in a barren desert, far away from human civilization. Likewise, the actual date of Torah’s delivery isn’t overtly mentioned. Even though it is possible to decode the date and to identify the location- the message remains clear- Torah isn’t tethered to any particular setting but transcends reality. Yet, the uncontainable word of G-d was delivered to a human community and “comments” upon the human condition. The Midrash chronicles the opposition of Heavenly angels to the notion of delivering Torah to fallen and flawed humans. In response, G- then justifies His decision by mentioning Torah sections which address...
Parsha Hashavua
The "Torah" Year in Review - 2020

Torah is eternal, encapsulates the word of G-d and, therefore, exists beyond time and place. For this reason, Torah was delivered atop a lonely mountain in a barren desert, far away from human civilization. Likewise, the actual date of Torah’s delivery isn’t overtly mentioned. Even though it is possible to decode the date and to identify the location- the message remains clear- Torah isn’t tethered to any particular setting but transcends reality.


Yet, the uncontainable word of G-d was delivered to a human community and “comments” upon the human condition. The Midrash chronicles the opposition of Heavenly angels to the notion of delivering Torah to fallen and flawed humans. In response, G- then justifies His decision by mentioning Torah sections which address death, illness, character flaws and moral failure. As angels are incapable of these conditions, they are unsuited for Torah. Though Torah lies beyond the human realm, it is very much integrated within human experience


Shavuot is a perfect moment to assess how Torah has unfolded within the human “world” during the past year- a “Year in Review” for Torah in our world.  This past year included two (so far) tumultuous events, which focused and shaped our perspectives about Torah.



  1. Concluding the Daf Yomi cycle


The conclusion of the 13th Daf Yomi cycle was celebrated by hundreds of thousands of Jews across the globe. The energy of these celebrations created forward momentum arousing even greater interest in the 14th cycle. The prolific success of daf yomi showcases the enduring centrality of the Oral Torah. Our resettling of Israel had revitalized interest in Tanach study- an area of Torah which was relatively neglected for centuries. Our return to the land of history has rejuvenated the study of the book of history. Yet, alongside the growing popularity of Tanach, the depth and sweep of Talmud remains compelling and inalienable. This world of Talmudic analysis and halachik evolution forges a core Jewish identity which can exist independent of history or geography. Furthermore, the world of gemara underscores the critical function of tradition or masorah in perpetuating Jewish continuity. Sadly, our tradition of residence in Israel was interrupted for 2000 years; our tradition of halachik observance surged uninterrupted.


The daf yomi experience also has punctuated the growing “integration” of the Jewish world. The concept of daf yomi was conceived in the 1920’s as world travel expanded and the dispersed Jewish world “shrunk”. In previous eras, Jews from distant countries would rarely interact personally. In the new era of transportation, Jews became more aware of the global Jewish community. Joint study of the same page of gemara provided a common language for Jews who rarely spoke the same tongue and who lived in different cultures. Daf yomi has both been driven by the integration of world Jewry and has, in turn generated even created greater commonality.


2. Corona


Of course, the more seismic event over the past year has been the corona epidemic. Firstly, this crisis has demonstrated the flexibility and adaptability of halacha. Torah is delivered for a world which sometimes slips into dysfunction. Yet, Torah and halacha can adapt to abnormal and even previously unimaginable circumstances. Creative solutions were developed for some halachik quandaries, while other predicaments were so insoluble that no compromises could be struck; full adherence to health guidelines were upheld even at the cost of suspending important religious activities -primarily davening and studying in public arenas. Halacha isn’t ossified or inflexible but possesses enough internal elasticity to shape itself to many different scenarios. Whatever suspensions of religious activity occurred during this period should not be seen as collapses of halacha but, instead, as triumphs of halacha or halacha applied in non-conventional fashion.


A second reality of Torah which emerged is the public nature of our study. Many religions mandate “public” prayer but Judaism is unique in encouraging public learning experiences in study halls and Batei Midrash. Our yearning to return to these communal settings of Torah study, helps us appreciate how unique and enriching public Torah study is compared to private learning. Jews do not merely read Torah information or pursue Torah education. We study in groups as an affirmation of our mutual commitment to Torah. Being distant from these settings has magnified their importance during normal conditions.


Lastly, there are two elements of Torah experience which the daf yomi celebrations and the corona crisis have jointly highlighted. The past 30 years has unleashed a dizzying technological revolution as we now communicate in a rapid and unrestricted information highway. This information overflow is worrying to some, as the torrent of interaction can overwhelm religious spirituality. Too much exposure and completely unfiltered encounter can erode religious identity. Some choose to quickly adopt the power of modern technology while others are more cautious- citing the immense risks. Either way, technology shouldn’t be demonized. It provides tools and it empowers humans to transcend their previous limits just as it also presents great hazards. How would our “corona experience” have unfolded without technology aiding Torah study and facilitating substitutes for many religious and communal experiences? Had the pandemic erupted thirty years ago our quarantine would have been more isolated and decidedly less religiously interactive.  Daf yomi’s popularity was fueled by the internet which enabled availability of shiurim to those who would otherwise never attend formal shiurim. Technology is a tool: we can choose to utilize it or to avoid it, but it shouldn’t be demonized. The past year has confirmed the manner in which it can serve the purpose of Torah.


Finally, both the daf yomi and the corona crisis demonstrated the central role of community within Jewish life. The resilience of Jewish communities during the health crisis was unmistakable, as we discovered novel ways to recreate our communal interactions. Similarly, daf yomi is popular, in part, because it generates communal identity surrounding shared Torah learning. Jews are G-d’s children and we are meant to live as a community pivoted around our national embrace of the word of G-d. The two major episodes of the past year each highlight the communal role of Torah and of Jewish identity.


Chag Samei’ach

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Baltimore, MD - May 28, 2020 - BJL wishes a hearty Mazel Tov to Tovah Gittel King and Asher Aranbayev on their engagement. יה"ר שיזכו לבנות בית נאמן בישראל. אמן
We received a call from Chani*, a mother of four young children; she sounded somewhat embarrassed to be calling for help. Chani explained that she had believed she had it all. Her life was going well. Her marriage was great, she had a good job she enjoyed, and her children were happy and healthy. All of that changed when COVID-19 started. She lost her job and they had limited funds because they had to rely on her husband’s income alone; the children were out of school and off their schedules, and the holidays had arrived. And it was the first holiday season for which she was not receiving support from her family or in-laws. Chani explained to our case manager that at first she had been able to maintain a positive attitude; but as time went on, it became more difficult. Her marriage ...
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“They journeyed from Rephidim, and they arrived in the desert of Sinai, and they encamped in the desert, and Israel encamped there opposite the mountain.” (Exodus 19:2) The much awaited and anticipated event unfolds in this week’s Parsha. After 210 years of servitude, the Children of Israel stood at the base of Mount Sinai, ready and willing to receive the Torah. But this was not just another event – this was to be the most important, seminal event of our national existence. God Himself would speak to the people. This direct dialogical connection would serve as the foundation for the ongoing relationship between God and His chosen nation. So important was this event of Sinaitic Revelation that every Jewish soul, past, present, and future, was present. Each and ever...
Baltimore, MD - May 27, 2020 - Baltimore: Shavuos Backyard Minyanim - Halachos  -  Reviewed by Rav Moshe Heinemann, שליט"א Written by Shalom Aryeh GreenfieldClick here or on the graphic below the Zmanim for a larger, printable copyShavuos 5780 / Baltimore Zmanim / Eruv is UP!  Baltimore, MD – May 28, 2020 Thursday - Eruv Tavshilin Candle Lighting - 8:07 pm Kiddush preferably after 9:15 PM Friday -Sunrise - 5:43:02 Sof Zman Krias Shma - 8:47/9:23 Sof Zman Tefila - 10:37   Friday evening - Light candles after 6:57 pm. Candles should be lit before recitation of Mizmor Shir/Kabalas Shabbos. When making early Shabbos, women should be given enough time to light candles after 6:57, ideally before husband recites Mizmor shir. Regular Candle Lighti...
Nichum AveilimNichum Aveilim Aveilim
Shavuos 5780 / Baltimore Zmanim / Eruv is UP! Baltimore, MD – May 28, 2020 Thursday - Eruv Tavshilin Candle Lighting - 8:07 pm Kiddush preferably after 9:15 PM Friday -Sunrise - 5:43:02 Sof Zman Krias Shma - 8:47/9:23 Sof Zman Tefila - 10:37 Friday evening - Light candles after 6:57 pm. Candles should be lit before recitation of Mizmor Shir/Kabalas Shabbos. When making early Shabbos, women should be given enough time to light candles after 6:57, ideally before husband recites Mizmor shir. Regular Candle Lighting - 8:07 pm 2nd Day/Shabbos Day - Sof Zman Krias Shma - 8:47/9:23 Sof Zman Tefila - 10:37 Megilas RusYizkor Earliest Mincha - 1:43 Shkia - 8:26 End of Shabbos (50/72) - 9:17/9:39  
The French health ministry announced on Wednesday it would be banning the use of hydroxychloroquine as a cure for coronavirus. “Whether [in doctors’ offices] in the cities or in the hospital, this … should not be prescribed for patients with COVID-19,” the ministry said in a statement quoted by Politico. The decision follows the publication last week of a study in the Lancet, which indicated that using the drug on COVID-19 patients could increase their likelihood of dying, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference. Read more at Arutz Sheva.
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Nearly 49,000 Marylanders and over 2,100,000 Americans overall filed unemployment insurance benefits claims last week. A total of 48,963 Maryland residents filed unemployment insurance claims in the week ending May 23, 2020, a decrease of 2,145 from the previous week, labor officials report.  For the week ending on May 16, 2020, 51,108 Marylanders filed for unemployment insurance benefits claims with the Maryland Department of Labor Division of Unemployment Insurance amid the coronavirus pandemic.  For the week of May 9, 2020, 65,805 Maryland residents filed claims.  The week ending May 2, 2020, 109,263 Marylanders filed claims.  The unemployment numbers sharply increased the week ending in May 2 due to expanded filing under the federal CARES Act and...
Baltimore City will allow outdoor dining when Gov. Larry Hogan's latest executive order takes effect Friday. “After consulting with our Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa, and reviewing Baltimore City’s health data on COVID-19, we will move forward with allowing outdoor dining,” Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young said in a statement. “I want to thank all of our business owners and restaurant employees for their patience and continued adherence to the use of social distancing and face coverings as we allow for this next step in our reopening.” Restaurants that already have permits for outdoor dining will be able to serve patrons at 5 p.m. Friday, when Hogan's order takes effect. Restaurants that don't currently have permits for outdoo...
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Some Maryland counties are set to announce next steps in regard to easing more restrictions that Gov. Larry Hogan announced on Wednesday. Hogan said restaurants and social organizations will be able to offer outdoor dining, youth sports activities may resume and outdoor pools and drive-in movie theaters will be able to reopen for a fuller embrace of stage one of the state's recovery plan.  These establishments may reopen beginning 5 p.m. on Friday.  Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman said on Facebook Wednesday that he is consulting with the Anne Arundel County Department of Health to determine when to implement the new openings in the coming days.  "We must be thoughtful with our approach, and put responsible policies in place that protect resid...
ANNAPOLIS, MD (WJZ) — As the number of coronavirus cases and tests in Maryland continues to grow, the rate of people testing positive for the virus has dropped by more than half, Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday. At a news conference Wednesday evening, Hogan said the positivity rate, which he called a key metric other states and the CDC are using to track containment efforts, has dropped significantly. “In Maryland, our statewide positivity rate peaked 41 days ago on April 17 when it reached 26.91 percent,” Hogan said. “Since then, it has dropped by more than 50 percent down to just 12.8 percent statewide.” The rate in Baltimore dropped 54 percent from 27.38 on April 19 to 12.71 percent Wednesday, while neighboring Baltimore County’s rate is nearl...
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