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Baltimore, MD - Dec. 9, 2016 - On Sunday, December 4th, Shearith Israel held a special Hachnassas Sefer Torah event. The Sefer Torah was written in honor of Rabbi and Mrs. Yaakov Hopfer, shlita, for their 30 years of service to the shul and the entire Baltimore Jewish community. Over 500 people joined in celebration with music, dancing, torches and food to escort the new Torah from the Hopfer home on Menlo Drive to the shul at the corner of Park Heights & Glen Ave. Everyone was treated to beautiful Divrei Bracha from the Rosh HaYeshiva, Rav Aharon Feldman, shlita, and inspiring words from ...
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Baltimore, MD - Dec. 8, 2016 - Join us this week for any one of (or all) three Open Houses to see what an amazing summer your son(s) will have at Camp Chaverim. Please click here for the schedule and more information. And, be sure to Watch the video below and realize why Camp Chaverim is so amazing!  With over 50 boys that can’t wait to come back, Camp Chaverim’s first year was a smashing success! Check out this 4 minute video and this article to find out why!   (1) LOCATION Camp Chaverim is only two hours away from Baltimore and Silver Spring. It is surrounded by breathtaking mountains and has an incredible lake (see video above).   (2) TOP TALENT Chaverim counselors are carefully selected top talent that exhibit exceptional middos, a whole-lot of...
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The Rebbe has successfully revived a nearly 200-year-old chassidus, which descends from the Rebbes of Lechovitch and Karlin/Stolin Baltimore, MD - Dec. 3, 2016 -The Baltimore community is honored to host the Koidenover Rebbe, shlit"a, from this Monday, Dec. 5th through Wed., Dec. 14th. The Rebbe visited Baltimore, last December, and those who were privileged to see the Rebbe then, know that he is a captivating speaker who conveys a message relevant to our generation. In addition, the Rebbe is known for and much sought after for his wise counsel and brachos. Those who have had a private audience with the Rebbe can tell you how truly electrifying the experience was, replete with chizuk and inspiration. The Rebbe has successfully revived a nearly 200-year-old chassidus, which descends from ...
Rudy Giuliani will not be secretary of state, according to a new report. The former New York City mayor, a loyalist to Donald Trump during the worst moments of the campaign, will not be named the nation’s top diplomat, according to CNN. There are three men on the short list — former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson and former Ford Motor Company CEO Alan Mulally, according to reports. Yet others still have also seen the president-elect to discuss the job — Gen. David Petraeus and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). Giuliani’s extensive foreign business and speeches complicated his bid for the position. Giuliani is said to have angered the president-elect when he made his pitch for secretary of state public at a Wall Street Journ...
A Turkish court has dropped a case against four Israeli military officials charged over a deadly raid on a Turkish aid ship bound for Gaza in 2010. Arrest warrants for the four were also dropped, a lawyer for the victims said. Ten Turkish activists lost their lives as a result of the raid, in which Israeli commandos stormed the lead ship in the convoy to Gaza. Dropping the charges was a key part of a deal agreed between Israel and Turkey this June to normalise bilateral ties. Under a deal reached this year, Israel agreed to pay $20m (£15.9) in compensation to the victims of the raid. In return, Israeli nationals would not be held criminally or financially liable for the incident. The officials, including former military chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, went on trial in abse...
The average wedding in America today costs more than $26,000, according to the website Add in the expenses that come with a Jewish wedding — kosher food, a custom modest wedding dress, a chuppah and a ketubah — and the price gets even higher.  That’s why for many soon-to-be grooms and brides, money worries begin before a marriage even gets started. But there are places where Jewish couples can turn for help: gemachs. The term gemach comes from the Hebrew words gemilut chasadim, meaning “acts of loving kindness.” In practical terms, it’s a place where a Jewish person can go to receive (or borrow) items he or she needs for little or no cost.  There are gemachs for baby clothing and diapers, wigs, furniture and dishes i...
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It would be a sad state if the only solution to optimal health were to cut out all sugar. To avoid the birthday cake, milkshake, ice cream and the oh-so-perfect chocolate chip cookie would be a true shame. Yet we hear so much about the need to decrease added sugars. Research strongly indicates that sugar consumption is associated with excess body weight and Type 2 diabetes. The 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommended that Americans consume no more than 10 percent of total calories in the form of added sugars. At 2,000 calories a day, that's 200 calories from added sugar. There are 16 calories in one teaspoon of sugar, so that works out to 12 teaspoons a day. Let's be clear what we're talking about: According to the Food and Drug Administrat...
The Orthodox woman, approximately 75 years old, was reportedly struck and pinned under her own vehicle inside a parking lot on River Avenue about 1:30 PM. She was found under her vehicle, with her vehicle in reverse, sources told TLS. The woman was reportedly leaving Bais Rivka Rochel School, where she was employed. Officials are checking security cameras to try and piece together the tragic incident. She was transported by Lakewood First Aid to MMCSC in critical condition, and was Niftar a short time later. Askonim are working to ensure Kavod Ha’meis. Lakewood’s Traffic Safety division, CSI and the Prosecutor’s Office are investigating.
Daily Halacha
Hilchos Chanukah

During the Second Temple, the Greek empire reigned (over Israel),1  and they (the Greeks) passed decrees against the Jews and (tried) to erase their religion,  and did not allow them to carry out Torah (study) or the commandments.  They put their hands on their property and their daughters.  They entered the Temple, destroyed and made the pure unclean.  The Jews were in great distress because of them and were much oppressed, until the G-d of their fathers had mercy on them, delivering them from their hands and saving them.  Then overcame, the sons of the Hasmonean High Priest, (the Greeks) and killed them  and saved the Jews from their hands.  They appointed a king from the Priests,  and the kingdom of Israel was restored  for more than 200 years until the destruction of (the) second (Temple).  When the Jews overcame their enemies and destroyed them,  it was the 25th of Kislev2  when they entered the Sanctuary (inner room) and did not find pure (olive) oil in the Temple,  except one jar sealed with seal of the High Priest,  and it did not contain enough to light except for one day only.  But they lit from it the lamps of the Menorah3 for eight days,  until they could crush olives and produce a (new quantity) of pure oil.  For these reasons, decreed the Sages of that generation  that these eight days  that begin on the 25th Kislev, will be days of joy and praise.  One lights on them lamps at evening at the entrance to the houses,  every evening of the eight nights to show off and demonstrate the miracle.  These days are called ''Hanukah''  that is to say ''they rested'' (chanu) on the ''25'' ('th of the month)  because on the 25th they rested from their enemies.  and also because of those days  they (re)-dedicated the house (Temple) which their foes had defiled.  Also some say that it is a commandment to increase slightly the festive meals on Hanukah.  Another reason is because the work of (building) the Sanctuary (in the desert) was completed in these days.  One should tell one's children the story of the miracles  that were done for our fore-fathers in those days,  (see Josephus)  However, these meals are not considered as part of the commandment  unless one says at the meal songs of praise.  One should increase charity in these Hanukah days,  for this can help mend any defects in our souls.  This charity, should be given particularly to poor Torah scholars. (KSA 139:1)
1) 352 BCE until 70 CE
2) 139 BCE
3) The Menorah was made of gold and had seven branches.

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National School Choice Week (January 22-28, 2017) is a positive and enthusiastic celebration of all educational options, including private, religious education. As a longtime supporter of school choice, Agudath Israel of America has been an active participant since the first NSCW and welcomes your participation. Already, more than 18,000 events are being planned for NSCW 2017, many of them featuring the ubiquitous yellow scarves. NCSW is nonpolitical and does not advocate for any specific legislation, however statehouse rallies and community events are great opportunities to educate families and lawmakers about existing school choice programs or why such policies should be pursued.  Agudath Israel of America will be participating in NCSW events across the country and we hop...
Baltimore, MD - Dec. 7, 2016 - Where do you find city and county government officials, a United States senator, a Police Commissioner and Mayor, members of the local police command staff, circuit  judges, a two term governor of the state of Maryland, Rabbanim  and hundreds of community members enjoying an evening of comradery and celebration together?  This was the amazing scene as the Northwest Citizens Patrol hosted its annual dinner reception this past Motzei Shabbos in honor of outgoing City Councilwoman Rikki Spector. The dignitaries at the event included United States Senator Ben Cardin, Governor Martin O’Malley, Mayor Elect Catherine Pugh, Baltimore City Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, and Councilman Elect Yitzy Schleiffer, among many others. Former Maryland G...
Parsha Hashavua
Parshas Vayetze - The Orchestra and The Rolex

This week’s Parsha, Vayeitzei, teaches us a great lesson in the unity to which we must aspire and achieve for us to accomplish our mission

The Parsha begins with a scene of our father, Yaakov, laying down for the night on the ground on the way to his Uncle Lavan’s home in search of a wife. “He took from the stones of the place and placed them around his head…And he took the stone which he placed around his head and set it as a monument.” Our Sages point out the seeming inconsistency. Initially he took multiple stones to place around his head and when he awoke he took the stone (singular) which he placed around his head; was it many stones or was it just one stone? Our Sages teach us that initially Yaakov took 12 stones to place around his head but the stones began to quarrel, each stone argued that it should be the one upon which Yaakov’s head shall rest. After all the stones made their argument they merged into one single stone.
This story requires an explanation. What does it mean that a stone has a position on what it should be doing? Furthermore, the argument sounds competitive with each stone trying to claim that other stones are wrong. Is there competition among stones?

Everything in HaShem's creation has its given purpose and it will accomplish its purpose by virtue of the fact that it was created for it. The bricks in my house were created to be in the walls of my house, and that is why they are there. These stones were created to participate in the founding of the Jewish people. The Midrash teaches us that these 12 stones were the very stones that were used in the construction of the alter upon which our father Yitzchok was elevated to be an offering by his father Avrahum. The event of Yitzchok’s elevation was a watershed in Jewish history. Our survival as a people is attributed to that event. The prophecy Yaakov had as he laid his head upon those stones was also a watershed in our people's history. These stones existed for the purpose of participating in the development of the Jewish nation. Their argument was not in the form of discussion nor was it a competition. Rather, it was an existential concern. Each stone knew that its existence on this world was to serve Yaakov in supporting his head for this prophecy. Every stone had this existential concern and since only a single stone could support his head they recognized that they have no existence if they remain separate, their very existence drew them into formation of a single stone. Each stone therefore gave up their independent individuality for the sake of realizing their ultimate purpose.

This event was the signpost for Yaakov and for his children how to understand the nature of our people. Every nation needs unity. Without unity there is strife and conflict. We are no different. However, there is greater need for our people to have unity - it is an existential need.

The purpose and mission of our people is to support the Shechina, the Presence of HaShem in this world. The Shechina is One and cannot be supported by a multitude. Her resting place must be a singular place, just like Yaakov’s head could not be supported by a multitude of stones.
For the existence of our nation to achieve our mission we need every member of our people to merge into the nation in a way that allows every other member to exist within our nation. This is not the unity of an orchestra where if there is one musician absent the orchestra can achieve its mission albeit imperfectly. Rather it is the unity of a Rolex watch where if there is even a small seemingly insignificant part missing the entire watch will not work.
Every member of our people is needed to create a complete nation upon which the Shechina can rest. No one person can support it and if we are missing anybody our nation is incomplete. The unity we require is that every member allows all the other members to be a part of our nation. Our unity is existential.

The twelve stones represent the twelve tribes of the our people. As they surrounded Yaakov and supported his mission in this world they understood that we cannot accomplish that mission as we stand divided. We must form one nation that supports Yaakov and his mission. This can only be accomplished when we define ourselves as a single unit.

This does not require that any Jew should relinquish his personal identity and become a zombie. Quite to the contrary. Each Jew must maintain his personal identity and his unique talents and to bring that uniqueness into the totality of the people. Just as every component of the Rolex is unique but nevertheless submits itself to being a part of a greater cause  in order to realize the unique self so too must every member of our people maintain their unique self but submit it to the greater cause.
This lesson our Parsha is teaching us is if we are to achieve our mission every Jew must recognize that without the other Jew he cannot achieve his mission. Only as a single unit in which all the components are present will any single component meet success.

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Since high school Nick Smarr and Jody Smith had been inseparable - roommates after graduation; classmates at the police academy in Georgia; and best friends who, at the end of every goodbye, said the words "I love you." They spent their free time cackling at inside jokes only they found funny and competitively comparing cop notes: who did more work, who answered more calls, who was the better police officer. When Smith set his wedding date for May 20 of 2017, he asked Smarr to be his best man. It was for all these reason that their families weren't surprised to learn that on Wednesday morning, in what would become their final act as officers and men, Smarr and Smith were together. At 9:30 a.m., Smarr, an Americus Police officer, was called to check out a domestic dispute ...
Baltimore, MD - Dec. 8, 2016 - For the first time in close to 50 years a member of the orthodox jewish community affirmed the oath of office as a member of the 72nd Baltimore City Council. With thousands of citizens, family and friends, looking on, Isaac "Yitzy" Schleifer, raised his right hand affirming to represent the 5th District of Baltimore City. The community is beaming with pride over Yitzy's accomplishments and looks forward to creative initiatives and leadership during the many years ahead.  
Kiddush Levana Dec 02 8:47 am - Dec 14 3:09 am
Kislev 10
Mortgage rates increased for the sixth week in a row to highs not seen in more than two years. According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average climbed to 4.13 percent with an average 0.5 point. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) It was 4.08 percent a week ago and 3.95 percent a year ago. The 30-year fixed rate hasn't been this high since October 2014. It has climbed 66 basis points in six weeks. (A basis point is 0.01 percentage point.) The 15-year fixed-rate average edged up to 3.36 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.34 percent a week ago and 3.19 percent a year ago. The five-year adjustable rate average crept up to 3.17 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.15 percent a w...
Donald Trump’s Full Speech At Thank-You Rally In Iowa
SimchasSimchas Simcha
U.S. equities traded higher on Friday, with the major indexes on pace for strong weekly gains, as a post-election rally carried on. The Nasdaq composite outperformed, rising about 0.5 percent to a new all-time high, as the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) advanced 2.3 percent, The S&P 500 gained 0.25 percent, also hitting record levels, with health care leading advancers. The Dow Jones industrial average, meanwhile, joined the S&P and the Nasdaq at all-time highs in midmorning trade, with Apple contributing the most gains. All the major indexes have been hitting record highs since the election. In fact, the Dow has notched 13 record closes and gains in 19 of the past 23 sessions, entering Friday. The major indexes were also set to post weekly gains of at least 2 pe...
A Republican member of the Electoral College has come out saying he will not vote for President-elect Donald Trump when the Electoral College convenes December 19. Christopher Suprun, a paramedic from Texas, wrote in an op-ed published in The New York Times on Monday that Trump is “not qualified for the office” of the presidency. He goes on to write, “The election of the next president is not yet a done deal. Electors of conscience can still do the right thing for the good of the country. Presidential electors have the legal right and a constitutional duty to vote their conscience.” Suprun is the first Republican member of the Electoral College to publicly announce he won’t vote for Trump. Meanwhile, a group of Democratic electors is trying to block Trump by...
Nichum AveilimNichum Aveilim Aveilim
This week’s Parsha, Vayeitzei, teaches us a great lesson in the unity to which we must aspire and achieve for us to accomplish our mission The Parsha begins with a scene of our father, Yaakov, laying down for the night on the ground on the way to his Uncle Lavan’s home in search of a wife. “He took from the stones of the place and placed them around his head…And he took the stone which he placed around his head and set it as a monument.” Our Sages point out the seeming inconsistency. Initially he took multiple stones to place around his head and when he awoke he took the stone (singular) which he placed around his head; was it many stones or was it just one stone? Our Sages teach us that initially Yaakov took 12 stones to place around his head but the stones...
 A day before President-elect Donald Trump threatened one of Boeing's most high-profile defense procurements, the deal to build the new Air Force One, the company had finalized a deal to pledge $1 million for his inaugural festivities, the company said Thursday. Boeing has a long history of helping defray the costs of inaugurations, and the company gave the same amount for Obama's second inauguration in 2013. The company finalized the contribution with the inaugural committee on Monday. Then on Tuesday, Trump tweeted that the cost of the Air Force One program was too high and should be canceled. He tweeted that costs "are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!" Later, he told reporters that he thought the cost was "ridiculous. I think Boeing is doi...
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The U.S. House of Representatives recently unanimously passed bipartisan legislation urging President Barack Obama to oppose or veto anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations before he leaves office. The resolution, which was approved by voice vote, calls on the United States “to oppose and veto United Nations Security Council resolutions that seek to impose solutions to final status issues, or are one-sided and anti-Israel.” It also calls on Obama to reject any resolution that sets ‘parameters’ for a final settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce’s (R-CA) said before the vote that “there is a growing concern in Congress that despite established, bipartisan United States policy, the Obama Administr...
And Jacob left Be’er Sheva and he went to Haran (Bereishis 28:10) Two different conversations – yet, both had the same result – Yaakov would have to leave home.  Rivkah told Yaakov to flee the familial home in order to save himself from Esav’s wrath.  Yitzchak told Yaakov to travel to Haran in order to find a suitable spouse.  Yaakov accepts the wise counsel of his parents and begins the long journey away from his home and away from his land.  Although his mother said it would only be “yamim achadim, a few days,” Yaakov understood that the road ahead was long and tumultuous. The commentaries question why the Torah had to tell us both that Yaakov left Be’er Sheva (Va’Yetzei Yaakov M’Be’er Sheva) and that he we...
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