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Daniel Lansky, A"H....it is just so painful and surreal. A"H? Are we supposed to use that term for a 40 year old dedicated husband and father of 3 young boys? Daniel was a friend to everyone and loved by all. His and his wife's emunah and bitachon towards the end of his battle, in the most difficult of times, were supernatural. Daniel left 3 beautiful boys who need your support. Let us rally together and contribute to the Lansky Children Fund to ensure that these precious children will be provided for with whatever they need as they grow up without their father, A"H. May we all see bracha...
Baltimore is lacking in Emunah and Betachon. No, it's not what your thinking. In the last 3 weeks while the rest of the Jewish world mourned one Tisha B'av, the Baltimore community has mourned 3 of them. The giant loss of Mrs. Laurie Gutman, z'l, shortly before Tisha B'av, a women who battled her illness for 6+ years and as she got physically weaker she mentally got stronger in regards to what chessed had to be done and in her Emunah and Betachon. Then the Baltimore community mourned the loss of the Bais Hamikdosh together with the rest of the Jewish world. Yesterday we mourned a 3rd time with the loss of Reb Daniel Lansky, z'l. Yes I say Reb because in the last 5 months he has taught the Baltimore community what true Emunah and Betachon is. גם כי אל...
New York - Donald Trump’s presidential campaign now has its own mobile app. The campaign on Wednesday unveiled its “America First” smartphone application, aimed at engaging the GOP nominee’s supporters. Supporters can earn points by contributing to the campaign, attending events and sharing messages and videos. They can also unlock “up to 8 levels of activist badges,” with names like “Apprentice,” the name of his reality television show, and “Big League,” a phrase commonly used by the Republican nominee on the campaign trail.
WhatsApp plans to start sharing account information, including when a member last used the app with its parent company Facebook. For users who would rather they don't, there's a way to opt out. When presented with WhatsApp's new terms of service, choose "read" and scroll to the bottom of the page. Uncheck the box that says, "Share my WhatsApp account information with Facebook to improve my Facebook ads and products experiences." Next, click "agree." If you've already agreed to the terms of service, you have a 30-day grace period to opt out of sharing. Click the settings gear in the app, go to account and remove the check mark from the "share my account info" option. Whatsapp used on a smartphone. Jonathan Brady / PA Wire via ZUMA Press Sharing account in...
We are now within a seven week period of the Jewish calendar which is referred to as the shiva d’nechemta – the seven (weeks) of consolation. How is this; i.e. where does this term originate? These seven weeks follow on the heels of ‘Three Weeks’ of mourning over the destruction of the two Temples. During these Three Weeks – beginning with the fast of the seventeenth of Tamuz and ending with fast of the ninth of Av – we read as haftaros (following the regular Torah reading on Sabbath day) selections from our prophets which foretell of the oncoming Destruction of Jerusalem, of the Temple, and the dispersion of the Jewish people from their Land. The Shabbos immediately preceding Tisha b’Av is known as Shabbos Chazon based upon the dire prophecy of I...
Jackson Hole, WY - The case for a U.S. interest rate hike has strengthened in recent months because of improvements in the labor market and expectations for solid economic growth, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said on Friday. Yellen did not indicate when the U.S. central bank might raise rates, but her comments reinforced the view that such a move could come later this year. The Fed has policy meetings scheduled in September, November and December. Speaking at a three-day international gathering of central bankers and academics in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Yellen said the “U.S. economy was nearing the Federal Reserve’s statutory goals of maximum employment and price stability.” Data released earlier on Friday, however, showed the economy was more sluggish t...
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London -  Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson said Friday he thought he was going to die after flying head first off his bicycle in the British Virgin Islands. The Virgin Group boss hit a hump in the road on Virgin Gorda, one of the islands in the Caribbean, catapulting him into the road. The 66-year-old posted pictures of his bloodied face on social media on Friday, showing the gruesome injuries that included a cracked cheek, torn ligaments and severe cuts. “My life was literally flashing before my eyes,” he wrote. “I really thought I was going to die. I went flying head-first towards the concrete road, but fortunately my shoulder and cheek took the brunt of the impact, and I was wearing a helmet that saved my life.” Branson traveled to Miami ...
Toward the beginning of the parsha, B’nei Yisrael are reminded (8:4) that their garments did not tatter and their feet did not swell for the duration of their forty-year sojourn. Then, they are told that they should know in their hearts that just as a father chastises his son, so too HaShem chastises B’nei Yisrael. The juxtaposition of these two pesukim is puzzling. Why would the great miracles in the desert be associated with chastising and punishment? The obvious suggestion is that the chastising is referring not to the blessings mentioned in the previous pasuk but rather, to what precedes that passage. Those pesukim recount how HaShem inflicted suffering and starvation upon B’nei Yisrael, testing them to see if they will keep His mitzvos. Many commentaries understand ...
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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Washington - A U.S. judge ordered the State Department on Thursday to release by Sept. 13 any emails it finds between Hillary Clinton and the White House from the week of the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, among the thousands of additional emails uncovered by federal investigators. The order came after the Federal Bureau of Investigation gave the department a disc earlier this month containing 14,900 emails to and from Clinton and other documents it said it had recovered that she did not return to the government. Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, has been criticized for using an unauthorized private email system run from a server in the basement of her home while she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, a decision she says was wrong and that she regrets. The i...
Parshas Aikev / Shabbos Mevorchim Elul / Baltimore Zmanim / Eruv is UP! Baltimore, MD – Aug. 26, 2016    Parshas:  VaEschanan Today:    22 Menachem Av       Chatzos: 1:08 Hadlakas Nairos: 7:28 PM Shkiah:                   7:46:01 PM Tzais HaKochavim:  8:37 PM Rosh Chodesh: Shabbos, September 3 and Sunday, September 4 Kiddush Levanah: Sunday, Sept. 4 7:35 PM – Friday, Sept. 16, 2016 1:57 PM Kiddush Levanah may only be said at night  
Parsha Hashavua
Parshas Aikev: Nechama – Its Meaning and Ramifications

We are now within a seven week period of the Jewish calendar which is referred to as the shiva d’nechemta – the seven (weeks) of consolation. How is this; i.e. where does this term originate?


These seven weeks follow on the heels of ‘Three Weeks’ of mourning over the destruction of the two Temples. During these Three Weeks – beginning with the fast of the seventeenth of Tamuz and ending with fast of the ninth of Av – we read as haftaros (following the regular Torah reading on Sabbath day) selections from our prophets which foretell of the oncoming Destruction of Jerusalem, of the Temple, and the dispersion of the Jewish people from their Land. The Shabbos immediately preceding Tisha b’Av is known as Shabbos Chazon based upon the dire prophecy of Isaiah [1:1-27; “The vision (chazon) of Isaiah, son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem…”] which is read as the haftarah for parshas Devarim.


After these Three Weeks of sadness, semi-mourning and outright mourning on Tisha b’Av, the first Shabbos after Tisha b’Av is a Sabbath of rejoicing over the hope for comfort and consolation. R’ Eliyahu Kitov zt”l in The Book of Our Heritage writes, “It is called, Shabbos Nachamu after the prophetic portion read in the haftarah, “Nachamu, nachamu ami, yomar Elo-keichem … Comfort, comfort My people, says your G-d. Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her time of exile has been fulfilled…” [Isaiah 40:1-26]. The haftarah of Shabbos Nachamu is the first of the shiva d’nechemta – the seven haftaros of consolation:  Seven prophetic passages of comfort which are read from the Book of Isaiah on the seven Sabbaths which follow Tisha b’Av. One-hundred and forty-four verses are contained in all the seven haftaros of consolation – corresponding to the one-hundred and forty-three verses of admonition which are contained in all the verses of tochacha (rebuke) written in the Torah. But, the verses of consolation exceed those of admonition by one verse [to tip the scales, so to speak].”


It seems clear from this initial look at our mesorah that the word nechama has as its most immediate and uncomplicated meaning the concept of comfort and consolation. After experiencing suffering, pain and disappointment, the human soul craves to be consoled and comforted – to find in the universal experience of loss and despair an element of hope and optimism, faith and courage; to discover the ray of light after the storm; that inspiration which gives true meaning to our lives. It is the contrast of hope against the backdrop of pain that brings the virtue of nechama into such sharp relief. This is not just a nice idea; rather, it is a core mitzvah to be menachem aveil – to comfort the bereaved and to stay by their side in their moment of grief. “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting” [Ecclesiastes 7:2] because to share in another’s pain and offer actual (vs. virtual) consolation in the form your bodily presence will teach you more about the meaning of life than happiness and rejoicing … even when the latter is also l’dvar mitzvah.


However, you may recall that there is a more subtle alternate meaning to the word nechama, and, when viewed through the prism of Torah exegesis, may even vie with ‘comfort’ and ‘consolation’ for primary position. At the very end of parshas Bereishis, we are told that the Creation experiment is going poorly, the best-case scenario of Man living in harmonious union with his fellow man and with G-d broken apart and dashed upon the sharp rocky landscape of free-choice and self-interest [Genesis 6:5-8]:


G-d saw that the wickedness of Man was great upon the earth, and that every product of the thoughts of his heart was but evil always. And G-d reconsidered (v’yee’na’chem) having made man on earth, and He was pained in His heart. And G-d said, I will wipe out man whom I created from upon the face the earth – from man to animal, to creeping things, and to birds of the sky; for I have reconsidered (nee’cham’tee) My having made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of G-d.”


The English translations here do not say that G-d was ‘comforted’ or ‘consoled’ that He made Man (although the Hebrew root of the words under consideration, nun•ches•mem, is the same as that in our key word, nechama). No, saying that G-d was comforted or consoled by this unhappy turn of events would certainly not be fitting. Although the great Biblical commentator, Rashi zt”l, does mention in his commentary that the root verb used here does mean to be consoled, he nevertheless emphasizes  G-d’s reconsideration of His actions:


Va’yee’na’chem – The attitude of the Omnipresent was transformed from the attribute of Mercy to the attribute of Judgment [Bereishi Rabbah 33:3]. The question arose in His thought before him regarding what to do with man, who He had made on earth. Similarly, all instances of words from the root nun•ches•mem mean ‘reconsidering what to do’.”


So, let us deconstruct this scenario and compare it to our three weeks of mourning and tragedy, followed by the shiva d’nechemta – the seven weeks of … (should we say?) consolation:


In the Book of Genesis, we are told that G-d was “pained in His heart”:  Whereas the Creation scenario that G-d had envisioned was one of harmony and peace, the actual turn of events produced a situation “where the wickedness of Man was great upon the earth, and that every product of the thoughts of his heart was but evil always.” This pain, despair and profound disappointment brings G-d to have feelings of nechama – to ‘reconsider’ what He has done and to make alternate plans accordingly.


Can we not draw a direct parallel to the tragedy that has befallen us with the loss of the Temple and our Homeland? Whereas the original scenario that both G-d and we, His people, had envisioned with the building of the Bais Hamikdash and our dwelling in the Land was one of beauty and lasting grandeur– this beautiful and idyllic situation instead turned to tragedy and despair. Instead of showing honesty, decency and kindness one to another in the midst of unparalleled opportunity, we turned away from the Torah and towards our baser actions of deceit, thievery and sinas chinam (baseless hatred).


Of course, we need to feel consoled and comforted in the face of such a great loss, hoping that we will be granted another chance to prove ourselves worthy of such Divine gifts. But, our nechama must also include a ‘reconsideration’ of those actions which led to such a painful and tragic situation – and decide what courses of action can help us make amends and restore what has been lost. Seven weeks of reconsideration and restorative thinking will certainly help to do the trick and help transform sadness into true rejoicing.


*******************************************


We learn a key mishnah in Pirkei Avos that the world stands upon three things: Torah study, Service (to G-d) and on Kind Deeds [Avos 1:2]. Perhaps we can use this as a platform for rethinking our actions; b’aniyus da’ati, perhaps we can ‘reconsider’ the following, deciding to realign our thoughts and actions in small ways:


Torah:  Maybe it’s possible to add five minutes of Torah study to our schedules each day. There are so many opportunities for doing this: the five minutes while waiting for davening to begin, the five minutes after davening ends; the five minutes waiting for the doctor to see us, the five minutes before or after dinner; five minutes subtracted from internet reading, five minutes at night learning Mishnah Berurah (perhaps via a telephone chavrusah). We have just finished watching videos on Tisha b’Av on the great merit of kiruv, of reaching out to those who don’t know about Torah. On a more ambitious note, perhaps we can set up chavrusah learning Torah with someone who unaware of our precious gift and heritage. Call Partners in Torah and they’ll set you up. Or simply turn to that acquaintance who doesn’t know much Torah and ask, “How would you like to learn Torah together?” Your own reward will be greater than your chavrusah’s.


Avodah: Maybe it’s possible to daven at least one Shmoneh Esrei during the week milah b’milah – word for word without rushing and without thinking about something else. How about on Shabbos kodesh, when there’s no rush – right ;-)? Maybe SE is too long for such concentration – how about one Psalm in pesukei d’zimra said with kavanah and concentration? The prayer landscape is filled with such beauty; it’s a shame to always be on the express train. Also, maybe it’s possible to take five minutes extra each day and say Tehillim (Psalms). Many of us could finish the entire Book of Psalms once a month with just a five minutes input each day. Too much trouble? Then how about one or two extras Psalms each day. David Hamelech wrote each psalm reaching out to the Jewish soul; are we listening? And maybe, after davening each day, we can take a few minutes to talk straight to Hashem, in our own words, expressing our thanks for His kindnesses to us, asking Him directly for our heartfelt desires, telling Him we’re sorry that we sometimes miss the mark.


Gemillus Chasadim: Perhaps it’s possible to pick up the phone every day and call that person you’ve been thinking about, and wondering how they’re doing? We can also take just a few moments to reach out to our parents, gransparnents, children & grandchildren and ask them how things are going and that we’re thinking about them. Perhaps we can just ignore the perceived slights and insults that others may (or may not) have directed towards us. Of course it’s hard to do (why else would we pray for Divine assistance in this area at least three times a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year – in our ‘meditation’ at the close of every SE!) – but someone who can do this is very, very close to Hashem and deserves His special attention. G-d showers love and kindness upon all of humanity constantly, even though so many are disrespectful of Him, or dismiss His existence altogether! [Think about G-d’s ‘Gevuros’ in the second bracha of SE; Ay’ze’hu gibbur? Hakoveish es yitzro! G-d’s ‘Power’ is His ability to perform acts of kindness no matter what].

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Agudath Israel hailed the decision issued today by the federal court in favor of Yeshiva Naos Yaakov. United States District Judge Freda Wolfson ruled that the denial of the variances by Ocean Township, NJ violates RLUIPA. Agudath Israel of America helped to draft RLUIPA (The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act) which became law in 2000. RLUIPA prohibits local zoning boards from imposing or implementing zoning and other land use regulations in a manner that significantly affects the free religious exercise of a person, assembly, or institution. This decision will allow the yeshiva to build a dormitory-based facility.  Rabbi Avi Schnall, Agudath Israel's New Jersey director, said, "This decision makes a statement that the religious liberties of institu...
Orlando, FL - Two months after a gunman killed dozens inside an Orlando nightclub, the sound of popping balloons prompted shoppers to frantically flee an Orlando mall, injuring nine. Orange County Sheriff’s Officials spokeswoman Deputy Rose Silva tells news outlets there was no gunman at the Florida Mall. The loud sounds were actually from six large balloons being popped as part of an industry-standard inspection for the grand opening of former ‘NSync singer Joey Fatone’s new restaurant. Deputies say an announcement was made on the PA system informing shoppers and employees that the test was about to be conducted, but the loud noises still caused people to run. Orange County Fire and Rescue officials say nine people were treated at the scene, including four wh...
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Kiddush Levana Sep 04 7:35 pm - Sep 16 1:57 pm
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Istanbul - Turkey opens one of the world’s biggest suspension bridges on Friday, creating a new link between two continents with the latest megaproject in a $200 billion building spree that President Tayyip Erdogan hopes will secure his place in history. The bridge across the Bosphorus Strait, which divides Asia and Europe, is built in the style of New York’s Brooklyn Bridge and boasts pylons higher than the Eiffel Tower. It is 1.4 km (0.9 mile) long and 59 meters wide, with eight vehicle lanes and two high-speed rail lines. Erdogan is seeking to use such projects to drive economic growth and secure a place as Turkey’s most significant leader since the modern republic’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. “Be proud of your power, Turkey,” said a TV...
BH, we are settling in. Or trying to. Still in our temporary apartment so we can only settle so much. Our lift is now in storage until we are ready for it. I have been hard at work with the kitchen designer and the kablan (contractor) and hope to start renovations on our actual apartment probably the beginning of Elul. Our deadline to be out of our temporary apartment is the end of October, so this will be challenging. But, that is a worry for another time. Last Shabbos we were with our son and family in Bnei Brak. We stayed over for Sunday and went on a very fun trip to a park in Kibbutz Chofetz Chaim. When we returned to Yerushalyim about 7:00, it was time to shower and change to get ready to go to 2 bar mitzvahs. One was in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood and the other was in Har Nof. We...
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Baltimore, MD - Aug. 25, 2016: Dear Community Members, On 08-26-16, between 2:15 am and 2:45 am, there was a residential burglary in the 3500 block of Barton Oaks Road.  An unknown suspect entered an unlocked rear door to gain entry into the residence.  Cell phones, electronics and cash were stolen.  Please record all of your serial numbers for your cell phones, electronics, and other serialized property. Please be vigilant of suspicious subjects or vehicles roaming through the neighborhood.   If you notice any suspicious activity, safely get a good description of the subjects or vehicles (including license plates) and immediately contact 911.  We offer Free Home Security Surveys, where a uniformed officer will respond to your home and give you suggestions ...
Some American journalists assigned to the political beat are having a hard time. Their dilemma is named Donald Trump, a man they don’t feel they can cover objectively. Those troubled are reporters with a liberal bent, and that, of course, means most of the profession. The vast majority of mainstream print and electronic media personnel are well entrenched on the left end of the political spectrum. To be sure, one needn’t be a social or political liberal to regard the Republican presidential candidate with concern — many in Mr. T.’s own party are distancing themselves from him — but “progressive” citizens have a particular revulsion for the controversial candidate. And so, while the intrepid reporters soldier on in the quest for fairness...
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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. Shiva will take place at 6529 Pebble Brooke Road Baltimore, MD 21209. Shacharis- 8:00 AM Mincha/Maariv- 7:30 PM Mincha Friday- 2:00 PM The Lansky family will be sitting shiva until Wed. morning.  Please respect the following schedule. Friday - until 2 pm. Motzei Shabbos - until 11 pm. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday - No visitors between 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm - 7:15 pm and not after 10 PM Bila HaMaves LaNetzach...
Manhattan, NY - New York City subway riders are likely to get bugged over a lot of things — but a recent incident was one for the books. The New York Post ( http://nyp.st/2c1fvpK ) says a woman trying to sell crickets and worms lost her grip on her odd cargo when she got jostled Wednesday evening on a “D’’ train. Rider Chris Calabrese says startled passengers had crickets on their arms; his girlfriend was crying. The worms wriggled on the floor. Passengers moved to the other end of the subway car. Someone pulled the emergency brake and the train halted on the Manhattan Bridge. Calabrese says it was “the craziest thing” he’d ever seen on a train.
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As reported NY1′s Amanda Farinacci, the Jewish community is being priced out of Williamsburg, Brooklyn and they are looking into two new neighborhoods on Staten Island. Would-be buyers from the Jewish community are not waiting for houses to go on sale, rather they are canvassing homeowners asking if they are willing to sell. “They’ve been a little aggressively trying to get property around here,” said one Staten Island resident. “A guy came and knocked on her door and was asking to buy the house for like $800,000,” another noted. They have also been posting flyers around the neighborhood. “My name is Noah. I am looking to buy a house in Manor Heights,” one reads. “If you are interested in selling your house, please call.” Ho...
Updated: Aug. 25, 2016 - 9:39 AM - B'Chasdei HaShem the boys have been found and theydanced and  celebrated at Camp Stolin    ### Bear Mountain, NY - New York state police searched throughout the night for two Brooklyn teenagers who got separated from their group in suburban Bear Mountain State Park. Volunteers were assisting with the search on Friday morning. The 16-year-old boys are from Brooklyn and were part of a group from Karlin Stolin Camp in Highlands in Ulster County. They were last seen hiking on Thursday afternoon in the park, which is in Rockland County. Names of the boys for Tehillim:Moshe Tzvi ben Esther Yosef Yitzchok ben Rina
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