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Aug 10, 2:45 PM: Reisterstown Road closed between Falstaff and Clarks... Avoid the area...
Arson balloons launched from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip have caused 12 fires in southern Israel so far Wednesday. Firefighters are battling blazes in the Ashkelon Coast, Eshkol and Sdot Negev regional councils. One of the balloons landed in the yard of a house in the Sha'ar Hanegev council and did not cause any injuries or damage. Earlier, the tax authority revealed that last week it thwarted an attempt to smuggle tens of thousands of helium balloons into Gaza. The balloons were discovered during an inspection by customs officials in Ashdod in order to thwart the smuggling of weap...
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Baltimore, MD - Aug. 10, 2020 - In a year of uncertainty-we knew we could count on you! And you didn’t disappoint! Over $150,000 raised by 140 cyclists, 50 junior fund-raisers-in-training, who raised over 10,000, and generous sponsors for Baltimore Bikur Cholim. When we planned our event, it was BC, before corona, and when Corona hit, we scrambled to give you, our dedicated cyclists a plan and a challenge.  And thus, the WEEKS CHALLENGE was created. We challenged you to ride 50 miles each week, or 25 miles each week, or 10 miles each week, or take a personal option.  You surpassed our wildest expectations with James Vernov cycling close to 5,000 miles in the ten-week period, followed by Moshe Smith at 1,000, and Yitzchak Kimelfeld at 900 miles.  Then we challenge...
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Baltimore, MD - Aug. 12, 2020 - Bnos Pickup Information for Aug 12-13BNOS MENU Wasserman Salami, potato kugel, cheese blintzes, rice cakes, salsa, tortilla chips, fruits and vegetables, pizza, yogurt, cereal, treats, milk, etc.SCHEDULE:Wed Night - PLEASE DO NOT ARRIVE BEFORE 8 PM or you may be turned awayWed 8PM -10PM   - Cars picking up 1 to 4 mealsTHURS PLEASE DO NOT ARRIVE BEFORE 11 AM or you may be turned away 11:00-12:30 - Cars picking up 1-7 meals*2:30 - 4:30 - Cars picking up any number of meals7-9 pm Extra pickup slotLOCATION MMAE 7000 Rockland Hills Drive DriveDIRECTIONSDrive north on Greenspring. Make a right on Sugarcone, Left on Pheasant cross, Right on Rockland hills, Right into MMAE. When leaving, turn right from the shul to the traffic circle.
Young people who use e-cigarettes have a five times higher risk of contracting coronavirus than those who don’t, according to a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. For the study, Stanford University researchers examined the effects of vaping on 4,351 young people from every state between ages 13 and 24. The research revealed that people in that age group who vaped and smoked tobacco cigarettes also had seven times higher risk of being infected by the potentially deadly virus. Read more at NEWSMAX.
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Most recent Statements/letters/etc. from the Baltimore Vaad HaRabbanimVaad HaRabbonim Of Baltimore: 'Our Guard Has Been Let Down' (Aug. 11, 2020)Vaad HaRabbanim Of Baltimore: "Despite Our Diligent Efforts And Vigilance Locally, We Have Had A Slow Trickle Of New Cases In The Past 2 Weeks That Raises Concern." [July 2, 2020]Vaad HaRabbanim Of Baltimore: "Those Shuls Which Are Able To Open In A Manner Deemed Safe May Do So Already For Shabbos" (June 19) Vaad HaRabbanim of Baltimore: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Yesterday’s Vaad Harabanim Letter [June 11, 2020]Vaad HaRabbonim Of Baltimore: A Smorgasbord of Good News (June 10, 2020)  Baltimore's Vaad HaRabbanim: Please Make Sure to Vote This Tuesday (May 31, 2020 3:03 PM)  Vaad HaRabbonim Of Baltimore: G...
The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for Baltimore City and Baltimore County Wednesday from noon to 11 p.m. BALTIMORE, MD — Before slow-moving thunderstorms arrive in Maryland, the National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch. Effective Wednesday afternoon through evening, the flash flood watch means conditions may develop that lead to a rapid rise in water level that can be life-threatening. Forecasters say a cold front will stall over the Baltimore-Washington region Wednesday, bringing with it storms capable of producing 1 to 2 inches of rain with up to 4 inches possible. Officials say flash flooding is most likely from 2 to 8 p.m., and damaging wind gusts are possible. Since the region has not yet dried out from the past week'...
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Baltimore, MD - June 19, 2020 - N’shei Agudath Israel of Baltimore Summer Lecture Series.Click on the graphic below for a larger, printable copy
Almost two-thirds of Americans believe Joe Biden will not finish a four-year term in the White House if he is elected in November, making whomever he picks as his vice president the ensuing president, according to a Rasmussen Reports survey. Biden is expected to announce his running mate this week ahead of the Democratic Party National Convention, and he has vowed to pick a female running mate. Biden would be 78 when sworn in, and concerns about his age and health have left many wondering if he would finish a full term if elected. Thirty-eight percent of those surveyed, including 20% of Democrats said they believe Biden is suffering some form of dementia. According to the Rasmussen survey, 59% of likely voters believed his vice president would be called up to the top office bef...
President Trump kept up his attacks on Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who has named former Vice President Joe Biden’s running mate for the Democratic presidential ticket, saying early Wednesday she is “the kind of opponent everyone dreams of.” “@KamalaHarris started strong in the Democrat Primaries, and finished weak, ultimately fleeing the race with almost zero support," Trump tweeted. "That’s the kind of opponent everyone dreams of!” Harris ended her presidential campaign last December after struggling to convert early enthusiasm into sustained support. Read more at The Hill
A Halachic Medical Directive is a very important protection for every Jewish patient. It indicates that you want to receive medical care according to halachah. By signing this document, you have chosen a particular agent and a particular Rabbi to make health care decisions on your behalf in case you are unable to do so; for example, if you were to become unconscious. This will protect you from a situation where the medical staff, not knowing the halachah, might mistakenly assume that you don’t want further medical care. It protects your family from repeated pressure from the medical staff to terminate medical care. Many patients’ lives have been saved by these documents. Signing the document ahead of time is not enough. It is important to be prepared to remind your medical tea...
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Parshas Re'eh - Is Kosher Food Healthier? Does It Matter?

Parshat Re'eh reviews Jewish dietary laws supplying a sweeping list of banned foods. It catalogues kosher and non-kosher animals, bans the drinking of blood, mentions the prohibition of mixing meat and milk, and also references the procedure of shechita. These comprehensive details regulate the entire experience of eating and dining. In our era, which unfortunately has witnessed a broad decline of full halachik observance, observance of kosher food regulations remains a baseline for religious identity. We often refer to those who observe Shabbat and maintain kashrut as "Orthodox" Jews even as we hope for their adopting a more augmented and expanded religious lifestyle.

At first glance, many of the laws of kashrut seem random. Admittedly, the prohibition of drinking blood, is understandable as this act seems barbaric. Likewise, many commentators have identified logical reasons for prohibiting the mixing of meat and milk. However, the actual list of kosher and non-kosher animals appears to be extremely arbitrary. Kosher species are determined by physical animal attributes which do not directly correlate to any apparent function. It is not obvious, nor has it been proven, that animals with split hoofs are healthier than their counterparts. Fins and scales don’t directly reflect higher grades of fish. If the list of kosher animals feels random, then the intricate laws of shechita seems puzzling and bereft of any logical explanations. Do these kashrut rules and regulations, which so deeply permeate our experiences, possess any logical explanations?

An interesting midrash (Breishit Rabbah 44:1) does imply that shechita restrictions have no particular rhyme or reason:  "Does God really care whether shechita is frontally executed (which is permitted) or performed on the back of the neck (which is improper)? Rather, the laws of shechita were installed solely to purify human behavior [through obeying God]". This Midrash may imply that there is no essential difference between legal shechita and disqualified shechita. The process is only meant to test our obedience and build religious discipline. If religious discipline and submission to G-d are the ultimate goals, the actual content and core logic of these practices is less significant. What is significant is our ability to submit to the Divine will.

Similar impressions emerge from Rebbi Elazar Ben Azaryah's very provocative declaration (Sifra 20:26): "A person shouldn't be disinterested in forbidden foods. Rather, a person should desire forbidden items but abstain solely because of Divine decree". If forbidden foods were inherently harmful it would be absurd to encourage us to covet these toxic items. The simple interpretation of this Midrash implies that kosher food possesses no medical or health related advantage to non-kosher food. We avoid consuming these foods exclusively because of Divine command. Conceivably, God could have instructed us to consume pig while banning cows. Our compliance is purely based upon submission to the Divine decision, but not based on any other benefit or advantage.

By and large, Jewish tradition doesn’t endorse this extreme but interesting perspective. We believe that every Divine command must be based on some inherent logic and must be geared to our benefit and prosperity. Every mitzvah is built upon a solid logical foundation– some reasons are revealed to human intellect whereas the logic of mitzvoth such as as parah adumah and sha'tnaez remain inaccessible. God doesn’t command or instruct in an arbitrary fashion and, at some level, - perhaps beyond human comprehension- his mitzvoth are beneficial while His prohibitions are dangerous. Many medieval authors catalogued ta'amei mitzvoth or "reasons" for various mitzvoth- a program which presupposes logical foundations for mitzvoth. If the Rambam identified reasons for mitzvoth it was because he believed that God would not just randomly issue commands. There must be some underlying logic and the Rambam determined to illuminate that logic.

The conviction that kosher food is healthier than non-kosher food may have been more compelling in an ancient world which knew less about the human body and human health. It a world of hit-or-miss medical knowledge it was easier to suspend contemporary science and assume that kosher food was medically preferable to non-kosher food. The modern world has mapped human biology and possesses a more precise knowledge of the roots and causes of human health. As modern science hasn’t proven any advantages of kosher food, our belief that kosher laws are geared to human health and prosperity is less obvious and requires critical reinforcement.

Beyond the specific details of kashrut, the more general sense of limiting the range of foods we consume, is an important concept. Limiting the types of foods which can be eaten can help lend dignity and restraint to an experience which, if left unregulated, can become animalistic and degrading. Presumably, with more limited food options, Jews are less prone to gluttony, drunkenness and many other forms of vulgar behavior which can stem from overindulgence in eating. If the Torah is meant to help us even slightly dislodge from the sway of the flesh, laws governing our eating habits are central to that goal. Interestingly, the modern changes in in the availability of kosher food have dramatically altered the equation and diminished this particular function of kashrut. Overwhelmingly, Jews enjoy almost unlimited access to kosher food and obtaining kosher food often requires few serious compromises. The national spread of kosher food in Israel as well as the burgeoning of kosher supervision in the broader Jewish world have created almost unlimited availability of kosher food. Though this development is welcome and enables a broader spread of kashrut observance, this change also lessens the potentially healthy impact of curbing excessive food indulgence.

Secondly, kosher food establishes an important socio-cultural barrier between Jew and non-Jew. Because food and dining is such a central element of cultural experience, kashrut regulations create distinct cultural identity and, to a degree, reinforce separation of the Jew. Throughout the generations, our Masorah installed additional food- related prohibitions to more fully enforce these essential cultural barriers. Laws banning wine which was handled by a Gentile or kosher bread manufactured in non-Jewish settings, further delimited Jewish cultural experience. A separate Jewish diet is intended to demarcate a separate Jewish cultural identity. The kashrut 'cultural barrier' continues to influence Jewish public experience even in the world of modern kashrut.

Though the specific details of kashrut seem arbitrary they possess profound logic, as God banned us from consuming hazardous items while allowing beneficial foods. Modern science hasn’t yet traced human health and well-being to kashrut laws but we still trust that this system isn’t random. In a broader sense, limiting us to kosher foods is a method of curbing against the potential imbalances of unlimited food consumption. Secondly, kashrut experience erects vital cultural barriers intended to safeguard our unique Jewish identity. As the patterns of kosher food change it is important to revisit these seminal principles.

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The United States has entered an agreement with drugmaker Moderna Inc. to acquire 100 million doses of its potential COVID-19 vaccine for around $1.5 billion, the company and White House said Tuesday. The United States in recent weeks has made deals to acquire hundreds of millions of doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines from several companies as part of its Operation Warp Speed program, which aims to deliver a vaccine in the country by the end of the year. Moderna’s price per dose comes to around $30.50 per person for a two dose regimen. With the exception of its deal with AstraZeneca, which offered a lower price per drug in exchange for upfront research and development costs, all the deals price COVID-19 vaccines between $20 to $42 for a two dose course of treatment. Read more a...
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Rep. Ilhan Omar (D) fended off a primary challenge from Antone Melton-Meaux in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District on Tuesday, making her the latest member of the so-called squad to win renomination.  The Associated Press called the race for Omar, who garnered 57 percent of the vote to Melton-Meaux’s 39 percent. Omar will face Lacy Johnson in November after he easily won the GOP primary Tuesday.  Omar wasn’t the only member of the squad — a group of four progressive women of color in Congress — to overcome a primary challenge this year. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) also beat out Democratic rivals this summer. But Omar faced perhaps the toughest challenge of any of th...
As the campaign for President Donald Trump is quick to call newly selected vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris a “phony,” records show the president and his daughter Ivanka donated thousands of dollars to the former California attorney general’s re-election effort. California campaign donation records show Trump gave money to the 2011 and 2014 attorney general campaigns for Harris. Trump first donated $5,000 in September 2011 and $1,000 in February 2013. In June 2014, Ivanka, a White House senior advisor, donated $2,000 to the re-election campaign for Harris. On July 29, Trump called Harris “a fine choice” if presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden had chosen her as a running mate. Read more at NEWSMAX.
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Stock markets surged Wednesday morning, putting the S&P 500 within striking distance of its pre-pandemic record of 3,386 in February. The S&P 500 opened at 3,365, up 32 points, or 1 percent, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 278 points, 1 percent. The upswing followed a Tuesday decline, the first in seven days of trading, as markets look toward a possible coronavirus vaccine. On Tuesday, President Trump said the U.S. government would purchase 100 million doses of an experimental vaccine from Moderna, adding to the list of potential vaccines that could be ready to roll out if trials show positive results. Read more at The Hill
With support from the Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation, Gesher will begin the effort in October 2020 Cleveland, Ohio: Gesher, a public resource organization dedicated to helping the Jewish community, today announced that it will embark upon a year-long effort to understand the unique challenges and opportunities of the Orthodox Jewish community in the Greater Cleveland area. The study will measure the social sustainability of the community - addressing topics related the social health, cohesion, and support systems - through a survey effort, focus groups, and interviews. Every family, organization, and community resource will be reached to ensure a complete picture of the health of the Orthodox Jewish community, as well as its assets and needs. These efforts are supported by the Mt. Si...
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As it conducts its mission to defend southern Israeli communities and vital strategic sites, the Israel Navy is also engaged in a quiet arms race with Israel’s adversaries in the Gaza Strip—namely, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. A senior IDF source told JNS about the ongoing activities of the Ashdod Naval Base, which is responsible for a substantial part of Israel’s coastal waters, stretching from central Israel to southern Gaza. This area of jurisdiction, known as the Ashdod Arena, sees naval vessels securing Israel’s borders and keeping a watchful eyes on developing threats, explained the source. “We also guard our strategic assets, such as the [offshore] gas rigs and natural-gas production facilities—the whole complex coastal area.” The...
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Police in Harrisburg, Pa., are investigating the vandalism of a local shul. Swastikas were spray-painted on the exterior of Kesher Israel Synagogue, an Orthodox congregation. The graffiti was removed shortly after it was found on Monday. “Nobody wants to think of their spiritual home, where they go for a peaceful religious experience, to gain inspiration, as being attacked and vandalized at night, but thank God nobody was hurt,” the synagogue’s rabbi, Elisha Friedman, told CBS affiliate WHP-TV. Law enforcement and the FBI are looking into the incident. Democratic State Rep. Patty Kim responded harshly to the incident. “Graffiti and vandalism will not be tolerated and I reject the hatred these symbols represent. While this may be an isolated incid...
A mysterious string of fires and explosions at military and industrial sites across Iran in recent weeks has led to wide speculation over whether these incidents are mere coincidence or purposeful sabotage by a foreign entity. And if it is indeed the latter, the question is who and why, and will Iran attempt to retaliate? Farzin Nadimi, an associate fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told JNS the recent series of strange accidents in Iran “were a mixture of industrial mishaps” and “suspected cyberattacks.” The Natanz explosion, for example, was “apparently concluded as a bomb blast caused by an infiltrator or infiltrators.” Nadimi said Iranian officials are not willing to talk about it just yet “because they’re still l...
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