Friday, April 24, 2020

Patriots and Blessings

Patriots and Blessings
At Jewish Newport
April 25, 2020
Thank you to Rabbi Marc Mandel 
and at

Hello everyone!

I hope you are in good health and being safe. 

Welcome to Shabbat. Let’s do the best we can to step away from the current crisis.

Monday was Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts and in three other states. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts established the holiday in 1894. It commentrates the Battles of Lexington and Concord, and the Battle of Menotomy (Arlington, Massachusetts), the first battles of the American Revolution. The battle of Menotomy was the bloodiest. 5100 militia men from Middlesex and Essex Counties hid in houses, stone walls, fields and barns. In one house 11 militiamen died. Watch the video!

If you have a sister in Lexington, as I do, you will have gone to the town common at 6:00 AM to see the Lexington part of the Battle re-enacted. This year the re-enactment was replaced by a video which is both fun and moving. When watching, consider going into the settings ( a cog wheel) and going viewing it at 2x. Do you see my sister Beth Levine in the video? It’s nice to have a star in the family. 

Did I mention that Patriots’ Day is also Boston Marathon Day?

Rabbi Marc Mandel shared a brief Torah message with us,

“While the world searches for a vaccine for Covid-19, there are other things that we can do that don't require a prescription or have side effects. We can pray. Jews have always had prayer in their tool kits - why should things be different now?  There have been several new prayers that have recently been composed for our current situation. Here is one below.”

The poem was written by Rabbi Peretz Rodman who lives in Jerusalem and edited by Ze’ev Kainan. Rabbi Rodman is a New Englander, whose grandparents lived in Bristol. I met him when I was picking up my son at Camp Ramah in Palmer, Massachusetts. When I go to Israel, we make a point of getting together. 

תפילה לרפואה בעת הזאת

רוֹפֵא חוֹלִים, רְפָא נָא לָנוּ.
הַגְבֵּר אֶת רוּחֵנוּ וְטַע בָּנוּ חֹסֶן
ֹשֶיַּעֲבִירֵנוּ בַּמַּגֵּפָה בְּשָׁלוֹם.

רְפָא-נָא לַגּוּף ֹשֶל כָּל מִי ֹשֶהֻכָּה בַּנְּגִיף
וּרְפָא נָא לַנֶּפֶֹש ֹשֶל כָּל מִי ֹשֶסּוֹבֵל.
רְפָאֵנוּ וְנֵרָפֵא, הוֹשִׁיעֵנוּ וְנִוָֹּשֵעַ, כִּי גוֹאֵל חָזָק אָתָּה.

מַתִּיר אֲסוּרִים, עָזְרֵנוּ בִּימֵי הֶסְגֵּר.
בְּעֵת נְעִילַת ֹשַעֲרֵי בָּתֵינוּ, פְּתַח לָנוּ אֶת ֹשַעֲרֵי לִבֵּנוּ.
ֹשַחְרְרֵנוּ מִכָּל פַּחַד וַחֲרָדָה.

מוֹרִיד הַטַּל, בָּרְכֵנוּ בְּאָבִיב רַךְ, בַּאֲוִיר צַח,
בְּחַלּוֹנוֹת פְּתוּחִים עַל יַד הַדְּלָתוֹת הַסְּגוּרוּת.

בַּעַל גְּבוּרוֹת, מִי דוֹמֶה-לָךְ? מֶלֶךְ מֵמִית וּמְחַיֶּה וּמַצְמִיחַ יְֹשוּעָה.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה, בַּעַל הַגְּבוּרוֹת וְרַב לְהוֹשִׁיעַ.

                                           חיבר: פרץ רודמן, ערך: זאב קינן
A Prayer for Healing in the Current Situation

Healer of all who are ill, grant us healing.
Strengthen our spirit, and plant within us resilience
that will carry us through this plague in peace.

Heal the body of everyone struck with the threatening virus,
and heal the souls of all who suffer.
Heal us and we shall be healed, save us and we shall be saved,
for You are a mighty rescuer.

You who free all who are bound up, help us in these days of quarantine.
As the gates of our homes are shut, open for us the gates of our hearts.
Liberate us from all fear and anxiety.

You who bring down the dew, bless us with a soft spring, with fresh air,
with open windows beside the closed doors.

Master of mighty deeds, who is like You?
You are a ruler who brings us both death and life
and makes our salvation flourish.
Praised are You, master of mighty deeds and abundant salvation.

- translation of a Hebrew prayer composed by Peretz Rodman and edited by Ze’ev Kainan

Shabbat Shalom from Jewish Newport!

Friday, April 17, 2020

A Life of Blessing

A Life of Blessing
At Jewish Newport
April 18th 2020
With thanks to  Rebecca Beit-Aharon and Rabbi Marc Mandel

Dear Friends,

Pizza in Cairo Egypt photo
by Aaron Ginsburg
I hope you had a sweet Passover, and that you enjoyed your first post-Passover meal.

Touro Synagogue usually has three opportunities for us to meet together virtually each week to learn, to pray and to hang out. If you need information please contact me at

On Monday, April 20 at 7:30 PM, we will join together for a virtual Yom Hashoah.

Rabbi Marc Mandel of Touro Synagogue, Newport, Rhode Island shared a short message and a prayer with Jewish Newport:

“The Shabbat before the start of a Jewish month (Rosh Chodesh) is known as Shabbat Mevarchim, ‘the Shabbat when we bless.’ On this day, during the synagogue service, we recite a special blessing for the new month and announce the timing of Rosh Chodesh. 

“This Shabbat is Shabbat Mevorchim, and due to our current health crisis, we should have special concentration when we recite this prayer, especially since we won't be saying it in a regular Minyan. Shabbat Shalom!”

Here is the Rosh Chodesh blessing:

“May it be Your will, the Eternal our God, to grant us long life, a life of peace, a life of good, a life of blessing, a life of sustenance, a life of vigor of the bones, a life in which there is fear of sin, a life free from shame and embarrassment, a life of riches and honor, a life in which we may be filled with love of Torah and awe of Heaven, a life in which You will fulfill all of our hearts’ desires for good.” 

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ. שֶׁתְּחַדֵּשׁ עָלֵינוּ אֶת הַחוֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה לְטוֹבָה וְלִבְרָכָה. וְתִתֶּן לָנוּ חַיִּים אֲרוּכִים. חַיִּים שֶׁל שָׁלוֹם. חַיִּים שֶׁל טוֹבָה. חַיִּים שֶׁל בְּרָכָה. חַיִּים שֶׁל פַּרְנָסָה. חַיִּים שֶׁל חִלּוּץ עֲצָמוֹת. חַיִּים שֶׁיֵשׁ בָּהֶם יִרְאַת שָׁמַיִם וְיִרְאַת חֵטְא. חַיִּים שֶׁאֵין בָּהֶם בּוּשָׁה וּכְלִמָּה. חַיִּים שֶׁל עשֶׁר וְכָבוֹד. חַיִּים שֶׁתְּהֵא בָנוּ אַהֲבַת תּוֹרָה וְיִרְאַת שָׁמַיִם. חַיִּים שֶׁיְּמַּלֵא יְהֹוָה מִשְׁאֲלוֹת לִבֵּנוּ לְטוֹבָה בִּזְכוּת תְּפִלַּת (רַב) רַבִּים. אָמֵן סלה

During these difficult days it is hard to get away from the Corona pandemic that grabs our country and the world. I have traveled to the area many times and am in shock.

On Monday, I learned that Dokshitsy, Belarus, neighboring Parafyanovo, Belarus, and Minsk, the Belarusian capital, are also experiencing major coronavirus outbreaks. 

Many Newport families—including Friedman, Adelson, Shapiro, Markman, Rosoff, Mendel, Rosoff, Kraut, Teitz, Kusinitz, and Ginsburg—trace their roots to this area. I have met many people in the Dokshitsy District, and there are Kusinitz relatives in Minsk. Please include them in your prayers for life and health.

Shabbat Shalom from Jewish Newport.

Friday, April 3, 2020

The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep
At Jewish Newport
April 3, 2020

Rabbi Marc Mandel of Newport’s Touro Synagogue sent a brief message to our readers:

“The Shabbat which precedes Passover is called Shabbat haGadol, the Great Sabbath, for many and varied reasons. In some Sephardic communities, it is customary, when greeting one another on this Shabbat, to add the title of the day: Shabbat haGadol Mevorach, a blessed Shabbat HaGadol. This year especially, this seems like an excellent custom for us to do. May we all have a blessed Shabbat Hagadol.”

But why is it called Shabbat haGadol (the great or the big Shabbat)? At our session today at 4:PM Rabbi Mandel quoted an article from Wikipedia but focused on the haftarah from the prophet Malachai which ends, 
וְהֵשִׁ֤יב לֵב־אָבוֹת֙ עַל־בָּנִ֔ים וְלֵ֥ב בָּנִ֖ים עַל־אֲבוֹתָ֑ם פֶּן־אָב֕וֹא וְהִכֵּיתִ֥י אֶת־הָאָ֖רֶץ חֵֽרֶם׃
[הנה אנכי שלח לכם את אליה הנביא לפני בוא יום יהוה הגדול והנורא]
“He shall reconcile parents with children and children with their parents, so that, when I come, I do not strike the whole land with utter destruction. Lo, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before the coming of the awesome[Gaddol], fearful day of the LORD.”
Passover brings children and parents together. We open our doors to see if Elijah is coming, since that would mean the Messiah was coming. Most commentators say this passage in Malachi is where the Shabbat Hagodol gets its name, but there are other possibilities, or more likely they are a but of sarcasm directed at the big ones in more recent times.

Wikipedia tells us that it is customary for the rabbi to give a long sermon during the afternoon of Shabbat Hagadol. Zedekiah ben Abraham Anav (1210 – c. 1280) who lived in Rome said it is called “Hagadol” because of the length of the sermon, which drags on and drags out the day along with it.
There is nothing new about falling asleep while the rabbi speaks. In the midrash, Bereishit Rabbah 58,3 we read, 
רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא הָיָה יוֹשֵׁב וְדוֹרֵשׁ וְהַצִּבּוּר מִתְנַמְנֵם בִּקֵּשׁ לְעוֹרְרָן אָמַר מָה רָאֲתָה אֶסְתֵּר שֶׁתִּמְלֹךְ עַל שֶׁבַע וְעֶשְׂרִים וּמֵאָה מְדִינָה, אֶלָּא תָּבוֹא אֶסְתֵּר שֶׁהָיְתָה בַּת בִּתָּהּ שֶׁל שָׂרָה שֶׁחָיְתָה מֵאָה וְעֶשְׂרִים וָשֶׁבַע וְתִמְלֹךְ עַל מֵאָה וְעֶשְׂרִים וְשֶׁבַע מְדִינוֹת. 
“Rabbi Akiva was once sitting and lecturing, and the community [his students] was falling asleep. To arouse them, he said: How could Esther rule over one hundred and twenty seven provinces? It should be that Esther, a descendant of Sarah who lived to one hundred and twenty seven, to rule over one hundred and twenty seven provinces.”
And what does that mean? If Esther ruled 127 provinces, she didn’t have time to waste a second. If we want to accomplish anything, we should not waste our limited time on this world.
Fortunately in Newport we don’t have to worry about falling asleep during a long speech from Rabbi Mandel. He speaks so briefly there is not enough time to catch even forty winks.

Shabbat haGadol Mevorach from Jewish Newport!

Upcoming programs at CJI (If you need a link, send an email message to

Monday, April 6 at 7:30pm 
Newport Passover Memories

Tuesday, April 7th at 7:30pm
Virtual Search For Chametz With Rabbi Mandel

Wednesday, April 8th at 5:30pm
Virtual Model Seder With Rabbi Mandel