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Ohel Shalom Torah Center Newsletter
Parashat Tazria-Shabbat HaChodesh-Rosh Chodesh Nissan 5779

Contact Us

 Ohel Shalom 


Check out our new and improved website at 

To determine if the Eruv is operational either click on the phone number link below, or call
 1-773-74-ERUV-2 (743-7882) after 2pm every Friday afternoon or every Erev Yom Tov.

Join Our Mailing List
In This Issue
Office Contact During Construction
This Week at Ohel Shalom
Shabbat Hagadol Dinner
Project Connection Update
Amazon Smile
Eruv Check- In
Kollel Korner
Davening Times
Candle lighting 
7:01 pm
Shir HaShirim 6:56 pm
Mincha 7:11 pm
Shabbat starts 7:21  pm
Shacharit 8:15 am
 Mincha 6:36 pm
Shabbat ends
8:12 pm

Regular Weekdays

7:45 am
Monday, Thursday
6:15 am

 Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday
6:30 am 

Sunday- Thursday
7:11 pm 
Late Arvit following Kollel 
10:00 pm

Regular Shiurim  

 Open Seder  
Rabbi Olstein
Parasha Shiur
Wed 8:30pm (Hebrew)
Thurs 8:00pm (English)
Rabbi Moshe Miller
Tomer Devorah
Sundays after Mincha/Arvit  
Father and Son  
Torah and Chamin
Thursday 8 pm  
Rabbi Yosef Asayag
Monetary Issues in Halacha
 Shabbat Afternoon
45 min. before Mincha (Hebrew) 
Ateret Chaya 
Simcha Hall  

 Nachat on Shabbat
Kids learning program
1 hour before Mincha  
Men and Women

Ner Foundation 
Rabbi Raccah   

Parashat HaShavu'a
Wednesdays at 8:30pm  

Personalities in the Bible
Motza'ai Shabbat during the winter
see you next year!


Male Member Shiur
Pele Yoetz in English
contact Shlomo Mizrahi
Yalizu Chasidim in Hebrew
contact David Ben Abu 



Seuda Shlishit






Breakfast Fund

Day- $15 

Week- $75 

Month- $250 

Year - $2400  


Fish Fund

$20 month 


Hamin Fund

Monthly contribution 



Chair Sponsors

(127 sold - 133 left)

$20 each  


New Set of Artscroll Talmud Yerushalmi  

$35.00 for Talmud Yerushalmi




Siddurim Shaarim Ba'Tifilla

($15.00 each) 


Chumash w/simanim  

($20 each) 

20 New Talitot  

(4 sponsored - 16 left)

$75.00 each 


Office Contact Info During Construction
During office hours, Mrs Sror can be reached directly at

Office hours are Monday-Friday 9:15 am - 1:15 pm.

Use the regular 773-465-5274 to leave a message for Rabbi Raccah or for Mrs Sror outside of office hours. This number will not be answered during construction and is voicemail only.

This Week at Ohel Shalom
Kiddush and Seudah Shilisheet Sponsorship
Kiddush this week is sponsored by Mr. Arvin Scott in memory of Netah bat Rivka. May her Neshama merit an Aliyah. The Kehillah thanks Mr. Scott for his generosity.
Last week's Kiddush was sponsored by Tomer Bitton and last week's Seudah Shilisheet was sponsored by Jack Shlomo. The Kehillah thanks the sponsors for their generosity.
Rosh Chodesh Nissan
This Shabbat is Rosh Chodesh Nissan, which will begin on Friday night, April 5th through Shabbat on the 6th. Pesach is coming!! Please see next section about the Shabbat HaGadol Dinner and make your reservations if you wish to attend. Chodesh Tov!
Rabbi Raccah's Pre-Pesach Shiur

This Sunday, April 7th at 10 am, Rabbi Raccah will BE"H give his annual Pre-Pesach Shiur in the Bet HaMidrash. This Shiur typically encompasses the Halachot of preparing your kitchen for Pesach. In addition, Rabbi Raccah will hopefully share the most updated info on rice and other products. You don't want to miss it.

Dedicated Hours for 
Mechirat Chametz/Selling Your Chametz

People have already been asking about selling their Chametz. Rabbi Raccah is once again available BE"H to aid you in the sale of your Chametz. As in years past, he has set aside some specific times when you will be able to come to sell your Chametz. This is in addition to selling your Chametz when you see him at the Beit HaKinesset after Tifilot.

The first one will be BE"H after the Pre-Pesach Shiur on Sunday, April 7th for half an hour. We can not be precise for the beginning of this time.

Additional dedicated times are:
Monday, April 8th, from 9:00-9:30 pm at the Rabbi's home, 7400 N. Albany. Please do not ring the bell.

Wednesday, April 10th from 8-8:30 pm before the Wednesday Night Shiur in the Ateret Chaya Simcha Hall.

Thursday, April 11th from 9:00-9:30 pm at the Rabbi's home, 7400 N. Albany. Please do not ring the bell.

Please do not come either early or late. Additional dedicated times may be added. Please look for more details.

The many additional Rabbinic responsibilities that Pesach requires place an increased burden on the rabbi's schedule, so please respect Rabbi Raccah's time and do not request time outside of this to sell your  Chametz.

Maot Chitim - The Geshem Fund

As we all know, Pesach is an unusually beautiful but expensive holiday. For some families struggling with ever mounting bills and little or no income, Pesach can be daunting. To help alleviate the stress of the financial constraints, the Geshem Fund provides some relief. Many families turn to the Geshem Fund year-round for help. Please help us help these families. To participate in relieving some stress and enhancing the holiday of your friends, please make out a check to the Geshem Fund today. The checks can be given to the rabbi or any other officer of the Kehilla. PayPal payments through the Kehilla website are also possible.
Rabbi Raccah's Parashat HaShavua Shiur

BE"H there WILL be a Shiur on a Pesach topic this coming Wednesday, April 10th. There will be NO Wednesday night Shiur on Wednesday April 17th and on Wednesday Chol HaMoed, April 17th. Shiur will BE"H resume Wednesday, May 1st
Learning Group with Rabbi Raccah on Pele Yoetz
Please join us for a weekly learning group with Rabbi Raccah on the Pele Yoetz. This group meets weekly, and is only open to male members of the Kehillah. For more information  text  Shlomo Mizrahi at 323-274-8178.    
New Learning Group with Rabbi Raccah in Hebrew

Due to the success of the Pele Yoetz Learning Group, Rabbi Raccah has B"H started a similar group in Hebrew. The group has B"H already met twice. Interested? Contact David Ben Abu for more information. 
Shabbat HaGadol Dinner
The Shabbat HaGadol Dinner is by reservation only. If you wish to attend please reserve and pay by this coming Monday, April 8th
For a printable version of this flyer  click here

Project Connection UPDATE
(new info below)

As the construction B"H has significantly advanced, you may want to dedicate an item. As you can see, B"H many items have already been taken. The Rabbi and Committee still have not begun fundraising efforts, so this is your chance.

Two things to keep in mind:
1) Items have been set at all price points from as little as $180 and up. This was done intentionally to allow all our members to BE"H participate and be a part of reaching this vital milestone in our history.
2) The pledges for this campaign are payable over the next year and a half (till Rosh HaShana 5781 - 2020) and are separate to all other pledges and charges. The opportunities are on a "first come first served basis" so don't delay!!
UPDATE: B"H the Sacramento Entrance has been dedicated.

For a printable version of this flyer click here

Construction Updates

B"H with concrete pours largely behind us, construction advanced on many areas this week. A new roof was put on. The building was sealed on the eastern side with masonry. The connecting steps from the lower level to the main building were completed. Additional windows were added for the lower level to increase natural light there.

Work on the new roof

Two new western side windows to add natural light to children's level

Masonry closing northern side

Steps to connect lower level to Main Building

Carpentry on southern office addition

Inside view of enlarged Bet Midrash/Shiur room (North facing)

Amazon Smile

Do you purchase items from Amazon? If so, you are in a perfect position to provide the Kehilla with much needed financial support with zero cost or additional effort from you, beyond following a few easy steps just one time.

Amazon has a philanthropic branch called Amazon Smile. All you need to do is sign up (no cost) and select our Kehilla as your charity of choice and Amazon will give the Kehilla 0.5% of all your eligible purchases! There are millions of eligible items.

Please take advantage of this opportunity
and sign up immediately.

Click here to select Sephardic Community Shaare Mizrah as your charity.

The Geshem Fund

It has been very busy for the Geshem Fund. Significant sums of money have been distributed to dozens of people to help with rent, utilities, food and many other purposes. This has depleted the fund. Please help us help those in need.

Please open your hearts and your wallets and make checks out to the order of GESHEM FUND and give to Rabbi Raccah or put in the mailbox of the office or the shul and Ayelet will give it to Rabbi Raccah.  As you thank Hashem for all that He has blessed you with, remember the less fortunate who are struggling and in desperate need of assistance. Thank you.
Eruv Check-In
Is the Chicago Eruv up and operational for Shabbat? If you utilize the Eruv, it is your responsibility to check each week before Shabbat if it is up. There are now some new and easy ways to do this.

The Chicago Eruv has set up a website with this information, as well as other pertinent halachot and information about the eruv. The web address is

You can call the hotline on Erev Shabbat after 2pm and listen to the recorded message or sign up to receive a weekly e-mail update on the status of the eruv.

Click here to sign up to have the eruv weekly email update sent directly to you! 
To Determine if the Eruv is Operational either click on the phone number link here, or call 1-773-74-ERUV-2 (743-7882) after 2pm every Friday afternoon or every Erev Yom Tov.

Kollel Korner of the Sephardic Community Kollel
Sephardic Community Kollel
Come learn with the Sephardic Community Kollel from 8:00pm to 10:00pm, Sunday through Thursday. Please contact the Kollel Coordinator, Rabbi Yosef Olstein to arrange a learning partner or to receive information about the Kollel and its programs. Rabbi Olstein can be reached at 773-338-8046 or by email at Sephardic Community Kollel.   
Donations to the Kollel
Donations to the Kollel can also be made via credit card. Please call the shul at 773-465-5274 or email the Kollel for details.
Sponsor Learning in the Kollel
Our Rabbis tell us the great power and merit associated with supporting Torah learning. To that end, consider sponsoring a week or a month of learning in the Kollel.

Examples of sponsorship purposes include: in memory of a deceased loved one for their Azkarah, to merit a Rifuah Shilamah, or to honor a loved one or friend. In addition to the great merit of supporting Torah in our community, your sponsorship will be marked with printed pages noting the intent of your support that are placed in stands on the tables in the Beit HaMidrash for the duration of your sponsorship period. 
Here are the costs for the various sponsorships:
A night of learning -  $52
A week of learning -  $100
A month of learning - $400
The Kollel appreciates the following sponsors of learning: 
A month of learning has been sponsored by   Mrs. Elana Moalem for March 12-April 12   for the Zechut of a Refuah Shelemah for  Chana bat Elka . May she merit a full recovery.     
A week of learning has been sponsored by Mrs. Shoshana Aryeh for March 31-April 7 in memory of her grandmother, Esther Gitel bat Rav Yaakov v'Leah. May her Neshama merit an Aliyah.
A week of learning has been sponsored by Mr. Shimon Faratci for April 2-9 in memory of his brother, Meir ben Esther. May his Neshama merit an Aliyah.
A week of learning has been sponsored by Morris Zelkha, Ruth Zelkha and Carmella Bar Nissim for April 1-8 in memory of Muzli bat Flora. May her Neshama merit an Aliyah.
A month of learning has been sponsored anonymously for the month of April. The Kollel thanks the patrons for their generosity.
    Halacha of the Week  

The Laws of the Blessing of the Trees
The Proper Time for the Blessing of the Trees 
Our Sages, who have established the Blessing of the Tress, write that the proper time for this blessing is during the month of Nissan, for it is then that trees begin to blossom and buds come forth. It would seem from the words of our Sages though that this blessing may only be recited during the month of Nissan and not at any other time.
Countries where the Trees Blossom at other Times 
A problem exists in the United States, for not always Nissan do the trees begin to blossom during the month of Nissan. Therefore, the question becomes whether or not one is permitted to recite the Blessing of the Trees in the month of Iyar.
The Sefer Ha'Eshkol (authored by Rabbeinu Avraham Av Bet Din, one of the great Rishonim, page 68) writes that one should recite the Blessing of the Trees during the month of Nissan, however, this does not mean that the blessing must be recited specifically in Nissan; rather, this refers to the first time that year that one sees the trees blossom. Similarly, the Ritba (Rabbeinu Yom Tov ben Avraham Elasvili) in his commentary on Tractate Rosh Hashanah (11a) writes: "This does not necessarily mean Nissan; rather, every place based on when the trees blossom there." Many other Poskim rule likewise.
Thus, one may recite the Blessing of the Trees based on whenever the blossoming of the trees occurs in one's current location, for there is no specific requirement for the blessing to be recited in the month of Nissan; the only requirement is the spring blossom, which usually occurs during Nissan.
Reciting the Blessing of the Trees on Shabbat
The Poskim disagree whether or not the Blessing of the Trees may be recited on Shabbat. We have already written about this topic in the past. Halachically speaking, according to Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt"l, it is permissible to recite this blessing on Shabbat according to the letter of the law especially on years when Rosh Chodesh Nissan coincides with Shabbat and there is a concern that if this blessing is not recited by the entire congregation on Shabbat, there may be those who will treat this blessing lightly and not recite it later at all. In such a situation, it is certainly preferable to recite the Blessing of the Trees on Shabbat. Indeed, Maran zt"l behaved this way in his older years when he and the members of his synagogue would walk down the road and recite the Blessing of the Trees on Shabbat. Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l behaved likewise. Similarly, if, for whatever reason, one has not yet recited the Blessing of the Trees and then sees blossoming trees on Shabbat, one should recite the blessing right away so as not to miss saying the blessing entirely.
On Which Trees One May Recite this Blessing 
One may only recite this blessing on fruit-bearing trees and it may not be recited on barren trees. Nevertheless, if one mistakenly recited this blessing on a barren tree, one should not repeat it upon seeing a blossoming fruit-bearing tree.
Some say that one may only recite this blessing when seeing a minimum of two blossoming fruit trees. Others rule that seeing one tree is sufficient. In pressing circumstances, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt"l writes that one may recite the blessing on one tree. Nevertheless, it is especially praiseworthy to recite the blessing on several different kinds of fruit trees.
Grafted Trees
Regarding trees that are grafted from two different species, for instance, a tree grafted from Etrogim (citrons) and lemons, some are of the opinion that one should not recite the Blessing of the Trees upon seeing them since their existence is against the will of Hashem; thus, one should not thank and praise Hashem for them. Others argue and write that since this blessing pertains to the entire creation in general, one may even recite it upon grafted trees. Although if one wishes to recite this blessing on such a tree there is no need to protest, it is nevertheless preferable not to recite the blessing on such a tree due to the famous rule, "When in doubt regarding a blessing, do not bless."
However, there is much room for leniency in this matter regarding trees which are not so clearly forbidden to graft, such as citrus trees including citron, lemon, "Chushchash" (wild oranges), and grapefruits, for according to Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt"l (see Responsa Yabia Omer, Volume 5, Chapter 19 and Halichot Olam, Volume 2, page 200), one may instruct a non-Jew to graft such trees with one another. Based on this, the existence of such trees is certainly not against Hashem's will and the Blessing of the Trees may be recited on them just as it is customary to recite the "Shehecheyanu" blessing on such fruits, as we have explained in another Halacha.
Orla Trees
One may recite the Blessing of the Trees upon a tree within its first three years of being planted, for although it is Orlah and forbidden to benefit from, since it was not planted in a prohibited manner (as all trees are forbidden to benefit from during their first three years of being planted), this blessing may be recited upon it.
Reciting the Blessing Outside of the City  
Hagaon Rabbeinu Chaim Palagi writes in his Responsa Lev Chaim (Volume 2, Chapter 45) and Sefer Mo'ed Le'Kol Hai (Chapter 1, Section 6) that one should preferably recite the Blessing of the Trees specifically outside the city. He derives this from the words of the Gemara and the Rambam which state that this blessing was instituted for "one who goes out during the month of Nissan"; it is therefore improper to recite this blessing inside one's home. Several great sages followed this practice, among them the great Geonim and luminaries of Yeshivat Porat Yosef Harav Yehuda Tzadka, Harav Mansour Ben-Shimon, Harav Ben-Zion Abba Shaul, Harav Yosef Ades, Harav Yehuda Moalem who would travel to an area near Bet Shemesh every year to recite this blessing. Nevertheless, many great Poskim did not customarily follow this stringency quoted by Rabbeinu Chaim Palagi and even he writes that his grandfather, Hagaon Harav Yosef Refael Chazzan, Rishon Le'Zion, author of Responsa Chikrei Lev, and one of the greatest luminaries of the generation, would customarily recite this blessing in the courtyard of his home. Similarly, the great sages of Istanbul would recite this blessing while looking out their window at the trees outside. Maran zt"l and those who prayed in his synagogue would likewise recite the Blessing of the Trees close to his home and he would not travel outside of the city to do so.


If you have a Simcha occurring within the next few months that you would like to have added to the calendar, please call the off ice at 773-465-5274 or email the office with the link provided in the sidebar at the top of the email.  

Shabbat HaGadol Dinner - April 12
Pessach - April 19-27

Community Section

Free Car Wash

Free Passover car wash sponsored by Alderman Debra Silverstein & Senator Ira Silverstein, Committeeman,  April  7-17 at: Fast Car Wash, 7130 Western, Chicago; Speedy Car Wash, 5724 Lincoln, Chicago; Uptown Car Wash, 4900 Broadway, Chicago; Niles Car Wash, 900 Civic Center Dr., Niles. One free exterior car wash plus one free self-serve vacuum. Pick up vouchers at Ald. Debra Silverstein's office, 2949 Devon, on Sunday, Mar. 31, 12-2 PM; & Monday, April 1, 4-6 PM. For more information call 773-761-0050.

  Free Document Shredding and Electronics Recycling and other Agudath Israel Pesach Services 
Shaimos Collection: Charge based on volume.
Shredding /Electronic Recycling: Sun., Apr.7, 7530 St.Louis, 1-5PM. Hag'olas Keilim: Sun. & Mon., Apr.14-15 . 7:30-9 PM, 3535 Foster (Big orders must reserve 773-727-5241).  
Pre-Pesach Garbage Pickup: Go to 50th Ward office 2949 Devon by 4/12; 39th Ward go to Agudah office 3542 Peterson to get a sticker. Be'ur Chometz: 4/19, 8-11 AM, JDBY corner lot, & YOB, 2828 Pratt parking lot. MBH Halacha Hotline 773-539-4141 
Chicago Orthodox Student Union
The new Chicago Orthodox Student Union continues its Learning Program directed by the YU Torah Mitzion Kollel this Tuesday, April 9, at KINS - 7:45 PM Dinner - 8 PM Shiur. CLIK - "College Learning Initiative at KINS" Shiur - "Why We Keep Minhagim", led by Rabbi Daniel Kanter. Meat/Veggie food included! Questions?- Please email
Maot Chitim
Save the date! 
Maot Chitim is proud to tell you about another Volunteer Opportunity

Momma Chef's Soup Kitchen at Congregation K.I.N.S. has opened their doors to feed meals to those in need.

Once a week on Tuesday evenings they will provide a four-course homemade hot dinner, as well as bagged lunches to-go, at no costs to their guests.
Please help to spread the word.. whether it be to volunteer or to invite someone who may be in need of food and a friendly face... 
All food served is Kosher and prepared in a supervised kitchen.

Click Here to volunteer or email for more information.