Shabbat Parshat Yitro
Join Us for Services
Friday Night, Shabbat Morning, and Sunday Morning
Weekly Calendar
Shabbat
Friday, January 21
4:56 pm: Candle Lighting
5:06 pm: Mincha/ Kabbalat Shabbat/ Ma'ariv

Saturday, January 22
10:00 am: Shacharit
5:58 Havdalah
HaShavua/This Week

Sunday, January 23
8:30 am: Shacharit

Wednesday, January 26
Noon - 12:45: Torah Class via Zoom with Rabbi Mintz.
Click here to join the class.
From Our President
Dear Congregants and Friends,

B’nai Israel Congregation of Baltimore gives thanks for the safe release of members of Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, who were taken hostage in their synagogue during Shabbat services last weekend. Our hearts and prayers go out to the Beth Israel community and the broader Jewish communities throughout the country who watched and wept as the eleven-hour ordeal played out before us.

While the Colleyville events were localized, this latest attack on a Jewish house of worship is only the most recent in an undeniable trend of rising antisemitism around the world, with security implications here in Baltimore. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we raise our voices against all forms of bias and bigotry. 

Our actions are governed by our shared Jewish values, including the value of kehillah, community. We are taught that all Israel is responsible for one another, so we act with concern for everyone's safety. Yet, as we move forward our actions must be governed by preparedness and not fear.

In this spirit, we are taking steps to increase security and security awareness at B’nai Israel. Our security team is coordinating with the Secure Community Network, created by Jewish Federations of North America, as well as other agencies, to provide training, consultation, education, resources, and advice to increase the safety of our community. Armed security will be provided during services and synagogue events. The Synagogue is in contact with other agencies and the City police to provide additional oversight and backup.

Over the course of the pandemic, grant funds targeted to security were used to improve security cameras and construct exit options from the sanctuary.  A walk-through for the Congregation to familiarize ourselves with the modifications will be offered on January 29th and 30th. Please see the notice below. May it never be needed.

Shelly Mintz, President
Upcoming and Ongoing
Security Training

BeAware Training/Online Webinar
January 27 at 1:00 pm.

In the wake of the incident at Colleyville, Texas last Shabbat, the Secure Community Network (SCN) will conduct a security training webinar, open to anyone from the congregation interested in attending. No prior security training is required.

BeAware, SCN’s Introduction to Situational Awareness Course, will teach you how to recognize suspicious or potentially dangerous behavior and threats, and what to do – whether you are in synagogue, at school, or going about your day.

This training webinar is highly recommended. Register here.

Security Walk-Through at B'nai Israel

Saturday, January 29 following services
Sunday, January 30 at 9:30 am
The walk-through will focus on security improvements made during the last year, such as new security cameras and exit options from the sanctuary.

The Sunday walk-through will include a virtual option. To participate by Zoom on Sunday, January 30 at 9:30 am use the link below:
Join Zoom Meeting:

Meeting ID: 868 7569 6735
Passcode: 29uxFa
B'nai Book Club
Meets usually the second Tuesday of alternate months via Zoom. (Please take note of schedule change.)

Next meeting:
Tuesday, February 8, 2022 at 8 pm. Book of the Month: After Abel by Michal Lemberger.
Descendants' Day

From Our Archives:
The Stories They Tell and
How to Find Them
Sunday, January 30
2 pm - 3 pm; on Zoom

Click here to tune in!
Hidden Treasures Uncovered in the B'nai Israel Archives
Old Mysteries Solved; New Family Stories Revealed
  • Descendants' Day researchers Lia Dankowicz and Rebecca Dobbs will share some of the interesting finds, mysteries they were asked to unravel, and stories that provide color to early B'nai Israel history.
  • Jewish Museum of Maryland archivist Maggie Hoffman will discuss how to use the archives at the Jewish Museum of Maryland to maximize your research. She will cover the scope and formats of materials included within the collection, and what a researcher might learn from different record types. All with images of the materials, including images of some eye-catching materials.  
. . . and Hold the Date for These Upcoming Events 

Sunday, February 6, 2 pm - 3:00 pm: R' Forshlager program Part 1
Rabbi Etan Mintz; Pinchas Kreizel, great-great grandson of R' Forshlager; and Rabbi Avrum Friedmann, author of The Hidden Giant of the Torah World: The life and times of Rav Michoel Forshlager

Rav Michael Forshlager was considered to be one of the greatest rabbinic scholars of the first half of the 20th century. He taught regular Torah classes for many years in the chapel at B'nai Israel, which was considered a great center for Jewish learning in Downtown Baltimore. His writings are studied throughout the Jewish world today, and his burial site at B'nai Israel Cemetery has become a pilgrimage site for thousands of Hassidim annually. Join us as we delve into the writings and teachings of this Baltimore Torah giant.

Monday, February 7, 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm: R' Forshlager program Part 2

Sunday, April 3, 10 am - Noon: Walking tour and clean-up of the historic B'nai Israel cemetery. In partnership with Jewish Cemetery Association and Jewish Volunteer Connection.
Rabbi's Dvar Torah
Parshat Yitro

My friend and colleague Rabbi Posner shared a very interesting insight in this week’s text. When Moshe originally arrived in Midian, and saves Yitro’s daughters from the other shepherds, Yitro admonishes his daughters after they relate what had occurred by saying “Why did you leave him then? Call him for bread… קִרְאֶן לוֹ וְיֹאכַל לָחֶם.” Now, fast forward to our parsha, upon Yitro’s arrival to be with Moshe and the Jewish people, we are told that Yitro offers a sacrifice to God and then “Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to break bread ( לֶאֱכָל־לֶחֶם) before God with Moshes’ father-in-law.” The Kedushat Levi shares an incredible teaching based on this wording (as quoted by R’ Posner).

“In reward for Yitro telling his daughters, “Call him for bread,” he merited to have written about him in the Torah, “to break bread before God.” Wow! This hospitality that Yitro exhibited with Moshe, not only directly facilitated a shidduch with his daughter, Tzipporah, but has reverberations in that now Yitro merits a closeness to Hashem described as breaking bread with Hakadosh Baruch Hu!

We were all stirred this past Motzei Shabbat as we prayed for the hostages in Colleyville, and then were inspired as we learned about the incredible bravery, calm and resilience of Rabbi Charlie in orchestrating his and his congregants escape, his throwing of the chair at the terrorist, and the ultimate miracle of them surviving unscathed. But, there was another quieter piece of the story that was so incredibly moving. In Rabbi Charlie’s words, he initially welcomed the stranger who had been staying in a homeless shelter, and since it was cold outside, made him a cup of tea. Rabbi Charlie became a hero to all of us this week – in his faith, his humility, and his bravery; and also in his preparing a cup of tea for what he thought was a person in need.

In addition to being reminded this week about the horrific antisemitism that we as a people face, going back to time immemorial, and coming from all sides and places, and even in our great country, this week also highlighted the very painful reality that hospitality in a world filled with antisemitism, can sadly be a risky proposition. This is a great and overwhelming challenge – ensuring safety for our communities and holy places, while also continuing for them to serve as open and hospitable sanctuaries. After all, don’t we all
want to be hospitable and caring people like Rabbi Charlie and like Yitro, who not only merits to “break bread with God” as a result, but also to have a parsha named after him?

Shabbat Shalom,
Rav Etan

B'nai Spotlight highlights a range of members of the B'nai Israel family who have a long and deep history with the shul. Every person has incredible stories. Here you will find a few. 

Regarding COVID
COVID Tests
At-home COVID test kits are now available free of charge courtesy of your Uncle Sam. The site is up and running and will provide at-home tests free of charge. Order yours at COVIDtests.gov.
B'nai Israel Policy
For All Services and Other Activities at B’nai Israel

In light of the rapid spread of Omicron, the B’nai Israel COVID committee has agreed upon the following policy going forward. We foresee some of these adjustments as being short term to get us through this current surge, and we will be re-evaluating and making adjustments to this policy as events dictate.
  • All members and visitors must be fully vaccinated to enter the B’nai Israel building. 
  • Fully Vaccinated is as defined by current CDC guidelines**
  • Per city mandate, masks continue to be required while in the building
  • While attending services, all participants are required to maintain adequate distancing.
  • ·Kiddushes will be on hold until further notice.
  • Please do not attend services if you are experiencing any symptoms of illness. 
**Per CDC current guidelines, a person is considered Fully Vaccinated: 
  • 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
  • 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine
Support the Downtown Jewish Community
Please write "anonymous" on your check or online donation if you do not wish your name to appear in an acknowledgement.
Upcoming Events From Our Partner
Check out the JMM's continuing series "Safety and Unsafety in the Jewish Community". More info at this link.
B'nai Israel Congregation
27 Lloyd Street, Baltimore, MD 21202
www.jewishdownwtown.org
Office Hours:
Tuesday - Thursday: 9 am - 1 pm
Friday: 9 am - Noon