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Rabbi's Blog

rabbi 05 smallsf badge lgRabbi Joel Landau  ( has been the Rabbi of Adath Israel since May 2013. He was ordained by the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem and has served previously as a congregational Rabbi in Charleston, South Carolina and Irvine, California. A full biography of Rabbi Landau is available here.


The past week and a half have been a real humdinger (haven’t used that word in a long time). 

It all began last Tuesday when I received a call from the Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society (RCCS), a Brooklyn based organization that helps Jewish families cope with the challenges involved in caring for a family member facing a life-threatening disease. They informed me that a 21-year-old Chassidic mother from Israel was coming to San Francisco for brain surgery at UCSF. She was being accompanied by her husband and father and they needed to find a place to stay for a while by Wednesday night. B”H, we were able to find them a home, BUT we had to supply the beds, linens etc. By Wednesday night, all was in place when Johni and I picked up the threesome from SFO around 9:30pm. None of them spoke any English, so we became their main translators. As a result, Johni has spent countless hours in the hospital assisting them with their needs. 

On Thursday, things got a lot more interesting. Around 3pm, while I was on my way to a meeting, I received another call from RCCS. They wanted to know if I could help another Israeli Chassidic woman (a mother of seven) who had come to UCSF for brain surgery accompanied by her husband. Though I had no idea what I was going to do, I told them to give me ninety minutes. 

Around forty five minutes later, after my meeting ended, the person I met with mentioned to me that the renters who were living in his in-laws' apartment recently moved out after eighteen years. He had completely remodeled the apartment and wanted to know if I knew of any interested potential renters. Long story short, he agreed to let the Israeli couple stay there. One problem - the apartment was totally empty. So, once again, we shlepped over beds, linens, chairs, tables etc. Around 9:30 that night, we took the “new” couple to Lucky’s to purchase some food (by the way, they close at 10pm). We finally got home that night at about 11pm.

Both families joined us for the Shabbat meals and it was really nice getting to know them. The father of the younger woman (who is the oldest of his ten children) is a school administrator and educational consultant. Her husband learns in Kollel while she is busy completing a degree in computers and cares for their 18-month-old. The other couple are both in education. He teaches the advanced class in an elementary school and she teaches preschool. It turns out that my granddaughter goes to the same school as their daughters and his sister-in-law is my granddaughter’s teacher. Small world. 

B”H both women had successful operations this week and are recovering. The families will remain in San Francisco for the next week or so. 

As a result of this experience, and many other similar cases that typically happen every year, we are in the process of creating a Jewish Ronald Mcdonald House. We have already worked things out with the owner of a house to use it when needed and are currently looking to purchase everything needed to accommodate four-six people. If you’d like to participate in this mitzvah, please contact me.