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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.


This week, I received three letters that I would like to share with you. The first letter, which is from Sinai Memorial Chapel, happens to be very appropriate after last weekend’s T.E.A.M. Shabbat. The second letter, which is from an organization called In Shifra’s Arms, relates to this week’s parasha in that it addresses pregnancy and birth under challenging conditions. The third letter is from Nishma Research, asking for participation in a COVID-19 Vaccine Survey of the Jewish Community. Please note my comment at the end of each letter in bold. 

Letter #1:

Dear Rabbi Landau

I hope this email finds you, your family, and congregants doing as well as possible during these challenging times. One of the things that has come to our attention during the pandemic is that more and more people are having anxiety about their finitude. We are able to give people greater peace of mind by helping them understand how they can make advance plans for their end of life, both for a funeral and a final resting place. We do this for individuals every day on a no cost basis. For some it is a simple and straightforward conversation and for others it can be a more elongated process. Some individuals choose to pay in advance and others choose to just have all their information on file, choosing to have their families take care of financial arrangements at the time of need. We are here to support families in whatever way is right for them. We would like to explore being able to do a ZOOM webinar for your congregants on the topic of advance planning. We would particularly like to do this in partnership with you and your leadership. We think that within approximately an hour we could cover the following topics 

  • Why plan in advance?
  • What in our Jewish tradition encourages advance planning?  
  • Who is Sinai and what do we do?
  • What are the core things to think about when making an advance plan? 
  • What are the steps to proceed? 
  • Q&A

We are more than willing to do this in conjunction with a broader educational effort on your part around the end of life or as a singular education event. We know programming can be challenging during the pandemic. Please know we are here to support you.

RL: Please let me know if you would be interested in participating in an informational zoom session with Sinai.


Letter #2.

Shalom Rabbi Landau,

My name is Erica Pelman, founder of In Shifra's Arms (ISA). I'm writing to personally follow-up with you on yesterday’s RCA newsletter urging rabbis to raise awareness about the Jewish resources for unplanned pregnancy crises.  

Bottom line: the emotional and financial stress of COVID has increased the pressure to abort unplanned pregnancies.  I know for certain this affects some Orthodox families because more than 30% of ISA calls are from Orthodox married women. ISA offers substantial resources before and after birth, including free professional counseling and financial aid. But we can only help the women who know to ask. 

I don’t know who will be born from our joint efforts to raise awareness, but every life is worth the effort. Put another way- the strength of our hishtadlus (effort) to offer help demonstrates the sincerity of our Emunah (belief) that every human being is precious. 

Our team is grateful for your consideration. I eagerly welcome both your questions and ideas to help our efforts succeed. 


Erica Pelman

RL: Please share this information with whomever you feel appropriate.


Letter #3.

Dear Rabbi Landau,

This morning we released the Nishma Research COVID-19 Vaccine Survey of the Jewish Community. The survey has been out for a bit over two hours and we already have almost 500 responses. So, people are clearly very interested in this.

I am taking the opportunity to share the survey link with you, in case you want to invite your congregants to participate. This is a relatively short (about 6 minutes) survey, open to all those age 18+, and will close Wednesday, January 13 at noon Eastern Time. 

The link is: … so feel free to share the link with your kehilla and others.

Thank you and kol tuv!


Rabbi Mark (Moish) Trencher

Nishma Research