Friday, April 29, 2011

YOM HASHOAH (Sunday, Nisan 27th, 5771)

Today is the 25th day of Nisan, 5771

10 days of Omer (1 week, 3 days)

This coming Sunday, May 1st, 2011/Nisan 27, 5771 is Yom haShoa, the day the Jewish people remembers the six millions victims of the Holocaust. It is known also in English as Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Numerous ceremonies are held in Jewish institutions all over the world: In Jewish schools, Synagogues and even in Jewish cemeteries, to honor the memory of the victims of the most horrendous crime humanity had ever known.

In our community we will have the MYC Yom HaShoah Commemoration - Sunday, May 1st with a special speaker, Asher Mathahias, at 7:30 pm at the Young Mashadi Jewish Center. (For more information, please contact: Kimberly Hakim:

In our family, after attending the different ceremonies and memorials, we dedicate this day to read about the Holocaust and usuaully we watch together one or two movies or documentaries to help our imaginations to realize the horror of the Shoah.

Last year we watched the movie: "The Last Days" by Steven Spielberg . This movie tells the story of six Holocaust survivors. It chronicles the Nazi's efforts to exterminate Hungarian Jews in the last few months of World War II. Viewers witness this effort through the powerful accounts of these concentration-camp survivors and three American liberators. Each story concludes with the narrator returning 50 years later to the camp and, in some cases to the hometown that held his/her memories.

May the memory of our brothers and sisters, murdered during the Shoah, live in our hearts forever.

Tihiye nafsham tserura bitsror hachayim. Amen!

Shabbat Shalom!

Candle Lighting NYC: 7:31 PM


We cannot remain silent. Sunday, May 1st at 12:00 P.M

Join many other Jewish communities that will gather to commemorate the millions of innocents who perished in the Holocaust. We cannot remain silent. May 1st at 12:00 P.M in front of the Iranian Mission to the United Nations.



SEE: "The Last Days" Trailer:

SEE: SEPARATION: A scene from The Last Days :

Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC | 130 Steamboat Rd. | Great Neck | NY | 11024

Thursday, April 28, 2011

SEFIRAT HAOMER: The Mitzva of Counting the Omer

Today is the 24th day of Nisan, 5771, 9 days of Omer (1 week, 2 days)

From the second day of Pesach until the Holiday of Shabuot, we count 49 days / seven weeks. Every night, when the new Jewish day begins, we pronounce a blessing and proceed to count that specific day and. After the sixth day we count also the weeks. Today, for example, we counted nine days of Omer, which are one week and two days.

The counting of the days of Omer connect between the exodus from Egypt --when we got our physical, political and legal freedom after being slaves of Pharaoh for so many generations-- with the giving of the Torah, or more specifically: the beginning of our pact with God, which conditions, clauses and articles are stipulated in the Torah.

Originally, the days of Omer are meant to be days of happiness, when we count, enthusiastically, every day until our final goal was achieved: to become, out of our own will, the People of God. The days of Omer are compared with a bride and a groom, who having established the date for their wedding, count enthusiastically every day until the wedding night.

For a deeper understanding of the change in the popular vision of the days of Sefirat haOmer see here.

Women are exempted from the counting of the Omer, but they can still count it without pronouncing the Berakha.

If one forgets to count the day at night, one could count it during daytime until sunset, but without reciting the blessing for that day.

If one forgets to count one day completely, then he can count during the following days, but without pronouncing the blessing anymore.

For a summary of Minhaguim of Sefirat haOmer, see here:

Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC | 130 Steamboat Rd. | Great Neck | NY | 11024

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


From the end of Pesach until the 33rd day of the Omer we have the tradition of keeping certain customs of mourning, in memory of the twenty-four thousand students of rabbi Aqiba who died in that period of time in the years 130 ACE.

1. Weddings or engagements are not allowed during the days of the Sefira, but in many communities it is customary to allow an engagement to take place during Rosh Chodesh Iyar.

2. The first day to allow the performance of a wedding, according to the Sephardic Minhag, is on the 34th day of the Omer while for the Ashkenazi Minhag is on the 33rd.

3. Men are not allowed to get a haircut during the days of the Sefira until the 34th day of the Omer. Women are not subject to any restrictions regarding their hair.

4. It is customary not to wear any new clothing for which one would regularly say the Berakha Sheheheyanu. Since this custom is not mentioned in the Shulhan Arukh there is some leniency to it. For example: If a specific new garment will not be available after the Omer or if the price will increase after Lag laOmer it is permitted to acquire the new clothing. If the new clothing is much needed it can be worn on Shabbat for the first time, saying Sheheheyanu for it. Buying new clothing for a wedding is permitted, for the bride the groom and their immediate family. Buying new clothing for a Brit Milah is also permitted for the family.

5. Buying a new house is permitted, but if possible, one should move into it only after Lag laOmer. If one does not have a house or an office he can move into the new property even before Lag laOmer. It is NOT forbidden to make a contract or a closing for a house during these days.

6. During these days one should avoid listen to live music and/or going to a movie theater.

7. In our community the celebration of Yom haAtzmaut, Israel's Independence Day, which commemorates the anniversary of the re-establishment of the State of Israel overrides the mourning restrictions of the Omer period, thus we celebrate that day with joyous prayers, banquettes, dancing and music.

It is important to notice that all the restrictions we follow in the days of Omer are not associated with any superstitious notions of bad luck or bad Mazal. These Minhaguim are related exclusively to the mourning we keep, honoring the memory of the students of rabbi Aqiba.