Rabbi Blau headed to Poland on RCA mission – Cleveland Jewish News

Posted By on May 14, 2022

Rabbi Benjamin Blau, president of the Rabbinical Council of America and spiritual leader of Green Road Synagogue in Beachwood, is going on a mission to Poland with colleagues in the council to gain understanding of the needs of Ukrainian refugees and Polish relief efforts.

Blau said the national council was scheduled to hold a convention and instead members decided to shift to a four-day mission beginning. He leaves May 15 and arrives in Poland May 16, and will return May 19.

The Rabbinical Council of America is a Modern Orthodox group with membership of 1,000 rabbis, Blau said. A total of about 25 people are going to Poland, including rabbis, spouses and a 13-year-old son of a rabbi who after the mission to Poland will become bar mitzvah in Israel.

The idea is really twofold, Blau told the Cleveland Jewish News May 12. First and foremost, to give support to the Ukrainian refugees particularly the Jewish individuals who have been resettled at the moment. I dont know whats going to happen to them, ultimately. But they definitely need as much support as we can (provide).

In addition, he said rabbis on the mission hope to find out what the needs are. Then, we can be able to come back to the U.S. and give firsthand accounts as to what needs to happen moving forward.

Blau noted that the news cycle has shifted away from the Ukrainian humanitarian crisis amid the Russian invasion in recent weeks, but the needs are ongoing and critical among refugees.

The council decided to bring cash as a convenient way to provide for medical supplies and other critical needs. Blau said he sent a note to his Green Road congregation asking if they would partner with him and support the trip.

In response, on May 12, members of the congregation baked and sold challah with proceeds going toward refugee assistance. Blau said he would have a check cut representing both individual donations, raised in just three days, and proceeds from the challah bake. A total of $1,750 was raised.

Blau said the agenda for the trip was developed by Rabbi Michael Schudrich, chief rabbi of Poland, an American citizen and a member of the Rabbinical Council of America. Rabbi Arie Folger of Vienna, a vice president of the council, worked in concert with Schudrich to develop the itinerary, Blau said.

Per the request of Schudrich for religious items, Blau said he was planning to buy 10 mezuzot from local sofer Rabbi Yosef Heinemann to deliver in Poland.

While in Poland, the group will also dedicate two Sefer Torah scrolls and celebrate Lag bOmer with Jews in Krakow. Their assignment was to provide kosher hot dogs for the celebration.

Our colleague from Vienna said its easier to bring it from Vienna to Poland than it is from Chicago, Blau said.

In addition to Krakow, Warsaw and Lublin, the group will travel to Rzeszow and Medyka, at the border of Ukraine, Blau said.

Im proud that Im doing something on behalf of Ukrainian Jews and Im doing it in conjunction with my shul, Blau said. I think its really important. The rabbi is the agent of the show, and Im happy to do it in that regard.

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Rabbi Blau headed to Poland on RCA mission - Cleveland Jewish News

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