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Rabbi's Blog

rabbi 05 smallsf badge lgRabbi Joel Landau  (rabbi@adathisraelsf.org) 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.


Baruch Hashem, this past week was not as insane as the week before. Both women that came for brain surgery are doing well and hope to be back in Israel by next week. The families are incredibly grateful for everything that the community has done to assist them. To be honest, we are also grateful for having several more men for minyan every day, twice a day (hint, hint).

After sharing my idea with you about having a Jewish Ronald Mcdonald House, many people contacted me looking to help. At the moment, it looks like we will be able to purchase everything needed. I’m still working out all the details with the owner, but I’m hopeful that we will come to a mutually beneficial agreement. Now that I’ve had a little more time to think about it - instead of calling it a Jewish Ronald Mcdonald House, maybe we should call it the A.I. Chesed House? I’m open to suggestions.

Speaking of chesed, last week (in addition to everything else) I received a call from Rabbi Guttenberg to see if we could host four shlichot for Shabbat. The girls work for R. Guttenberg’s school in Miami and were coming to Oakland to stay for Shabbat with the shlichot there, who work for OHDS. Unfortunately, the Oakland shlichot contracted Covid and were in quarantine, leaving the Florida shlichot with tickets to SF and no place to stay for Shabbat. After slipping my wife some anti-anxiety drugs, she agreed to host the girls in our home (just joking, it was me who needed the drugs before asking my wife). Needless to say, I was outnumbered - by a bunch of very nice women. Interestingly, it turned out that while growing up (in Israel), I was neighbors with a father of one of the girls and know him and his parents. Not only that, one of my nieces was another girl’s teacher and they all love the music of one of my nephews, known throughout the Dati Leumi world as Bini. Once again – small world. 

One last very serious topic. As a result of the attack on the synagogue in Colleyville, Texas two Shabbatot ago, Jewish organizations worldwide have been reviewing their security arrangements and protocols, including Adath Israel. Since R. Charlie Cytron-Walker (the rabbi of the Texas synagogue) attributed the successful conclusion of their horrific ordeal to training they had received, numerous training courses are being offered. 

Instead of trying to have everyone come to a training seminar, the following is a summary of what we all need to know, with a prayer that we should never need it:     

1. As something develops, the key principle to remember is that you must get out of there. If possible, just run. Don’t confront the person or try to neutralize him or go for the gun and be a hero. Just run. While running, it is a bit better to swerve and not run in a straight line. 

2. Sometimes you cannot safely run. If so, you should hide. If a person attacks room 302 and you are in room 301 and cannot run out without the person seeing you, turn off the lights in your room, and duck under the chairs. Hopefully,the person will not realize or see that people are in room 301 also. If possible, hide in a closet. 

3. If the person has spotted you and you cannot safely run away or hide, then you have to keep in mind that the person probably — or very possibly — will eventually decide to kill you. Therefore, play for time by being nice, cooperative, warm, friendly. The more “human” you seem, the longer he/she will delay before killing you, and maybe he/she won’t. It’s similar to the reason Walmart and Target hire “greeters” to smile at you and say “hi” when you enter the store. It’s not that they are nice companies, rather, it is a tactic to reduce shoplifting.  Still, maybe he/she will decide to kill you anyway, albeit on a delay. 

4. As you buy time, plan to escape if possible. Try to get closer and closer to the exit without it being obvious that you are aiming for that direction. If and when you make the escape move quickly, it probably will be your only chance and there are no guarantees. 

5. Do not convince yourself at any time that you finally have won him/her over and that the person will not actually kill you. No matter how much progress you have made with him/her, the person can eventually “turn on a dime” and decide to kill you anyway, especially if he/she feels the police are moving in. Keep waiting for the moment when you feel he/she is a touch distracted, maybe the person is closing his/her eyes for 10 seconds, maybe nothing much has transpired for a while . . . and then you bolt for the exit. 

If there are more hostages than you alone, you have to know that if you do successfully escape, the person will promptly shoot and kill anyone in the group who did not get out. Therefore, you have to get everyone to bolt at once — or you are writing off anyone who does not know to run when you and your group bolt.

6. Fighting is only a last resort. It almost always guarantees that some or all will get killed. 

7. To review - the bottom line is Run, Hide, Fight.