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Rabbi’s Update 10/13/2023

Dear Friends:

Last night’s vigil of Jewish Unity & Solidarity with Israel brought many hundreds of Jews and others together at Har Shalom as we shared our devastation at the loss of life earlier this week and our support for our brothers and sisters in Israel. The sanctuary as well as the overflow room were both packed and people were standing in the back of both rooms and sitting in the aisles. Rabbis and Hazzanim from about 20 Montgomery County synagogues of all denominations participated in the service and we heard from Eliav Benjamin, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Embassy (Ambassador Herzog traveled to Israel with Secretaries Blinken and Austin) as well as Representative Jamie Raskin. The entire event can be seen on YouTube here; if you don’t have time to watch the whole video I particularly urge you to watch Rep. Raskin’s extraordinary speech which begins roughly thirty minutes in. I will be referencing some of what he said in my sermon tomorrow morning as I address what this week’s Torah portion has to say about the situation and how to think about the many tragic stories we are likely to hear about in the coming days.

I will be taking a few days to recoup after the holidays and will be off Oct. 15 - 18. In view of the situation I had considered not going away but one of the things I have learned in my therapy over the last couple of years is that if I do not take care of myself I cannot take care of anyone else. On Thursday night after minyan, we will gather on Zoom for a safe place to share our thoughts, prayers, and concerns about the war in Israel. The week after, I will resume my Thursday night Adult Education classes after minyan. On the second and fourth Thursdays I will once again be doing my series on “Contemporary Jewish Controversies.” For the first and third Thursdays I will be doing a series of three to five session mini-courses so I can cover a variety of subjects of interest to our members. If there is something you would like me to cover and you think it can lend itself to a mini-course of this type, please let me know.

If you absolutely need to reach me while I am away, I will be checking my email a few times a day or you can phone or text me at the number listed in the synagogue directory.

As a reminder, I am having drop-in hours on Thursday afternoon from 2 to 4 at the shul. You do not need to make an appointment -- that would negate the whole point of drop-in hours -- but I’d urge you to check and make sure I am there regardless as sometimes there are unavoidable pastoral or other emergencies which might take me away from the building.

As always, if I can do anything for you or you need to talk, please contact me at or 301-977-0768 rather than through the synagogue office. I am happy to meet you at the synagogue by appointment. I have been spending more time in the synagogue recently but if you want to speak with me it’s best to make an appointment rather than assuming I will be there when you stop by.


Rabbi Charles L. Arian

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