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Rabbi’s Update 11/3/2023

Dear Friends:

You may not be aware that there are around half a million Jews in Latin America and many Latino Jews in the United States who are Jewish immigrants from Latin American countries or their descendants. Among these Latino Jews are Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, who was born in Havana and emigrated with his family while he was a baby, and Maryland District 17 Joe Vogel, who was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, and likewise immigrated with his family to Maryland when he was a young child.

The largest Jewish movement in Latin America is the Masorti or Conservative movement. There is a Conservative rabbinical seminary in Buenos Aires which was founded by Rabbi Marshall Meyer. Rabbi Meyer grew up in the congregation I served in Norwich, CT and is buried there. After ordination at the Jewish Theological Seminary he took a position in Buenos Aires and founded many of the key institutions of Conservative Judaism in Latin America.

Recently the hazzanim (or to use the Spanish spelling, jazanim) of many Latin American congregations got together digitally to record a beautiful version of the MiSheberach prayer for the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces. Please take a look and a listen; it will inspire you to understand that we are one people and one body no matter where we live:

Last night I discussed the parameters of just war theory according to Jewish law and tradition. There is a great deal of overlap between Jewish teachings on this subject and the Geneva Convention. When terms such as “genocide” and “war crimes” are thrown around, it is important to understand what these terms actually mean. If you missed the class or want to review it, it’s available here:

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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