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Rabbi’s Update 11/8/2023

Dear Friends:

Last night I began a new minicourse on the poetry of Yehuda Amichai (1924 - 2000). Amichai was considered the “national poet” of Israel and was undoubtedly the greatest poet in the history of the State of Israel. Although our group was fairly small, the discussion was very insightful and heartfelt and by sharing our perspectives on the poems we read, we all learned a lot. What is remarkable is that despite the fact that Amichai passed away 23 years ago, his poetry speaks to us of Israel’s current situation.

I prepared a handful of poems in English translation and they are available here. Last night we read and discussed the first three poems in the packet. Barring world events which prompt a change in schedule, we will continue our discussion this coming Thursday night. The recording of last night’s discussion is available here.

This coming Tuesday, Nov. 14, there will be a massive rally in DC supporting Israel, opposing antisemitism, and calling for the immediate release of all hostages. The rally is sponsored by the Jewish Federations of North America and co-sponsored by almost all mainstream Jewish groups on all points of both the religious and political spectrum. The rally will take place on The Mall between 7th and 12 streets starting at i pm and ending at 3. Gates will open at 10 am.

If you plan to attend -- and I hope you will -- it is recommended that you sign up in advance so that you can receive updated information on the schedule of speakers and security and logistics announcements. You can still attend without signing up but given that plans for the rally are incomplete and details can change, it seems to me a good idea to sign up. You can sign up through either the United Synagogue or the Jewish Federation and if you are on the email lists of other organizations, you may have received signup links from them as well. As far as I know, the information you receive will be the same regardless of how you sign up except if you want to meet up with a specific organization. Here are the links for the United Synagogue and the Federation:

There will be very heavy security for the event and everyone attending will need to pass through a magnetometer (aka metal detector). Security is being handled by the Park Police. Gates to the event will open at 10 am and it is recommended that those attending take the Metro Blue Line to the Smithsonian station, which is very close to the main entrance for the rally at 12th St. You can bring small backpacks or purses and it is recommended to bring water and something to eat. Signs are permitted but cannot be attached to sticks.

If you have asked me to obtain signs and wristbands for you from the Jewish Federation, they will be available at the shul from 2 to 4 pm this afternoon and 10 to 4 on Monday. I am submitting the numbers we need to the Federation at 10 am this morning so if you have not yet been in touch and want me to obtain these items for you, please email me at by then. I will “pad” our order by a small amount to account for those who might not have had the opportunity to be in touch with me in time.

As a reminder, I am having drop-in hours on Thursday afternoons 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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