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Rabbi’s Update 12/1/2023

Dear Friends:

With the rise of antisemitic and anti-Israel incidents on college campuses, the staff of the University of Maryland Hillel has invited area rabbis to meet with students over lunch next Wednesday, Dec. 6. If you have a child or grandchild who is a current student (undergraduate or graduate) at UMD College Park, please send me their contact info ASAP so I can contact them and invite them to lunch.

I mentioned in my Wednesday morning message my realization while listening to Israeli radio that it was no longer interrupted by missile warnings which named specific localities and instructed the residents to head to their bomb shelters. As the truce ended earlier today, the missile warnings are back. As I wrote on Wednesday, the truce clearly had benefits for both sides but it is also the case that Israel cannot accept a situation which leaves Hamas in power permanently.

Why not? I want to be very clear. There is much room to criticize Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza and I have not been shy about my own criticisms. But the Oct. 7 attacks were not about Israeli policy and they were not about creating a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. For Hamas the existence of an independent Jewish state is intolerable, period. When Hamas supporters chant “From the River to the Sea” they mean getting rid of Israel and either expelling its Jewish inhabitants or imposing on them the second class dhimmi status which Jews have historically had in most Muslim countries.

Tomorrow morning in my drasha I will discuss Jacob’s preparation for his encounter with his alienated brother Esau and what it has to teach us in the current situation.

Next Shabbat, December 9, morning services will be followed by a Volunteer Appreciation Kiddush Luncheon and then a Kiddush Konversation. My topic will be “Will the Real Chanukah Please Stand Up?” I will share with you some texts, from the Talmud to the United States of the previous century that will shed light on how different communities have perceived the true meaning of Chanukah.

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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