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Rabbi's Update 12/2/2022

Dear Friends:

As you know, this coming Shabbat we will honor Andie Epstein with a special Kiddush as she retires after about seven years as our synagogue administrator. Andie was a member of our shul for many many years before taking on the role of administrator and will remain an active member upon her retirement. We are unable to accommodate more RSVPs as the food and supplies for the kiddush have already been purchased but the program will be available on Zoom as well.

Because the office has been taking RSVPs for a while now, there is no signup sheet for Shabbat morning in person this week. Please remember that we require all attendees to be fully vaccinated against COVID and we ask you to refrain from attending if you have had a COVID exposure within the last seven days.

Yesterday afternoon our newly promoted administrator Joan Teich and I, along with President Gail Lieberman, Senior Vice President Charlotte Strauss, and Financial Secretary Terry Strauss had a security briefing and training from our synagogue’s security coordinator Bob Goldberg. We went over all of the new equipment which was installed thanks to a FEMA security grant and how to use it, as well as the protocols that are designed to keep us safe. I want to acknowledge Bob for all of the work that he has done in writing and implementing the grant and working with the County Police and the security director of the Jewish Federation in implementing our procedures. Please understand that there is always a trade off between convenience and security. If a door is propped open or left unlocked it is much more convenient for people who might arrive late for a meeting, service, or program. But that same unlocked door is an opportunity for someone who wishes us ill to enter our building unimpeded. If you have to unlock a door or punch in a code or wait a couple of minutes for someone to let you in, please understand that this is, unfortunately, the price of security in the current environment.

Earlier this week Council Member Andrew Friedson held a Town Hall in Bethesda on ways to combat antisemitism. Friedson and Police Chief Marcus Jones both emphasized that the County government and police take antisemitic incidents very seriously. Ron Halber, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, said that he’s concerned about the next presidential election cycle and what anti-semitic hate could be spewed during the election. It’s imperative for all residents to stand against that, he added.

“The most important thing you can do is be a voice against bigotry, hate, antisemitism and racism,” Halber said. “Which means if you hear racist incidents, you tell people you don’t find it funny. If you see something, you contact the police … in other words, get involved in strengthening the fabric of the community that rejects hate.”

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.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Charles L. Arian

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