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Rabbi’s Update 2/21/2024

Dear Friends:

One of the challenges of Conservative Judaism is that the “cost of entry” is fairly high. By this I do not mean the financial cost, as almost any synagogue will make it possible for people to join even if they can’t afford full dues. I mean that the level of knowledge required to be a full participant is fairly high. It is pretty much impossible to fully participate in Conservative services if you can’t read the Hebrew alphabet. And for the most part, Conservative Jews pray in a language they don’t understand -- although praying regularly, congregants do tend to pick up some degree of Hebrew vocabulary.

But what does the traditional prayerbook (siddur) that we use mean? Why do we say the prayers that we say? Where do they come from? And why do the prayers appear in the order that they do?

This coming Thursday night our Adult Education class will begin to take a look at the meaning and structure of the siddur. We will start with a particular section of the siddur whose structure offers a key to understanding the basic ideas of Judaism. If you come to this class, your understanding of the siddur will be improved significantly. It is important for you to come with a siddur handy, but since the class is right after minyan that should not be a problem.

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. 

Additionally, if you know of a Kehilat Shalom congregant who could use a phone call, please let me know.


Rabbi Charles L. Arian

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