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Rabbi’s Update 2/28/2024

Dear Friends:

It is not uncommon for people who are moving or downsizing to bring various Jewish ritual objects and books to the synagogue. The fact that people treat these Jewish objects with reverence is commendable. However, the reality is that in this digital age our library is a resource which is not often utilized and chances are the books you are bringing to the synagogue are either already in our collection or not something we can use. As far as kippot: 1.) we already have more than enough and 2:) despite widespread belief, kippot do not possess any sanctity and can simply be discarded.

There is a practice known as geniza which is necessary for shemot. The word geniza means “to hide away” and generally, objects destined for the geniza are buried in a grave space that a cemetery donates for the purpose. Shemot are books and other writings that contain the sacred name of God. The Conservative movement holds that computer printouts and photocopies of Torah and Haftarah readings made for one-time use are not shemot and can be recycled (ideally not simply thrown away).

We are fortunate that in our community the Garden of Remembrance periodically holds a Geniza Day where synagogues, schools, and individual families can bring up to ten boxes or bags of worn shemot. The next Genizah Day is Sunday, March 31 between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm. Items must be well sorted and be actual shemot or ritual objects which have sanctity: tefillin, tallitot, Torah mantles and the like -- not kippot. Hebrew school work books and secular books in Hebrew or Yiddish are not accepted nor are siddurim in good condition, only those that are worn out. For more information about Genizah Day please contact the Garden of Remembrance office (not the synagogue) at 301-428-3000 or

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 or another member of our Jewish community who could use a phone call, please let me know.


Rabbi Charles L. Arian

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