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Rabbi’s Update 3/13/2024

Dear Friends:

On Sunday and Monday of this week we observed Rosh Chodesh Adar Sheni, the beginning of the month of Adar II. Especially because Purim is celebrated during Adar, or during a leap year during Adar II, there is a traditional saying that “mi-she nichnas Adar, marbim b’simcha” -- from the beginning of Adar, we increase our joy.

This year it is very difficult to fulfill this rabbinic teaching. Roughly 130 of our brothers and sisters are still being held as hostages in Gaza. There is fighting between the IDF and Hamas in Gaza and between the IDF and Hezbollah on the Lebanese border. Innocent civilians on all sides of the border are suffering greatly from the ongoing effects of the fighting. Families continue to mourn their loved ones.

Israeli friends and colleagues tell me that in Israel it is basically still October 8. While people try their best to go about their daily business, the families and friends of the hostages await their release. Reservists are still being called up for extended terms of duty while the young men and women who serve in the regular army are having their terms of conscription lengthened as well. Societal tension is increasing over the fact that Haredim (the so-called “ultra-Orthodox”) are not conscripted like other Israelis.

There has been lots of discussion among rabbis all over the world about the most appropriate way to observe Purim under these circumstances. After consulting with many Israeli colleagues and with the concurrence of the Ritual Committee, our observances this year will be toned down. We will not have a costume contest or a shpiel although whether or not to wear a costume is up to you. 

For the first time since four years ago we will observe Purim evening in person at the shul. Services will be held in the Anita Levine Chapel at 8  pm on Saturday night March 23 at 8 pm. The megillah will be chanted in Hebrew and English and the service will be available on Zoom as well for those unable to attend in person. In the spirit of the mitzvah of gifts to the poor, we are asking that participants bring a box of macaroni or mac ‘n cheese to use as noisemakers, which will be donated to the food bank afterwards.

On Purim morning we will be joining together with our friends at Tikvat Israel congregation in Rockville. Morning services start at 8:15 and Zoom info is still to be determined.

Please support the “Magical Musical Concert” this Sunday at 4 pm at the synagogue. Many many of our congregants have been working extremely hard to make this concert possible and to make it a successful fundraiser for our kehila. If you have not already bought tickets or better yet a sponsorship package, please do so as soon as you can. More info can be found here.

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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