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Rabbi’s Update 3/15/2024

Dear Friends:


Yesterday morning Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer made a speech on the Senate floor where he called on Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to step down and call for new elections. He said that Netanyahu “has lost his way by allowing his political survival to take precedence over the best interests of Israel.”


Since a number of you have asked over the last weeks and months why Netanyahu remains in power when he has clearly become very unpopular in Israel (in the most recent survey only 15 percent of Israelis felt he should remain as Prime Minister once the war ends) I will try and explain briefly. Israel is a parliamentary democracy and while a government has a fixed four year term, it can be brought down by a vote of no confidence. Very few Israeli governments have lasted for four years.


The Netanyahu coalition currently has 64 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, but most surveys indicate that if elections were held today it would fall to around 40 or 45. This means that a good chunk of the current Knesset members would lose their seats if elections were held today, which is obviously a reason why they would not support a call for new elections. All of this is aside from the question of holding elections and potentially replacing the government in the middle of a war.


While the government is in my opinion unlikely to fall over its conduct of the war, there is another issue which keeps popping up which might cause it to fall. That issue is the conscription of Haredi (“ultra-Orthodox”) young men. For the most part they are not conscripted, and this has led to tremendous dissatisfaction in the rest of Israeli society and resentment of the Haredim. If the exemption from conscription that Haredim currently enjoy is renewed when it expires soon, some of Netanyahu’s secular partners may leave the coalition. But if it is not renewed, the Haredi parties will certainly leave the coalition. For more on this issue, see this article from the Forward.


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 rabbi@kehilatshalom.org 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.


L’shalom,




Rabbi Charles L. Arian




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