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Rabbi’s Update 3/27/2024

Dear Friends:

If you have a good memory and have been a part of Kehilat Shalom for a long time, you may recall that several years ago I gave a couple of classes on “The Top Ten Misconceptions About Judaism.” Number 9 on the list was “‘God Loves You’ Is a Christian Statement.”

Our liturgy is full of statements about God’s love for the Jewish people. Right before we recite the Shema we read either Ahavah Rabba , “Great Love” (in the morning) or Ahavat Olam, “Eternal Love” (in the evening). Both of these blessing proclaim that God loves the Jewish people dearly and as a symbol of that love, God has given us the Torah. But for whatever reason, many American Jews have internalized the Christian stereotype that will Christianity is the religion of love, Judaism is the religion of law.

Rabbi Shai Held is one of the founders and deans of Yeshivat Hadar in New York. He received his rabbinic ordination at JTS and his Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Harvard. He is truly one of the most important thinkers in contemporary Judaism. His newest book, called Judaism Is About Love: Recovering the Heart of Jewish Life was published yesterday and I am looking forward to reading it when my copy arrives later today. At some point in the future, after I have read and digested it, I will offer a class or discussion exploring the major teachings of this book. In the meantime, remember that God loves you! If you want to order the book or find out more about it, the Amazon link is 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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