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Rabbi’s Update 3/6/2024

Dear Friends:


If you have attended Shabbat morning services or certain other events in the last few months, you will have noticed that we now have a uniformed security guard present for services and special events. There have been other improvements in security as well; we no longer allow anyone to prop open the front doors, I carry a silent panic button during services which will bring the police in case of any emergency, and one of the ushers or gabbais carries one as well. There have been other improvements which are less visible -- we now have 19 security cameras which cover almost every square inch of the building and parking lot. We have a number of monitors in the building and the cameras can also be viewed remotely by me and others involved in our security preparations, as well as the Montgomery County Police.


But the most important factor in security is the human factor. It is our members and staff who are responsible among other things for making sure doors are locked when they are supposed to be, that alarms are set when the building will be empty, and so on. Beyond that, everyone needs to know what to do in case of an emergency -- whether medical (where is the AED and how is it used?) or security related.


The Jewish Federation has created JSHIELD, the security arm of our local Jewish community. This coming Sunday Rusty Rosenthal, the director of JSHIELD, will present a training on how to deal with an active threat this Sunday in our Sanctuary from 12:40 to 1:40. Mr. Rosenthal has 25 years of experience as an FBI Special Agent, including directing the FBI’s Israel Office from 2019 - 2022. Everyone who can attend this training should do so.


On another subject, the Jewish Community Relations Council has asked us to share with you the following information:


Please join the Montgomery County Jewish Educators Alliance and the JCRC of Greater Washington for a rally Wednesday at 4 PM to urge Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA) union representatives to reject a proposed ceasefire resolution that would further alienate and endanger Jewish students and educators at a time when school-based antisemitic incidents are skyrocketing.

 

The rally will be held at MCEA headquarters at 12 Taft Court in Rockville. Please arrive early to allow time for nearby parking and a short walk to the rally site. MCEA voting members have been told to arrive early for the 4:45 PM meeting and we want them to see that local elected officials, educators, parents and students believe they should be focused on local affairs, not foreign affairs. Law enforcement will provide security. The rally will be held rain or shine.

 

Consideration of this ill-informed resolution falls far outside the purview and expertise of the association or its members, which should focus its time and resources on the multiple crises unfolding within Montgomery County Public Schools: a widening racial achievement gap, an underserved special education community, potential drastic budget cuts to critical academic and mental health programs and key vacant leadership positions.

 

If you haven't done so already, please send a letter to MCEA Board members by Wednesday afternoon urging them to reject the proposed resolution that shifts the focus away from supporting the needs of educators' and students in Montgomery County.

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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