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Rabbi's Update 3/8/2023

Dear Friends:

Tomorrow night in my “Contemporary Jewish Controversies” class I want to look at a recent article by Rabbi Arthur Green and a response by Rabbi Brad Artson -- both of whom I know. Rabbi Green actually spoke at our shul a few years ago at a study day sponsored by the Haberman Institute.

Rabbi Green criticizes recent decisions by the Hebrew College Rabbinical School (of which he was the founding dean and from which he recently retired) and the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies (where I once served on the faculty). The Hebrew College decision was to revoke its previous policy that it would not admit or ordain students who were dating or married to non-Jews. The Ziegler decision was to cut its curriculum to three years from its previous five and to eliminate its requirement that students spend an academic year in Israel.

I recognize that the specifics of rabbinical school training may not be as interesting to you as they are to me, but I want to look at what these decisions say, or don't say, about the future of non-Orthodox Jewish life in North America. It would be helpful, but certainly not required, for you to read the articles linked below:

I also want to share with you a brief excerpt of an interview that Rabbi Daniel Gordis conducted with Prof. Moshe Koppel of the Kohelet Policy Forum, one of the architects of the “Judicial Reform” package of legislation which is currently roiling Israel. As I’ve written you before, Rabbi Gordis is one of the most articulate defenders of Israel currently writing in English but he strongly opposes the “Judicial Reform” package and like many of my other Israeli friends has been taking part in weekly protests against it. Rabbi Gordis asked Prof. Koppel if the proposed legislation would allow the Knesset by a vote of 61-59 to close all mosques and/or non-Orthodox synagogues in Israel, or with 80 votes cancel the next elections and stay in power indefinitely. Prof. Koppel acknowledged that this was a possibility but said that it was extremely unlikely. Whether a governmental system that depends on the legislature doing the right thing is a good or bad idea, I leave up to you. The interview excerpt can be heard at:

As a reminder, I am having drop-in hours on Thursday afternoon 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.


Rabbi Charles L. Arian

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