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Rabbi’s Update 4/26/2024

Dear Friends:

MiSheberach List “reset”:

The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of Conservative Judaism (CJLS)  recently passed a responsum dealing with communal MiSheberach lists.

The list we read on Shabbat mornings has become extremely long to the point where it comes close to violating the halachic prohibition of tircha d'tzibura, over burdening the community. This problem is common in many synagogues because people call or email to add names to the list but often do not ask for names to be taken off the list when the person recovers or, God forbid, passes away.

The CJLS suggests "resetting" the list twice a year, at Pesach and Rosh Hashanah. If you have put a name on the list, please email or call Joan in the office ( or 301-869-7699 before the end of April to renew the name.

Thank you to the many people who have already contacted the office to keep the names of loved ones on the list or to take them off. Any names not renewed will be taken off the list as of Shabbat morning, May 4.

Some thoughts on the Kaddish:

Last week in our “Understanding the Siddur” class we discussed the Kaddish -- it’s various forms (Hatzi Kaddish, Kaddish Shalem, Kaddish Yatom (“Mourners Kaddish”) and Kaddish D’rabbanan. If you want to watch the recording of the class it is available here.

One of the things we explored was the question of why the tradition has us recite Kaddish in memory of a loved one who has passed away. Contrary to what many people may believe, the Kaddish is not a prayer for the dead and it does not mention death or people who have died. It is a prayer of praise for God.

There are a number of stories in the Talmud and various midrashim that tell us that the recitation of the Kaddish is beneficial to the soul of the deceased. But interestingly, it is not the recitation of the prayer per se that is beneficial to the departed; it is the fact that by leading this prayer, the person gets the congregation to respond with “amen” and “y’hei shmeh rabbah m’vorach l’alam u’lalmei almaiia -- May God’s name be blessed forever and ever.”

This is the reason why Kaddish is properly recited in the presence of a minyan. While of course I would never attempt to prevent anyone from reciting it privately, one does not accomplish the spiritual purpose of saying Kaddish without the participation and response of others. This is the same reason I encourage people saying Kaddish in a Zoom service to “unmute” themselves for Kaddish. If the rest of the congregation cannot hear you saying Kaddish, they cannot respond to it.

As a reminder, I am having drop-in hours on Thursday afternoons from 2 to 4 at the shul. However, due to other commitments i will not be holding drop-in hours this coming Thursday, May 2. For my drop-in hours, 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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