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Rabbi’s Update 4/3/2024


Dear Friends:


If you asked me for a list of people in the present day who I most admire, chef Jose Andres would be at the top of the list. Those of us in the DMV know him well, even if like me you have never actually eaten in any of his restaurants. While I have watched some of Chef Andres’ television shows and appreciate both his cooking skills and his charming personality, I most admire him for his work with World Central Kitchen, which he founded in 2010. If you have not seen it, I would urge you to watch the Ron Howard-directed documentary about Chef Andres and World Central Kitchen, called We Feed People.


WCK is often the first on the scene wherever people are hungry due to natural disasters or war. Their agenda is not political, it is simply to feed people who are hungry. As the chef wrote in this morning’s New York Times,  WCK’s “work was based on the simple belief that food is a universal human right. It is not conditional on being good or bad, rich or poor, left or right. We do not ask what religion you belong to. We just ask how many meals you need.


I have spoken before about what the Jewish tradition has to say about care for people who are suffering and in need. Israel is at war with Hamas. It is not at war with the civilian population of Gaza, who are suffering and dying. This war would not be happening if Hamas had not chosen to carry out a pogrom on Oct. 7, savagely murdering 1200 Israelis and taking 250 hostages -- 134 of whom remain in captivity. But just as we will remember the Egyptians who died during the Exodus, by spilling ten drops of wine at our Passover seder and by omitting Hallel on the last six days of Pesach, we are obligated to care about the civilians who are suffering and dying in Gaza.


Since the beginning of the war WCK has been feeding people in Israel as well as in Gaza. Chef Andres writes: “From Day 1, we have fed Israelis as well as Palestinians. Across Israel, we have served more than 1.75 million hot meals. We have fed families displaced by Hezbollah rockets in the north. We have fed grieving families from the south. We delivered meals to the hospitals where hostages were reunited with their families. We have called consistently, repeatedly and passionately for the release of all the hostages.”


Keleigh and I made a donation a few weeks ago to support WCK’s work in Israel and Gaza, but we were devastated this week to hear about the deaths of seven WCK workers in Gaza who were hit by Israeli air strikes. Israel has taken responsibility for this incident and both Prime Minister Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi have issued public apologies. I do not need to go into detail about this tragic incident, which is being investigated by Israel to make sure nothing of the sort occurs again.


But taking responsibility and apologizing is not enough. Concrete actions are needed, not just words. As Israel is the state of the Jewish people, it is incumbent on Jewish people everywhere to support the holy work of World Central Kitchen. A rabbinic colleague has organized a fundraiser which is called “Rabbis for World Central Kitchen” although you do not have to be a rabbi to donate. I made a donation this morning and I am pleased to see the names of many highly respected colleagues and friends who are also on the donor list. Please go to this link:

and consider donating.


This Sunday will be exactly 180 days since Hamas’ barbarous attack and the taking of hostages. A rally for the release of the hostages will take place this Sunday on the Mall at 2:30 pm. For more information go to https://www.hostagesforumdc.com/


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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