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Rabbi’s Update 5/15/2024


Dear Friends:


Yesterday was Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. We will mark Yom HaAtzmaut this coming Shabbat morning during services and also at the Kiddush sponsored by Stephanie and David Markowitz, during which our normal Kiddush fare will be supplemented with Israeli favorites.


The idea that the State of Israel after 76 years of independence still has the right to exist has seemingly become controversial. The demonstrations on college campuses and in other sites both in the United States and throughout the world may create the impression that world public opinion is against Israel. But I would like to present you this morning with a data point which to me suggests quite the opposite.


This past Saturday the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest took place in Malmo, Sweden. Until recently Eurovision was pretty much unknown in the US but it is a big deal in Europe as well as other non-European countries which participate, including both Israel and Australia. Israel has won the contest four times: 1978, 1979, 1998, and 2018. 


This year there was quite a bit of controversy over the participation of Eden Golan and the song she sang, “Hurricane.” There is a rule that the songs and performances need to be apolitical, and the song as originally written was called “October Rain”. While it did not address the October 7 massacre directly, it did not take a lot of imagination to see that it was a reference to it. The Eurovision authorities required the song to be rewritten, and thus the lyrics were slightly changed and the title and refrain were changed to “Hurricane.”


There were protests in Malmo against Israel’s participation and some of the other participants said they were opposed to Israel taking part as well, though none of them actually boycotted the contest. While there were some boos during Eden Golan’s performance, there were far more in the audience who cheered loudly and sought to drown out the booing.


There are two scores that make up the final Eurovision standings. There is a panel of judges and in addition, there is online voting from throughout the world. Israel came in second in the online voting and when combined with the judges’ vote, came in fifth. Not a bad showing for a country which is allegedly despised throughout the world.


As another data point to show that, as I try and point out frequently, support for Israel does not require support for Israel’s current government. Eden Golan’s first public performance after Eurovision will be this coming Saturday night in Tel Aviv at the weekly demonstration in Kikar Hatufim, “Hostage Square”, where the participants call for the resignation of the Netanyahu government and a negotiated end to the war in Gaza.


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; 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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