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Rabbi’s Update 5/24/2024

Dear Friends:

As I mentioned on Wednesday, last night I was privileged to attend the Israeli Embassy’s observance of Yom HaAtzmaut. The event was held in the Great Hall of the National Building Museum, which is one of the largest and most impressive spaces in Washington. Those of us attending were not informed of the precise location until about 48 hours before the event, for security reasons. Although there were some anti-Israel protesters outside the event, they were very few in number and I have to say, not particularly impressive, playing a recorded denunciation of attendees for “wining and dining with genocidal maniacs” on a continuous loop.

The theme for the evening was “United In Hope” and everywhere one looked there were reminders of the hostages being held by Hamas. There were 138 empty chairs in the middle of the Great Hall, including a high chair for Kfir Bibas, who if he is still alive spent his first birthday in captivity. I thought I was used to seeing these reminders but when I saw the high chair for Kfir, I confess that I broke into tears -- and I am crying again as I write these words.

The food served was made from recipes included in the book Cooking Together: The Israeli Kitchen, which contains 76 recipes from families of the hostages and was printed at Kibbutz Beeri, one of the kibbutzim attacked on October 7. We were given copies of the book on our way out, and it will be for sale as of June 1, with proceeds going to the Hostages and Missing Families Forum in Israel.

If you are a member of Kehilat Shalom, you should have received a mailing this week which contains laminated cards for each member of your household with Kehilat Shalom’s logo and motto “Where Friends Become Family.” While we have uniformed security at Shabbat services and many other events, the security guard does not actually know who is part of the community and should be admitted. We ask that you bring the laminated card to show to the security guard, but if you forget it you can also say “Where Friends Become Family” and you will be admitted. I recognize that when we take new security precautions, there is both a learning curve and a degree of inconvenience, but we respectfully ask that you cooperate with this procedure. If you are a member and have not received this mailing, please let the office know.

As a reminder, I am having drop-in hours on Thursday afternoons from 2 to 4 at the shul. 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; 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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