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Rabbi's Update 5/3/2023

Dear Friends:

Back in 1992 Bruce Springsteen released a song and a video called “57 Channel and Nothing On.” Like Springsteen I grew up in the New York City TV market with7 VHF stations (2,4,5,7.9,11, and 13) and an assortment of fuzzy Spanish language stations on UHF. So at the time 57 channels seemed like a lot but even with cable one depended on what was being broadcast at any particular time. Today that song seems quaint and Springsteen himself said "Shot back in the quaint days of only 57 channels and no flat screen TVs, I have no idea what we were aiming for in this one outside of some vague sense of 'hipness' and an attempt at irony. Never my strong suit, it reads now to me as a break from our usual approach and kind of a playful misfire."

With the advent of streaming TV there is so much more to watch but it is not always easy to find something worth watching or that fits your mood at a particular time. I recently learned about a show called “Dog House UK” which is streaming on HBO+ (which is probably available to you if you have a cable package which includes HBO) and if you are looking for something which will make you feel good I highly recommend it.

“Dog House UK” is essentially a reality dating show for people and dogs. It takes place in the Wood Green Animal Shelter in Cambridgeshire, UK, which is a large, meticulously clean, and well-staffed shelter not far from London.

What makes this show interesting is the glimpse of the process of matching dogs with new owners. While the staff wants to make sure that their canine wards are re-homed, they also feel a duty to make sure that the dogs are suited to their new owners and vice versa. They spend time getting to know the potential adopters and their needs, and they know the dogs who are in their care quite well. They understand that a dog’s personality, health, and particular needs are more important that its appearance.

The Guardian review of the series says: “The programme’s strengths lie in its compassionate eye for a human story, and how it carefully pairs that with a canine one. The adopters have to meet the dogs in a neutral environment before they are allowed to take them home, and it’s all observed on camera by the staff, who comment on how it’s going with the enthusiasm of a particularly eager sporting commentator. It sweeps you up in the drama. Rocky (a part-Newfoundland who is not eating since leaving his owner) is massive and it looks as if he is too intimidating for Danny (a pre-teen who also has food anxiety issues) to even approach, but when they finally cross that barrier, and start to look like the perfect pair, it’s as if your favourite team have just scored in the 89th minute.”

There is sadness too -- sometimes the matches don’t work out -- but eventually all the dogs do find suitable homes, at least in the episodes we have seen so far. This is a very moving and sensitive show and if it is available to you I would encourage you to give it a look.

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 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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