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Rabbi's Update 9/24/2021

Dear Friends:

Over the last few days I have been driving a Toyota 4 Runner instead of the Honda HR-V which I normally drive. Although Wikipedia tells me that this is a mid-sized SUV, it is the largest vehicle I have driven since I lived on a kibbutz and drove tractors.

If you encounter me driving this vehicle, you may well wonder why I am doing so after the sermon I gave on Yom Kippur evening on the necessity of confronting climate change. No, I did not sell the HR-V and buy a 4 Runner; it’s a rental replacement while the HR-V is being repaired, and in this day when rental cars are hard to find, you take the car that the Enterprise agent gives you.

On Rosh Hashanah afternoon, I walked out my front door and noticed that my car appeared at first glance to have been vandalized. The entire passenger-side mirror was stolen; its counterpart on the driver’s side was out of whack and covered in some sort of brownish-red substance.

When I got home after services I called the police non-emergency number and they decided to send two officers to our house to look at the car and eventually dusted it for fingerprints.

As a rabbi whose address is easily found on Google, my first thought when I saw what had been done to my car was vandalism. But the police officers who investigated told me that theft of side view mirrors from newer model cars -- particularly Hondas -- is quite common. Many side mirrors today are packed with electronics -- rear view cameras and lane detectors -- and they can be quite valuable on the resale market. As it happens, our car is a lower end model and doesn’t have all of these electronic add-ons but a thief would not know that until after having stolen the mirror. The brownish-red substance on the driver’s side mirror was probably some kind of grease and the thief or thieves had also put a dent in the driver’s side door, probably using their knee to brace themselves as they tried, unsuccessfully, to remove the driver’s side mirror.

In the larger scale of things this occurrence is definitely not a big deal. It’s covered by insurance except for the deductible. We have rental replacement coverage so the level of inconvenience is actually quite minor. But the inconvenience is still there. The body shop where I took the car was backed up and so I could not even bring the car in until this past Monday. Now they are predicting that the car will be ready this coming Monday and I hope that they are right, with Tuesday and Wednesday of next week once again being holidays when I can’t return the rental and pick up the repaired car.

And it’s definitely a scary and unpleasant feeling to know that a theft took place in your driveway while you were sleeping or perhaps at synagogue. We have a security camera on our front door but since this incident have also installed motion-activated flood lights and are putting up a second camera over our garage.

One of the lessons of Sukkot is to realize and accept our vulnerability. We try to control things and we do our best, but at a certain point we have to realize that not everything is in our control.

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. Although I am working primarily from home, I am happy to meet you at the synagogue by appointment.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach,

Rabbi Charles L. Arian

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