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02/08/2018 09:00:07 AM


Frank Solomon

Did you know the U.S. government’s first official counterterrorism office was created in response to an attack on Israelis? In fact, many of the components of the U.S. responses to terrorism were prompted by developments affecting Israel.

During his Shabbat morning guest lecture on Jan. 27, Michael Kraft, a 19-year veteran of the U.S. State Department’s counterterrorism office, shared these and many other insights about about...Read more...

Get Involved! 

02/02/2018 11:17:04 AM


Rabbi Steven Suson

There is a Midrash, a rabbinic parable, taught on this week's Torah portion, about the place God chose to give the tablets containing the 10 Commandments. All the mountains assembled before God and explained why they should be the chosen place for God to reveal the Torah. The tall mountains contended that they are most deserving because of their height. The beautiful ones argued that their elegance qualifies them. Mount Sinai stood in the...Read more...

Of Darkness and Light

01/19/2018 09:19:37 AM


Rabbi Steven Suson

The first acts of God, as described in the opening verses of the Torah, were to create light and to separate the light from the darkness.  Each Saturday night, when darkness falls and Shabbat ebbs away, we light an havdallah candle and praise God for distinguishing between light and dark.

Even in the parlance of our times, when one reveals information or puts a matter into perspective, we say they “shed light” on it, in...Read more...

A Special Shabbat Message From Rabbi Suson

01/12/2018 09:45:56 AM


Rabbi Steven Suson

In this week’s Torah portion, the Exodus story is heating up. After a failed negotiation with Pharaoh, God instructs Moses to return to the palace with the demand, ”let my people go.” However, before Moses carries out this command, the Torah interrupts with a puzzling list of genealogies, concluding with Moses and Aaron.

Rashi explains the reason for the mention of their ancestry is to establish that the brothers descend from...Read more...

Blessing the Children

12/29/2017 09:11:11 AM


Rabbi Steven Suson

Before I became a parent, someone explained to me that I could not possibly understand love. Since our daughter was born, I had many conversations with Rachel z”l, questioning whether Mara really is the most beautiful and amazing child in the world or if it is only because we are her parents that we think so. A parent's love for a child is unmatched by any other force in nature and children often thrive when given sufficient support,...Read more...

Sen. Cardin Urges Jews to Speak Up Against Bias and Injustice

12/17/2017 08:10:16 PM


Frank Solomon

To help repair the world is in the DNA of Jews, according to U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin.   "Our upbringing and culture teach us to be concerned about the rest of human beings, to help correct the wrong, and to help repair the world," Maryland's senior senator said on Hanukah Shabbat at Har Tzeon Agudath-Achim. "This is our Jewish value. This is in our DNA as a people."   "We must not be afraid of speaking up when we see evil things....Read more...

Eight  are the Days Before a Bris

12/15/2017 12:10:29 PM


Rabbi Steven Suson

Hanukkah is the only holiday that lasts 8 days, inside and outside of Israel. Even the holiday of Shemini Atzeret, we are taught, is considered a holiday unto itself and not the eighth day of Sukkoth. Our tradition is replete with explanations for why Hanukkah lasts eight days and what the celebration is all about.

Some say we celebrate the miracle of Rabim b’yad me’atim - “many given over to the few,” recalling the...Read more...

A World View Shaped from a Small Town Jewish Perspective

12/08/2017 02:11:22 PM


Daniel S. Mariaschin, B'nai Brith Executive VP & HTAA Past President

A World View Shaped from a Small Town Jewish Perspective
by Daniel S. Mariaschin, B'nai Brith Executive VP & HTAA Past President

In 1955, just before I entered the first grade, we moved from Englewood, New Jersey, to Swanzey, New...Read more...

Hodu L’Hashem Ki Tov

11/24/2017 04:07:58 PM


Rabbi Steven Suson

By now, your belly is probably full of hodu (= turkey) and your heart is filled with hodaya (= prayers of thanksgiving) at the delicious meal and the great company that you shared yesterday. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays for two reasons. It is the only holiday that, as a rabbi, even I get the day off. But most importantly, Thanksgiving is like every American standing up and reciting the Shehecheyanu (prayer of thanksgiving)...Read more...


11/16/2017 04:44:58 PM


Kami Troy - Kol HaBirah News

Silver Spring historian Professor David Rotenstein was the latest lecturer in Congregation Har Tzeon-Agudath Achim’s adult education series.

Today we think of Silver Spring, Maryland, as a very Jewish area, but this wasn’t always the case. In reality, Jews were banned from living in Silver Spring for decades as a result of restrictive residency covenants and land-use laws explicitly prohibiting the sale of property to specific...Read more...

  Choosing  Righteousness

10/20/2017 12:15:11 PM


Rabbi Steven Suson - Kol HaBirah News

There is a popular Yiddish saying with similar versions in many languages, “Der mench tracht un Got lacht,” which translates to “Man plans and God laughs." I  have never much cared for that adage because it minimizes the burden of responsibility on people to prevail despite unforeseen and sometimes negative or unfair conditions. I don't believe we must always be victims of our circumstances. We do have choices about...Read more...

Congressman Jaime Raskin's visit to HTAA!

10/18/2017 03:12:19 PM


Frank Solomon

Mazal Tov to Frank Solomon  for his recent write-up in Kol HaBirah on Congressman Jaime Raskin's visit to HTAA! 

Click Here To Read The Article! 



09/28/2017 01:35:01 PM


Frank Solomon - Kol HaBirah News

Jews may be “People of the Book,” but Congressman Jamie Raskin (D – Md.) believes in putting words into action to help make the world a better place. That was one of the messages the new representative for Maryland’s 8th District had for the packed audience at Har Tzeon-Agudath Achim in Silver Spring, Maryland, on Sept. 23, Shabbat Shuva.

The former American University law professor and veteran Maryland state legislator said...Read more...


09/14/2017 01:37:02 PM


Ira Brandriss - Kol HaBirah News

My mother, Perla Brandriss, often mentioned to us as children that it was Erev Rosh Hashanah, 1942, that the Nazis came to take her parents. They and their two youngest children were rounded up and taken to the railway station in their home town of Lille, France, together with many of the city’s other Polish Jews, to be sent to their deaths at Auschwitz.

Erev Rosh Hashanah that year fell on September 11, the date on which, 59 years...Read more...

Going All-In This Elul

09/14/2017 01:32:26 PM


Rabbi Steven Suson

A group of more than 20 of my family members recently got together in Las Vegas to celebrate the 60th birthday of my dear aunt. While there, I found myself in the poker room at a hotel on the Strip. As I sat, I noticed I completed the “minyan” of 10 adult poker players at our table.

In poker, each player holds concealed cards. They are cards that no one can know but the player himself. As the game proceeds, players learn about the...Read more...

L’eila U’L’eila

09/08/2017 11:00:17 AM


 “It’s not about the cards you’re dealt, but how you play the hand.” Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture.
Recently, more than twenty of my family members got together in Las Vegas to celebrate the 60th birthday of my dear aunt. There, I found myself in the poker room at a hotel on the Strip. As I sat, I noticed I completed the “minyan” of 10 adult poker players at our table.
In poker, each player...

Shabbat Chazon

07/28/2017 12:21:27 PM


This Shabbat Chazon, we begin reading the book of Deuteronomy. Moses, who much earlier claimed not to be a man words (Ex. 4:10), now delivers a sermon lasting an exhausting 36 days and taking up almost the entire book. In fact, the book of Deuteronomy is nicknamed Mishneh Torah, the Second Torah, since it is essentially a summary of the previous four books. Over the course of his monologue, Moses reviewed the laws and traditions that were to...Read more...

The Untold Story of the Jewish Effort to Pass the G.I. Bill.  By our newest congregant,  Anna Selman

07/15/2017 01:00:33 AM


On June 22nd, we celebrated the anniversary of the G.I. Bill, a historic act that was the first major piece of legislation dealing with the postwar era challenges to come.  With veterans coming home to already fully staffed factories, the G.I. Bill, officially known as the Service Member Readjustment Act of 1944, helped stop another recession by providing education and housing opportunities to...Read more...

Kiddush Hashem

06/30/2017 12:23:39 PM


Did someone say Kiddush? My mouth is watering already... Ever wonder why the delicious reception after Shabbat morning services is called "sanctification" or Kiddush? Each week, we acknowledge the sanctity of Shabbat over wine and elaborate Sabbath meals. In this way, we bring additional holiness to the day that celebrates God's creation of the beautiful world which we humbly inhabit and trust in HIs desire to sustain us...Read more...

 Blessings and Responsibility

06/02/2017 11:30:51 AM


Rabbi Steven Suson

I always look forward to Fridays. I suppose I'm not alone. Most of us look forward to Fridays. Friday reminds us that whatever happened during the work week to make us nervous, anxious, or frustrated has passed and before us lies a day dedicated to family, rest and showing gratitude God. Even when our week was consumed by holidays, as this week was, Shabbat still promises relief.

As I child, I anticipated Erev Shabbat and our regular...Read more...

Chag Kasher V'Sameach!

04/07/2017 05:16:51 PM


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Scholar-in-Residence Weekend & Shabbat Shalom!

03/17/2017 06:22:08 AM


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Happy Purim!

03/11/2017 11:57:44 PM


It's Purim - the time we recount the miraculous circumstances that enabled our survival as a people. Thanks to Mordechai and Esther's perilous plan and Divine safeguard, eventually, things somehow fell into place. The faithful and the wicked received...Read more...

All That Jazz

11/11/2016 11:56:04 AM



Lekh Lekha 5777

11/11/2016 11:44:34 AM


A wave of emotions overcame the nation this week as the world was stunned by the outcome of our presidential election. If my Facebook feed is a scientific gauge, my own family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances expressed a range of passionate emotions and...Read more...

Purim 5776

09/16/2016 05:21:26 PM



Vesheenantam Levanecha : Teach Them to Your Children

02/12/2016 03:40:25 PM


This week, I attended the 1st Grade Siddur Ceremony at the Berman Hebrew Academy. It was inspiring to watch the the students receive their first "real" prayerbook and demonstrate their newly acquired Hebrew...Read more...

Get Involved

01/29/2016 02:14:24 PM


There is a Midrash, a rabbinic parable, taught on this week's Torah portion, about the place God chose to give the tablets containing the 10 Commandments. It describes, all the mountains assembling before God and pleading their cases as to why they should be the chosen place for...Read more...

A White Shabbos!

01/22/2016 01:28:33 PM


Shared Values: Moses, Martin & Me

01/18/2016 03:56:29 PM


  How apropos that we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. the very week that we read a Torah portion recounting the persecution of the Hebrews and the abuse they endured at the hands of the Egyptians. One can’t help...Read more...
Mon, May 25 2020 2 Sivan 5780