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Caring for the Caregiver

05/22/2024 10:24:50 AM

May22

Rabbi Sam Trief

Sinai is hosting a special event for caregivers called Caring for Caregivers on Thursday, June 13 from 6:00 pm-8:00 pm at Temple Sinai. Sinai’s Hineini (Accessibility and Inclusivity) and Nefesh (Mental Health) Committees partnered together in this effort, motivated by the idea that at some point we are all caregivers, and ourselves, in need of care. And while caring for others can be rewarding, it might...Read more...

Joy Mixed With Sadness

05/16/2024 07:52:10 AM

May16

Rabbi Ron Segal

On Tuesday of this week, we observed Israel’s 76th Day of Independence, Yom Ha’atzma’ut. Customarily a day of unbridled joy, especially in Israel, this year’s celebration was somewhat muted for the majority of Israelis who continue to wrestle with…. the realities of the prolonged war with Hamas along with a concern about escalating conflicts with Hezbollah, consuming worry about the fate of loved ones, friends and citizens still...Read more...

Here’s to the Mothers

05/08/2024 01:55:46 PM

May8

Beth Schafer

Our sages posed the question why Noah was chosen to save the human race and not Adam after his son Cain killed Abel. An interesting answer came from Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau, a survivor of the Buchenwald concentration camp. He believed that Noah was more fit because unlike Adam, Noah had a mother. Someone who knew maternal nurturing and the divine connection that mothers create, could, in turn, care about the human race by modeling the...Read more...

Just Breathe

05/02/2024 10:56:53 AM

May2

Rabbi Sam Trief

When we think the ripple effects of October 7th cannot get any more jarring or surprising, somehow the news continues to shock and disturb.

Our colleague Rabbi Dan Levin summed up exactly what many of us have wanted to say about the violent and hateful protests and tent encampments taking over college campuses. You can find his remarks here.

Like many of you, this post October 7 world continues to fill me with rage, fear, and...Read more...

The Original Ten Commandments

04/24/2024 08:48:40 AM

Apr24

Rabbi Brad Levenberg

I found the original 10 Commandments. And I’ll share with you where I found them shortly.

Passover is my favorite holiday. I love the ritual, the routine, the creativity; I love the history and the story, even though the two really don’t match up very well. As someone who curiously and contradictorily privileges faith (“There is no proof; you just have to believe!”) and proof (“That seems odd; I’m going to need to see some...Read more...

Finding Meaning at Pesach this Year

04/18/2024 07:53:58 AM

Apr18

Rabbi Ron Segal

Rabbi Annie Villarreal-Belford writes, “Passover is our celebration of redemption. We remember that in ancient Egypt, we were slaves; we celebrate our miraculous exodus and freedom. We raise each of the four cups of wine to acknowledge the joy we feel that we live as free people today. This year, however, our joy is tempered with the knowledge that not all Jews are free….” 

In truth, the fact that more than 130 men, women,...Read more...

Our Communal Eclipse

04/10/2024 09:25:19 AM

Apr10

Beth Schafer

On Tuesday morning, everybody was having a similar conversation, “Did you see the eclipse? Did you get pictures? Do you know anyone who saw the total eclipse?” In the office people compared pictures, both of the eclipse and of wearing eclipse-safe glasses. What struck me was that having a shared communal experience has become more and more rare these days.

In a world of streaming this and on-demand that, witnessing something at...Read more...

If Our Dogs Could Talk...

04/03/2024 02:02:10 PM

Apr3

Rabbi Sam Shabman

We spent the past week in Colombia with family. My sister-in-law is Colombian and our niece and nephew (the exact same ages as our kids) spend much of their school vacations and summers in Colombia. We were grateful for the invitation to join them for spring break and looked forward to lots of family bonding. 

Our Shared Eternal Light

03/27/2024 08:36:37 AM

Mar27

Rabbi Brad Levenberg

When I was on the cusp of ordination, a retired rabbi came to speak to my class at the Hebrew Union College. He met with us in the sanctuary on the campus and challenged us with statistics: “none of you,” he said, “will stay at your first pulpit for more than 10 years; most of you will be at more than 6 congregations over the course of your career; three of you will abandon the rabbinate.” He then pointed to the eternal light and...Read more...

Beginning at Leviticus

03/20/2024 09:24:35 AM

Mar20

Beth Schafer

For a few years I have been fascinated with the transitions from one book of Torah to another. Each book is so different from the others they could each be their own movie about the Jewish people. Not unlike the Star Wars movies, they don’t necessarily need to be viewed in order, and in fact, in more traditional communities, it is often the third book, Leviticus that is the one introduced to children first.

If Genesis is about our...Read more...

Everything You Need is in Your Heart

03/14/2024 01:41:39 PM

Mar14

Rabbi Sam Trief

I spent this last weekend at Family Camp hosted by the amazing organization PJ Library. Leading up to this weekend, however, anxiety plagued me. What were the sleeping arrangements for four families sharing a cabin? Would the kids even be able to sleep? How could we function without our normal routine? How are we going to survive two nights in a cabin with 8 kids under 6 years old? Reading this, you are probably sensing the...Read more...

Time is Sacred

03/04/2024 09:08:41 AM

Mar4

Rabbi Brad Levenberg

Nehama Leibowitz, among the great teachers of modern Judaism, posits a controversial thesis: that Judaism is more concerned with the holiness of time than the holiness of physicality and space. She argues that, when the Israelites built the golden calf (which we studied last week), they were in the midst of a faith emergency, feeling isolated and alone in the wilderness due to a 40-day stay atop Mt. Sinai featuring Moses and God. In the wake...Read more...

A World Filled With More Peace & Love

02/29/2024 08:47:49 AM

Feb29

Rabbi Sam Trief

Since October 7th, I’ve had a really hard time talking about anything other than Israel and antisemitism. Like many of you, I am consumed by the details, the intensity and the sadness of it all. 

Over the course of the past 5 months, when I have diverted my attention from Israel to other topics of conversation, I have felt as though I am betraying my people.  I have felt that given the world’s reaction to October 7th, it...Read more...

Accessibility for Belonging

02/21/2024 07:56:27 AM

Feb21

Beth Schafer

In Pirkei Avot, “Ben Azzai taught: Do not disdain any person. Do not underrate the importance of anything, for there is no person who does not have their hour, and there is no thing without its place in the sun.”

We spent an entire year studying what it means to “belong.” The four steps to belonging were identified as Noticed, Named, Known and Needed. But those are not enough. Accessibility is also key. Our Hineini committee...Read more...

Bring Them Home - Now!

02/12/2024 11:56:59 AM

Feb12

Rabbi Brad Levenberg

They have become ubiquitous, hanging around the necks of those who have visited Israel since October 7. They have replaced other time-honored keepsakes brought back as gifts, a poignant act of, at the same time, solidarity and critique. They were born out of frustration that the narrative of the hostages whom Hamas took on that terrible morning was being lost to the military campaign intended to eliminate Hamas and the network of tunnels that...Read more...

A Reflection of the Times

02/08/2024 09:01:42 AM

Feb8

Beth Schafer

When the world rejoices, the artist creates. When the world hurts, the artist creates. When the world sees despair, the artist creates, when the world is in awe, the artist creates. The artists’ creations of every age are a direct reflection of the world they inhabit. Every medium speaks to their times and influences one another. Some pieces are so poignant that they are timeless and ultimately speak to the broad themes of life that surface...Read more...

Who is Yitro?

02/01/2024 07:26:21 AM

Feb1

Rabbi Ron Segal

I have never been particularly good at reaching out to ask for help. Saving the psychoanalysis for another time, I have historically tried - often to my detriment - to handle things on my own. I’ve been reflecting upon this personal trait in light of this week’s Torah portion, Yitro.

Early in the parasha, we find Moses “holding court,” serving as the sole judge for the entire community and sitting from morning until evening...Read more...

Aleinu – Theme & Variations

01/24/2024 10:41:09 AM

Jan24

Beth Schafer

We know that when we hear the words, “Please rise for Aleinu,” we are nearing the end of a worship service. The Aleinu (translated as, “it is upon us”) is a punctuation mark, a culminating statement for just having prayed an entire service, that states, “It is upon us to praise God.” From my very “Glatt-Reform” childhood days, I remember us singing these words in English. “Let us adore the ever-living God and render praise...Read more...

Rabbi Ron Segal's Sabbatical Leave

01/16/2024 01:23:55 PM

Jan16

Rabbi Ron Segal

Dear Friends,

Three different times in the Torah, we encounter passages about the observance of a Sabbatical year, the commandment to let the land lay fallow every seventh year. For thousands of years, there has been an understanding that for the land to maintain its productivity, allowing time for it to rejuvenate is essential. For similar reasons, over time the concept of a sabbatical was extended to include tenured professors and...Read more...

Hold Fast to Core Values

01/10/2024 12:49:27 PM

Jan10

Rabbi Ron Segal

During my brief time in Israel last month as part of a rabbinic solidarity mission, several people with whom we met shared a version of the following message: “Thank you for coming; your presence here means more than we can express, especially as we know you are now battling a second front of this war in the States.” They were referring, of course, to the explosion of virulent expressions of antisemitism now rampant on college campuses,...Read more...

2023 Wynne Award Winner Allison Levy

01/08/2024 12:35:27 AM

Jan8

Allison Levy

This past summer I was able to be a part of the URJ Camp Coleman counselor-in-training program. It was one of the best experiences of my entire life. I have been going to sleepaway camp for more than half my life so when Camp Coleman...Read more...

The Love Language of Music

01/04/2024 08:01:47 AM

Jan4

Beth Schafer

In 1992, the minister Gary Chapman wrote the popular book The Five Love Languages documenting the ways in which most romantic partners feel loved by one another. If you are not familiar, they are words of affirmation, gifts, quality time, physical touch, and acts of service. Each of our love languages might be different. Knowing how your partner feels loved is key to a fulfilling relationship.

I’m not just saying this because...Read more...

There Are Brighter Days Ahead

12/26/2023 09:00:39 AM

Dec26

Rabbi Brad Levenberg

This week we approach both the start of a New Year and a new book of Torah, for we begin our encounter with Shemot, or the Book of Exodus. There are indeed some eerily similarities between the narration found in sacred scripture and the space in which we find ourselves at the twilight of 2023. Consider:

We find our Israelite ancestors dealing with the darkness of slavery, having been enslaved for some 400 years. We, too, enter into...Read more...

Vayigash: And He Approached 

12/20/2023 09:25:37 AM

Dec20

Rabbi Sam Trief

Perhaps you have heard this famous maxim from the Talmud: “if you save one life, it is as if you have saved the entire world.” A corollary to that is also true in Jewish thought: if you comfort one life, it is as if you comforted the entire world.

This week, the Sinai community fulfilled this mission. When faced with the insurmountable task of addressing the magnitude of the October 7th massacre and its aftermath, we embraced this...Read more...

Light Beyond Chanukah

12/14/2023 08:03:45 AM

Dec14

Beth Schafer

Somehow this Chanukah seemed more solemn than usual and the light more precious. While our homes and our windows were illumined with the lights of the Chanukiyot, the world around us has darkened, become heavier and more divided, more unsure.

I had a few opportunities over this Chanukah to sing Peter Yarrow’s (of Peter, Paul and Mary) “Light One Candle.” It was written as a response to the Lebanon war in 1982. More than any time...Read more...

Bringing Some Light to Israel

12/07/2023 07:17:48 AM

Dec7

Rabbi Ron Segal

Throughout these past two months since the terrorist attacks of October 7, we have endeavored to infuse a sense of Israeli spirit, pride, and staunch support into every realm of Sinai life. Informative conversations and classes, speakers, dignitaries, and presentations, solidarity services, special prayers for this difficult time in Jewish life, tzedakah collections, podcasts, articles, rabbinic columns, sermons, outreach to our students, and...Read more...

A Musical Love Letter to Israel from Atlanta

11/29/2023 08:12:50 AM

Nov29

Beth Schafer

We have all felt the power and sense of unity when we sing together. In that spirit, we thought that the city of Atlanta could send a gesture of love and support during this time of crisis and war to the State of Israel in the form of music.

While the words “Am Yisrael Chai”...Read more...

Italian Jewish Community

11/17/2023 09:26:33 AM

Nov17

Rabbi Brad Levenberg

Of the many opportunities afforded that make Temple Sinai an incredible congregation at which to work, that of global travel ranks toward the top of the list. In the 18 years that I have served as one of your rabbis, I have had the great joy of traveling locally with our youth to New York, Alabama, Charleston, Los Angeles, and Cincinnati, and I have traveled with adults and families internationally to Israel multiple times as well exploring...Read more...

Where Are You Getting Information?

11/16/2023 08:04:00 AM

Nov16

Beth Schafer

There is a midrash about a businessman who was adversely affected by gossip that had been spread about him. His rabbi heard about the incident and went to confront the man who spread the gossip in the first place. The gossiper asked the rabbi, “Couldn’t I easily just share another story and fix the problem?” The gossiper was surprised that just a little talk had created such a big problem for the businessman. The rabbi wanted to...Read more...

We Are One People

11/07/2023 12:40:19 PM

Nov7

Rabbi Ron Segal

Two thousand years ago the ancient Greek philosopher Plutarch (1st cen) wrote that the ship of the Athenian hero Theseus, long after his death, was kept in pristine condition by the people of Athens for centuries. Whenever a board decayed it was replaced, until eventually, nothing in the ship was original; every stick of wood had been replaced. This prompted Plutarch to ask, “Is it still the ship of Theseus, or is it a new one?”  A...Read more...

Sun, May 26 2024 18 Iyar 5784