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Torah Revealed: Truth or truth?

05/24/2023 10:26:18 AM


Rabbi Ron Segal

The last major holiday of this Jewish calendar year, Shavuot, begins this evening (Thursday) at sundown.  Shavuot celebrates the seminal moment in the history of our people, namely the giving of Torah. Thus, one way we traditionally observe the Festival is by reading the Ten Commandments during our morning service (Friday, 10:00 am).  

However, for all of the ways we affirm the centrality of the 10 Commandments in Jewish...Read more...

Entering the Desert

05/18/2023 08:48:24 AM


Beth Schafer

We are making our way through the last week between Pesach and Shavuot and find ourselves beginning a new book of Torah. We know it best by its English name, Numbers, named for the census by which the book opens, but in Hebrew, it is known by the word Bamidbar, meaning the wilderness, or desert.

We are not the only faith tradition that centralizes the setting of the desert as part of its narrative. Jesus spends 40 days in the desert...Read more...

Gratitude for Teachers

05/11/2023 08:49:14 AM


Rabbi Sam Trief

I vividly remember that one of my elementary school teachers had a script from which she would not deviate.

Whenever anyone would ask the simple question, “Can I go to the bathroom?” she would respond, “I don’t know, can you?” This would be met with a confused look from all, and it might continue for several rounds of identical questioning. Finally, the student realized the didactic purpose of this exercise, and would...Read more...

Mental Health Awareness Month

05/03/2023 12:29:26 PM


Dr. Betsy Gard

May 1-May 31 is Mental Health Awareness Month. This month, we can focus on reducing the stigma of having behavioral or emotional challenges. At some point in our lives, either we or someone we love and care for will struggle with their mental health and will need support and interventions to help overcome these challenges.

In 2022, 10% of adults experienced depression and 11% experienced moderate to severe anxiety. In...Read more...

Israel: Yes, and…

05/03/2023 08:05:06 AM


Rabbi Ron Segal

In last week’s column, Rabbi Levenberg wrote about his memorable trip to Israel shared with the Jewish Federation and a large contingency of Temple Sinai members. Serendipitously, I was in Israel at the same time, although for an entirely different reason; I was honored to serve as one of the Reform Movement’s ARZA delegates to the World Zionist Organization “Extraordinary” Congress. In stark contrast with the positive energy of the...Read more...

Traveling with Sinai

04/24/2023 09:55:32 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

This past week, thanks to the generosity of my clergy colleagues and our Temple Sinai lay leadership, I was able to join the Atlanta Jewish Federation’s trip to Israel. While I could write volumes about this incredible experience, I’ll instead share just three of the MANY points that truly stood out to me.

First, our Atlanta Jewish Federation is particularly strong.
In all, there were 200 participants on this trip, with 36...Read more...

Atlanta Commemorates Israel

04/20/2023 09:08:17 AM


Rabbi Sam Trief

Coming from New York, I must admit I had a fair amount of Northeastern elitism... Is there really a thriving Jewish World outside of NYC?  And, if so, what do Jews in the South know about Jewish culture and experience?

And then I came here, and now, even 7 years later, I find myself astonished at the sheer breadth of Jewish offerings and expressions around the region. There are so many ways you can be Jewish in Atlanta and the...Read more...

Our Musical Accompaniment

04/13/2023 10:19:56 AM


Beth Schafer

It would be no surprise to you that I believe music is one of the most important expressions of the Jewish faith. I never set foot inside a temple until I was 9 years old. Already playing guitar for a number of years and in love with music making as well as listening, I was captivated when brought to a Shabbat service and heard a cantor (with a voice much better than mine) lead liturgy musically. People sang along. We were known as a...Read more...

The Lesson of Passover

04/04/2023 02:35:34 PM


Rabbi Ron Segal

Chag Sameach!  Whether you are going to celebrate your first or second Passover Seder this evening, I hope that the opportunity to gather around the table with family, friends, new acquaintances, or any combination of the above, adds sincere joy to this year’s Passover observance. Many may have learned at some point over the years that in order to fully grasp the significance of Passover, we must approach the Seder as more than mere...Read more...

Our Season of Freedom

03/30/2023 08:32:58 AM


Beth Schafer

Theologian Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote, “Freedom means more than mere emancipation… The glory of a free society lies not only in the consciousness of my right to be free, and my capacity to be free, but also in the realization of my fellow man’s right to be free, and his capacity to be free.”

In a few days we are going to sit around our seder tables and retell the story of our Exodus from Egypt, our literal escape from...Read more...

Unity Despite Difference - Our Statement on Israel

03/28/2023 08:44:57 AM


Temple Sinai

There is a beautiful Hebrew word, popularized by Israel's founder, David Ben Gurion: mamlachtiyut. Difficult to translate to English, Reform Jewish activist, Peter Shapiro, contends that it means "unity despite difference." It is putting the interests of the state ahead of personal or political considerations, and it is the exact opposite of what we are seeing these days in Israel.  

Temple Sinai is a...

The Calling of Community

03/20/2023 10:18:00 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

I do love the concept of a calling. While my Christian colleagues often use that term in reference to choosing to devote themselves to the word of God – “I was called to preach the Gospel” is a phrase that I have heard on a few occasions over the years – I find that the concept of being called to do something may have nothing at all to do with professing, or proselytizing, one’s faith.

Consider the example of pop music icon...

Maintaining the Human Connection

03/16/2023 08:29:24 AM


Rabbi Sam Trief

I don’t know about you, but I do not like using cruise control. I don’t trust it and it makes me feel uneasy. Only recently did Natan convince me to start using it for highway driving. And… much to my surprise, I have slowly begun to appreciate it… especially with all of the latest safety features in my minivan (another one of those things I never thought I would get!). In cruise control mode with radar and lane assist engaged, the...Read more...

Approaching the Desert

03/09/2023 08:43:41 AM


Beth Schafer

There is a poem by Rabbi Zoë Klein that posits that there are three regions in each of our souls; Egypt, the desert, and the Promised Land. The poem affirms that all of us come from some sort of Egypt, a place or state of constriction, containing something we’d like to leave behind for something better. At the other end of our journey there is a Promised Land, a place or state that we imagine to be the best version of ourselves, or even of...Read more...

Our Hearts, and Concerns, are in the East

03/02/2023 07:49:53 AM


Rabbi Ron Segal

Because I love Israel and care deeply for her wellbeing, 230 Reform rabbis and I from across North America joined our Israeli rabbinic colleagues and more than 150,000 Israelis in Tel Aviv to protest the radical judicial overhaul proposals that the current government, despite widespread opposition, is unabashedly and quickly pushing through the Knesset to become law.  If the four proposed “reforms” are passed in their entirety, they...Read more...

Making a Community

02/23/2023 08:48:58 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

In our Torah portion this week, the people of Israel begin gathering the resources that will ultimately become their tabernacle and their tent of meeting. These two spaces, stationed in close proximity throughout the desert wanderings, would come to serve as the central gathering places for the manner in which our Israelite ancestors connected both to God and to each other. Created at the same time, it has become an understanding passed...Read more...

Be Present in the Journey

02/16/2023 09:03:45 AM


Rabbi Sam Trief

Each year, the Torah portion Mishpatim fills me with a pang of nostalgia. It brings me back to the very first sermon I ever wrote. It was February 2012 at Hebrew Union College, in Jerusalem. 

I remember it quite well because at that time, during the first year of Rabbinical School, students were required to write and deliver only ONE sermon, or D’var Torah. 

I remember the pressure and the anxiety that surrounded...

A Shabbat of Cinema

02/06/2023 09:36:13 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

I am always excited when it is time for the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. Now (as of yesterday’s opening night) in its 23rd year, the festival has been a staple for me of my time here in the ATL. Consider that it was in the late summer of 2006, my first summer at Sinai, that Jan Epstein and Rabbi Kranz spoke with me about sitting on what was then the film selection committee. They knew of my love of movies and thought it would be a good...Read more...

Song of the Sea

02/01/2023 10:53:54 AM


Beth Schafer

While I am fond of many parts of the Torah, it is this week’s portion, Parashat Beshalach, that speaks to me most. It is this week that the Israelites finally escape slavery after hundreds of years of servitude in Egypt and encounter the miracle at the Sea of Reeds when they flee. This parasha contains within it Shirat Hayam or The Song of the Sea. We know it by its familiar title, Mi Chamocha. And, because this special song is typeset in...Read more...

Be Soft Like a Reed, Not Hard Like a Cedar

01/26/2023 10:24:30 AM


Rabbi Ron Segal

At a Birthright Israel breakfast I attended this week, renowned author, political columnist and ardent Zionist, Gil Troy, who also serves as chair of Birthright Israel’s Education Committee, was the featured guest. Among the topics he discussed, Troy, a resident of Israel, noted that despite the present turmoil and demonstrations concerning the controversial changes proposed by Israel’s new right-wing coalition, Israelis are - when...Read more...

The Worst Thing to Do is to Do Nothing

01/19/2023 08:22:50 AM


Rabbi Sam Trief

Unfortunately, the hateful virus of antisemitism has been the topic of many recent conversations.  As these conversations come up in the news, or in our lives, we can be at a loss for words. We might feel uncomfortable or scared or triggered. Despite all the years of antisemitism, at times we still do not know what is the “right” way to respond.

In this week's parasha Va’era, we read of the Egyptians who watched as the...Read more...

Meet Wynne Award Winner, Harry Kitey

01/17/2023 09:31:15 AM


Harry Kitey

These last few weeks have been one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I left the country for the first time and what made it even more special was the fact that I was in Israel. I got to tour the whole...Read more...

The Music of Freedom

01/11/2023 02:50:32 PM


Beth Schafer

The very first choir I sang in was a children’s choir at Taylor Mills Elementary School in Englishtown, New Jersey. It was 1976, and I was in the second grade. We were singing a myriad of patriotic songs to celebrate our nation’s bicentennial year. (I still sing "Grand Old Flag" to my children on Flag Day as an homage to my 2nd grade music teacher). However, amid all of the fun and celebratory songs, we sang a song called “Abraham,...Read more...

Honoring Excellence

01/05/2023 07:25:50 AM


Rabbi Ron Segal

“God does not ask us to do extraordinary things. God asks us to do ordinary things extraordinarily well.”

This quote, slightly tweaked by Rabbi Sidney Greenberg, offers each of us an inspiring charge as we begin 2023, to enter this new calendar year with a determination to be our best, kindest, and most compassionate selves throughout the year ahead, to face each day committed to accomplishing whatever tasks lay before us with...Read more...

Hope is NOT Overrated

12/27/2022 09:43:29 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

I recently overheard a parent say to her child the following phrase, “Hope is overrated.”

Before I get to my response, let me set the stage. My family and I took a few days and headed to Florida for a Disney vacation. We skipped the parks, instead checking out the resorts. We found that resort hopping during the holiday break is, well, not a unique activity. In fact, we were joined by an exceptionally large group of people, making...Read more...

The Gifts that Do Not Fit in Boxes

12/21/2022 10:55:18 AM


Rabbi Sam Trief

I find it ironic that mainstream American culture often has us wish people peace and joy during this holiday season. But for me, these weeks leading up to Chanukah and New Year's are anything but peaceful. 

I’ve spent a great deal of time running around purchasing gifts; white elephant gifts, adopt-a-family gifts, teacher gifts, gifts for the kids, for the mailman and more and more. The sheer quantity quickly...Read more...

Light in the Dark

12/13/2022 11:49:10 AM


Beth Schafer

One year ago, my children lost their father unexpectedly to a heart attack. As with any death, especially the ones that shock us, they/we experienced a lot of chaos and disruption as we made plans to head down to Florida for his funeral.

After the meetings with funeral home and cemetery, we made our way back to our hotel. It was Chanukah and we had brought a Chanukiah with us to light while we were away. Sarah, Hannah, Hannah’s...Read more...

Embracing Positive Jewish Moments

12/05/2022 11:44:15 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

I recently had the opportunity to lead our regular Friday morning Temple Sinai Preschool Shabbat experience. And while this is an element of leadership shared in rotation between the clergy team, I very much liked the session last week. As the weather had dipped just cool enough to prevent us from going outside, the Shabbat experience was held in the sanctuary. And as Chanukah is quickly approaching, I chose to do The Dreidel Song with the...Read more...

Jacob's Ladder & Acts of Tzedakah

11/30/2022 07:51:43 AM


Rabbi Ron Segal

”Jacob had a dream in which a stairway (ladder) was set on the ground and its top reached to the sky, and angels of God were going up and down on it.” (Gen 28:10).

It is likely many of us have encountered depictions of this verse in this week’s Torah portion at some point in time. Various prose and poetic interpretations as well as artistic paintings, drawings, and sculptures have all contributed to our mental pictures of what...Read more...

Important Announcement Regarding Saturday Worship

11/14/2022 11:22:12 AM


Michelle Young & Clergy

“To everything there is a season, a time for every experience beneath the heavens…
A time to plant, and a time to uproot what has been planted…”  (Ecclesiastes 3)

More than two decades ago, in order to provide a worship opportunity for congregants which was distinct from the service at which students celebrate becoming B’nei Mitzvah, Temple Sinai added a second Shabbat morning service to...Read more...

Mon, May 29 2023 9 Sivan 5783