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Why This Friday is Significant

12/01/2020 09:04:04 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

While most people hold that birthdays are special, most of us would agree that some birthdays are more special – or perhaps the more appropriate word would be significant  than others. The same can be true with regard to trips and vacations, that while time away from our routines is special, some trips are significant: perhaps due to the location or perhaps because something unique occurs while away.

While Erev Shabbat moments...

Shabbat to Shabbat- Bounty

11/24/2020 02:44:07 PM


Rabbi Ron Segal

Whether eating with family, a few friends, or alone; whether (over) indulging with favorite Thanksgiving dishes or heating up a frozen pizza; whether celebrating joyous news or grieving the absence of a loved one, Thanksgiving provides each one of us with an essential pause – a pause to recall the blessings, be they few or many, for which to be grateful.  And as illness, dissention, and societal anxiety continue to swirl around us,...Read more...

A Different Thanksgiving

11/18/2020 04:42:47 PM


Beth Schafer

When someone said yesterday, “You know, next week is Thanksgiving,” I was actually a bit taken back as time has become so warped-was it not just Sukkot? But then I started thinking about how different this Thanksgiving will be (a la Passover, “Why is this Thanksgiving different from all other Thanksgivings?”), and how we might want to approach it.

This year many will spend the holiday separated from those with whom they would...Read more...

Caring for the Needy Among Us

11/10/2020 08:59:19 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

I recall sitting with our congregant Larry Weiner in a room at Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church, when we heard what at the time were rather staggering figures about the rise of homelessness in our area. The speaker was a representative from Family Promise, a national organization with a rather interesting response to homelessness that was looking to open a local chapter. Larry and I and others were inspired by the presentation and urged on by...Read more...

Focus on the Now

11/05/2020 09:06:26 AM


Rabbi Sam Trief

A few days ago, as we engaged in the time-honored ritual of daylight savings, I came across an amusing photo trending on social media: Kermit the Frog lying down looking dazed and exhausted. The caption reads “I’m not turning the clocks back this year, because the last thing we need in 2020 is an extra hour of it.” 

Uncertainty. Anxiety. Trepidation. These are emotions so many of us share as yet another profound and...Read more...

Argue for the Sake of Heaven

10/28/2020 09:01:57 AM


Rabbi Ron Segal

In case you somehow missed the memo, we are in the midst of a national election. Between now and next week’s Shabbat to Shabbat email message, voting will have concluded and we will hopefully have a clear understanding of who prevailed in each race. And, as is undoubtedly true in the wake of every contested election, some will be pleased, others not, with the results. However, in our politically volatile climate, one that sadly engenders...Read more...

Back to the Beginning

10/20/2020 10:08:03 AM


Beth Schafer

Throughout the pandemic, one of the hardest things to deal with seems to be the passage of time. Weeks and months have blurred together causing us to seek out and hang on to fixed signposts along the way to tell us not where we are but when we are. The rhythm of time is something we need. How many times have we gotten done with a day and said “Thank God I can start again tomorrow.” (or next week, or next month)? During these blurry...Read more...

Take Steps Towards Companionship & Love

10/15/2020 02:08:16 PM


Rabbi Sam Trief

Bereshit. Genesis. In the Beginning. No matter how you say it, here we are again - reading the FIRST chapter in the first Book of Torah.

This rich and beautiful Torah portion contains two separate stories that illustrate the creation of the world.  Each story is different and explains our world in subtle and distinct ways.

Chapter 1 focuses on God’s creation and organization of the entire world. 

Chapter 2,...

Lean in to Torah

10/07/2020 09:40:19 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

I don’t know about you, but I have always been simultaneously awed and intimidated by Torah. I know, not a great thing to hear from your rabbi. I reflect upon my youth when my parents instilled in me the spiritual aspects of Torah – “Bradley Gordon, sit still in the service, or you’ll miss when they open the ark to show us the Torah” – and my Bar Mitzvah ceremony rehearsal, when my rabbi remarked “Whatever you do – don’t...Read more...

Sukkot: A Balm for the Spirit   

09/30/2020 09:16:57 AM


Rabbi Ron Segal

Do we remember all of the personal, introspective work we did during this year’s Holy Days, the commitments we made to ourselves, to one another, and to God just four days ago - to be more patient, more accepting of difference, and more appreciative of the good in our lives throughout the year unfolding before us? I sincerely hope we do recall our vows for personal improvement and hope as well, that they were more than nice, fleeting...Read more...

The Tradition of our Dialogue with the Clergy

09/24/2020 09:08:24 AM


Rabbi Sam Trief

The year was 1990. The Season: High Holy Days.  I am told that YOU, the incredible members of Temple Sinai could not get enough on Yom Kippur Day. You wanted to stay at Sinai even LONGER. So, being the thoughtful, and creative congregation that you are, you asked Rabbi Kranz to host a question and answer session. 

Thirty years later, the tradition of the “Dialogue with the...Read more...

Our Homes are Now Our Sanctuaries

09/16/2020 03:13:22 PM


Beth Schafer

Here we are on the dawn of the New Year. There have been many messages over the last few weeks reflecting on our isolation from one another as it pertains to the holidays. As I stood and sang in our empty sanctuary for Selichot, I imagined you in your homes occupying rooms where you watch TV, cook or sleep, or sit outside to sip wine and entertain. You have turned your homes into sanctuaries.

So many of you have stories about how our...

Opening the Gates to Repentance & Renewal

09/09/2020 12:53:21 PM


Rabbi Sam Trief

The High Holiday Season is Truly Upon Us. 

I find myself really looking forward to this Saturday night. After all, this Saturday night, all four members of our clergy team will be together on the bima.  During any other year - this fact would not deserve mention - but this year, as we know, is different. It will mark the first time in many, many months we will stand together in unison (of course with 6 feet in between...Read more...

The Time to Ask and Reflect

09/01/2020 11:48:56 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

As the desert journey draws to a close, God, through Moses, commits the final word of teaching to our collective memory as Israelites that we are to remember that it was God who brought us out of Egypt and that we should live according to God’s plan, the system of commandments given in Torah.

This Divine blueprint is constructed with blessings and curses, carefully choreographed so that we would see, to one side, six tribal elders...Read more...

Our Best Selves Take Time

08/26/2020 09:14:49 AM


Rabbi Ron Segal

Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” the title track on his third album, took approximately six months to finish. From the year he conceptualized the film Avatar until it was finally released in theaters took James Cameron fifteen years. Mastering the Art of French Cooking by the inimitable Julia Child was a work in progress for nearly ten years before its publication. And Matthew Weiner had to pitch his idea...Read more...

Marking Sacred Time

08/18/2020 02:55:24 PM


Rabbi Sam Trief

I am truly not quite sure where the summer has gone. It is hard to believe that August 21 begins the Hebrew month of Elul. The Hebrew month of Elul is the last month of the Jewish year. As such, it is considered a month of spiritual preparation for the High Holy Days. During this sacred time on the Jewish calendar, we take stock of the many blessings in our lives and offer our thanks to God. 

All the more...

Seasons of Torah

08/13/2020 08:30:47 AM


Beth Schafer

There are so many ways in which we mark time. Holidays, school schedules, milestone events, all give us markers in an ever-flowing calendar of which no one day is distinguishable from another. In Judaism, music helps mark time-melodies for different days or time of day, as well as different seasons help us navigate the Jewish year. I also like to think that there are seasons of Torah. We read about the parting of the Red Sea around January or...Read more...

Slow Down

08/06/2020 09:11:33 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, the great eighteenth century Hasidic rebbe, once saw a man running around in a great hurry. He asked the man, “Why are you running?” The man answered, “I am running because I have to earn a living.” Rabbi Levi Yitzhak asked him, “How do you know that this ‘earning a living’ is running away from you so that you have to race after it to catch it? Maybe it is instead behind you, in which case you...Read more...

The Decision to Love

07/30/2020 09:29:29 AM


Rabbi Ron Segal

Young couples, whether in age or years together, often talk about falling in love. The familiar language portrays love as an emotional state of being which one reaches when his/her emotions are overflowing with warm, adoring thoughts for another. Jewish tradition understands love differently, not so much as feelings that wax and wane (i.e. where one can fall ‘out’ love as easily as ‘in’ love), but rather as a decision. To love another...Read more...

Hold On to What is Good 

07/23/2020 10:18:49 AM


Rabbi Sam Trief

I wonder if anyone is feeling a bit sad or out-of-sorts these days? If so, according to the Jewish calendar, you have good reason. We have begun the new month of Av, which is often referred to as the saddest month of the Jewish calendar.

It is a time period in which we mourn the destruction of Jerusalem’s Holy Temple two thousands years ago, as well as many other calamities that Jews suffered throughout history. The Mourning Period...Read more...

Reestablish the Rhythm in Your Life

07/16/2020 08:57:14 AM


Beth Schafer

Multiple times a week I hear people profess that they don’t know what day it is. In other conversations, I hear difficulty committing to dates for activities that may or may not take place in the future. Some of us are bored, others are over-taxed. While some people are fine living day-to-day, others who are innate planners find the uncertainty anxiety-provoking. Our relationship with time is being tested during this season of pandemic. We...Read more...

When I Enter and When I Leave

07/09/2020 10:10:15 AM


Rabbi Sam Trief

One of the blessings for me during this strange time in world history is the opportunity to participate virtually in diverse, learning opportunities.

During the past two weeks, I was a student in an “Educators Boot Camp,” live from The Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.

I jumped at the opportunity because I know the passionate teaching that takes place at Pardes. I spent a summer of college there, and have...Read more...

Temple Sinai Education Reopening Update

07/06/2020 12:16:23 PM


Marisa Kaiser, Director of the Center for Learning & Engagement

Dear Parents,

We hope this message finds you doing well and adjusting to this summer reality.

As many schools in our area are announcing their plans for the return to school in August, we wanted to share an update on our reopening plans for all of our education programs (Preschool, Noar Sunday, Noar Hebrew, Madrichim and teen programs) at Temple Sinai. While our physical building currently remains closed, we are planning to...Read more...

The Three C’s

07/01/2020 10:05:16 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

For this week’s Shabbat message, I am sharing words from the clergy report delivered at our most recent Annual Meeting.

Good evening. In a timeless story that is personally compelling, we are told of a synagogue that was built to be the majestic center of a Jewish community. Great care was taken to account for every detail – the design of the Ark, the shape of the Amud, the reading table, the flooring and seating to allow for...Read more...

When the Clocks Stopped

06/25/2020 08:51:46 AM


Rabbi Ron Segal

An episode of the URJ podcast Stories We Tell featured a story, told by Rabbi Marc Katz, titled “When the Clocks Stop”.

There was once a town in Eastern Europe where, for some strange reason, all of the clocks stopped working one day. Old, new, wooden, metal, plain, beautiful…it mattered not. At 12:57 pm one day, every clock in town stopped, and people started to panic, wondering what was going...Read more...

Striving for Equality

06/18/2020 08:35:14 AM


Rabbi Sam Trief

As we packed up and moved from NYC to Atlanta, there were a number of disagreements between my husband and me about what was going to Goodwill and what was moving along with us.

Our most notable argument was about a giant red banner with an image of Aunt Jemima. “Why do we need this?”, I proclaimed! “It’s a nice memory of my past life.”...said Natan.

Memory of a past life?! I knew that Natan spent time in...Read more...

It’s Always Been About the Breath

06/11/2020 09:26:43 AM


Beth Schafer

The beginning of March. It’s come to our doorstep; a virus that steals the breath. It’s spreading like wildfire. We need to stop what we’re doing to mitigate the spread. Humankind is choking.

Earth Day, April, reports are in. Pauses in production and commuting lead to a major drop in pollution. The earth is taking her first deep breath in a century.

Late May, George Floyd gasps his last breaths under the knee of a...Read more...

Racial Justice at Temple Sinai

06/10/2020 11:04:55 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

Many have asked how Temple Sinai is responding to the demonstrations and calls for systemic change that are capturing the hearts and minds of so many in our country. There have been a number of efforts already undertaken. For those interested in opportunities moving forward, (a) see below for opportunities taking place this week, and (b) email Rabbi Brad Levenberg here to be added to the Racial Justice distribution list.

This...

The Story of US

06/08/2020 01:46:15 PM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

Supporting text by William R. Groves, Chancellor, Antioch University

I recall the moment so clearly. I was in my second year here at Sinai and still filled with naivete and the optimism that can only come from inexperience. I was leading Torah study for the congregation and one of my conversion students was in the Saturday morning session. By the way, it starts at 9:00, should any of you wish to join. You can study in your pajamas...Read more...

The Time Has Come to Speak

06/03/2020 03:34:40 PM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

One week ago, as we concluded Shabbat, many of us were roused by the news that protesters had taken to the streets and that Atlanta was burning. Whether the actions were primarily perpetrated by outside antagonists or whether this was the physical manifestation of anger and frustration and a sense of helplessness, what we saw most certainly captured our attention. And we’ve been attentive ever since.

Like every impactful event, the...

Wed, December 2 2020 16 Kislev 5781