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Join Us for Purim Fun

02/22/2021 10:21:30 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

I recall the conversations from a year ago. We had just heard, a few weeks prior, about the coronavirus, though at that time it didn’t look that serious to us here in Atlanta. So, we went about planning and preparing as we always do, keeping the experience of our congregants front and center. After all, Purim was on the horizon, and we had already invested a lot of energy and creativity into the megillah reading and the carnival. Helmed by...Read more...

True Resilience

02/18/2021 08:03:24 AM


Rabbi Ron Segal

I received my copy of Mishkan HaSeder, the new CCAR Press Passover Haggadah, in the mail this week. Like countless others, the Baskin-illustrated CCAR Haggadah - published in 1974 - helped shape our family’s Passover Seders for decades. After almost 50 years, though, it was definitely time for a new text.  Like other publications in the “Mishkan series” that we have already use for many years at Temple Sinai (e.g. Mishkan Tefilah,...Read more...

We Will Hear

02/11/2021 07:59:24 AM


Beth Schafer

It was asked to a number of us a few months ago by someone doing research, what prayer we found most important. I along with many others answered, the Sh’ma. Our faith in one God is defined by the 6-word statement, “Hear, O Israel, Adonai is our God, Adonai is one.” And yet this prayer that is about wholeness, completeness and oneness, kind of sounds exclusive in its command….HEAR. If one cannot hear, can they be...Read more...

The Weather We Experience

02/03/2021 12:24:14 PM


Rabbi Sam Trief

Oscar Wilde said “conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.”

Reflecting upon this musing, I have come to the conclusion that I COMPLETELY disagree. As the Jewish People, so many of our holidays and so much of our liturgy is based on a complex understanding of the weather and the changing of the seasons. For instance, the holiday that just passed, Tu B'Shevhat, marks the emergence of warmer...Read more...

Words Matter

01/26/2021 08:53:49 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

I was having a conversation with a friend the other night about senior quotes. In a high school yearbook, when students are in their final year, they are granted an opportunity to sum up their life, their story, their dreams, their future, their interests, how they are known… in a short, attributable quote. It has to be clever, it has to be somewhat original, and it has to be authentic. The pressure on, it is a pretty significant task, one...Read more...

A New Perspective

01/21/2021 08:49:04 AM


Rabbi Sam Trief

For many of us, the highlight of Wednesday's inauguration was the incredible Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman. Throughout Gorman’s life she struggled with speech and auditory processing issues. We listen to Gorman’s words, and we are moved to tears by her poise, her passion and her message. I think about the blood, sweat and tears it took her to ascend the steps of the Capitol and share her poem, “The Hill We Climb.” It is noted...Read more...

What Would MLK Say to Us Today?

01/13/2021 02:38:42 PM


Beth Schafer

As we prepare to remember and honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the Shabbat closest to his birthday, one burning question comes to mind. What would he say to us today? We are living through extraordinary and concerning times in the life of our country. If we cannot look to our nation’s icons of peace and social justice for wise and good counsel, to whom else would we turn?

One of his most prophetic statements was, “When our...

2020 Wynne Scholarship Winner Skyler Clark

01/11/2021 03:06:53 PM


Skyler Clark

Hi! I’m Skyler Clark and I’m currently on a gap year program called Bina Mechina in south Tel Aviv! The program I am on is designed for both pre-college Americans and international participants, and pre-army Israeli...Read more...

Hope for Better Days

01/05/2021 08:47:01 AM


Rabbi Sam Trief

Over the last week, I spent some time in the mountains and experienced snowfall. One day, as I walked through a field of fresh snow, I began to grow tired. I thought to myself: how am I going to make it to the other side at this rate? I looked down and watched as my foot crunched, sunk, and dug deeper into the snow with each step. I grew even more depleted.

But then, I decided to adopt a new strategy. I began to imagine that I was...Read more...

A Blessing for 2021

12/23/2020 11:32:31 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

As tomorrow marks the end of one year, we offer this blessing for the year to come:

May we look forward to a new year with the hope that during every morning that we receive the gift of life we will wake up and thank God for that life. May 2021 fill us with a sense of gratitude and a sense of purpose.  May we find ample reminders in this year ahead that our life matters, that life is sacred and holy, and that we have a large...Read more...

Jewish Heroes

12/21/2020 02:21:49 PM


Rabbi Ron Segal

The dictionary formally defines a hero as “a person with courage, one admired for his/her noble qualities and ideal acts.” In the context of our greater community, a Jewish hero is one who makes conscious decisions and sacrifices to ensure the strength of the Jewish people. Examples of Jewish heroes throughout history abound: great rabbinic sages, early Zionist pioneers, philanthropists, politicians, warriors and countless others whose...Read more...

It’s About Tradition

12/17/2020 10:15:24 AM


Beth Schafer

Recently Rabbi Levenberg and I were leading a ceremony where the Bar/Bat Mitzvah family is given the opportunity to offer an impromptu blessing for his/her child. One of the grandfathers said to the boy, “Each generation does this and now it’s your turn.” I thought it was such an empowering moment for the young man.

After the service the grandfather came up to me and in amazement said, “Gosh, I really don’t know how...Read more...

The Wonder of Chanukah

12/10/2020 09:07:07 AM


Rabbi Sam Trief

Last night, as I sat next to a firepit, I felt a heavy sense of lacking, of missing something. And yet, as I gazed at the glowing fire, I became more and more transfixed and mystified by the beauty of it all. In that moment, I no longer felt underwhelmed, but rather amazed by the beauty of the flames and the trees and the crisp winter air. For the first time in a long while, I felt a long-forgotten emotion; excitement. 

As the...

The Power of a Name

12/02/2020 09:04:04 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

Before I get into the message for this week's “Shabbat to Shabbat” newsletter, allow me to extend an invitation. This Friday night, following the Shabbat service at 7:30, is our Alembik event, Exploring the Interplay Between Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Pain in Our Lives. This program is a moderated conversation between three Sinai members: Dr. Jeffrey Grossman will address physical pain, Dr. Betsy Gard will tackle...Read more...

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...

Sun, February 28 2021 16 Adar 5781