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Make the World a More Accepting Place - Starting with Ourselves

10/08/2019 08:14:32 AM


Rabbi Sam Trief

For those of you who were not with us on the second day of Rosh Hashanah I would like to share with you the remarks I offered during services. It is hard to believe Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur have passed us by yet again, but it isn’t too late to make a change for the new year! In fact, while it is important to reflect and change our behavior between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, it is MORE important to change our ways and reflect...Read more...

Be Present for our Community

10/03/2019 08:03:01 AM


Rabbi Sam Trief

As a 10th grade confirmation student, there was a moment in class that struck me each week...and that was roll call. When  Rabbi Rick Jacobs took attendance in class, he taught us that the best response was not: “here” or “yes”, but rather,  “hineini.”  The Biblical expression hineni translates to: “here I am.”  Over the years, the expression hineini  has come to mean that we should strive to be fully...Read more...

Daze of Ah

09/26/2019 09:33:55 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

Dr. Deborah Lipstadt, the Emory University Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies, writes that one year, "while lecturing on the theology of the High Holy Day period, I noticed that a student had written at the top of his notes: the Daze of Ah. I was unsure whether to chastise him for not having done the readings or give him extra credit for offering this insight. For this is exactly how we should approach this time: in a...Read more...

Walking with Pride

09/19/2019 08:42:09 AM


Beth Schafer

On my very first day at Temple Sinai, I walked into my new office. My furniture hadn’t arrived, yet. A computer sat on a card table and on top of the keyboard was a welcome gift from Rabbi Perry. She had bought each of us clergy a rainbow kippah in Israel for us to wear at the Pride Parade. I didn’t even get to attend Pride in October of 2015, but I did in 2016, and it was one of the most memorable days of my life. Over the prior year I...Read more...

The Pain of Memory

09/12/2019 09:41:04 AM


Rabbi Sam Trief

I’ve heard a lot of chatter lately...many people have been commenting “It has been a weird summer.”  For us at Sinai, we can partially attribute this to the construction and our “diaspora” to the Weber School. But on a personal note, I also realized there was something else going on. This was the first summer in a decade where I had not visited Israel. I felt an inner longing, one that I could not quite put my finger on until I...Read more...

To Console Helps to Soften

09/05/2019 08:00:16 AM


Rabbi Ron Segal

Today (Thursday) is the 6th day of Elul, the final month in the Hebrew calendar prior to Rosh Hashanah and the start of a New Year. Jewish tradition lifts up the spiritual significance of this month, challenging us to approach each of Elul’s 29 days with intentionality and an appreciation of the possibility of self-transformation. I have long held that the spiritual potential and experience of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur have a great deal...Read more...

High Holy Day Preseason

08/29/2019 08:06:13 AM


Beth Schafer

This week begins the month of Elul, counting 40 days from Rosh Chodesh Elul to Yom Kippur. These 40 days represent the 40 days that Moses was on Mt. Sinai receiving the tablets of the commandments. If the High Holy Days were football, we are now firmly in preseason.

Here at Temple Sinai holiday preparations are in full swing, but also, if we really want to “do this,” then our personal preparations need to be in full swing as well....Read more...

Making the Most of Your Bucket List

08/21/2019 11:32:30 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

We know a great deal about the life and accomplishments of Moses. But as we navigate through the Book of Deuteronomy, we have an opportunity to learn more about his personal aspirations. Framing the titular text is a repeated refrain from this venerated leader, paraphrased for brevity: “God, I will continue to convey everything you want to me to convey to the Israelites. But would you PLEASE just let me cross over the Jordan River and step...Read more...

Tu B’Av

08/15/2019 12:38:18 PM


Rabbi Sam Trief

I was just at Publix picking up a sandwich. The customer in front of me ordered a Turkey Sandwich. She asked for Provolone Cheese. The man making her sandwich accidently put cheddar on her sandwich. The customer became enraged with the man making her sandwich. The server’s face dropped, and he looked like he was holding back tears, as she berated him.  I watched quietly, my heart aching. What was going on in the server’s life that...Read more...

When Shabbat is Needed More than Ever

08/07/2019 12:12:25 PM


Rabbi Ron Segal

Once again, heartache.
Once again, murderous domestic terrorism has wracked our country. 
Once again, hate-filled violence has resulted in unspeakable grief for countless innocents and families. 
Once again, the devastating number of lives lost and injuries suffered has been facilitated by the use of an assault style weapon and the absence of any sensible legislation aimed at curbing the epidemic of gun violence in our...Read more...

The Power of Responsibility of Speech – Holding others Accountable

08/01/2019 08:42:13 AM


Rabbi Ron Segal

There is a well-known adage from childhood I suspect most have heard: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” We of course know the expression to be far from the truth, and in fact, it is the very opposite of what Jewish tradition teaches us concerning the power and significance of our words.

“Mavet v’chayim b’yad lashon – Death and life are in the hand (power) of the tongue,” states a verse...Read more...

Judaism at Home or Wherever You Find Yourself

07/31/2019 12:29:17 PM


Beth Schafer

In my previous congregation, we shared a space with a church for worship. What that meant on a week-to-week basis was that my family had to leave home very early to help “unpack the temple” and set up our shared space. My children from very young ages equated setting up chairs, projection and sound as their Shabbat ritual. One of the challenges that it posed to our family was that we couldn’t have Shabbat dinner at home, and most of the...Read more...


07/25/2019 09:44:18 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

“The most profound change came when I turned off the TV. That suddenly transformed the whole Shabbat experience. It wasn’t about the electricity; it had more to do with the noise, the intrusion of the mundane into the sacred.” 
“Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?”
“No soup for you!”
“How you doin’?”
“To the moon, Alice!”
“Say goodnight, Gracie!”

Surely at least one...

Welcoming the Stranger

07/18/2019 08:45:27 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

“Balak, son of Zippur, saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. Moab was alarmed because that people was so numerous. Moab dreaded the Israelites, and Moab said to the elders of Midian, 'Now this horde will lick clean all that is about us as an ox licks up the grass of the field.'" (Numbers 22:12-4).
Every morning I check the news on USA Today, I scroll through Facebook, and I listen to NPR. Every evening I...Read more...

The Seventh Day Stretch

07/11/2019 11:29:22 AM


Beth Schafer

A few weeks ago, some friends and I went to a Braves game. None of us are particularly huge baseball fanatics, but we thought it would be fun summer thing to do together. Needless to say, there was a lot of kibitzing going on throughout the game. Our attention vacillated between the field and each other. The uninvited guests of the evening were the heat and humidity which was even by Atlanta standards pretty gross. This prompted my friends to...Read more...

Sacred Bridges and Unions

07/03/2019 11:34:02 AM


Rabbi Sam Trief

A momentous lifecycle event rapidly approaches for my family—my sister is getting married this Sunday. Surprisingly, I find myself more emotional than I thought I would be. 

My sister and I were always very different, we played different sports, had different friends, and went to different sleepaway camps. It feels like yesterday that I was dressing her up in a kippah and tallit, while we played “Temple” in our shared...Read more...

Becoming a Part of Israel

06/25/2019 08:50:51 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

Just two weeks ago, I was sitting in a synagogue in the suburbs of Jerusalem, Kol Haneshama, introducing our Temple Sinai community to this incredible Reform congregation in Israel. I was able to enjoy the service, whose melodies have been among the favorites that we use in our services here in Atlanta, and it was wonderful to have returned once again to my “home away from home” congregation. 
Amidst the prayers, the...

People Are the Source of Light

06/19/2019 08:56:38 AM


Rabbi Ron Segal

An oft-repeated story tells of a mountain village in Europe, several centuries ago, in which there was a Jewish nobleman who wondered what meaningful legacy he could leave for the townspeople. After much thought he decided to build a synagogue. No one saw the plans for the building until it was finished. When the people came for the first time they marveled at its beauty – the majestic high ceilings, the intricate carved wood throughout the...Read more...

Treasure Each Day

06/13/2019 12:19:40 PM


Rabbi Sam Trief

I spent the past few hours pondering my Shabbat Message for this week.  

I went through the past week, combing the days for something exciting to share or teach. As we have just finished marking Shavuot, there are no holidays to speak of for awhile. Intent on finding an exciting topic, I pondered the articles I read, the classes I attended, the powerful life cycle events, the movies and  lunch dates, the baby swim lessons...Read more...

How Do You Reach the Promised Land?

06/05/2019 10:48:59 AM


Beth Schafer

This week we begin reading the fourth book of the Torah. It goes by two names: in English we know it as the book of Numbers; the title attributed to the census that is taken at the beginning of the portion. In Hebrew, the book is called Bemidbar, meaning in the desert, where the census took place. Moses and Aaron were to count all the men of the 12 tribes 20 years and up to see who could take up arms when the Israelites would have to fight...Read more...

Counting Our Blessings

05/30/2019 08:52:23 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

We join together tonight in the midst of the greater Jewish people who are similarly taking stock of time, for we currently mark each day in a period known as the Counting of the Omer. This time had been marked two thousand years ago through the action of Jews in Israel bringing the first of their harvest to The Temple in Jerusalem. Over time, our people have found other ways of counting each of the days of the Omer- some through acts of...Read more...

Exciting News from Temple Sinai Preschool

05/23/2019 12:23:05 PM


Temple Sinai Preschool has exciting news to share and we wanted you to be among the first to know.
In addition to our current enriching and accredi

Peeling Back the Layers

05/23/2019 08:00:27 AM


Beth Schafer

As you know by now, Temple Sinai’s building is closed for construction. We had our first Shabbat service last week at The Weber School which was lovely and hamish (like home). Just yesterday I saw a picture of our sanctuary stripped bare. It was an empty room, and yet it wasn’t.


Finding a New Home for Our Furniture

05/16/2019 11:41:36 AM


We are so pleased that a good deal of Temple Sinai's furniture is finding a new home to benefit the homeless men of the Gateway Center. Raphael Holloway, their CEO and Greg Callihan, the Facilities Director, sent us generous notes of thanks that we wanted to share.


Do Not Come to Shabbat Services at Temple Sinai on Friday!

05/16/2019 08:44:06 AM


Rabbi Sam Trief

Often, a member of the clergy team will use his or her Shabbat message as an opportunity to invite you to celebrate Shabbat with us AT Temple Sinai. However, this Shabbat we are telling you-please DO NOT come to Temple Sinai!  If you do, you will find a dark and quiet building, with very little furniture. Rather, we invite you to join us at our SUMMER location,  The Weber School. We sincerely hope to share many sacred moments with...Read more...

Be an Upstander for Anne Frank in the World

05/08/2019 09:13:39 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

Last week, Ilana and her Epstein classmates had a profound experience. Presently on the 8th Grade Trip to Israel, the students were able to take part in the national commemoration of Yom HaShoah, the day dedicated to remembering the Holocaust and the murder of six million Jews. Throughout Israel, a siren sounds and all citizens stop what they are doing and stand at attention. Even those driving will stop their cars, open their doors, and...Read more...

Come Alive with Nefesh Mountain

05/02/2019 08:20:00 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

I was at Camp Coleman when the unmistakable sound of the banjo pierced the solitude of my walk. I was heading from the staff area to meet with my assigned group and knew that we had a guest artist at Coleman, but I didn’t recall that they would be warming up at the Hillman Chapel prior to the service. And, to be perfectly honest, ever since seeing the movie Deliverance, I grow a bit weary when I hear banjo in the setting of the North...Read more...

Don't Get Stuck in the Mud

04/25/2019 08:00:21 AM


Rabbi Ron Segal

An oft-shared story connected to the Exodus relates that, as the Israelites crossed through the Reed Sea on their journey to freedom, there were two particular men who were consumed with the fact that their sandals and feet were getting muddy. They did not appreciate the awesome walls of water, miraculously divided to enable their passage, nor did they the magnitude of God’s blessing and redeeming power. For these individuals, who could not...Read more...

How to Say Goodbye to What Enslaves Us

04/18/2019 08:11:21 AM


Rabbi Sam Trief

Lately, I find myself watching late-night episodes of the hit Netflix series "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo".

Kondo’s philosophy happens to fit quite nicely with the theme of Passover. She teaches: 
Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy. Thank them for their service–then let them go.

Passover, as we all well know, is about redemption and freedom. It hearkens...Read more...

Pray for Peace in Israel

04/11/2019 10:11:03 AM


Rabbi Ron Segal

As the dust is still settling following Tuesday’s elections in Israel, deciding what exactly to share in this week’s column is admittedly difficult. As of this writing, the full implications of the election are still unclear, though it is predicted that Benjamin Netanyahu will retain his post as Prime Minister. 

In Israel’s parliamentary democracy, citizens vote for parties, not for individuals. Parties which receive a...Read more...

Tue, October 15 2019 16 Tishrei 5780