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The Spirituality of Kabbalah

02/20/2018 01:23:30 PM


By: Rabbi Brad Levenberg

According to tradition, one must have reached the age of 40 before studying Kabbalah. But you can study Leonard Cohen at any age. And with soulful melodies such as “Hallelujah” and “Famous Blue Raincoat,” “Suzanne” and “First We Take Manhattan,” my hope is that we don’t wait another day to study Cohen.

By studying Leonard Cohen one might walk away with an appreciation of the later spirituality presented in...Read more...

A Measure of Comfort

02/15/2018 12:51:55 PM


By: Rabbi Brad Levenberg

Once again we find ourselves shocked and shattered by a tragic school shooting. The heartbreak, the tears, and the unimaginable violence scar us anew. In our anguish we all search for any words possible that might provide solace or shelter from this violent storm which seemingly has no end. Though no poet can erase the pain or despair so many are feeling, may this tender prayer by Rabbi David Dine Wirtschafer provide us with a measure of...Read more...

Wanna Schmooze?

02/08/2018 09:28:20 AM


By: Beth Schafer

I’ve told you this before. I love Shabbat. I think it is one of the most brilliant of commandments in Jewish observance. It is time to pause the busyness of life and just stop. What a thing to be commanded! I couldn’t think of something more valuable than being asked to stop working and just reconnect-with people, with tradition, with God. Around 3 pm on Fridays, the tenor of the office changes. Yes, we are busy getting ready for...Read more...

Divinity in our Diversity

02/01/2018 09:05:13 AM


By: Rabbi Ron Segal

“Some say that I can be rough around the edges at times and that I am difficult to get to know. However, once people get to know me they discover that I am easy-going and likeable.”


“People describe me as approachable and quite friendly, willing to talk with anyone about almost anything.  What no one knows, however, is...Read more...

Shabbat on the Horizons

01/25/2018 09:06:47 AM


by Rabbi Sam Shabman

This week, I reflect on one of my favorites teachings by Zionist thinker Ahad Ha'am. He teaches us: “More than the Jewish people have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jewish People.”

As Reform Jews we do not typically keep Shabbat by abiding by certain rules or regulations. Rather, Shabbat is a time for us to gather and to regroup with our community at the culmination of each work week. In my opinion, coming...Read more...

A Song Celebrating 50 Years 

01/17/2018 06:47:21 PM


By Beth Schafer

Well, this is it-the week we kick off our year of celebrating 50 Years of Temple Sinai. For those of you who have been here for the better of 50 years, I can only imagine the pride you must feel as your community bustles with excitement to celebrate the community that you helped to forge. For those who have been here only more recently, it’s impossible not to get swept up in the enthusiasm and become involved in one of the many events...Read more...

Xernona Clayton

01/10/2018 03:57:48 PM


By Brad Levenberg

You don’t have to be tall to be a giant, as evidenced by Xernona Clayton.

Xernona is a civil rights leader and pioneering broadcasting executive. She is also the driving force behind the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame outside of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic site downtown. The Walk of Fame includes the footprints of civil rights pioneers – still marching after all these years – including the footprints...Read more...

Season Of Resolutions

01/04/2018 12:52:22 PM


By Rabbi Sam Shabman

This is our season of resolutions, where we take a fresh look at promises we made and gaze with hope to a fresh year ahead. This is the time we look at resolutions from years past and determine how we can live them in the year ahead.


Our Young Adult Imagine Sinai committee has been hard at work...Read more...

Making Room For Other Opinions

12/28/2017 12:34:35 PM


By Rabbi Ron Segal

Though Chanukah will have concluded when this column is published, a Talmudic passage related to the holiday (BT Shabbat) provides us with an important lesson that extends well beyond the Festival of Lights. The message is timely and, if taken to heart, might inspire more gracious and accepting behavior as we prepare to begin 2018.

The passage referenced above is one in which first century rabbinic sages, Hillel and Shammai, debate...Read more...

The Spirit of Reflection in December

12/20/2017 12:05:31 PM


By Rabbi Brad Levenberg

I do so love these final weeks of December. I love this time not only because Atlanta tends to slow down a bit – with schools on break, driving seems much less hectic! – but because it is one time when so many of us are united in simultaneously dreaming of next year and reflecting upon the year that has gone by.

This spirit of reflection finds grounding in two incredible holiday celebrations: our own Festival of...Read more...

It's All About Light

12/13/2017 03:37:17 PM


Beth Schafer

How many of you actually have a Chanukiah that uses oil? For those who might, does anyone really know how long the oil is supposed to last?

Whether or not we know exactly how to fuel an ancient lamp one thing that we can all relate to and that is the power of light. Both literally and figuratively, we need light to grow. Our eyes and skin need light, our circadian rhythms require light. Our souls thirst for enlightenment, our brains...Read more...

Inspired Conversations

12/05/2017 01:03:30 PM


By Rabbi Brad Levenberg

Starting this week and going through the weekend, over 5,000 Reform Jews are gathering in Boston for our movement’s Biennial convention. The importance of this gathering to Reform Judaism cannot be understated: with challenges of authenticity coming from certain segments of Israel, with declining rates of affiliation affecting not only Reform but all denominations of Judaism in our country, with our institutions balancing a grand mission...Read more...

Music Speaks Louder than Words

11/30/2017 09:20:58 AM


By Rabbi Segal

Bim bam…  yam bai bai bim biddy bai… yai lai lai lai… ay oh… 

How many of our Shabbat evening services over the years have begun with wordless melodies – niggunim – that include these or other simple sounds?  Have you ever wondered why?  Centuries ago, the early Chasidic sages of our tradition discerned the spiritual truth that, sometimes, words simply get in the way.  Getting stuck on the words...Read more...

Kindness, Generosity and Hope

11/17/2017 03:31:36 PM


By Rabbi Brad Levenberg

I truly enjoy Thanksgiving. It is so American and so Jewish at the same time. The turkey, the pumpkin pie, the incipient American spirit of self-reliance dressed in Pilgrim costumes are all red, white, and blue images. But the idea of leaving one’s birth place, the land of one’s ancestors, and of going to a new land, bolstered by an irreplaceable optimism about the human potential to build a new and better world, these are ideals straight...Read more...

Our Response to Violence at the Western Wall

11/16/2017 01:01:30 PM


By Temple Sinai Clergy

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.  May those who love her prosper.” (Psalm 122:6)

We at Temple Sinai deplore the outbreak of violence that targeted the leaders and supporters of the Reform Movement at the Western Wall in Jerusalem earlier today. Gathering peacefully to read Torah in recognition of the upcoming ordination of four Israeli Reform rabbis, including the ordination of the 100th Israeli Reform rabbi, overly zealous...Read more...

May We Find Peace

11/16/2017 12:58:10 PM


By Rabbi Sam Shabman

A common observation people make when they travel to Israel is...many taxis cabs are made by Mercedes Benz.

The rumor is that the German government provides nice cars to the Israeli government as reparations for the Holocaust and the Israeli government leases them cheaply as taxis.

But what else? What else can be done, other than the gift of Mercedes Benz...Read more...

Living Well on the Road

11/07/2017 09:00:56 AM


I am writing this having made the decision once again to skip the gym this morning. It’s not that I WANT to skip the gym; but sometimes life just gets in the way. I thought I would be able to accomplish more earlier in the week in order to prepare for the weekend but I found myself trading time for time: “I know I need to do X, but today my son needed more help with his homework, so X will have to wait until later this week.” “I know...Read more...

Imagine What is Possible

11/02/2017 09:30:13 AM


By Rabbi Segal

On a day after the Houston Astros won the World Series for the first time in club history, I am proud to shout out my Houston roots! Watching the Astros win the Series last night, though, I wonder if Houstonians could have possibly imagined their city being able to celebrate such a tremendous event just two months after Hurricane Harvey flooding devastated the city and the lives of thousands of residents.

In the...

It's the Mystery That Beckons

10/25/2017 01:13:42 PM


By Rabbi Brad

It’s the mystery that beckons. I thought it was the colors, the stories, the music. I thought it was the culture, the history and what I know about the present. But now I know that it is the mystery that tugs at me.

I don’t know much about India. I know what I have read, what I have seen in the movies, and what I have sampled at restaurants. I know what I have learned when I have spoken with people who have made the...Read more...

The Pet Blessing

10/19/2017 09:12:08 AM


Rabbi Sam Shabman

As you may know, a defining moment of my year was the day I brought home my puppy Huckleberry "Huck" Trief. He has been a bundle of fluff, love and comfort. A true blessing. I think of him particularly this week since he underwent a small surgery...and in our Torah Portion we are reminded of the importance of animals.

In Parashat Noah, God said to Noah, “Because the earth is filled with wrongdoing and corruption and robbery I am...Read more...

The Torah Equation

10/11/2017 09:07:50 AM


Beth Schafer

As our season turns and we bid farewell to our holy days, I look forward to beginning the Torah once again. The juxtaposition of the last words of Torah and the first is quite jarring. In the final words of the Torah we are reminded of the death of Moses and that never again would there be a prophet like him who would lead us through such trials and tribulations from slavery to freedom. And then, we seamlessly return to the very beginning and...Read more...

This is a Season of Paradox

10/04/2017 03:09:29 PM


Ron Segal

On one hand, the Festival of Sukkot is known in Jewish tradition as z’man simchateinu - the season of our rejoicing.  On the heels of Yom Kippur, Sukkot - which begins Wednesday evening - provides us a week during which to gather in our sukkah, to celebrate and enjoy the company of friends and family, to  express gratitude for the many blessings we enjoy (for our ancestors it was a bountiful harvest),...Read more...

Has Much Changed?

09/26/2017 09:38:44 AM


Rabbi Levenberg

Once again we prepare for Yom Kippur and in so doing we ask ourselves this single question: has much changed? Has much changed since last Yom Kippur? Conflicts around the world shift territory and population. Israel is praised or challenged. Grandchildren are born. Loved ones leave us. Our children are older… which means, so are we. Are we any wiser?

Judaism’s role in our lives isn’t to make us feel guilty about what we...Read more...

A Fresh Start: The Berman Center

09/19/2017 02:32:36 PM


Sam Shabman

On the brink of this New Year, I share with you words of Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky:

"It is the beginning of a new year. We have examined our deeds, made amends, and been renewed. But recovery and spiritual renewal do not come quickly or easily...Teshuva is hard work. Thats really why when we finally - after the long hot summer - get to Rosh Hashanah we call it a New Year, because through honest repentance we are given the opportunity to...Read more...

One Thing I ask

09/14/2017 11:10:00 AM


Beth Schafer

Over the past three weeks and into Sukkot, we sing words from Psalm 27, Achat Sha'alti me'et Adonai Otah avakesh, shivti b'veit Adonai kol y'mei chayai, lachazot b'noam Adonai ulvakeir b'heichalo. “One thing have I asked of God, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of God all the days of my life, to behold the graciousn​ess of God, and to visit early in God’s temple.” What does this mean? One interpretation comes from...Read more...

Let's Get Ready

09/07/2017 09:00:51 AM


Rabbi Sam Shabman

At Temple Sinai we are in full High Holy Day mode. Tickets are in the mail, brochures are at the printing press, the clergy are writing their sermons, the choir is in rehearsal, and we are getting ready for it all!

I opened up my Rosh Hashanah Machzor this morning, and flipped to a page. I was struck by the prayer I landed on: "A Prayer for Righteous Anger."

Often, we get the most out of any experience when we are prepared....Read more...

You Must Not Be Indifferent

08/30/2017 09:28:52 PM


54 years ago hundreds of thousands of people assembled in Washington DC to participate in a moment that inspired a movement. Dubbed the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, participants were united in time and place and though they were not monolithic; some were standing together in protest of a society that was divided by race and class and geography and some were standing together searching for societal reforms regarding jobs and...Read more...

A Statement Regarding Anti-semitism at The Lovett School

08/24/2017 04:42:21 PM


Temple Sinai Clergy

The Temple Sinai clergy were informed on August 13 about an incident classified by the ADL as an act of anti-Semitism involving students who attend The Lovett School at an off-site party. We believe that anti-Semitism thrives in a climate of fear and ignorance and, on behalf of the congregation, condemn the action as an expression of bigotry and contempt.

We have been in communication with several parents who have addressed this issue...Read more...

Shabbat to Shabbat: Many Blessings

08/23/2017 03:24:12 PM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

We have come once again to that sacred time on the Jewish calendar where it is appropriate to take stock of the many blessings in our lives and to offer our thanksgiving to God.

When reflecting upon the blessing for this particular day I realized how apparent it is that we as a congregation have much for...Read more...

Shabbat to Shabbat: Move Past Hate

08/09/2017 11:02:12 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

It is hard to put into words how many of us feel following a weekend in which we witnessed white supremacists and neo-nazis marching openly in America, leaving violence and tragedy in their wake.

Regardless of where we each stand politically, we can ALL agree: hatred, bigotry and violence cannot be tolerated. When our civic and faith values are threatened in this way, we raise our voices and rise up—not just in opposition but...Read more...

Sun, February 25 2018 10 Adar 5778