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With Freedom Comes Responsibility

02/12/2020 12:17:06 PM


Beth Schafer

In this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Yitro, we read the Ten Commandments. The very first one states “I am Adonai Your God who led you out of Egypt.” Egypt is not just a part of our story, it is a part of our very identity. Every Passover Seder asks us to feel, in fact, to live, as if we had personally been freed from slavery in Egypt. The Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzrayim, means, “from the narrow place.” Not unlike a constricting...Read more...

Lasting Impressions

02/05/2020 12:41:57 PM


Temme Barkin-Leeds

There is no way to begin to tell this story in a way that is not putting me in the role of a privileged outsider. Yet I am telling it in the best way I can.

Last week, a group of interested folks from Temple Sinai, headed by Rabbi Sam Trief, visited the Camp Stewart Detention Center near Lumpkin, Read more...

How Will You Use Your Freedom?

02/05/2020 08:23:15 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

In our Torah portion this week, the Israelites cross the Sea of Reeds after it parts, enabling them to cross on dry land. Once it collapses behind them, the people taste freedom for the first time, as our tradition states, in 400 years. It must have been an awesome experience, and it is a story that launched thousands of questions: what does God want of us? Why do we have freedom while others remained enslaved? Why did it take so long for God...Read more...

The Shortest Name but the Strongest Action

01/29/2020 08:41:35 AM


Rabbi Sam Trief

Monday marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Though 75 years since this tragedy does not feel so distant, I am struck by the notion that, soon, no survivors will remain. I grew up at a time when we heard from Holocaust survivors in religious school, at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, and at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. Hearing their stories shaped me in profound ways, teaching me resilience, and instilling in me...Read more...

Part of Our Story

01/22/2020 09:37:37 AM


Beth Schafer

In this week’s Torah portion, parshat Va’era, we begin hearing about the plagues that befell Egypt while Moses tried to get Pharaoh to free the Israelites from bondage. I always found it humorous that while the props my Christian friends’ kids played with on Easter were a bunny and painted eggs, the Jewish children very often played with a bag of plush plague “toys.” As adults, however, we recall the plagues at the Passover...Read more...

How Can We Realize the Dream of Martin Luther King

01/16/2020 08:17:20 AM


Beth Schafer

When I considered relocating to Atlanta, one of the things that most excited me was the city’s history regarding the civil rights movement. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s voice echoes loudest and his light shines brightest here in Atlanta. From the Civil Rights Museum to the King Center and Ebenezer Baptist Church, Dr. King’s presence still shapes the Atlanta experience.

As the ripples from a rock thrown in the water are strongest...Read more...

What Do We Do With Our Freedom?

01/06/2020 08:56:57 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

On January 1, I was invited to speak at the NAACP’s Jubilee Day gathering. Held each year, the event commemorates the day – January 1, 1863 – that the Emancipation Proclamation took effect, abolishing slavery in the United States of America. While very much a spirited function, I was taken by the number of people, both from the dais and in individual conversation, who expressed outrage at the rise of anti-Semitism and offered to help...Read more...

A Lifetime of Meaning in One Word

12/30/2019 08:43:17 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

Sometimes the Torah packs a lifetime of meaning into one word. 

Vayigash alav Yehuda—and Judah drew near to Joseph…” (Genesis 44).  

Judah still does not know that the Egyptian ruler who has been supplying him with rations during the famine and who now threatens the youngest of his father Jacob’s children, Benjamin, with enslavement is his brother Joseph whom he sold into slavery. Fearful for Benjamin’s...Read more...

YOU Are the Greatest Gift

12/19/2019 11:13:44 AM


Beth Schafer

In this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Vayeshev, we are introduced to Joseph, son of Jacob. Joseph is one of the great archetypal characters of the Torah. Born with the gift of being a prophetic dreamer, and dreaming that his brothers would one day bow down to him, he drives a wedge between himself and his brothers and is cast off by them. Later in his life, the same gift finds him favor with Pharaoh and eventually helps him save the Jewish...Read more...

Business as Unusual

12/12/2019 08:21:08 AM


Jack Feldman, Executive Director

As you read this, I will be with the Temple Sinai delegation at the URJ Biennial Conference in windy Chicago. What you may not know is that the Biennial is preceded by the annual conference of the National Association for Temple Administration (NATA). Founded in 1941, NATA is the professional organization for those who serve synagogues as executives, administrators, or managers. The organization has more than 400 members from North America...Read more...

Union for Reform Judaism’s Biennial Convention

12/05/2019 03:14:56 PM


Beth Schafer

Next week, Reform Jews from all over the world will converge in Chicago for the Union for Reform Judaism’s Biennial Convention. This gathering of over 6,000 people is an electrifying experience of learning, worship, collegiality, music and celebration of our movement. What is most energizing for me personally is the confluence of old and new and the innovations shared in areas of technology, education, programming, musical repertoire,...Read more...

Thanksgiving & Gratitude

11/26/2019 07:56:27 AM


Temple Sinai Clergy

On behalf of Temple Sinai’s Spirituality Committee, we are delighted to share this brief video featuring the four members of the clergy team discussing a favorite prayer related to expressing gratitude. Below the video you will find the texts that we reference – feel free to print them out and use them throughout this holiday weekend.


Simple Gifts

11/20/2019 10:57:03 AM


Beth Schafer

It is the season of Thanksgiving. This American tradition that began with the coming together of two nations on this soil, reminds us of a sacred message we should reflect on each and every day - to be thankful. Many believe that Thanksgiving was inspired by Sukkot, our fall harvest holiday, because the Puritans, while living in Holland before coming to the New World, lived among Sephardic Jews who observed the festival and were influenced by...Read more...

Shabbat with Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish

11/14/2019 11:05:45 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

What a delight it is to write this message. This Shabbat will be truly remarkable at Sinai for we are welcoming to our congregation noted scholar and author Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish.

Ron is the Founding Director of the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel (ICCI). Now retired, he is a noted rabbi, author, and speaker, blogger and consultant. He has lived in Jerusalem for the past 38 years. Educated at Brandeis University...Read more...

What it Means to Be American AND Jewish

11/07/2019 10:40:01 AM


Rabbi Sam Trief

Vietnam, 1967. Rosh Hashanah 5728. Jewish Marines made camouflage kippot from tent materials, as their way of marking the High Holidays, while simultaneously fighting in the Vietnam War. I heard this story while traveling through Vietnam. This image has stayed with me as a powerful representation of what it means to be both American and Jewish. 

As it has likely become apparent by now, I relate to my Judaism through the...Read more...

Starting the Next Chapter

10/31/2019 08:40:34 AM


Rabbi Ron Segal

This past Sunday, October 27, most of the Jewish world was undoubtedly aware that the day marked one year since the massacre of eleven members of Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue. Throughout this past year, communities have held memorials, worked to strengthen bridges of understanding with neighbors and co-religionists, pursued further security measures within their own synagogues, and learned more about the roots of anti-Semitism....Read more...

Speech by Dr. Heike Fuller, German Consul General in Atlanta at #ShowUpforShabbat

10/30/2019 09:42:38 AM


Consul General Dr. Heike Fuller

Ladies and Gentlemen,
“Antisemitism kills”, that is what Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Halle, Saxony-Anhalt two cities over 4.100 miles apart, located on two different continents are forced to share.

On October 27, 2018 while Shabbat morning services were being held in the Tree of Life Synagogue, eleven people were killed and six were injured. It was the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the United States.

Not...


10/24/2019 08:53:42 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

The note was passed to me in the middle of a b'nei mitzvah service: there has been a shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. My heart sank as I felt for those who were present at the Tree of Life synagogue that morning, those who were injured, those who would soon be preparing for funerals. It did not occur to me during those initial moments that we had crossed a barrier, a threshold, a line that had not been crossed in the story of...Read more...

Revisiting Your Story 

10/17/2019 12:23:52 PM


Beth Schafer

“Hafochbah, hafochbah.” “Turn it, turn it again,” Rabbi Ben Bag-Bag wrote referring to the annual cycle of Torah. We are about to revisit the beginning of the Torah once again as we observe Simchat Torah this Sunday evening. I often ask B'nei Mitzvah students if they understand the basic concepts of algebra, which leads to a conversation about variables. I then share with them that reading Torah is a lot like algebra, in that the...Read more...

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...

Wed, February 19 2020 24 Sh'vat 5780