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What to Do in a World Turned Upside Down by Anti-Semitism

03/21/2019 09:40:40 AM


Rabbi Sam Shabman Trief

Recently, I have heard from friends, family, and congregants alike with a disturbing confession-they are experiencing anti-Semitism in a way they never have before. The stories are chilling, and may fill us with many emotions: anger, fear, and uncertainty, among others. And while these are emotions that have accompanied Jews throughout history, for many of us in this country, these are new and surprising emotions. Of course, we all know that...Read more...

My Role as CCAR President

03/19/2019 10:25:39 AM


Rabbi Ron Segal

Rabbi Ron Segal will be installed as the President of the CCAR (Central Conference of American Rabbis) on Monday, April 1, and will serve a two-year term. Here he answers our most pressing questions about this new and exciting role.

1.  Tell us a bit about...

We are Most Certainly a House of Study

03/13/2019 09:18:15 AM


Beth Schafer

Having just come off of a fabulous weekend with guest artist Julie Silver, I am invigorated by the infusion of faith and music she brought and shared with all of us. I chose the path I chose because it combines the two things I am most passionate about—Judaism and music. My musical influences from classical and jazz, to folk and rock, have shaped my sense of melody, rhythm, and connectivity. That said, I can’t tell you how excited I...Read more...

The Soundtrack of Our Lives

03/07/2019 07:59:38 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

Perhaps it's because I am so taken with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s song “Shallow”, but I have been absolutely preoccupied lately with music. Whether it is the music playing in the car on the way home that detaches me from the day, or the music that plays in the background during sermon writing, I am very intentional and deliberate about my musical choices, as I am sure is true with each of us. Our musical tastes reflect the...Read more...

The Transformative Effect of Camp

02/28/2019 11:28:14 AM


Molly Okun with an Introduction by Rabbi Ron Segal

It would not be an exaggeration to say that one of the primary reasons I ultimately pursued the rabbinate is due to my experiences in summer camp. Those who were fortunate enough to spend time at camp – whether Jewish or not – undoubtedly recall its life-changing...Read more...

What's in a Name?

02/20/2019 08:20:42 AM


Rabbi Sam Shabman Trief

Throughout middle school and high school, I was known endearingly as “Shabs.” When I finished rabbinical school and moved to Atlanta, Shabs evolved to Rabbi Sam, but the people I have known the longest still call me Shabs. I wondered what would happen to my identity if I were to adopt my husband’s last name...what would happen to the part of me that was Shabs? Would that old piece of me be lost forever? I took these questions seriously,...Read more...

No More Middleman

02/14/2019 08:27:46 AM


Beth Schafer

In this week’s Torah portion, Tetzaveh, we are introduced to the priesthood. Since the destruction of the Second Temple, Judaism has not had a priesthood. It sounds like a rather foreign concept now, even reminding us more of other religions. The priest was to be the intermediary between God and the Israelites. When the Israelites needed to mark a significant event or atone for sins, they would bring their sacrifice to the priest who would...Read more...

Standing at the Foot of Sinai

02/07/2019 09:20:36 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

In our Torah reading for this week, Terumah, we find the people of Israel standing at the foot of Mount Sinai, offering gifts of importance to help build a Tabernacle, a portable sanctuary. The people assembled were newly-freed slaves with meager resources. But when presented with the opportunity to make a difference, they gave what they could and in turn, created a thing of beauty.
We are once again living the words of our...

We Do and Then We Understand

01/31/2019 08:22:23 AM


Rabbi Sam Shabman

When we put Rafael to bed every night, apart from the joys and slight frustrations, there’s one thing that Natan and I hold in suspense, wager each other on, wonder with anxiety. What hour tonight will he sleep to? 

One night, in particular, I was sure it was the night. The entire day before we adhered to the “schedule” rigidly. He ate and napped precisely when he should. He had a huge feeding right before bed, a nice calm...Read more...

How We Can Honor MLK

01/17/2019 08:32:42 AM


Beth Schafer

It is beshert (meant to be) that the story of our enslavement and redemption from slavery in Torah fall around the time of our national observation and celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s life. There are so many parallels in these stories. Both the Jewish people and our African American brothers and sisters have borrowed songs and texts from one another throughout American history to expose the harshness of slavery, to capture the hope...Read more...

Temple Sinai in Morocco 2019

01/15/2019 09:53:02 AM


Rabbi Ron Segal

Temple Sinai members are in Morocco with Rabbi Ron Segal. Follow their journey on this blog and through our Facebook photo album here. Casablanca and Rabat – Day 1

After more than a year’s worth of planning, we are finally all here in Casablanca!  Everyone who...Read more...

It's Okay to Ask for Help

01/10/2019 08:33:01 AM


Rabbi Sam Shabman

It is a great joy to officially be back at Temple Sinai after three months of parental leave. It was a weird 3 months; the days were both very long and very short.

One of the more challenging days of parental leave was the day that our puppy Huck was hit by a car. Huck was horribly wounded and needed emergency surgery. To complicate the situation, my husband was headed out of town that evening. I suddenly found myself alone, with a...Read more...

Meet Tal Shamir: Temple Sinai’s Shinshinit

01/07/2019 12:12:37 PM


Temple Sinai is excited to participate in the Atlanta Shinshinim Program!

Shinshinim are Israeli 18 and 19 year olds participating in a “gap year.” They’ve graduated from high school and before they go...Read more...

Embrace Optimism in the New Year

01/02/2019 08:26:31 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

The start of a new year brings with it an opportunity to start over, to rededicate ourselves to that which is most important in our lives; to remind ourselves that we can free ourselves of the burdensome patterns that tend to overtake us. We can start fresh, adopting new patterns, dedicating ourselves with intentionality to people and pursuits that help us to fill our days with meaning.

I’ve been having conversations lately with a...

At the End of the Year

12/26/2018 09:22:31 AM


Rabbi Ron Segal

Between this Shabbat and the next, the beginning of New Year 2019 will have come and gone. While we do not traditionally attribute to it the spiritual significance of our High Holy Days, January 1st of each calendar year does serve as another important touch point in our lives. Regardless of how - or if - one chooses to observe the ‘secular’ New Year, it does offer us another chance to stop, reflect, assess, plan, promise, and look...Read more...

Like Ephraim and Menshe

12/19/2018 08:12:15 AM


Beth Schafer

To our boys we say, “May you be like Ephraim and Menashe,” and to our girls we say, “May you be like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.” These are the traditional blessings we give our children on Shabbat. Why Ephraim and Menashe? Why not Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? In this week’s Torah portion we read about the end of Jacob’s life and how he blesses his children and even his grandchildren, Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Menashe....Read more...

The Power of Loving Relationships

12/10/2018 11:19:18 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

Years earlier, Joseph drew his brother’s jealousy as a young man with grand dreams and as their father’s obvious favorite child. Joseph’s brothers conspired and sold him into slavery. Everyone in Joseph’s family suffered the legacy of that horrible conflict. Joseph was cut off from his family and survived repeated deprivations as a servant and then as a prison in the foreign land of Egypt. Back in Canaan, Joseph’s father, Jacob, was...Read more...

The Lights We Truly Need to Kindle

11/27/2018 09:15:59 AM


Rabbi Ron Segal

It is at this point of the year that nightfall seems to come ever earlier and grow progressively darker with each passing day.  This year, though, it similarly - and alarmingly – strikes me that many parts of our country and world are also experiencing a kind of darkness that seems to intensify with each passing day.  Thus, I’ve been awaiting with even greater anticipation than usual the arrival of this year’s Chanukah season...Read more...

Happy Thanksgiving

11/20/2018 10:02:49 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

In 1620, for many of us, our Pilgrim ancestors escaped the tyranny and religious persecution of the Old World and braved a treacherous journey, to find freedom on this continent. They landed at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts. Settling at the edge of a vast wilderness, they nearly perished. They were rescued by generous natives who brought food and taught them to survive in this land. A year later, the Pilgrims sat down to a feast of...Read more...

A People of Survival

11/15/2018 10:53:45 AM


Beth Schafer

I just returned from a vacation in Barcelona. It is a magical city rich with art, architecture and music that I greatly enjoyed. One afternoon, we wound through the gothic streets to the old Jewish quarter where there is a Jewish museum. This museum was small - two rooms not much bigger than my office. Originating in the 6th century, the Ancient Synagogue in Barcelona is the oldest in Spain and one of only five medieval synagogues that exist...Read more...

Celebrating all that Unifies Us

11/08/2018 08:47:16 AM


Rabbi Ron Segal

“Are you a Republican, Democrat, or Independent?” “Who did you vote for on Tuesday?”

In the wake of this week’s highly contentious midterm elections and in anticipation of a political rift that is likely to grow wider, merely writing such questions feels polarizing.  Thus, for the spiritual refuge and sanctuary it provides, Shabbat cannot get here quickly enough.  However, this week’s Shabbat evening service...Read more...


10/30/2018 10:03:43 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

It is hard to put into words how many of us feel following a weekend in which we witnessed the most lethal act of anti-Semitism in the history of the United States. The tragic mass shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh finds us searching for words to find comfort amidst the shock, to offer consolation to others amidst our own mourning, and to find healing while we feel so...Read more...


10/24/2018 09:28:24 AM


Beth Schafer

Well, Georgia just figured out that it’s fall. It is my favorite time of year as going outside is beautiful and less oppressive than the days drenched in the summer heat. I love the crispness of the air, the opportunity to wear boots and a sweater, and to drive through what seems like an impressionist painting on the meandering roads leading to Temple Sinai.

There is a reading about experiencing God through the change of seasons...Read more...

The “Good Old Days”

10/16/2018 10:36:16 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

I love hearing about the “good old days” when it only took 30 minutes to drive 4 miles in Atlanta. Granted, those days date back a century or so, and I believe our recollection of the days when Atlanta was not as burdened with traffic are, in part, a bit of revisionist history. But it is not the recollection that stays with me, it is the context of the comment: often the line comes amidst a more lengthy conversation about the traffic and...Read more...

Atlanta Pride Parade

10/03/2018 09:30:50 AM


Beth Schafer

According to the Torah Commentary Torah Queeries (a look at the weekly parsha through an LGBT lens), this week’s Torah portion poses many challenges for those whose gender identity does not align with their anatomy. In the 2nd creation story of this week’s parsha, we read that God created man and then from man, God removed a rib and fashioned woman.

Regardless of whether you take the story literally, most of us tend to label...Read more...

What's the Deal with Shemini Atzeret?

09/26/2018 09:50:08 AM


Rabbi Sam Shabman

What’s the deal with Shemini Atzeret?

Early autumn is often referred to as the Jewish Calendar’s “busy season.”  In communities around the world, there are a myriad of ways we celebrate and commemorate during this time of year.

Perhaps our favorite Yom Kippur prayer is still buzzing in our ears,  or the taste of apples and honey is still on our tongues. The air at Sinai is filled with the sweet scent of...Read more...

Back On Earth

09/20/2018 08:47:41 AM


Beth Schafer

Did you ever get an adrenaline rush when you’re about to do something that challenges you or makes you nervous? Or when you know you have to endure something longer than is comfortable? You center your strength, you focus on the task at hand, you psyche yourself up and you go for it. It is exhilarating, it is terrifying, it is all-encompassing. And then you reach the conclusion, you exhale; the intense frequency in which you were vibrating...Read more...

Hurricane Florence Hospitality Assistance

09/13/2018 09:30:08 AM


Due to Hurricane Florence, we know there are many who have either sought or are seeking refuge in our community. If anyone you know has been displaced by this hurricane, we invite them to worship with us for Shabbat as well as for Yom Kippur as our guest, after which all are encouraged to break-the-fast with one of our Temple Sinai families or at the synagogue upon the conclusion of services.  Should any individuals seeking refuge from...Read more...

What Flips Your Switch?

09/05/2018 11:49:42 AM


Rabbi Ron Segal

While looking over my ‘to do’ list, a small legal pad scrawled with a diverse litany of tasks awaiting attention, I began to consider what “flips the internal switch” to ultimately prompt my attention and execution.  Is it the ease of the task?  The enjoyment derived from a particular activity?  The press of time due to procrastination or perhaps urgent need?  Though not intended as another delaying tactic, the...Read more...

Death and Life

08/29/2018 10:16:29 AM


Beth Schafer

In the past two weeks, our nation has bid farewell to two iconic figures Aretha Franklin and John McCain. Both with voices that stirred people, they lived boldly. Both survived hardships beyond what most of us will ever have to confront. We have seen biography after biography, clip after clip of the famed R&B musician and the esteemed senator. What extraordinary lives they indeed lived.

Judaism teaches that death often times helps...

Sat, September 21 2019 21 Elul 5779