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Though Distance May Separate Us, We Are Never Alone

04/02/2020 10:14:18 AM


Rabbi Sam Trief

Throughout the generations, “Jerusalem” has been the central theme of Jewish song and prayer. Most notably, in just a few days, we will read from the Passover Haggadah and sing “B’shanah Habaah, next year in Jerusalem.” As Jews, we live every day with a sense of nostalgia, a sense of yearning for Israel, our holy city, and our sacred sites. Living so far from Israel, our sanctuaries and chapels have become the center of our religious and spiritual experiences. Our Sinai sanctuary and chapel ground us, providing us with an anchor of calm and familiarity.

Given our current reality, it will come as no surprise we have made the difficult decision to move all worship services entirely to our homes. It was a painful one to make, but one firmly aligned with the interests of our beloved community, as well as the recommendations of the Reform Jewish Movement.

So here is what this means for our Temple Sinai family:

· You will now need to join us for worship via the Zoom platform. The livestream will no longer be active. Join virtually via Zoom hereFor audio only, call 1.646.876.9923 and use Meeting ID: 823 451 6425.

· Please send us ALL names for remembrance and healing by 4:00 pm on Friday to Of course, if you miss that time, feel free to say those names aloud in your home when the time comes in the service.

· If you plan to follow along with the liturgy of our worship services, including Shiva Minyanim, all worship liturgy can be found here:
Friday Evening Shabbat Service Liturgy
Saturday Morning Shabbat Service Liturgy
Saturday Evening B'nei Mitzvah Havdalah Service Liturgy
Shiva Minyan Prayer Sheet

Even though we will be worshiping from our own homes, the words of our tradition will still link and bind us together in moments of joy and sorrow. The central message of our liturgy reminds us that, though distance may separate us, we are never alone.

The beauty and timelessness of our sacred Torah derive from the fact that it speaks to us anew each week of our lives. This week in parshat tsav, we learn about the korbanot, translated as “ritual sacrifices” in English. However, the true meaning of the korban comes from its Hebrew root, meaning "to draw closer." And so we ask the obvious question: How can we come close in a period when we have to remain distant? How can physical distance still lead to spiritual proximity?

As we embrace this unexpected and unwanted period of physical distance, in what new ways will we draw close to God? This is a question (and answer) deeply embedded within the Jewish experience. With the Temple’s destruction in 70 CE, with no place to draw close to God through sacrifices, our ancestors developed the revolutionary notion that prayer would replace animal sacrifices.

Like our ancestors, I am confident that these changes in our worship will inspire us to think of new ways to draw close to God. They will strengthen our sense of spirituality, and allow us to redefine the strong roles that religion and community play in our lives. Although we may yearn for our sacred spaces in Temple Sinai, we take comfort knowing that “to yearn” is a central part of what it means to be a Jew.

Yearning only strengthens our connection to place, so that when we once again join together in our sanctuary, we will be ever more grateful for its unique gifts and beauty.

With love,


Mon, August 3 2020 13 Av 5780