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An Update from Temple Sinai President, Lynn Redd

04/01/2020 10:43:29 AM

Apr1

Lynn Redd

A mere four weeks ago, I never could have imagined that we would be facing such volatile circumstances. 2019 and the first few months of 2020 were an exceptional time for Temple Sinai – we unveiled our beautifully renovated facilities; we doubled commitments for our endowment funds; we offered a robust range of educational services and programming; we expanded our preschool to offer a full-day infant program … our vitality and reach were evident in countless ways.

The COVID-19 virus has affected us all in significant ways – the education of our children (from preschool through college), our careers, our health risks, our financial stability, and our relationships. As you now know, we have closed our building to congregants and guests, including worship services, our Preschool, our Noar (youth) initiatives, meetings, and all programming. Our staff has been particularly nimble and innovative in transitioning to a broad range of virtual services.

While it is easy to dwell on fear and uncertainty, it has been inspiring to hear of personal connections in the midst of social distancing. Our Board and many other volunteers have been reaching out to our congregants with personal phone calls; the new connections established have truly been inspiring. Our clergy has worked closely with congregants to re-envision or reschedule important milestones and they have responded with great sensitivity and understanding. At a recent virtual Tot Shabbat service, ninety-six households participated via Zoom. What a joy to see the screen filled with images of happy, engaged toddlers!

Please know that Temple Sinai’s Board of Trustees, clergy and professional staff remain committed to –

  • Protecting our Future – The measures we are taking now are designed to protect the long-term financial stability and sustainability of our thriving congregation. Needless to say, our revenues will be adversely affected by cancelling many programs and educational services, postponing our Dancing with the Sinai Stars fundraiser, and potentially delaying our summer camp. Our administrative team is working closely with select Board members to forecast the deficit under multiple scenarios, including an extended closure. We are implementing prudent cost-cutting measures to control expenses while our facilities are closed. We may have to make difficult decisions related to cutting costs or reducing services even after our building reopens. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate uncertain times. The timely payment of dues and fees is more important now than ever and vital to maintaining our congregation.

  • Providing Opportunities for Worship and Reflection – Our clergy remain committed to offering Friday evening services, Shabbat morning services, Bar and Bat Mitzvah services, Saturday morning Torah study, Havdalah, and more. Recognizing that the end of the pandemic is still some time away, this week the clergy team made the difficult decision to discontinue livestreaming services from the sanctuary and chapel. As of this coming Shabbat, the clergy will lead all services (with the exception of a few remaining B’nai Mitzvah) via Zoom from their respective homes, both to protect the health of themselves and the staff supporting them, and to set the best possible example of what is and isn’t appropriate at this time. Last weekend I personally marked the first yahrzeit for my mother through a virtual Shabbat service. I never would have imagined that a virtual experience could be so meaningful.

  • Offering a Broad Range of Educational Services and Programming – If you have been reading communications coming from Temple Sinai, you’ll know that our educators and other professionals have been extremely creative in offering a broad array of online services to our congregants – storytime for young children, Noar Sunday classes, confirmation classes, adult education and programming, recommendations for virtual Seders, and so much more. Consider using your newly reduced commute and travel times to connect virtually with Temple Sinai!

  • Providing Pastoral Services and Support – Many of our congregants have had to reduce the scope of or even reschedule Bar and Bat Mitzvah services, weddings, and other important milestones. Personal health risks, job loss, social isolation, and financial uncertainty have created widespread anxiety. Our clergy will continue to offer pastoral support to congregants who are dealing with personal challenges and understandable disappointments at this time. If you are wrestling with a decision regarding an upcoming lifecycle event, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our clergy, as they are available and willing to support any and all personal challenges our members may be facing. We are also working closely with our community partner Jewish Family & Career Services to provide additional services to our congregants as needed.

  • Taking Care of our People – The Board is working hard to minimize the impact of the economic downturn on our staff. We are closely following Federal and state financial aid programs – specifically the 2020 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) – that should directly benefit our team. We will continue to evaluate the ability to provide financial security to our valued staff members on an ongoing basis as we understand the financial implications of this health crisis on Temple Sinai.

  • Communicating with our Congregants – As circumstances and restrictions are constantly evolving, we are committed to staying in touch with you through digital means, primarily through our website, www.templesinaiatlanta.org and frequent emails. Additionally, we will highlight programs and other services on our Facebook page. As previously scheduled events are constantly in flux and new opportunities for virtual gathering appear weekly, we have decided not to produce our monthly D’var Sinai newsletter for the foreseeable future. Please know that I, along with the Sinai staff, am planning to communicate regularly so that decisions being made are transparent to all of our congregants. Of course, if you have questions or concerns, please contact me at lredd@bellsouth.net or 404-401-7890.

In the days to come, our leadership will continue to make decisions with the strength and security of our future foremost in mind. We hope that you – our congregants, our clergy, and our staff – will focus on staying safe and healthy. Collectively, you are Temple Sinai’s greatest asset.


Warmly,



Lynn S. Redd
President, Board of Trustees

Mon, August 3 2020 13 Av 5780