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Rabbi's Messages

JULY - AUGUST, 2019

Shalom L’Kulam (Peace Everyone),

I was speaking with one of you this week and you told me you’d been at the hospital in Greenwich for eleven days…”What?!?” I said. “How did I not know about that? Why didn’t you call the temple?” And then came the response that is like nails on a chalkboard to a rabbi, “I know you’re busy, Greenwich is far and I didn’t want to bother you.” I said, “Bother me? You know this is, literally, what I do?”

In order to avoid this sort of thing happening again, it seemed to me that I might want to go ahead and provide you with a handy-dandy, When-To-Call-Your-Rabbi instruction sheet.

You should definitely call your rabbi when:

* You’re feeling down or particularly challenged and don’t want to talk about it with your family members, your friends or your therapist.

* You aren’t sure what you think about God. Alternatively, you are sure what you think about God and you’d like to tell me about it.

* A loved one is either not long for this world or has just died and you’re not sure what to do next.

* You’re in a conflict with someone and you recognize that you can’t figure it out alone. You might come in with them or alone but don’t come looking for a “yes man” whose only goal is to make you feel better. I was trained by some phenomenal teachers at HUC who taught me to listen carefully and to speak truth in a way that is kind and, hopefully, helpful.

* You want to understand something Judaic that you’re embarrassed to admit you don’t know (or don’t remember). I promise, no judgment.

* You want to discuss the way my interpretation of Jewish texts and traditions can/should be applied to today’s world. We can talk personal ritual practice, societal values or politics but, if I’m not on the bimah, and because we’re discussing for the higher purpose of understanding each other, I will share my honest political feelings.

* You see some way in which Temple Sinai could better meet your needs or have some ideas about what we could be doing differently. Most of what works best at Sinai came from suggestions from you.

* You have simchas (happinesses) you want to share with us. There are plenty of reasons to feel down these days – everyone enjoys good news!

* You saw something scientifically cool last night on the Discovery Channel and you want to see how I think it fits into the religious teachings about the Universe.

You definitely should not call your rabbi when:

* You had committed to reading Torah for Rosh Hashanah and the week before, you realize you just haven’t had time to get to it. (None of you have done that yet)

* You want to know the times of services or other Sinai programs. (And please don’t text me, either.) You can find all of that information on our amazing new website or using the brand new Temple Sinai Stamford app – available wherever you find your apps.

* You’re moving out of town to be closer to the grandchildren and are resigning from the temple…I take these really personally and may get a little emotional about our community’s loss.

* You are just home from a stay in the hospital and you didn’t want to bother me! (OK, you should still call because better late than never, but be prepared for me to scold you gently for not calling sooner!)

I’m looking forward to speaking to each of you soon enough … hopefully for one of the positive, life-affirming reasons to call but, even if you’ve just begun a stay in the hospital, call anyway.

Rabbi Jay TelRav

 

MAY - JUNE, 2019

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President's Messages

JULY - AUGUST, 2019

Hi everyone. It is my great honor to serve as the President of Temple Sinai for the next two years. I know it will go very quickly and be full of rewarding experiences.

First, I would like to give you some background about myself for those of you who don’t know me. I grew up in West Haven, Connecticut. My Jewish roots were at Congregation Sinai in West Haven, which served as a center of my parents’ social life. Our shul was conservative. I attended Hebrew school three times a week and let’s put it this way, it was nothing like our wonderful religious school at Temple Sinai. Since my parents were from Boston, many of our Jewish holidays were spent with my grandparents in Boston where my brother and I would attend services at my grandparents’ temple, Temple B’nai Moshe. I remember seeing my grandfather’s name listed as one of the founders of the temple in the temple lobby. My grandfather’s rabbi was known as a great orator. As a kid growing up, I thought he was a little scary (similar to my feelings about my rabbi in West Haven) and again nothing like our wonderful rabbi at Temple Sinai.

Fast forward: Roberta and I moved to Stamford in 1989 and had our daughter, Claire, in 1996. When Claire was in first grade, we decided we needed to start giving her a Jewish education and that is when we joined Temple Sinai. We enrolled her in Sunday School and, four years later we had our son, Andrew, and later enrolled him as well. We were living life as busy parents and our involvement with Temple Sinai, beyond our children’s Jewish education, was nominal. Then I received a call one evening and was asked to join the board. The next year there was a mid-term vacancy for a VP position and Arlene Rosen asked if I would take on that role. As they say, the rest is history.

While this background is important, I think more important is the story of how I became part of the Temple Sinai family. Like many things, it happened little by little until I found myself in a very different place than when I began. However, I think it truly started when Rabbi Jay showed up unexpectedly at my mother’s funeral in West Haven almost six years ago and participated in the service with my mother’s rabbi. What did that mean to me? Even though I had spent most Jewish holidays with my mother in West Haven and my “Jewish heart” had strong connections there, a new family was waiting for me back in Stamford. I began to embrace this new family by deciding to attend Friday night services at Temple Sinai to say kaddish for my mother. From there, growth happened (and continues to happen) for both me and my relationship with Temple Sinai (even though “Growth Happens Here” hadn’t yet been invented!).

I think my experience was both individual and common. We all create our own relationship to this K’hellah Kedoshah that is Temple Sinai. I can’t tell you exactly what I hope we will be able to accomplish together during the next two years that I’m President. However, having the opportunity to become a part of this family at Temple Sinai has impacted my life in important and meaningful ways. I hope we can continue to work together to make Temple Sinai a place where each of us has the chance to grow as part of the Temple Sinai family, each in our own special way.

I would like nothing more than to hear what’s on your mind regarding Temple Sinai. I can be reached at acohen1996@gmail.com.

Alan Cohen
President

 

 

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Cantor's Messages

clientuploads/Bio_Images_Leadership/micah_morgovsky.jpgJULY - AUGUST, 2019

If you’re like me, you probably spend much of your day interacting with others: at home with your family, at work, at the gym, running errands. Some of these interactions, by their very nature, are more intimate than others.

We’re more likely to devote time and attention to those individuals who are closest to us, namely family and friends. But even then, in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, some of those moments of connection are often rushed and over-looked.

So what about all those other perfunctory daily encounters? How do we interact with the gas station attendant? The cashier at the grocery store? A passing stranger walking down the street? If we’re often only half-listening to those closest to us, we may hardly even register the existence of these myriad other passing souls in our lives.

The 19th century Jewish philosopher, Martin Buber, frames two different kinds of relationships; the I-It relationship and the I-Thou relationship. I-It relationships are merely transactional – what can I get from this person? What can they do for me? These are functional interactions, superficial and devoid of meaning. I do not look the cashier in the eye and I mutter an empty thank you as I rush to load my groceries into the car. The cashier is an object serving a purpose to me. I do not experience her humanity at all.

An I-Thou relationship, on the other hand, requires two people to turn to one another and truly see each other. We are both present, engaged in a dialogue and sharing mutual respect and concern. Once a week, I take my daughter out for a snack after school, just the two of us. We sit and share details from our day, we laugh, and we talk, and we truly see one another. It’s precious I-Thou time for us both and it’s become a sacred weekly tradition. It’s easy to do this on a special outing with my daughter, but what about a passing interaction with a total stranger? Can that be an I-Thou experience too?

When my husband, Ben, and I were first dating, we were both getting started in New York City. I was overwhelmed by how aggressive city-folk can be and I was struggling to find my way in this rough and abrasive new place. Then I started noticing how Ben walked through the streets of New York. He always held the door for an elderly person leaving a building, always offered his seat to someone on the subway, always thanked a police officer standing guard, always asked the cab driver how his day was going so far. And, more often than not, these people were kind and appreciative in return. Even when surrounded by angry New Yorkers, Ben was able to transform mundane I-It moments into I-Thou moments. And, as Buber writes, in these I-Thou moments, we find the Divine. God dwells in sacred interactions - where people are seen and see in return. When we listen and are heard in return. When we offer one another, no matter who they are, basic kindness and respect.

This becomes difficult when our attempts at I-Thou efforts are met with rudeness or indifference, but in those moments, we might still try to see the other’s humanity. What are they struggling with that’s making them so angry? What frustration confounded their day? Maybe these reminders can help us, in turn, to remain patient and continue to honor and respect the other, no matter what. In this way, may we strive to experience the Divine as we seek out the humanity of every individual.

B’Shira, in song,

Cantor Micah Morgovsky
 

MAY - JUNE, 2019

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Educator's Messages

JULY - AUGUST, 2019

Shalom! My name is Judith Kuper Jaffe and I am very excited to join Temple Sinai of Stamford as the new Director of Lifelong Learning. Please call me Morah Judy!

Developing and executing meaningful, relevant and innovative Jewish experiences is my passion. I understand that one size does not fit all and providing a variety of educational opportunities can imbue future generations of our Temple Sinai community with a strong Jewish identity in their personal journeys. In this highly digital age, fostering relationships is paramount where we can connect and become a Kehillah Kedoshah – a Sacred Community.

I came to this career path quite organically – always loving Jewish learning and wanting to share this passion with others. Over the years, I served several congregations as a Jewish Educator, Principal and Director of Congregational Learning. Prior to my leadership roles, I taught, volunteered, served as Jewish family educator, tutored and acted as “chief cook.” Always yearning to move forward and thinking out of the box, I earned certificates and experience with StorahTelling, Leadership Institute for Congregational Synagogue Educators, World Zionist Organization Israel education, Jerusalem Educational Technological Solutions, and the Center for Israel Education (just to name a few).

Family is my other passion. I have been blessed with an amazing partner, Andy, and our daughters, son-in-law, and two outstanding grandsons. (I always have anecdotes and pictures to share!)

Whether you are at camp, resting by the pool, relaxing in your (hopefully) air-conditioned home, or visiting far-flung places, please know I will be very busy getting all of us ready for the upcoming year. While I had the good fortune to meet many of you, I am looking forward to meeting the rest of you soon. Please feel free to call, email or drop by this summer to say hi.

I feel incredibly lucky to be at Temple Sinai, with a strong cohort of Jewish professionals and lay leaders enthusiastically ready to collaborate and build our dream together. Here’s hoping you are as happy with me.

L’shalom,

Morah Judy

 

 

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Wed, August 21 2019 20 Av 5779