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Rabbi's Messages

May - June, 2019

Shalom L’Kulam (Peace Everyone),

I was at the playground with my kids yesterday on one of those first, glorious days of spring and was near another father. I saw his blue ballcap with the big maize-colored “M” and said, “Go Blue!” to let him know that I was a fellow graduate of the University of Michigan. We chatted a bit about his daughter who is the one studying in Ann Arbor when my own daughter, who was climbing an installation, yelled, “Abba, look at me!” Hearing the clear use of the Hebrew word for “father,” the other dad then smiled and said to me, “so, have you started your Passover shopping yet?”

He was “outing” or, if you prefer, identifying himself as a MOT (A Member of the Tribe). Just as I had done by identifying myself as a Michigan Wolverine. In doing so, he was trying to establish another connection with me, to feel a kinship and to let me know we’re “on the same team.” When our identity is one of those that we can hide, it is much harder to know who is a friend. I’ll bet each of you understands the kind of situation I’ve just described and relates to these types of efforts we make in connecting with others.

In the same way, those who identify as members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Queer or Questioning (LGBTQ) community have hidden identities and often very good reasons to guard them if they’re not sure they’re in friendly company. That’s why Temple Sinai goes to such great lengths to try to make sure LGBTQ-identified people know that, in our family, they are among friends. We have a “Safe-Zone” sticker in our front window by the security keypad. We have a rainbow flag in our sanctuary and a rainbow star on our website and recently, the staff added a line to our email signatures.

I’ve added: “Pronouns: he/him/his” to let others know how I would like them to talk to and about me. It may seem obvious (and, at first, it did to me, too) that I am a man so therefore, those are my pronouns. We learned to use them for men when we first acquired our English. But, as I’ve spent time with, and learned from, members of the LGBTQ community, it is clear that those assumptions about a person are far more complex. Not everyone who looks like a man feels like a man and not everyone who is identified as female on their driver’s license wishes to be referred to as “she” by others.

Nobody likes having incorrect assumptions made about them so this little addition of text serves several purposes: First, it clarifies who I am for you. Second, it communicates to others that I am sensitive to matters of identity and if you are concerned about being misunderstood, you can feel assured that I am an ally. It is like a shibboleth – those who understand will get it. If you’re not familiar with that Biblical concept, click here for more information. And third, and most important, it keeps me alert. It reminds me that words have power, our sensitivities matter, and that political correctness is never wasted in the pursuit of Kehillah Kedoshah – Sacred Community.

I made an incorrect assumption about that father in the park yesterday. He wasn’t an alumnus of the U of M but he was certainly an ally. Having that shared Michigan and Jewish connection and their accompanying values brought us closer together – may that sort of connection happen for all who reach out to Temple Sinai!

Rabbi Jay TelRav

 

April, 2019

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President's Messages

May-June, 2019

Gratitude – Hakarat Ha’Tov

The Hebrew term for gratitude is hakarat ha’tov, which means literally, “recognizing the good.” As this is the last Temple Sinai bulletin article that I will write as your president, I want to pause and express my gratitude to you for affording me this honor and share with you some of the good that I have experienced as president. I decided to draft this article while sitting in the recently inaugurated Greenberg Family Chapel so that I could pause and appreciate the growth our congregation has seen over the past few years.

When I was asked and then accepted the responsibilities as president, some of you expressed “condolences.” Others of you expressed “appreciation.” And some of you offered “suggestions” on what I should focus on as president. Along the way many of you offered “helpful observations” on how I could lead the improvement of various aspects of Temple Sinai. Please know that I am grateful to all of you for your thoughtful ideas and support.

To those of you who offered “condolences,” and I know they were said in jest, I want you to know that I have valued every day that I was president. It has been a distinct privilege to lead our congregation alongside Rabbi TelRav. I have equally appreciated the opportunity to work with Cantor Morgovsky, the Temple Sinai staff (Amy, Andrew, Erica, Jayne, Larry, Max and Shelly), the Board and Leadership Team these past two years.

Some of my favorite moments that occurred while I was president included (in no particular order): The Unity Project, practicing Mussar, the Men’s Retreat, the Chapel Project, creating our new mission statement, the re-branding project, the Trek to Senegal, attending the URJ Scheidt Seminar for in-coming presidents, experiencing the URJ Biennial with some of you, consecrating the PRIDE flag in our sanctuary, participating in the annual Pride in the Park Festival, the Cantor’s Concert, and the Gala (it’s all about the revenue) just to name a few.

While these memories will be etched in my soul forever, there is still so much more that can and should be done to ensure our shul continues to grow. I look forward to working with Rabbi TelRav and a few others to develop an 18-year vision for Temple Sinai and then establish benchmarks that will help keep us on track for achieving our vision. I will also stay very involved in the Bathroom Renovation Project, as we’re still hoping to have this completed prior to the High Holy Days.

In the July bulletin, you’ll hear from our next president, Alan Cohen. I look forward to working closely with Alan in my role as immediate past president and supporting his tenure. He’s terrific and will be a great leader. 

For now, please know how grateful I am to each of you for your support these past two years. I’ve especially enjoyed working closely with our Leadership Team (Alan Barr, Alan Cohen, Wendy Lewis, Amanda Sherman, Lisa Silver, Gloria Skigen and Steve Zales). Your commitment to Temple Sinai inspires me on a regular basis. Also, I’d like to thank Rabbi TelRav for believing in me, inspiring me and challenging me to grow. I’ve learned so much from you and hope to continue learning with you for many more years. Lastly, I am grateful for the ability to continue my observance of Shabbat with some of you and hope to do so for many years to come.

In gratitude,

Marc Friedman
President

April, 2019

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Cantor's Messages

clientuploads/Bio_Images_Leadership/micah_morgovsky.jpgMay - June, 2019

Here in the US, we are blessed to observe monthly commemorations like Black History Month in February, Women’s History Month in March, National Disabilities Month in December and, coming up in June, Pride Month.

Focusing our attention during these months allows us to reflect on the difficult pasts of these minority groups, celebrate and lift up the accomplishments of specific individuals throughout history, and raise awareness of the discrimination still present in our world today.

There is still so much work to be done; hatred abounds among those who don’t understand that which is different from themselves. Our ongoing work is to strive to open the eyes, hearts and minds of those who are afraid of the other. Nevertheless, I marvel at how for our society has come, how much progress we have made. I’m proud of the movement we’ve made towards embracing the rainbow of reality and valuing the humanity and individuality of each and every person.

To that end, Temple Sinai is doing its part to ensure that hatred will have no home here and that here, everyone has a voice. We are a diverse community, filled with all kinds of extraordinary people. We are a loving, warm congregation that welcomes all those who would come be a part of our colorful family. Embracing individuals regardless of race, gender, ability or sexual preference, we understand that we are a better, stronger and more beautiful collection of souls, not in spite of our diversity but, rather, because of it. We celebrate our differences every day, but in the month of June, we raise our rainbow flag even higher and wave it proudly.

This year, our annual Pride Shabbat falls on Friday, June 14 at 7:30pm. And, what better way to celebrate than with our third annual Ruach concert? This year, woven throughout our Shabbat liturgy, we’ll offer secular songs that sing to the idea of love, equality, diversity and pride. We’ll sing, sway, clap our hands, and revel in the freedom we enjoy to express and be ourselves.

I hope you’ll join us for this unique Shabbat service experience.

B’Shira, in song,

Cantor Micah Morgovsky

 

April, 2019

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Educator's Messages

MAY - JUNE, 2019

Once again, another school year is coming to a close and I would like to thank all of our teachers and madrichim, not only for a great year, but for a great four years.

They are an amazing group to work with and it has been a gift to be able to collaborate with such dedicated educators. They are inventive, energetic and devoted to making Temple Sinai religious school the best that it can be, and I know they will continue to do so.

As this is my last bulletin article, I would also like to thank the lay leadership, the clergy and the office staff for making it a joy to come to work. I have never worked with a more inspiring group of people than Rabbi Jay, Cantor Micah, Jayne and Shelly. They are creative, supportive, and so dedicated to Temple Sinai. It truly goes beyond a job for them, and I have loved every minute of being a part of their team. I am going to miss them all terribly.

Over the last few years, many of my Fridays have been made so much more enjoyable by studying (and kibitzing) with the ladies of Beginning Torah Study. I have learned so much from them and I want to thank them all for welcoming me into their group. I genuinely adore each and every one of them.

While change is inevitable, even necessary, I hope the warm, welcoming and adventurous spirit of Temple Sinai never changes. It is what makes Temple Sinai so special, and it is what tempted me to stay past my first year as Interim Director of Education. It has been an honor and a privilege to get to know you. I am grateful for the opportunities that being a part of Temple Sinai has provided and I am forever changed by having been embraced by this community. You will always be in my heart.

Best wishes for a safe and happy summer! (And don’t forget to register for the 2019-2020 school year.)

L’hitraot,
Morah Amy

MAY/JUNE DATES TO REMEMBER:

May 5    Mitzvah Day-regular classes (Please remember to register)
May 12    Israel City Fair, presented by the 5th Grade class
May 18    Family Shabbat Program Schiff Tichon, Sinai BBQ
May 19    Last Day of Religious School
June 9    Confirmation Service
 

April, 2019

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Mon, June 17 2019 14 Sivan 5779