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Rabbi's Messages

JUNE, 2020

Shalom, All

We’re headed into a bit quieter time of the year for synagogue staff. It is the time during which we have fewer evening meetings and more dinners with our families. It’s the time we take a look at what worked well this past year and what changes we need to consider for the coming year. And it’s the time we start getting materials, services and programs together for the crush of activity that always arrives with September.

With that being the case, it seemed like it was a good time to ask these four questions:

•    Mah nishtanah, kayitz hazeh? Why is this summer different from all other years?
•    All other summers, our children go away to summer camps or they stay home. On this summer, only at home.
•    All other summers, we go to wonderful, far off beautiful places or we stay home. This summer, we “stay-cation.”
•    All other summers, we host bar-b-ques, 4th of July parties and days at the beach. This summer, who knows?!

This summer, as Cantor Micah and I enter this quiet time, we are looking forward to turning our attention from the frantic scramble which was required to close up and to stay functioning. We will be crafting a special (hopefully) one-of-a-kind experience for the High Holy Days. But we’re anxious to focus, as well, on how everyone is holding up. Our plan is to spend much of the day on the phone with you. We’ll reach out to the ones we know have had a really hard time these past several months and we’ll reach out to others we haven’t heard from. I can’t promise we’ll have the time to call every household – but I can promise that our hearts wish we could. And I can promise you’ll hear from us if you let us know you’d like a call.

No one knows what next year will hold. But don’t forget to live with us in the present even as we all fret about the future!

L’Shalom – In Peace,
Jay TelRav


MAY, 2020

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President's Messages

MAY, 2020

When this bulletin article is published, are we going to be together in person, or not to be together in person, that is the question (thank you Mr. Shakespeare).

I think you get the idea. I am writing this article in the beginning of April not knowing what life might be like a month from now. In fact, there is a lot I don’t know about life a month from now or a year from now. However, there are some things I do know.
I know:

•    We are led by a dedicated and creative clergy and staff that have successfully and very quickly turned our Kehillah Kedoshah into a thriving online community.

•    We have started a wonderful new tradition of weekly Havdalah services via Zoom.

•    Some of us have begun to participate in Temple Sinai activities only with the commencement of on-line programing (I am now a member of Torah Study).

•    Temple Sinai has demonstrated its mission and values in organizing our members to come to the aid of those who have needed some assistance during these difficult times.

•   Our members have pitched in to assist other members with the challenges of the new technologies we have had to use in order to stay connected.

•    Our members have continued to demonstrate their innate compassion toward other members as we have experienced terrible losses during this time without the ability to be there in person for one another.

•    Our leadership and members have worked extremely hard to maintain the momentum on various Temple Sinai projects.

•    Talented and dedicated members of Temple Sinai have agreed to take on leadership positions for
the coming year.

•    The Temple Sinai Leadership Team and the Board of Trustees have worked hard to develop budgets
for the 2020-2021 fiscal year to help guide us during these uncertain times.

•    Temple Sinai has remained true to its mission and has not allowed these uncertain times to diminish our essential nature as a caring community.

•    We will be together again in person soon, and given our experiences these last few months, our in-person reunion will be a wonderful moment to experience.

Clearly there is so much that I don’t know as I write this article. However, I do know that my faith in our Temple Sinai family is unshaken. I am so grateful to be part of our Kehillah Kedoshah.  

Alan Cohen

APRIL, 2020

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Cantor's Messages

clientuploads/Bio_Images_Leadership/micah_morgovsky.jpgMAY, 2020

I am writing this letter to you in the midst of a global pandemic. This is not a sentence I ever imagined I would write, nor an experience I ever imagined I would live through. These are certainly unprecedented and uncertain times.

For many of us, our days are filled with anxiety and worry. Many are alone and isolated. Many have lost their jobs. Many have lost loved ones to this virus. Some are facing new challenges like working from home while attempting to home-school their children. Myriad questions swirl through our minds as we try to wrap our brains around what these next days, weeks, and months may bring. Will I or my loved ones contract the virus? When can I be with friends and family in person again? What will this do to the economy long term? When will life return to “normal?”

This pandemic is so huge, at times it’s difficult to see anything beyond it. We may feel so overwhelmed by its magnitude and severity that it becomes all-encompassing. But I have found that, despite this world crisis and the huge disruptions to our regular routines, some small blessings have emerged. People are picking up the phone and reaching out to connect with long-lost friends and relations. Families are spending more time at home together than ever before. And we’ve been able to stay connected as a temple family through Zoom services, meetings and classes.

For our family, we’ve been having Shabbat dinner together every week since this began, something that was not usually possible for this dual-clergy household. The kids and I have been going for long walks and marveling daily at the beauty and rebirth of spring. I have a new appreciation for elementary school teachers and their patience as I endeavor to help my 7-year-old, Jonah, through his school day. I am enjoying making meals for my family and teaching Ayalah the basics in the kitchen. These little, daily blessings are precious to me and I keep them with me to reflect on in darker moments.

I know that, for so many, the glimmers of hope and light are few and far between. But, I wonder, with focus and intention, might we be able to recognize and identify some tiny blessings? Despite this new and often scary reality, might we be able to find a modicum of joy and beauty? If not, if you’re lost in darkness and unable to find the blessings, please let me know. I’d love to talk with you about it. And, if you’ve experienced something good, a miracle, or a blessing during this time, I’d like to know about that too. Wishing you all health, strength and hope.

B’Shira, in song,

Cantor Micah Morgovsky

APRIL, 2020

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MAY, 2020

“One who resists the wave is swept away, but one who bends before it abides.” Source Unkown

How hard is it to bend before the wave of COVID-19 without being swept away? What a shock to send our children to school on a Thursday and have it closed indefinitely 24 hours later, or to cancel birthday parties, Broadway play gatherings, or trips to visit loved ones. To shelter in place, especially for the elderly and those with underlying health issues, means no trips to the grocery store or restaurants, being careful on walks and feeling the reality of isolation. COVID-19 is the great equalizer, in that we are all experiencing a form of grief, a sense of loss, an underlying anxiety that sits with us knowingly or unknowingly. In a way we are being cheated out of our life. Our new normal is unlike anything anyone has ever experienced. How do we make sense of this? How do we avoid being swept away?

At the very start of our sheltering in place, as the wave was just forming, our son Harrison asked us “Why is God allowing this to happen?” Thank you Rabbi Jay for tasking the children of our congregation to ask a good question. My wife thoughtfully explained that, in her opinion, this is God’s way of allowing us to appreciate what’s important and opens options for us that we otherwise would never recognize. I piggy backed on that and said I believe this is Earth’s way of saying, “I need a break and humanity needs a time out.” Maybe God is giving us time to refocus our priorities, values, and perspective. That was a month ago, as we were heading into unchartered territory.

A month later, I know the COVID wave hasn’t swept us away. We are challenged, but we have gained so much. Three weeks before the epidemic became real in Connecticut, a congregant playfully coined me the “Kehillah Kedoshah – our sacred community” guy, because I use the phrase in every article I write. I explained to her that it wasn’t an accident; from my heart I truly believe that we are a sacred community. Never has that been more apparent than in the last month. We have reached out to every congregant, we have witnessed countless acts of kindness and compassion within our congregation, we have 62 volunteers ready to help anyone in need, we have found alternate ways to stay connected through Facebook groups, What’s App, FaceTime, etc, and we have congregants who have organized initiatives to support the wider community. Our new best friend, Zoom, has not only allowed us to continue our regular routines, but in some ways has increased the intimacy of our connection. We have had more participants join our services and programs and, with Zoom, get closely acquainted with each other’s faces. Our shared vulnerability has allowed us to grow closer in our separation, affirming how special our congregation is.

Harrison’s question is difficult to answer and I’m not sure we would answer it any differently a month later. We have found new options for connecting, teaching, learning, creatively passing time and problem solving. The earth has prospered during this mandatory human time out, as nature is taking a deep breath, while we hold ours. The COVID wave hasn’t crested yet, but we will ride it together as a sacred community and get to the other side stronger and more appreciative of what and who we are. Our Kehillah Kedoshah – sacred community – has shined brightly in these darkest of days, and for that I am grateful.

Larry Stoogenke


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Sat, August 15 2020 25 Av 5780