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Rabbi's Messages

December, 2019

Shalom L’Kulam (Peace Everyone),

After Rabbi Harold Kushner’s child died, he was able to write the book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People, having found enduring lessons in the midst of tragedy. When Ram Dass was irrevocably affected by a massive blood clot in his brain, he was heard to claim that he’d been “stroked” by God and felt himself blessed to experience the adversity of living post-stroke. And when Christopher Reeve saw his life changed as a result of an accident, he realized his purpose as an activist for Stem Cell Research and the rights of the differently-abled.

While I am no Kushner, Ram Dass, or “Superman,” it is only after walking this path of diagnosis, treatment and healing with my wife that I feel I can understand gratitude in a fuller way.

I arrived in the Sinai community 7 ½ years ago. At that time, when I would say that “I am your rabbi and you are my congregation” I was referring to the organization and my public relationship to the group. Today, I’ve raised my children with yours. I’ve eaten at so many of your tables and had so many of you at mine. I’ve celebrated the high moments of your lives and mourned the low ones at your side. And, most recently, I’ve felt myself cradled and loved through the support of my congregational family. Now, when I describe myself as your rabbi and when I call you my congregation – I am thinking of the individual souls that surround me and I’m thinking of myself as one of you.

I’ve said it to so many individuals in recent months and I’ve spoken it publicly as well: While I’m sure we would have figured it out, I do not know exactly how my family and I would have managed these last 6 months without the gifts of support, meals, childcare, driving, notes of encouragement and prayers of healing. Julie’s final chemotherapy infusion has been scheduled for November 26. Obviously, those of you who have been through the rigors of treatment or caring for patients who have, know that there is still a long road ahead of us, but the milestones of progress mean an awful lot. Two days later, we will celebrate Thanksgiving Day but this – deep gratitude – every day!

While nobody should ever wish adversity or suffering on another, my prayer for all is that, when you find yourself facing or reflecting on a maelstrom, you are able to make meaning of it and emerge with something of value that you would not otherwise have had.
Thank you, Temple Sinai. The TelRav family is grateful for you.

L’Shalom – In Peace,

Rabbi Jay TelRav

 

October, 2019

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President's Messages

December, 2019

As I write this bulletin article, I’m in the process of registering for the 2019 URJ Biennial to be held this December in Chicago. This will be my third URJ event this year.

You may have heard me speak about the URJ Scheidt Seminar for incoming temple presidents which I attended earlier this year. I also attended a URJ event this spring in Bridgeport for local temple leaders. Several of our Temple Sinai professionals and members attended the previous 2017 URJ Biennial in Boston. So, what is the URJ?

URJ stands for the Union for Reform Judaism (not to be confused with UJF, the United Jewish Federation). Temple Sinai’s membership in the URJ allows us to be identified as a Reform Temple (it’s right there in Temple Sinai’s mission statement “Temple Sinai is a progressive Reform Jewish congregation…”). If you go to the URJ website and click “Our Vision & Priorities” you will find the following statement which sums up what the URJ is about:


“The URJ builds community at every level—from the way we collaborate with congregations, organizations, and individuals to how we make connections across North America to advance contemporary and inclusive Jewish life. Providing vision and voice to transform the way people connect to Judaism, we help congregations stay adept and agile, motivate more young Jews to embrace Jewish living, agitate for a more progressive society, and foster meaningful connections to Israel.”


One area in which Temple Sinai is connected to the URJ is through our youth programs. This includes our youth group (SoSTY), which is part of NFTY, the URJ youth organization. NFTY provides our youth with leadership opportunities and the ability to attend events where they can meet other young people in the Reform movement. The summer camps that some of our kids attend, Crane Lake Camp and Eisner Camp, are both URJ camps. One of our Temple Sinai high school students even attended the URJ high school program in Israel – URJ Heller High.

Besides the resources that URJ provides directly to Temple Sinai, you can benefit from the URJ as well. You may want to look at the many URJ newsletters available at the following URJ site: pages.mail.rj.org/subscribe-urj. I like the Reform Voices of Torah and also subscribe to two newsletters for congregational leaders. I am also part of The Tent, an online collaborative workspace for Reform Jewish lay and professional leaders.

I have described only some of what the URJ offers to Temple Sinai. Most importantly, Temple Sinai’s membership in the URJ supports the Reform Jewish Movement both here in the United States and globally. I’m excited about going to the 2019 URJ Biennial in Chicago and will be sure to let you know what I’ve learned and experienced.

Alan Cohen
President

November, 2019

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Cantor's Messages

clientuploads/Bio_Images_Leadership/micah_morgovsky.jpgNovember, 2019

Dear Temple Sinai Family,

I didn’t know it at the time but, when I was four years old, I first experienced being part of a K’hillah Kedosha – a sacred community. I was performing with my mom in a community theater production of Carousel. We rehearsed for months. All of the cast members spent hours together working towards a shared goal. As we practiced, we made lots of mistakes and so we laughed a lot. We supported each other and we worked hard. We were a team. The morning after our last performance, my mom remembers that I woke up crying. To this day, I still remember the feelings of sadness and loss that washed over me as I realized this K’hillah Kedosha, this sacred community, this quirky cast of characters, would never exist again. 

After that profoundly formative experience, and to this day, I have continued to seek out other sacred musical communities. Throughout elementary, middle school, and high school I sang in choirs, played flute in the band, and performed in theatrical productions wherever I could. Eventually, this love of making music with others led me to the cantorate and, well, the rest is history. I love the magic that happens when singing with Ruach and Kolot Sinai, and it’s a thrill to hear the harmonies of the High Holy Day quartet backing me up throughout the Days of Awe. As I sing with our youth choir, RuJu, I am inspired by the voices of the next generation bringing their song out into the world. And perhaps one of my greatest joys is singing with my amazing musical friends in our annual Cantor’s Concert.

When making music with others, we become greater than the sum of our parts; voices resonate, creating incredible overtones and the textures of harmonies and rhythms are truly awesome. Group singing allows us the sacred opportunity to access deep emotions and experience them as a community. In this way, being a part of a musical team affords a level of support and comfort. Everyone is in it together, sharing the responsibility for the end product. When many voices join together, chances are someone else is singing the same part with you. So, if someone sings a wrong note it’s unlikely the mistake will stand out. There’s a sense of anonymity. It’s easy to hide when surrounded by others. For the most part, singing with others is safe.

But, as we all know, growth can only happen when we step outside our comfort zone; when we leave the safety of that which is familiar and comfortable and venture into the unknown. To that end, I am challenging myself with performing a solo concert. This year, instead of being joined by the usual cast of characters, it’ll just be me (and Alex on the piano, of course!). To be perfectly honest, I’m terrified. Singing alone makes me vulnerable. There’s no place to hide and I have no one else to blame if it all falls apart. But I’m going to do it anyway. Having shared all this, you’ll understand why the theme of this year’s Cantor’s Concert is “confessions;” admitting those things about ourselves we might otherwise want to keep hidden.

So, I hope you’ll join me on Sunday, December 15, for this year’s concert. I’m looking forward to (and dreading) sharing this experience with you. And, as soon as it’s over, I’ll be eager to return to singing with others in a sacred community once again!

B’Shira,
Cantor Micah Morgovsky

 

October, 2019

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Educator's Messages

December, 2019

It’s that time again. Cold weather brings thoughts of the holiday season. Children get very excited by images of brightly wrapped gifts, holiday decorations, and familiar songs. It’s hard for Chanukah to compete with all of this.

Showing children that there is something from our own tradition that can bring them light and joy is an important message. Navigating this complicated season while honoring all our families’ and friends’ many identities can be challenging – but also empowering. While Chanukah, within the scope of Jewish tradition, is a relatively minor holiday, it carries a very important message to the world, as well as providing us with lots of fun. Like Christmas and many other festivals worldwide, Chanukah brings light into the darkness. Lighting the menorah demonstrates a distinctive Jewish message regarding the strength and dedication of a minority against a majority, believing in one’s faith, and standing up for one’s beliefs. During the Maccabean era, many Jews joined forces with the Syrian (Seleucid) Greeks and tried to force the Jews to abandon their traditions, but the Maccabees fought against those Jews and the Syrian Greeks. Holding on to our traditions is valuable, not just during holidays, but throughout the year.

For some, navigating the December (and yearlong) dilemma with children may be challenging. Expressing and owning our core beliefs is paramount. Join us on Thursday, December 12, 2019 at 6:30pm to discuss how to share the essentials with our children and support our friends and families while doing this. Understanding ourselves and each other is the bridge to respecting everyone.

We celebrate Chanukah for eight days - by lighting the menorah, sharing our story, playing dreidel, and eating latkes (or other foods fried in oil). There are wonderful songs to sing and children’s books to read. Never miss out on a Jewish celebration! Happy Chanukah!

L’shalom,
Morah Judy

DATES TO REMEMBER:
December 1         No Religious School
December 7         2nd & 3rd Grade Shabbat Service followed by kiddush lunch
December 8         4th Grade Chavurah trip to the Jewish Museum
December 16-18  Chug #3
Dec. 22 – Jan. 1    No Religious School classes

 

November, 2019

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Sat, December 7 2019 9 Kislev 5780