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Rabbi's Messages

JANUARY - FEBRUARY, 2020

Shalom L’Kulam — Peace, All,

How many tasks have you got on your to-do list that you never get around to tackling because there is always something more pressing standing in the way? Maybe they are small goals like polishing those shoes that have been looking shabby for too long or they might be more significant goals like enrolling in a new class or updating your will to include Temple Sinai in your list of charities worthy of receiving one of your legacy gifts.  Whatever the nature, there are goals we each have on our lists that we rarely get around to because life gets in the way. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could put life on hold for a bit? The reason I’m dreaming aloud is because we’re heading into January and I’m going to attempt to do just that.

With my last contract renewal, the temple leadership and I agreed to a progressively designed model of rabbinic sabbatical. Traditionally, clergy arrange for a six-month sabbatical retreat from the daily grind of congregational work in order to study, write, meditate and generally recharge before returning to the routines. In lieu of that, we have agreed to a three-week sabbatical (from the same Hebrew root as  - Shabbat) annually to give me sacred work time away from the daily tasks to focus on the bigger learning goals and congregational growth that I hope to effect.
January, with its threat of blizzards, leaves us with few families scheduling b’nai mitzvah and a perfect time to tackle those high-value but low urgency goals. Cantor Micah will step into the role of primary clergy and the office staff are ready to handle all your requests. You can read more about my sabbatical on the Temple Sinai – Clergy & Staff website page, but for now, here is what I’m planning to do with that sacred time.

My guess is that most of you are not yet aware of a program into which I have been accepted. The Clergy Leadership Incubator (CLI) is two-year curriculum now running its fourth cohort. It selects 20 rabbis across denominations who are at least five years into their rabbinate (but no more than 15), and who have big ideas but need an incubator to help develop and implement them. I’ve been matched with a mentor as well as three other participants in the cohort with whom to work closely. We meet, virtually, each month plus we will attend three retreats to gather and intensively focus ourselves. Locally, I’ve already put together my Design Team consisting of a small group of experts who can help me plan our path together and am only now beginning to share pieces of the developing picture with the community.

You’ll hear more about this in coming months, but the sneak peek is that the leadership of the congregation is laying out an 18-year plan for the congregation. We are developing structures within Temple Sinai that enhance our  – Kehillah Kedoshah – Sacred Community. This includes creating a team of guides who will work with every interested member to develop an IJP – an Individual Jewish Program (based on the idea of an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) for students in school to personalize an educational approach perfectly suited to them).

Our Sinai Circles, intentionally small affinity groups, will grow exponentially as more self-identified leaders seek to create and share opportunities to deepen relationships, enhance their own growth and create meaningful spaces for themselves. The ongoing covenant between God and our people demands participation from each of us just as we expect something in return. Every one of you will be essential as we turn our focus from “a temple organization that provides for your Jewish needs” to “a community based upon covenantal, two-way relationships.” Only together can we realize the most powerful potential that 21st century Judaism has to offer – a path towards our highest and best self, alongside others on their same journey.

I’d LOVE to share more with you, one-on-one and to help you find your place in Sinai’s future…when I return in February!

L’Shalom – In Peace,

Rabbi Jay TelRav

DECEMBER, 2019

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President's Messages

JANUARY - FEBRUARY, 2020

I think each of us has a special connection to Temple Sinai. How each of us experiences Temple Sinai is different and that is one of the great things about our sacred community: We each can connect with Temple Sinai in our own special way.

 You may be “all in” with Brotherhood or Sisterhood. Maybe one of our social action programs is your main focus, such as sandwich making or making dinner for Inspirica House. Many of you connect musically and are involved in programs such as Ruach, Kolot Sinai or RuJu, our children’s musical ensemble. Some of you with young children may connect in Temple Sinai’s vibrant religious school.

If I were asked: “What is your special way of connecting with Temple Sinai?” I would answer, “Friday night services.” Services on Friday night seem to have a rhythm. There are the Ruach services about once a month, when beautiful music is created. I find this service particularly uplifting for my spirit. On other evenings, we enjoy the music of Cantor Micah and Alex Ruvinstein. During these services, we also learn about the week’s Torah portion and Rabbi Jay’s thought-provoking interpretations. We also have our regular onegs and, once a month, we enjoy a pre-neg, followed by a 6:00pm service, which often features the wonderful voices of our RuJu children’s choir. Then there are Friday night services that have a special focus and meaning such as the Sisterhood Shabbat, the recent Board Shabbat, and the SoSTY Shabbat. I have also attended Friday night services where there has been a baby naming, an Aufruf to celebrate an upcoming marriage or members receiving a blessing before they travel.

While I am involved in many aspects of Temple Sinai life, my regular attendance at Friday night services is what provides me with both the strongest connection with the Kehillah Kedoshah that is our Temple Sinai family and an opportunity to find some peace after an often-challenging week. For me, there is no guarantee that attending services on Friday night will always provide me with the level of peace that I am looking for, but I cannot recall a time in the six years that I have been going regularly to Friday night services that I didn’t leave services with a strong connection to our Temple Sinai community.

However you are connected to Temple Sinai, I hope those connections provide you with both meaning and an opportunity to grow. I encourage you to explore all that Temple Sinai has to offer. Recently, I have joined the Saturday morning Mussar group. While we have met only two times so far, I can tell that Mussar will provide me with one more meaningful connection to Temple Sinai. We have a lot to offer you (and each other) here at Temple Sinai and I encourage you to explore and strengthen your connections to our growing community.

Alan Cohen

President

 

DECEMBER, 2019

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Cantor's Messages

clientuploads/Bio_Images_Leadership/micah_morgovsky.jpgJANUARY - FEBRUARY, 2020

I love food. I love to cook, I love to feed others and I love to eat. When going out to eat with friends and family, we often share bites of each other’s dinners to get a taste of the restaurant’s various offerings. For me and my family, eating together is a shared experience and a way to connect with those around us.

Before I met my husband, Ben, I ate whatever I wanted: lobster, shrimp, pork chops, bacon cheeseburgers, but Ben had kept kosher all his life. When he and I were first dating, we went out to eat often. (Although he keeps kosher, Ben will eat at non-kosher restaurants and order a vegetarian or fish dish.) But whenever I would order something treif (not kosher), we could not share our meals. Ben never asked me to keep kosher for him, but I felt a disconnect because our eating habits were so different.

Because I was falling in love and wanted to feel close to this new and amazing person in my life, I began to make some changes in the way I ate. I didn’t openly commit to keeping kosher, but I decided, privately, to give it a try. First, I stopped eating shellfish. Realizing I didn’t actually miss it much, I then stopped eating dairy and meat together. Finally, I made the commitment to eat only kosher meat. Once I started keeping kosher, I discovered that when we went out to eat at a restaurant, not only could Ben and I now share and enjoy the same food together, I appreciated not having as many choices to make. I could look at the menu and immediately eliminate more than half the options. For some, this might seem restrictive, but for me, someone who’s overwhelmed by too many options, it made choosing my meal so much easier.

Now, more than twenty years later, keeping kosher has transformed how I approach food and eating. I still love to eat, cook and feed others and honestly, I don’t really miss the things I used to eat that aren’t kosher. Eating is still a way to bring friends and family together to share an experience that is enjoyable and satisfying. And I still love to share bites of other’s food (as long as it’s kosher and they’re offering!). This elegance of limits, this setting of boundaries around my diet, actually simplifies eating and sets me free to enjoy my food that much more.

Since I started keeping kosher, and especially now that we have children, eating has also become a sacred ritual. As a family, we say a blessing before every meal we share together, making sure to appreciate the food we have and the opportunity to share it together. In eating with thought and intention, meals have become a mindfulness practice and a holy act.

I’m not sharing this with you because I think you should start keeping kosher, too. As a proud Reform Jew, I believe that kashrut is a very personal choice, not one that’s commanded by God. However, at this secular season of New Year’s resolutions, I wonder if there’s something in your life that would benefit from the elegance of limits. If you created a framework for yourself around some aspect of your life, might it enhance the experience and imbue it with a sense of holiness? What in your life might benefit from a bit more mindfulness and intention? In this coming year of 2020, I’d love to hear how your elegance of limits brings the Divine into your life.

B’Shira, in song,

Cantor Micah Morgovsky

 

 

NOVEMBER, 2019

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Educator's Messages

JANUARY - FEBRUARY, 2020

“That was fun!” “Why can’t we do that all the time!” “When do we do that again?” are comments I regularly hear at dismissal once a month! As parents (and educators) with busy, limited schedules, it’s easy for us to build a routine, make decisions and then impose those decisions on our children. We all want the best for our children and, oftentimes, we believe our choices are what’s best.

However, the power of choice, even a small one, can go a long way. Proverbs 22:6 teaches us, “Train a child according to his way and even when he grows old, he will not turn away from it.” The choice can be simple and infrequent, but the key is to provide our children with choices that empower them while minimizing the impact on our goal and routine.

After my experience of speaking to articulate and creative youngsters, Temple Sinai Religious School now offers monthly chug electives. Our students look forward to the change in our schedule, the fun alternatives to the routine, and the power of choice – their choice. The offerings are Ulpan/conversational Hebrew phrases, drama, Hebrew games, Israeli dance, and Hebrew hip hop. There are no bad choices and children are encouraged to decide, empowering their Temple Sinai education. By building small (30 minute) choices into the routine, we teach children to be an active part of the decision-making process. When grownups make every decision for our children, we don’t allow them the opportunity to use their creativity and develop abstract thinking. Let’s face it, as adults we are often rigid and not nearly as creative as our kids. We want to foster their creative thinking and empower their interest in their Jewish education.

Please mark your calendar for May 1 when our Religious School students will proudly present the activities and learning they chose.

All the best – Kol Tuv,

Morah Judy

EDUCATION DATES TO REMEMBER:
Jan 1     No Religious School
Jan 5     Religious School classes resume
             Schiff Tichon Sinai
Jan 8     6th Grade speaks to Cantor Micah
Jan 11     Shabbat School
Jan 12     7th Grade speaks to Cantor Micah
              5th Grade assembles lasagna
Jan 19 – 22     No Religious School
Jan 25     Shabbat School
Jan 26     Kindergarten and 1st Grade Family Ed Programs
Jan 24 -28     Chug/Elective
Feb 2         Schiff Tichon Sinai
               Bob Schechter Memorial Pancake Breakfast
               5th Grade speaks to Cantor Micah
Feb 8     Shabbat School
Feb 9     Tu B’Shvat Seder school wide
Feb 16 – 19    No Religious School
Feb 23     4th Grade assembles lasagna
                5th Grade Israel adventure
                RuJu rehearsal
Feb 24 -26     Chug / Elective

 

DECEMBER, 2019

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Sun, January 19 2020 22 Tevet 5780