SINAI UPDATE — Week of May 10-16, 2015

May 13th, 2015

SINAI UPDATE  |  Week of  May 10-16,  2015    |   Parashat B’har (Leviticus 25:1-26:2) 

Reflections on the Torah Portion – Rabbi Andy Vogel

Doubt and worry are intrinsic parts of faith, and they probably even confirm faith, according to one beautiful interpretation of the week’s Torah portion. The Torah lays out an impossible scheme, that every seven years, the Israelites are must let the land rest for an entire year, and are prohibited from doing any farming on it whatsoever to support themselves and their families. God promises, “I will ordain My blessing for you” (Lev. 25:21) so that we have enough to eat. And yet, immediately before that verse, the Torah anticipates our natural question by saying: “And if you should ask, ‘What are we going to eat?!” (Lev. 25:20).

The great Hasidic teacher Rabbi Elimelekh of Lizhensk (1717-1787) observed that the Torah is aware that anxiety and worry are natural elements of the human condition. And yet, he suggests, the Torah means to reassure us, that we might develop a deeper sense of the presence of blessing in our lives. “I will ordain My blessing for you,” he teaches, is meant to provide us with the perspective that the Divine “flow of blessing” is continual, that Being itself is God’s blessing, which is always available to us. We can always find God’s blessing except – ironically! – when we are experiencing anxiety! By definition, it is at those moments when we forget that the “flow of blessing” is continual and eternal. Beholding the beauty and mystery of existence is one way to stand in relationship with God, to mindfully appreciate the gifts of one’s life and being. Doing so does not necessarily diminish suffering or doubt, but places them within a sense of connection and relationship with the Source of All Being.

–           Rabbi Andy Vogel

This Shabbat @ Temple Sinai, Erev Shabbat service, 7:30 p.m. 

Join us this Friday, May 15, in the Sanctuary at 7:30 p.m. for Erev Shabbat services, led by Rabbi Andy Vogel and Cantor Rosalie Toubes. We will honor our 12th graders graduating high school with a special “Aliyah Ceremony” to mark their advancement to a new stage of life, and also honor all our 8th-11th graders for their many and varied involvements in our teen program, Sinai U, and its elements.  (See more information below.)   The oneg following the service is cosponsored by Victoria and Evan Medoffin honor of the bar mitzvah of Daniella Medoff and by parents of Sinai U students.


Shabbat morning services, this Saturday10:30 a.m.

Please join us this Saturday, May 16, at 10:30 a.m. in the Sanctuary for Shabbat morning services, including the Bat Mitzvah ceremony for Daniella Medoff, daughter of Evan & Victoria Medoff. The entire congregation is encouraged to join us for Shabbat prayer, and to hear Dani read from the Torah and offer her D’var Torah on the meaning of the “Sh’mita” year when the Israelites were instructed to not sow, plant or harvest any food for an entire year. Please join us! We offer Dani and her entire family our wishes of Mazel Tov!

In our lives…..
We wish Steven Seltzer mazel tov on the announcement that he will be honored by the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) at their major meeting in December 2015, and will receive a Gold Medal for his achievements in the field. Mazel tov to Steven, Rochelle and their entire family!

~Rabbi Andy Vogel

graphic-baseball-sm.jpgSoftball update – congratulations on a win last Sunday! 

After protracted merger negotiations this past winter, Team Sinai and Ohabei Shalom agreed to merge their softball teams. In a mutual press release the teams stated that it this decision would hopefully alleviate the player shortages caused by loss of players due to free agency and lack of interest, and present a unified front for North Brookline’s reform Jews.  The long winter delayed the start of the season, Sinai/Ohabei opened the season on May 3 to Beth Elohim Wellesley-5 (yes the temple actually fields five teams) Despite an inside the park home run from Alan Grossman, and a fence clearing blast by Aaron Altman, shaky defense proved to the team’s demise and we lost 16-9. Sinai was well represented with players Paul Rosenstrach, Peter Neumann, Rob Ford, Alex Cooper, Marc Cooper, Gary Altman, and Doug Reichgott. The second game was played against Temple Beth Abraham from Canton on a beautiful Mother’s Day morning. Marc (new-hip) Cooper, had initial control issues but settled down to hold the opposing team to four runs. Timely hitting from Aaron Altman, Rob Ford, Alex Cooper Danny Ruberman, and Gary Altman, Sinai/Ohabei ultimately prevailed 18-4. Yes we won.Next Sunday scheduled double-header, assuming we recover from the victory celebration.  Not too late for anyone still interested in playing.

~Gary Altman ( and Alex Cooper ( )

Rosh Hashanah in May! – tonightWednesday, May 13, 7:30

No, this isn’t actually a tear in the fabric of the universe. We are preparing to use the Reform movement’s new High Holy Day Machzor, “Mishkan HaNefesh” this coming Rosh Hashanah an Yom Kippur, and have the opportunity to try it out tonightWednesday, May 13 at 7:30 p.m. The Music, Prayer & Ritual Committee invites to you a sample service in the Sanctuary led by Rabbi Vogel using pages from Mishkan HaNefesh, and please also join us for a discussion following the service, to provide feedback to Rabbi Vogel. Please RSVP.

            ~Jeremy Wolfe, Chair, MPR Committee

Oneg sponsors needed! May 22June 12June 26 and all summer

Sponsoring an oneg Shabbat is an easy to connect with the Sinai community and to help the Temple at the same time! Please consider sponsoring an oneg.   The oneg does not need to be elaborate, there are written instructions available and you can team up with a friend to sponsor one. We need sponsors through the year and specifically at upcoming services on May 22June 12 and June 26. During the months of July and August, our services take place in Ehrenfried Hall at 6:00 p.m. on Fridays. Each of those summer services is preceded by a pre-service nosh. We are also looking for sponsors of those pre-service light food onegs.   Please contact Kathy Arnstein, if you would like to sponsor an oneg, a pre-service nosh or if you have any questions.

Religious School Registration

If you are new to Temple Sinai and would like to enroll your child in our K – 12 religious school, you may access the form online at  Questions? Contact Director of Education, Heidi Smith Hyde, at . Returning religious school families will be issued a separate link in the coming days.

Aliyah ceremony & Teen Recognition Service – this Friday, May 15

Please join us in the sanctuary on Friday, May 15, at 7:30 p.m. for our first annual “Aliyah Ceremony” for 12th graders. This evening will be an opportunity for the Temple to honor our 12th graders who have participated in Temple Sinai activities this year as well as during their high school years. In addition, we will pay tribute to all our teens in Grades 8 – 12 who have been involved in “Sinai U” this year, whether it be Sunday evening class participation, Tikkun Olam work, reading buddies at the Dudley Street School, Shabbaton supervision, Torah chanting, the Madrich program, or the monthly Brookline Teen Center hangout. Come celebrate everyone’s Jewish study, involvement and commitment over the past year by attending this celebratory service. All teens will receive a blessing as well as a small gift. Questions? Contact Heidi Smith Hyde at .

Bernstein, JeffreySpinoza and Law, Part II – concludes this Sunday,  May 17 

What is it about Spinoza’s conception of law that made the 17th century thinker (1) the most reviled man in the Amsterdam Jewish community, (2) the favorite son the Zionist movement aimed at developing the State of Israel, (3) the most beloved predecessor of contemporary Marxist theory, and (4) the strangely compelling precursor to contemporary neuroscience (as explained by Antonio Damasio)? Do any of these constituencies get him right? This year, we will extend our discussion to Spinoza’s discussion of Biblical Law in his Theological-Political Treatise, and explore the consequences of his ideas for freedom, religion, politics, and human existence. No previous background is required. The class takes place  11:00 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. It is taught by Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein, associate professor of philosophy at the College of the Holy Cross. He returns to Temple Sinai having grown up here, the son of Temple Sinai members Steven and Judy Bernstein.

Happy 15th anniversary to the Healing Service and Caring Committee! – Wednesday, May 20, 2015

On May 20, we will celebrate the birth of the Healing Service and the Caring Committee fifteen years ago. Both were conceived to bring hope, comfort and healing to the Temple Sinai and Am Tikva congregations as well as to the community at large. The Healing Service is held every other month in Weintraub Auditorium and the Yom Kippur service which attracts a larger crowd is open to all. The leadership team of the Healing Service consists of Deena Blau of Temple Sinai, Marvin Kabadoff of Am Tikva and singer/musician Dayse Waissman of the community at large. The Healing Service usually consists of 7-12 participants who gather in a circle. The service has been designed to uplift the spirits of those attending through singing, prayer, meditation and the presence of a caring community. Several regular attendees join us throughout the year but newcomers are always welcome. Our newly revised Healing Service will take place on Wednesday, May 20th at 7:30 p.m.   Please join us to help celebrate this special milestone service!

~Deena Blau

Shavuot Torah

Shavu’ot – Saturday night, May 23, all-night Torah Study at K.I.

Join us for the 7th Annual Tikkun Leil Shavu’ot in Brookline, an opportunity to celebrate the festival of Shavu’ot through Torah Study with 300+ Jews of all ages (and great food!), starting at9:00 p.m. and continuing all night (stay as late as you wish!).   Hosted at Congregation Kehillath Israel, 324 Harvard Street. For a complete schedule of sessions and instructors, and for more information, click to

Cantor ToubesJoin us in honoring Cantor Toubes –May 29

Please join in as the congregation gathers at our Erev Shabbat service on Friday May 29, which will include a musical tribute to honor Cantor Rosalie Toubes, thanking her for her many years of service to the Temple Sinai congregation. There will be a special oneg following services in honor of Cantor Rosalie Toubes. Services will begin at 7:30 pm.

“The Fragile Relationships Between Jewish & Arab Citizens of the State of Israel:

The Challenges of Israel as a Jewish & Democratic State” – at services, June 5, 7:30 p.m.

Beit Hagefen Arab-Jewish Center was established in Haifa in 1963 for the purpose of bringing together Arabs and Jews and educating towards coexistence, neighborliness and tolerance by means of cultural and artistic activities, festivals, meetings and community activity . Asaf Ron and Ulfat Haidar from the Beit HaGefen Center will speak at our services on June 5. Sponsored by Temple Sinai’s Israel Education and Action Committee. All are welcome.

Annual Meeting – please join us on Sunday morning, June 7

Temple Sinai’s Annual Meeting will take place on Sunday morning, June 7 at 10:00 a.m. On the agenda is approval of the Board of Trustees for 2015-16, reports on Temple activities over the past year, and approval of an amendment to our bylaws on filling vacancies on the Board of Trustees. The meeting will take place in Ehrenfried Hall and will be preceded by a light brunch at 9:30 a.m. All members are invited to join us!

Join us on June 19 in honoring Ellen Bruder Moore

We are delighted to announce that Ellen Bruder-Moore is the recipient of this year’s Harry Wheeler Distinguished Service Award. This award is presented annually to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the Temple Sinai community. Ellen certainly fits that description. As director and champion of the Purim Shpiel, she’s made it a much-anticipated annual even. Ellen is also a long-time member of the Caring Committee, serving as monthly co-chair every October. And Ellen has served as an Assistant Treasurer for several years. She embraces this role as an opportunity to get to know people and find out more about their lives.  Not to be omitted are Ellen’s culinary accomplishments. She’s prepared and organized luncheons for many bar/bat mitzvah celebrations, arranged onegs for summer Shabbat services, and coordinated the food for the temple’s second-night Passover Seder.  Ellen’s activities exemplify a commitment to community. She is truly a deserving recipient of the 2015 Distinguished Service Award. Please join us in honoring Ellen during Shabbat services on Friday, June 19th at 7:30 PM.

Summer Services

Once again this summer, Temple Sinai will hold Shabbat services every Friday evening throughout the months of July and August. These summer services, held in the Temple’s air-conditioned Ehrenfried Hall, begin at 6:00 p.m. on Friday evenings and are slightly more informal than during the other months of the year.   About half of these brief services are led by members of the congregation, while the others will lead by either Rabbi Andy Vogel or Rabbi Shoshana.   If you would like to sponsor a pre-service “nosh” during the months of July and August, please contact Kathy Arnstein,

Get judged this summer!

Robin Orwant and Jeremy Wolfe will lead four sessions on the Biblical book of Judges this summer. Judges is the home of the story of Samson but it is also filled with many episodes that you may never have encountered. Is this history? Are these folk tales? What were the intentions of the author of the book? What have later readers, from Rabbis to artists, made of this material? We will meet on Wednesdays, July 22 & 29August 5 & 127:30 – 9:30 at Temple Sinai. Each session will be independent.

In the community….

~~Jewish Climate Action Network (JCAN) presents “From Uncertainty to Action: What You Can Do About Climate Change,” a conference co-sponsored by Hebrew College, Sunday, May 17, 3-7 PM, at Hebrew College, Herrick Road, Newton. The conference includes ideas and methods for action, climate change as a social justice issue, opportunities to connect with others to work together. Rabbi Shoshana Friedman, who will be joining our staff in July, will be on a panel exploring what Judaism adds to our understanding and ability to respond to climate change. To register click

~~Kolbo, a store selling fine Judaica and art in Brookline, is seeking a full-time experienced Assistant Manager who can oversee day-to-day store operations and provide staff development and supervision. Please contact Temple Sinai member Janet Fine,, if you are interested.

May 7th, 2015

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SINAI UPDATE — Week of April 26-May 2 2015

April 29th, 2015

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SINAI UPDATE — Week of April 19-25, 2015

April 22nd, 2015

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SINAI UPDATE — Week of April 12-18 2015

April 15th, 2015

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SINAI UPDATE — Week of April 5 – 11, 2015

April 8th, 2015

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SINAI UPDATE — Week of March 29-April 4, 2015

April 1st, 2015

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SINAI UPDATE — Week of March 22-28, 2015

March 25th, 2015

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SINAI UPDATE — Week of March 15-21, 2015

March 18th, 2015

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SINAI UPDATE — Week of March 8-15. 2015

March 11th, 2015

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