April 10th, 2014

Sinai Update – Week of April 6 – April 12, 2014 

Parashat Acharei Mot (Leviticus 16:1 - 18:30)

Reflections on the Jewish Calendar
At our Seder each year, to engage our guests, we invite each person to bring one item to the Seder which symbolizes for them freedom from oppression in their own life. We place each person’s item on a “Freedom Plate” (the idea was invented by my wife), and at certain points during the Seder, we ask each person to explain their item. Our guests have brought fascinating items: their passports, yoga clothes, car keys (teenagers have brought those!), even divorce papers! This has been one wonderful way to encourage discussion and active participation in the Seder (the worst thing is a boring Passover Seder!), and create a joyful, interesting atmostpher.

But this new ritual is more than just a strategy for inviting participation and fighting off boredom! For me, the entire Hagaddah can be summarized in one paragraph: “In every generation, we must see ourselves… as having been taken from slavery to freedom, from despair to joy, from mourning to celebration, from darkness to great light, and from enslavement to redemption. Therefore, we sing a new song to God!” This paragraph, which could easily be overlooked during the Seder, captures the entire emotional and spiritual meaning of the Hagaddah. On one level, we tell the mythic narrative of our people in a historical sense: once, millennia ago, we were slaves in Egypt, but then we were freed. But on a deeper level, as we see through this paragraph of binary opposites in the Hagaddah (i.e., “from slavery to freedom, from despair to joy”), Passover symbolizes the possibility of hope in our own lives; we, too, can experience the personal transformation of moving from despair – in whatever way we might experience it – to joy. In this way, Passover gives us an opportunity to identify with the ancient Israelites, to see ourselves as participants in a spiritual “Exodus” from the narrow places (=Mitzrayim, Hebrew for Egypt) in which we commonly find ourselves. Passover is an opportunity to tell our national story as a people, but it is also a moment to see our own lives within that story, even today, in this generation, removed as it is by thousands of years from the Biblical Exodus, as re-living the liberation and finding our own redemption. Or, in the words of our Mishkan Tefilah prayer book: “What happens once upon a time, happens all the time.”

I wish you and your dear ones a very happy and sweet Pesach! May you truly enjoy freedom, liberation and redemption!

-           Rabbi Andy Vogel


Shabbat@Six logoThis Shabbat@Temple Sinai     

Our fantastic Shabbat band – with violin, drums, guitar, and clarinet – joins us this Friday, March 14, at6:00 p.m. for our monthly “Shabbat@Six!” service in the Sanctuary, led by Rabbi Vogel and Cantor Toubes. Our children’s choir, “Shir Sinai” will also perform one song. The pre-service “nosh” is sponsored by the Remen/Feldgoise family in honor the bar mitzvah of Ari Lazowski. Please join us!Please join us!   (To hear one melody we will introduce this Shabbat, click tohttps://soundcloud.com/jusjac/ydid-nefesh.)
The Community Shabbat dinner originally scheduled for this Friday night has been cancelled. Please join us for our final dinner of the year on Friday, May 9. Look for  May dinner registration information below.

Shabbat Torah Study discussion, this Saturday, 9:00 a.m.

Join Rabbi Vogel in his office this Saturday, March 9, for Shabbat morning Torah study at 9:00am. We begin with light breakfast and singing, and then launch into the weekly Torah portion to explore its ideas. All are welcome!

Shabbat morning services, this Saturday, 10:30 a.m.

Join us for Shabbat morning services, this Saturday, March 28, at 10:30 a.m., including the Bar Mitzvah ceremony for Ari Lazowski, son of David & Dana Lazowkski. Ari will chant from the Torah, and will teach us his spiritual insights about the Torah and Haftarah portions, focusing on the connection between Yom Kippur (the Torah reading) and Passover (the special Haftarah for this Shabbat). We wish Ari and his family mazel tov! All are welcome!

Reflections on Mitzvah Day 2014

Here at Temple Sinai, Mitzvah Day is not a one-day occurrence. Over the years, we have formed lasting relationships with many local organizations, including Chestnut Park Assisted Living, the Yawkey Inn, Birthday Wishes, the Brookline Food Pantry, and more. Thanks to Mitzvah Day, we continue to forge meaningful partnerships within the community that will last for many years to come. Let us not forget, however, how much we as a synagogue can accomplish in one day. On Sunday, April 6, nearly 100 members of the Temple Sinai community gathered to perform acts of kindness. IN ONE DAY, we prepared 7 lasagnas and dozens of cupcakes for the Yawkey Inn; assembled 30 fleece blankets for needy children; assembled 12 birthday boxes for children living in homeless shelters; collected and sorted over 300 cans at the Brookline Emergency Food Pantry; prepared dinner for dozens of formerly homeless seniors; performed a musical concert for 25 seniors, and conducted a chocolate Seder for the residents of 100 Center Street. Thank you to the Mitzvah Day Task Force for planning this meaningful multi-generational event, including Mark Rosenberg, Pamela Karmazine, Ellen Blinder, Megan McGarvie, Rose Mandelbaum, Robbie Single and Pam Templer. And, of course, thank you to our fantastic mitzvah doers!

~Heidi Smith Hyde, Director of Education

Reassessing our Temple Resources

About one-third of Temple Sinai’s current members joined our congregation within the last five years, and many of these new members are families with young children. This demographic shift has led to important changes in the needs and expectations of our congregation. To ensure that our staffing structure can adapt to these developments, the Board of Trustees and Temple President, Pauline Gerson, established a Reassessment of Resources (ROR) Task Force. That ROR Task Force has been meeting to determine whether and how to modify our current staffing patterns in order to meet our congregation’s evolving needs, taking into account our temple’s budgetary constraints. If you have any questions or would like to provide some input, please contact Glenn Kaplan, Elizabeth Liebow, Arlene Weintraub, Jeremy Wolfe, Mike Klau, Nora Abrahamer, or Pauline Gerson paulinegerson@sinaibrookline.org

Calling all 6th, 7th and 8th Graders: come play laser tag with SCOOBY and NFTY! -  thisSaturday, April 12, 5:00 p.m.

We are joining with other kids from Temple Ohabei Shalom and Temple Israel to play laser tag!  We will leave from Temple Sinai at 5:00 p.m. and return by 8:45 p.m. joining groups from Temple Ohabei Shalom and Temple Israel for a fabulous evening of laser tag! The cost is $32, all inclusive. Please RSVP by April 7 to markrosenberg@sinaibrookline.org

Adult Learning: A Remarkable Passover Story: The Unfinished Exodus of the Ethiopian Jews – this Sunday, April 13, 11:00 a.m.

Get into a Passover state of mind ahead of time by learning about the 20th Century Exodus of the Ethiopian Jews from Ethiopia to Israel. Using slides from his travels in Ethiopia and Israel, Len Lyons presents the inspiring story of the Ethiopian Jews who emerged out of the ancient Aksumite Empire about two thousand years ago. Quite miraculously, the remnant of these African Jews were rescued by the State of Israel, where their community now exceeds 130,000. Yet, their exodus from Ethiopia is painfully unfinished. Using photographs and personal stories. Dr. Len Lyons explains how Ethiopians came to be counted among the Jewish people, and he recounts the profound challenges and inspiring accomplishments of today’s Ethiopian Jews struggling to become Ethiopian Israelis.   Dr. Lyons is the author of “The Ethiopian Jews of Israel: Personal Stories of Life in the Promised Land.” All are welcome.

Ktonton pre-school program for three and four-year olds, this Sunday, April 13

At our monthly interactive program for three-and four-year olds, held on Sunday morning, children are introduced to Jewish holidays through arts and crafts, song, stories and games.  Your children will be encouraged to ask questions, share experiences and make new friends.  This “kids only” program, taught by veteran teacher, Karen Halfon, is free of charge and open to the community.  Come sample a session!  The class will take place this Sunday from 10:00 am until 12:00 p.m. in Weintraub Auditorium.  Early drop-off and late pick-up are available.  The topic? Passover!  Questions?  Contact Director of Education Heidi Smith Hyde at  school@sinaibrookline.org   or 617-277-5883.  New children are always welcome!

Shabbat 101 class“Shabbat 101:  Shabbat Prayers, Songs & Rituals” – continues Sunday, April 13,  9:35 a.m.   

“Shabbat 101″  is designed and taught by Sinai members who want to feel more comfortable in our Sanctuary on Friday nights.   It is a great learning opportunity to learn more about Shabbat prayers and rituals. This course will help you learn the prayers and songs of the Friday night Shabbat service, including those said and sung every week at Temple Sinai and as part of Shabbat dinners at home. “Shabbat 101″ is designed for all comers and assumes no prior knowledge and no Hebrew language skills. Materials will be provided in English, Hebrew, and transliteration. Each session will discuss a different prayer and song, allowing you to attend all sessions or just those topics in which you’re particularly interested.  “Shabbat 101″ will meets monthly  on the same days as the K’tonton preschool program for 3- and 4-year-olds. Parents of K’tonton students are encouraged to participate, as are all members of our community!  The course concludes  May 11, at 9:35 – 11:00 am.  Join us !

baseball capJoin Temple Sinai’s softball team.   Opening day is this Sunday!  

Spring is near, and Temple Sinai’s mens softball team will starting its fifth season this coming April. The team is coming off a semi-successful season having won more games than in any prior season. The league is composed of many Temples in the region, and by league rules the league is a mens league for those over 25 years of age. The games are Sunday mornings and usually start at 10:00 a.m. and go until around noon. The season will start on April 13 and run l through early June.We are looking for guys who would be interested in playing. We have a good time, are not serious, but have great camaraderie.

Temple Sinai hosts “Hatikva Mission” of Israeli Army Officers – Friday, April 25

On Friday night, April 25, at 7:30 p.m., Temple Sinai will host Israeli Army officers at Shabbat services. Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP), through its Boston-Haifa Connection, will be hosting the 5th annual delegation of 10 active Haifa native Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officers called the Hatikvah Mission. The officers will be coming the week of April 24-30, 2014, which coincides with Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day). Their weeklong mission is a meaningful exchange – they have many opportunities to share Israel, Haifa, and the IDF with Greater Boston and North Shore communities and the officers, in turn learn about Jewish and secular life in the U.S. The diversity of the delegation allows for a richness of perspective and insights as they conduct presentations and engage in powerful dialogue with various audiences.   These opportunities promote greater understanding between Israelis and Americans, help commemorate Yom HaShoah, and support personal reflection and exploration for all involved.

Join us at Shabbat services on April 25, when Israeli Army officers will speak about their experiences during Shabbat services at Temple Sinai, and also be available for informal conversation during the Oneg Shabbat afterward.

We thank our member, Janet Fine, for coordinating this exciting opportunity for our congregation, and for participating with CJP as an organizer and consultant for the entire week the officers will be in Boston.

Music, Prayer, Ritual (MPR) Committee to discuss food policy, Wednesday, April 30

An MPR subcommittee has been thinking about food at Temple Sinai. What policies and recommendations should govern meals served at Temple? The full MPR committee will consider their recommendations at a meeting on April 30 at 8:00 p.m. at Temple. You are welcome to attend. Indeed, this might be just the time to join the MPR committee if you have an interest in Music, Prayer and/or Ritual at Sinai. That said, you don’t need to join, if you just wish to come to this one meeting. You are always welcome.

Poet Yirmiyahu Ahron Taub joins us at Shabbat services, Fri., May 2

On Friday night, May 2, at Shabbat services, acclaimed poet Yermiyahu Ahron Taub will join us for a reading and discussion of his poetry. He is the author of four books of poetry, including Prayers of a Heretic/Tfiles fun an apikoyres (2013), and Uncle Feygele (2011). In addition, his poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. A set of his Yiddish poems were recently set to music by Michał Górczyński and performed at various venues in Warsaw, Poland. Taub was honored by the Museum of Jewish Heritage as one of New York’s best emerging Jewish artists and has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize and twice for a Best of the Net award. Please mark your calendar to join us on Friday, May 2, at 7:30 pm, for this special Shabbat evening.

May 2 Erev Shabbat is also our spring Prospective Member Shabbat! 

Do you know anyone considering Temple affiliation for the coming year? Temple Sinai will welcome prospective members at our May 2, 2014 7:30 p.m. Erev Shabbat service. This is a great opportunity for prospective members to sample a service, meet  Rabbi Vogel and Cantor Toubes and get to know our congregation. Tell your friends! All are welcome

Bernstein, JeffreyAdult Learning: Spinoza and Law – begins May 4

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 of 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? We explore these questions considering what Spinoza understands by ”law” and the consequences that his understanding has for freedom, religion, politics, and human existence. The course is taught by Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein and takes place on two Sundays: May 4 and 11, 11:00 am – 12:30 pm

Dr. Bernstein is an associate professor of philosophy at the College of the Holy Cross. His areas of research include Spinoza, German Philosophy, and Jewish thought. He is currently completing a manuscript for publication entitled Leo Strauss on the Borders of Judaism, Philosophy, and History. He returns to Temple Sinai having grown up here, the son of Temple Sinai members Steven & Judy Bernstein.

Yom HaShoah imageTemple Sinai observes Yom HaShoah with JCRC, on Sunday, May 4 at Faneuil Hall

Our congregation joins with the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) on Sunday, May 4 for the community observance of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, at 10:30am-12:30pm, at Faneuil Hall, Boston. This year, Dr. Anna Ornstein, Hungarian survivor, will share her experiences. Over 600 participants are expected to attend, along with community leaders and public office holders. For more information, please call 617-457-8650, or click to http://www.jcrcboston.org/focus/strength/holocaust-awareness/ .

Come Walk for Hunger on Sunday, May 4

The Walk-for-Hunger is the largest one-day fundraiser to alleviate local hunger. We will be meeting at Temple Sinai at9:30 a.m. and walking together as a group. Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. All pledges should be collected in advance, and may be made payable to “Project Bread – Walk for Hunger.” Kindly send your checks to Heidi Smith Hyde at Temple Sinai, 50 Sewall Avenue, Brookline, MA, 02446. Pledge guides are available at the Temple. There IS religious school on May 4 as regularly scheduled, but students participating in the Walk are excused from class that morning. Please note that the sixth graders will be walking together with their teachers for part of the morning, and then returning to Temple Sinai for the remainder of class.

challah and knifeJoin us for our Community Shabbat dinner, May 9 - last of the year!Join us for the next of our monthly congregational Shabbat dinners which will take place in Ehrenfried Hall on Friday, May 9 following “Shabbat@Six!” services. Our May menu will feature vegetarian Middle Eastern food catered b Cafe Jaffa. All ages are invited.   Bring your own wine to share and celebrate Shabbat with singing, good food and friends. Please let us know if you need a gluten-free option.   To register, please click http://www.sinaibrookline.org/ai1ec_event/community-shabbat-dinner-2and follow the Paypal link to use your credit card.   Please join us!

Tzedek Reflection-Hunger Homelessness and Poverty:

More than 100 people from diverse synagogues and organizations came together on March 23rd at Temple Beth Elohim to explore how we might work together to address poverty. Under the great guidance of Rabbi Vogel, small groups began by discussing various Jewish texts that clearly state how and why we must work for Social and Economic Justice. We heard from experts on how this unique assembly could come together as a force to combat poverty now. Grappling with the most timely opportunities, the group decided to explore 4: 1) Housing and Homelessness, 2) Jobs and Minimum Wage, 3) Developing a Poverty Agenda for the Gubernatorial Campaign, and 4) Food Distribution. Over the next six weeks 4 subgroups will dig deeper to determine where (and how) we can work together to have a meaningful impact, and develop proposed next steps. At our next convening – Tuesday evening, May 13 (watch for details) we will work through these possible directions, prioritize, and set our path forward. If you are interested in working over the next few weeks to push any of these issues forward, please contact tzedek@sinaibrookline.org

Announcing: Congregational Trip to Eastern Europe, May 2015!

Join Rabbi Vogel on a fantastic exploration of Eastern Europe, an 11-day trip in May, 2015 to discover 1,000 years of Jewish history in Budapest, Prague and Berlin. Come learn more about this exciting opportunity at an informational meeting, Thursday, May 22, 2014, at 7:30 p.m. at Temple Sinai.

Four Score Plus:  A Celebration of Our Elders - May 30, 2014

On the evening of Friday, May 30th, we will have an opportunity to get to know and to honor some of our older congregants.  Over the last few months, people of all ages, including our Religious School students, have been matched with some of the older members of our congregation to conduct interviews and get to know them. At our 7:30 p.m. Erev Shabbat service on May 30, each of the twelve matches that have been meeting this year will present their elder to the congregation. We look forward to the opportunity to honor and learn from our long time members and invite the congregation to join us for this special evening.

In the community….

Community Hevra Kadisha training, Sunday, April 27 The Community Hevra Kadisha is offering an orientation to prepare people to perform Taharot (preparation for burial) as a team member. If you would like to learn how to do this holy work, please join us on Sunday evening, April 27, from 7:00-9:00pm at the Brezniak-Rodman Funeral Chapel, 1251 Washington Street, West Newton. Please reply to let us know if you are intending to come. Since mid-December, the Community Hevra Kadisha has performed 19 Taharot. There is an immediate need for men, and the Hevra welcomes women as well. Serving as a Tahara team member involves spending about two hours at the funeral chapel for each Tahara. Although a serious commitment, it is manageable with enough people to be called to be a Tahara team member.Thank you for your support in continuing to make this mitzvah available and accessible to the entire Jewish community. Please let us know if you have any questions. For more information, contact Melinda Strauss, Coordinator, melinda@hevrakadisha.org, or www.hevrakadisha.org .

Disobedience (film screening and discussion) April 29, 2014 6:30-9:00 p.m. Learn about the remarkable true story described by historians as “the largest rescue action by a single individual during the Holocaust.” Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese Consul in Bordeaux, defied the direct orders of his government and chose to grant visas out of Occupied France to an estimated 30,000 refugees including around 10,000 Jews.   The film and discussion will take place in the Newton Free Library.   Member Naomi Krasner’s maternal aunt and grandfather received life-saving visas enabling them to escape from Occupied France via Portugal.

April 2nd, 2014

Sinai Update – Week of March 30-April 5, 2014Parashat Metzora (Leviticus 14:1 - 15:33) Reflections on the Jewish Calendar – Preparing for… [Read more]

March 26th, 2014

Sinai Update – Week of March 23-29, 2014 Parashat Tazria (Leviticus 12:1-13:59) Reflections on the Torah Portion – Rabbi Andy Vogel… [Read more]

March 20th, 2014

Sinai Update - Week of March 16-22, 2014 Parashat Shemini (Leviticus 9:1 - 11:47) Reflections on the Jewish People – Ethan Bronner, New… [Read more]

March 14th, 2014

Sinai Update - Week of March 9-15, 2014 Parashat Tzav (Leviticus 6:1 - 8:36) Purim begins Saturday night, March 15 Reflections on the Jewish Calendar –… [Read more]

March 5th, 2014

Sinai Update – Week of March 2-8, 2014 Parashat Vayikra (Lev. 1:1 - 5:28) Reflections on the Torah Portion – Rabbi Andy… [Read more]

Week of February 23-March 1, 2014

February 26th, 2014

Sinai Update – Week of February 23-March 1, 2014 Parashat Pekudei (Exodus 38:21 – 40:38)  Reflections on the Torah Portion –… [Read more]

Week of February 16-22, 2014

February 19th, 2014

Sinai Update – Week of February 16-22, 2014 Parashat Vayakhel This Shabbat@Temple Sinai – Erev Shabbat Service Join us this… [Read more]

Week of February 9-15, 2014

February 12th, 2014

Sinai Update – Week of February 9-15, 2014Parashat Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11 – 34:35) Reflections on the Jewish World – by… [Read more]

February 5th, 2014

Sinai Update – Week of February 2-8, 2014 Parashat Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20 – 30:10) Reflections on the Torah Portion - by Rabbi… [Read more]