Sinai Update — Week of November 23-29, 2014

November 26th, 2014

   SINAI UPDATE  |  Week of  November 23-29, 2014  |  Parashat Vayetze (Genesis 28:10 – 32:3)

Reflections on Jewish Spirituality – Rabbi Andy Vogel

My car mechanic, who is a Lebanese Christian man in his 60s, wishes me a Happy Thanksgiving, proclaiming that this one holiday is accessible to all, “no religion, no politics – just being thankful.” He is right (unless one is a Native American, whose experiences are too often overlooked in the mythology of Thanksgiving). For nearly all of us, our Thanksgiving holiday is an America ritual that allows us to express the gratitude we feel in our hearts for life and its goodness, even if one professes a discomfort with religion. It appeals to the secular as well as the religious, but why? I think it is not only because gratitude is a universal emotion, but also because the Thanksgiving holiday reminds us that once we feel gratitude, we are moved to act. Implicit in Thanksgiving is a reminder of the obligations we have as a society to care for those who are most on the periphery, those struck by poverty, loss and powerlessness.

Rabbi Marc Gellman writes that “the moral greatness of Thanksgiving lives in the way it helps us to hear moans and muffled cries that are drowned out by our noisy and self-centered pursuits the rest of the year. More people donate turkeys, volunteer to work in soup kitchens, and collect clothes on Thanksgiving than on any other day. … In the end, it is service to others, prompted by this sense of virtue, that most clearly establishes the moral greatness of Thanksgiving.” Once we feel thankful, we remember those on the margins, and we remember our task is to serve our society as a whole.

May you and your family have a good holiday, filled with a sense of blessing and goodness, and moved to perform acts of goodness towards others as well. My family and I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.

-           Rabbi Andy Vogel

This Shabbat @ Temple Sinai 

Join us for Erev Shabbat services this Friday, November 28, at 7:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary, led by Cantor Rosalie Toubes. The oneg is sponsored by Jeremy Wolfe and Julie Sandell.   All are welcome to join us.

In our lives…

We offer our mazel tov to our member Rudy Kass, for the recent publication by Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) of his book, Reflections on Diversity in the Massachusetts Legal Profession Past and Present. Rudy was editor of the book, and author of one of its chapters: “The Experience of Jewish Lawyers.” Mazel tov!

~Rabbi Andy Vogel

Update on our annual Free Will fund raising campaign – “Phonathon” December 2!

The Annual Free Will Donation Campaign has gotten off to a tremendous start. A giant thank you to everyone who has donated.   Remember that our Matching Donations program will end on December 31.   Please send your donation before the end of December to increase the amount of support to Temple Sinai.   Look for phone calls on Tuesday, December 2 from a fellow member from the annual Free Will “phonathon” if you have not yet made a donation. Thank you all for the generous support you have provided to our community. Every donation, no matter what size, makes a difference.

~Doug Reichgott and James Wright III, Chairs, Free Will Campaign

Christmas Dinner at Anna Bissonette House, Co-chair and volunteers needed

Got plans for Christmas Day? How about joining with other Temple Sinai members and Jews from across Greater Boston, to volunteer your time so that Christian volunteers can have the day off? This is what we do as part of Project Ezra. For a number years, we at Temple Sinai have sent a group to the Anna Bissonette House in the South End to help prepare Christmas dinner and run a special activity for the formerly homeless elder residents. It has proven to be a rewarding experience for all involved. In addition to preparing and serving the meal, we also run a special activity. For the past two years, this has been an art project, and the residents have thoroughly enjoyed participating! Temple Sinai will have a presence at Anna Bissonnette between 10:00 a.m. until around 2:45 p.m. However, we stagger the arrival and departure times of volunteers and can accommodate 2-3 people for a midday shift while the remainder of volunteers will be working from 10:00-2:00.

This year we are also seeking a co-coordinator. The primary focus of that person’s efforts will be preparing for and running the special activity, ideally an art project. However, they will also partner with Project Coordinator Susan Harr to interface with staff and with other volunteers during the special project and the meal. Want to help? We would be very appreciative if you could contact Temple Sinai’s Co-Coordinator Susan Harr by e-mail at or by phone at 617-852-2303 as soon as possible, ideally by December 1st, to let us know if 1) you will be able to co-coordinate the project; and 2) if you will be able to join us as a volunteer. We will also need to know if you would prefer to work from 10:00-2:00 or from 11:15-2:45.

           ~Susan Harr, Co-Chair, Project Ezra

No Religious School – Sunday, November 30

Due to Thanksgiving weekend, there will be no religious school on Sunday, November 30. School will resume on Tuesday, December 2. Have a joyful holiday!

~Heidi Smith Hyde, Director of Education

Strausberg, AviMidrash Study:  “Where Have All the Women Gone?” – concludes Sunday,  December 7, 11:00 a.m.

Ever wondered about the missing female voice in the Torah?  What was Sarah thinking as Abraham nearly sacrificed her son?  How did the midwives Shifra and Puah feel when commanded by Pharoah to kill all of the Jewish first-born sons?  In this class, we will dive into several modern midrashim, interpretations of classic texts, written by Israeli women that not only will help us discover that nearly absent female voice in the Torah but will also allow us to engage with serious female scholars in a tradition dominated by male voices for thousands of years.  The class is taught by fifth year rabbinical student Avi Strausberg.  The tuition is $25 for Temple Sinai members  and $30 for  non-members.    Please visit to register.

Rainbow Shabbat, next Friday, December 5 – “What Do We Mean When We Say ‘Inclusion?'”

At Erev Shabbat services on December 5, Temple Sinai will celebrate its 10th annual Rainbow Shabbat. The G’uest D’var Torah will be given by Suzie Schwartz Jacobson, who is a 6th year rabbinical student at Hebrew College. A dedicated Jewish educator, prior to rabbinical school, Suzie received an MA from the University of Chicago Divinity School, a BA from the Jewish Theological Seminary and a BA from Columbia University. Join us on December 5.

Next week… Shabbat Morning Community Services, 9:30 a.m.

Next Saturday morning, December 6, please join us in the Sanctuary for our monthly Shabbat Morning Community Service, an opportunity to be with Temple Sinai members in an intimate setting for Shabbat prayer, starting at 9:30 a.m. This monthly service, usually held on the 1st Saturday of each month, includes Temple Sinai members chanting from the Torah and leading the D’var Torah discussion, and is a wonderful way to connect with Jewish prayer. (Note that after December, our next Shabbat Morning Community service will be Saturday, January 10, not the 1stSaturday of the month.) Please join us.

Cantor Toubes Singing 75: Liturgy and Music at Temple Sinai – begins Sunday, December 7, 9:30 a.m.

In honor of Temple Sinai’s 75th anniversary, come learn how music has changed with the liturgy of our congregation, with music from Jewish composers such as Sulzer, Lewandowski, Debbie Freidman, Julie Silver, and Rick Recht. Cantor Rosalie Toubes will teach this class which begins on December 7and continues on Sunday, December 14 and 21, 9:30 – 11:00 a.m.

LimmudBoston 2014: City-wide Jewish study day, Sunday, December 7 at Congregation Mishkan Tefila, Chestnut Hill

Join Jewish learners from all over Greater Boston on Sunday, December 7, 9:00am-6:30pm, for LimmudBoston, an innovative, volunteer-driven celebration of Jewish lifelong learning for the entire community, beginner to scholar and young to young-at-heart. We present the best in Jewish scholarship, arts, music and community opportunities. Dozens of sessions are offered each year. Last year, this learning event was attended by hundreds of people, and featured dozens of classes and sessions. Rabbi Vogel will be among one of the presenters, as will President of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Rick Jacobs. For more information, click to: .

Crane Lake logo

URJ Overnight Camp Presentations – Sunday,  December 7

This year we have a wonderful opportunity to learn about the three terrific URJ Camps in the area; Crane Lake Camp, Camp Eisner, and 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy. At 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, December 7th there will be a parlor meeting at the Brookline home of Michele and Mike Klau. At this meeting you will have an opportunity to meet directors from three URJ camps. The new camp video will be shown and there will be opportunities to ask questions. For more information and to RSVP for the parlor meeting, please contact Mike Klau.

Join the Israel Committee for “Aviya’s Summer” – Sunday, December 14, 2014, 5:00 p.m.

On Sunday, December 14th at 5:00 p.m., Temple Sinai’s Israel Education and Action Committee will screen the classic Israeli film “Aviya’s Summer.” Based on the novel by Gila Almagor, the film tells the story of Holocaust survivor mother and her daughter as they attempt to go about their daily lives in the early 1950s. Living in a small Israeli village, the ten-year old daughter is determined to find her father as her mother struggles to escape the nightmare of the Holocaust. Join us in viewing this prize-winning movie.  Questions? Please contact Israel Committee Chair Charlie Homer.

chanukah dinner menorahRegister NOW for the Chanukah Shabbat Dinner on Friday, December 19

Get in the Chanukah spirit with your friends from Temple Sinai. We will enjoy a catered Shabbat meal complete with roast chicken, salad, latkes, applesauce and plenty of chocolate gelt. Our dinner will begin at 6:00 p.m., followed by singing, crafts and Shabbat services. The cost of the dinner is $14.00 per adult and $8.00 per child, with a family maximum of $44.00. Funding is available to reduce the cost of the dinner for individuals who request it. To register online visit Questions? Contact Director of Education, Heidi Smith Hyde, at .

Larry LowenthalAdult Learning,  “Jews of Hollywood – The Last 75 Years” -beings Sunday, January 18, 11:00 a.m.

Jews founded the Hollywood studio system in the early part of the 20th century and are still predominant in the industry today as producers, directors, writers, distributors, actors, and independent studio heads. We will trace the extraordinary history of Hollywood and the Jews since 1939, in terms of the studio system, the films produced, the actors on the screen and the tumultuous political and social controversies that inflame emotions even today.  The class is taught by Temple Sinai member Dr. Lawrence Lowenthal, former Director of the Boston Chapter of the American Jewish Committee. It begins January 18 and continues January 25 and February 111:00 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. in Weintraub Auditorium. All are welcome.

Cinema@Sinai — Saturday evening, January 24, 7:00 p.m.

Join us at Temple Sinai for our own mini-Jewish film festival. Coordinated by Amos Lassen, three films will be shown through the year, and each has been chosen for an evening together with friends. Schmooze, watch a move, and discuss it afterwards. The next film in the series is “God on Trial.” Following the harrowing ritual of selection for death or hard labor, a group of new inmates, unsure of their appointed fates, begins asking how God could allow for so much suffering, and they impulsively decide to put God on trial for abandoning His chosen people.  The movie will be shown on Saturday evening, January 24 at,7:00 p.m. in Weintraub Auditorium. Please come!

Lassen,  AmosCosponsored by Adult Learning and Israel Committees:  “The Kibbutz” – begins January 25, 9:30 a.m.

The kibbutz, the twentieth century’s most interesting social experiment, is now in the throes of change. Instrumental in establishing the State of Israel, defending its borders, creating its agriculture and industry, and setting its social norms, the kibbutz played a central role in a nation’s life. Over the years, the kibbutz has been marginalized and is undergoing a radical transformation. In three sessions – one of which will be made up of films – we will look at the kibbutz in its historical context and see how and why changes have occurred. We will look at the catalysts for these changes as well as the failure of the unique kibbutz education system to perpetuate communal values, and consider what the future will bring.   The class begins on January 25 and continues on February 1 and February 89:30 a.m. – 10:50 a.m. It is taught by Temple member Amos Lassen, a long-time teacher who spent many years living in Israel.

Next  Tzedek@Sinai‘s “Fourth Sunday of the Month” Brunch –  Sunday, January 25,  9:30 – 11:00 a.m.

Another timely program and delicious brunch is being planned.  Save the date!

CJP Jewish Community Study – please read 

Because the Boston Jewish community continues to evolve, every ten years the Combined Jewish Philanthropy commissions the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University to perform a detailed study of the Jewish community in the Boston metropolitan area. The goal is to create an accurate representation of the Jewish community in Boston at the present time. The information obtained provides invaluable assistance to social service agencies, organizations, and congregations such as our own. Temple Sinai participated in the last study, which was done in 2005. Planning for another is currently underway. (To see a copy of the last study, click ) Temple Sinai, along with more than 350 other local and national organizations, has been asked to participate in this study by providing the researchers with our membership list, including phone numbers and email addresses.   We are assured that confidentiality and privacy will be rigorously protected and will be maintained under the highest technological and ethical standards.  The information will be used only for research purposes – not used for marketing, fundraising, events, publications or any other purposes by any organization. The Temple Sinai Board of Trustees has voted to participate in this study, with the understanding that information for members who do not wish to participate will be withheld. If you do not want your information to be submitted, please notify Linda Katz, as soon as possible.

Register now for trip to Eastern Europe, May 16-27, 2015!

You can now register for Temple Sinai’s congregational trip to Eastern Europe, including Budapest, Prague and Berlin, which will take place on May 16-27, 2015, led by Rabbi Vogel. Registration is limited to 30 participants, and will close when we reach that number, so register now through the ARZA Travel website: Please note corrected address: .For more information, call ARZA or speak with Rabbi Vogel. Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime tour with members of your synagogue community!

In the community…
The Andy Statman trio – who were Temple Sinai’s 2014 Passover Music Festival performers – will be playing at Club Passim in Cambridge (Harvard Square) Sunday November 30 and Monday December 1st at 8:00 P.M.   “This remarkable multi-instrumentalist is among the premier mandolinists and clarinetist of our time, and his music is a deeply personal blend of Americana, Hasidic music and avant-garde jazz.(Kevin Lowenthal, Boston Globe, April 2013).

Sinai Update — Week of November 16-22, 2014

November 19th, 2014

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Sinai Update — Week of November 9-15, 2014

November 12th, 2014

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Sinai Update — Week of November 2-8, 2014

November 6th, 2014

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Sinai Update — October 26-November 1, 2014

October 29th, 2014

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Sinai Update — Week of October 19-25, 2014

October 22nd, 2014

     SINAI UPDATE  |  Week of  October 19-25, 2014  |  Parashat Noach (Genesis 6:9 – 11:32)   Reflections on the Torah… [Read more]

Sinai Update — Week of October 12-18, 2014

October 15th, 2014

     SINAI UPDATE  |  Week of  October 12-18, 2014  |  Parashat Bereshit (Genesis 1:1 – 6:8)   Simchat Torah /… [Read more]

Sinai Update – Week of October 5-11, 2014

October 8th, 2014

     SINAI UPDATE  |  Week of  October 5-11, 2014  |   Week of Sukkot – Sukkot begins tonight, Wednesday,… [Read more]

Sinai Update Week of September 28 – October 4, 2014

October 1st, 2014

     SINAI UPDATE  |  Week of  September 28 – October 4, 2014  |   Yom Kippur begins Friday night, October 3 Reflections… [Read more]

Sinai Update Week of September 21-27, 2014

September 23rd, 2014

     SINAI UPDATE  |  Week of  September 21-27, 2014  | Parashat Ha’azinu   Reflections on the Jewish Calendar – Rabbi Andy… [Read more]