Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Jewish Resources for Coping with the Tragic Shooting in Parkland, FL

In these tragic times, it is difficult to know how to respond and address the latest shooting issue with our children. The Reform movement has some resources on its website.  Here is one.

BY KATE KAPUT for ReformJudaism.org

At least 17 people are dead and more injured in a horrific shooting Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. Once again, in the wake of senseless and devastating gun violence, we mourn, we come together, we offer words of condolence – and we ask how we can prevent these tragedies from happening again.

Says Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, in a statement from the Reform Movement issued after the massacre,

I can imagine the Holy One sobbing along with us, distraught over the senseless bloodshed we’ve collectively allowed to happen. Human care for one another, perhaps Divinely inspired, is what is desperately needed right now. “What's also needed is action. While every person of conscience must be shocked and outraged by the frequency of these horrific mass shootings, no person of intelligence can be surprised.

After the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, NV, the deadliest in modern American history, Daryl Messinger, chair of the Union for Reform Judaism, wrote,

Read more. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Want to learn Hebrew?

I'm often asked about programs for you and/or your child to practice Hebrew.  Here's one that's enjoyable, engaging, and easy to use.  It's HebrewPod 101.

Check out their website and video and start learning Hebrew today.

Monday, December 18, 2017

New Adult Education Course: Israel's Milestones and Their Meanings: The Legacy of the Past and the Challenge of the Future

UPDATE: Please note that the dates of the course have changed this this was first posted. Our start date it Feb. 4. See Temple Sinai's webpage for the correct dates.

From the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, the URJ and ARZA:

Israel's Milestones and Their Meanings: The Legacy of the Past and the Challenge of the Future

Memory is a central element in defining modern Jewish identity. As we look to Israel's future, we need to engage anew with our past and explore its meanings and consequences. Through the consideration of major historic moments, this iEngage series grapples with the different ideas and values that shape the meaning of Modern Israel, Zionism, and Jewish identity today.

This innovative course explores the pivotal events of 1947 and 1967 - following the 1917 Balfour Declaration - as key moments when Zionism unleashed new thinking about the meaning of Jewishness for generations to come. The course engages Jews in an open and pluralistic discussion about issues of Jewish identity, peoplehood, ethics and theology as they relate to nationhood, land, sovereignty, Jerusalem, occupation, and moral red lines.

Classes are at 10:00 a.m. on the following dates: 
  • Jan. 14 & 28 
  • Feb. 4 & 18
  •  Mar. 11 & 25
  •  Apr.  8
  • May 6 

 Additionally, there are three webinars led by Scholars from the URJ and Israel on March 1, April 12, and May 17, all Thursdays, all at noon.

These video sessions originate from the Hartman Institute and are facilitated on site by Bruce Hicken.

This course is made possible by a generous grant from the URJ and ARZA and is being offered for free to Temple Sinai members and non-members.  Source readings will be provided for free in PDF format.  These readings are also available in a printed book, which you may order yourself from the Hartman Institute for $20.00.

Donations are gladly accepted. All participants do need to sign up in advance, even if you cannot attend all classes. 

To sign up, please email  iEngage@templesinaivt.org

Monday, December 4, 2017

Why I Light My Chanukah Candles

A Chanukah Reflection by David Gregory

This piece is part of AJWS's Chag v'Chesed publication series. 
For more Chanukah resources, visit their website

Every winter, as the days shorten and darken, I look forward to Chanukah. The sight of the candles over eight nights helps us create those sacred moments that daily life so often crowds out. The flicker of the flame evokes history, identity, shared experience. I see in my children their innocent excitement and their respect for a special moment we share. My wife and I are always so proud to hear them sing the prayer—the glue that binds generations of Jews. 

The candles create a circle of light around my family that grows brighter each day as we add another candle to our menorah. This is a truly intimate experience—the flames pull us inward toward the light and toward one another. And yet, the rabbis of the Talmud declare that the menorah should be placed “at the entrance to one’s house on the outside, so that all can see it.”1 The sages push us to make our private ritual public, because the very purpose of the candles is to publicize the miracle of Chanukah. 

I have always felt great pride in placing my menorah in the window—and in Washington, D.C., where I live, my candles mingle seamlessly with the other lights of the holiday season, a multi-cultural mix of traditions all aglow. At my synagogue Chanukah party, we make this ritual even brighter and bolder. Everyone brings their own menorah. We light the candles, turn out the lights and put on 3D glasses, enjoying a spectacular light show. Thousands of tiny flames burst in their multi-dimensional glory—lights upon lights burning for all to see. 

But in the days of the rabbis who created the Talmud in the third century CE, lighting the candles in full public view was not always safe. Right after the mandate to place the Menorah in the window, the Talmud says:  

And in a time of danger, [when it might be dangerous to be seen practicing Judaism], placing it on the table is sufficient to fulfill the obligation. 

Continue reading on the AJWS Chag v'Chesed site. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

How to Talk to Your Kids About God

So your kid wants to talk about God...now what?

Lots of parents find it difficult to talk to their kids about God. In this short video, Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, an American rabbi and author, gives us some tips for how to approach this conversation and reassures us that it’s okay to not have all the answers.

Watch this wonderful video from BimBam, digital storytelling that sparks connections to Judaism for learners of all ages.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Is Halloween Right for Your Jewish Family?

Do Jews celebrate Halloween?
Well, it depends on whom you ask.
Reform Jews seem to be particularly divided on the subject of celebrating the spooky, now-mostly-secular holiday of Halloween. In “Tricks, Treats, and Tradition: Being an American Jew on Halloween,”Rabbi Rebecca Einstein Schorr shares some of the holiday’s known origins and explains what makes her uncomfortable about the holiday – namely the “tricks” element of trick-or-treating (through she writes that, ultimately, she does allow her children to celebrate Halloween, albeit in an understated way).

So what’s the norm among American Jewry? Well, first of all, let’s get something important out of the way. People often ask, “Is Purim akin to a Jewish Halloween?” Rabbi Victor Appell is here to answer the question (spoiler alert: The answer is no) and explain why.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Sukkot in Jerusalem: A Precarious Balance

This article is from ReformJudaism.org by BY 

I grew up in a Reform Jewish community in eastern Long Island. Sukkot was the holiday after Rosh HaShanah when we finally said “farewell” to summer. The weather turned cooler, heavy coats emerged from moth-ball encased slumber, and the screen doors were replaced with storm windows. There were two sukkot (plural of sukkah; a small outdoor hut used during Sukkot) in the neighborhood synagogue – one on the bimah of the synagogue and one in the synagogue’s parking lot. They were decorated with local flora – pine branches, maple leaves, and bull rushes from the shores of the Great South Bay. As a religious school student, I remember going into the sukkah, singing songs, and chanting the blessings, but we never ate in the sukkah or slept out there – it was just too cold.

When I moved to Los Angeles and began my tenure as the cantor at Temple Isaiah, my husband Rabbi Donald Goor and I embraced the yearly building and decorating of our sukkah. Our home sat on a hill overlooking the entire San Fernando Valley and the Santa Monica Mountains provided the perfect backdrop for our seasonal structure. We invited friends to help decorate and each year the sukkah had a theme: one year it was super heroes, another year it was famous Jewish women, and in 2001, just weeks after the attack on the World Trade Centers, we decorated the sukkah in red, white, and blue.