Kol Nidre 5784

Today is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, 2023 – 50 years, to the day, since the outbreak of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. How different the world is today than it was just 50 years ago. And how different things are in Israel today than they were just 50 years ago. In the spring of 1973, Jody and I were spending a semester in Israel. We lived and worked on Kibbutz Givat Chaim Ichud in the Sharon Valley. At least twice a week we used to go for afternoon tea to visit a woman name Lotte Aaron. Lotte was an artist. She spoke several languages, including fluent English, and we used to sit and talk for hours. We became friends. She spoke with pride about her two sons who were both studying in New York. In October of that year, the Yom Kippur war broke out. Lotte’s two sons...

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Erev Rosh HaShanah 5784

Hashkiveinu Adonai Eloheinu L’shalom V’ha’amideinu Malkeinu L’chayim. Cause us to lie down, Eternal our God, in peace, and raise us up, O Sovereign, to life. Many of us have heard this prayer dozens, if not hundreds, of times.  And, I imagine, like many other things that we see and hear frequently, it’s possible that we never really stopped to think about it.  Hashkiveinu Adonai Eloheinu L’shalom V’ha’amideinu Malkeinu L’chayim.  Cause us to lie down, Eternal our God, in peace, and raise us up, O Sovereign, to life. It is such a simple prayer, such a modest request – let us sleep in peace and wake up alive.  U’fros Aleinu Sukkat Shlomecha and spread over us Your shelter of peace.  It is a basic human plea for protection, for predictable routine, for normalcy, for the world to be the way it ought to be.  It turns out that this prayer, Hashkiveinu...

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Rosh HaShanah Morning 5784

In 1861 a small group of German Jews were seeking a Jewish community that spoke to the questions of their time. With the age of enlightenment – science and reason – it was important to find a place where they could practice their liberal Judaism free from the perceived-constrictions of Jewish law, yet keeping Judaism a meaningful part of their lives.  This group of German Jews argued that Judaism was actually a progressive religion. That the Torah was written by human beings whose lasting legacy was the ethical teachings of The Prophets. And so with these opportunities at the very inception of the great American Jewish experience – Chicago Sinai Congregation was born. Our founders questioned the very foundations of their faith (and ours), and in doing so, they revolutionized what a synagogue and what Judaism can be.  The revolution did not stop there. Unlike every other contemporary synagogue, at...

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A New Addition to the Sinai Community: Introducing Rabbi Rebecca Benoff

By Alec Harris, President

Greetings Sinai Family, I’m thrilled to announce that Rabbi Rebecca Benoff will be our next Assistant Rabbi at Sinai, beginning on July 1. She will share rabbinic duties with Interim Rabbi, Michael Weinberg and Associate Rabbi, Amanda Greene. Here is what Rabbi Benoff said in a recent email to us: “I am so excited and honored to be joining the Sinai Community. I was inspired by the way the Congregation has such a rich history and is also looking towards the future. Everyone I spoke to during the interview process was so warm and welcoming and I cannot wait to call Sinai and Chicago home!” Rabbi Benoff has a deep passion for helping people of all ages to feel included. Here is what she said in her personal essay: “Every person with whom I interact, I hope to inspire their Jewish journey to be one of community and belonging. There...

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A Letter From The President

By Alec Harris, President

Dear Sinai Family, I hope you had a meaningful Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and a happy Sukkot. Being together in community has been incredibly meaningful this year, for me, and I know for many of you.  The energy at our new members’ events, families at our Religious School pancake kickoff, and the celebrations under the sukkah have brought tremendous energy and renewed connections. Many have asked how to get involved in the ongoing life of Sinai and how best to set the stage for the future. There are three ways: participation in our great worship services and programs; attendance at our first Community Conversation on Sunday, Nov. 6; and joining our lay committees. Our Fall adult learning opportunities are robust, including classes with Reform historian Rabbi Gary Zola and our Rabbi Emeritus Rabbi Howard Berman. How do we know where we are going unless we know where we have...

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Ann Greenstein’s Mincha Moment

By Ann Greenstein

I understand that our 8 minute drash is to be in the style of something one might hear on the Moth Radio hour. I think I am going to flip that on its head and get the punchline out of the way first.   Why am I Jewish?- The short answer to the question and hence the punchline is I don’t know any other way to be.   My Jewishness is intertwined with my identity, my worldview, my sense of humor, my politics, my spiritual practices, in sum, I don’t know where I end and my Jewishness begins.   Unwinding the meaning of the statement “ I don’t know any other way to be” has unfolded over my lifetime showing up in different ways at different times.   I am a child of the 70’s -Our family belonged to a conservative congregation that like so many others moved from the...

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Midge Shafton’s Mincha Moment

By Midge Shafton

It's so wonderful to see so many faces in here today, compared to an empty room on my computer screen. How does Judaism play a role in my life?  I was telling a good friend of mine, that this is what I was going to be doing this afternoon and she said, "what else is there?" So, I'm going to tell you my story, Judaism plays a role in my life in many ways. I am going to concentrate today on family, nuclear family, extended family, friends, local and national family, and global family. I come from a family where both my parents are active in the Jewish Community. My father came from an Orthodox family and was a first-generation American born. Whereas, my mother was a third-generation American born, and her family was Reform. In 1933, when they got married, it was sort of a mixed marriage. My mother...

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Donté J. Young’s Mincha Moment

By Donté J. Young

As I reflect on the role that the Jewish faith plays in my life, I would first have to reflect upon how I became a converted member of the Jewish faith. As a young child growing up in suburban Central Ohio, I was raised by a beautifully loving and conservative Christian Baptist family. Over my formative and youthful years, I would learn how important my faith was to me, my family, and those around us. God would also serve as the head of our family’s core values, and we would navigate through the journey of life.   As I grew and developed, I recognized who I was wholesomely and in the most profound ways, loving myself in the deepest of ways to put forth that love and energy into my friends, family, loved ones, and the world itself. This would make me pridefully live in my truth as a young...

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Looking Towards The Future

By Andrew Mitzenmacher

I've always had a hard time picturing the future. I'm an optimistic at heart, never want to limit my options. My great grandparents, great villagers on one side. Eastern European Jews leading the pilgrims on the other ever envisioned me, let alone my children, who are part Japanese, Polish, and Irish without know specifically what I hope for it to look like. My guidance for the future comes from looking to the past. My grandparents and parents were dreamers, who were willing to take risks to find joy and love in the world with faith, family and empathy they moved forward to create a life for their descendants that they couldn't have imagined until it happened. They had Faith deep down that god create a fundamentally good world for us. We're taught that god left flaws for us to work to repair to give purpose and meaning to our lives;...

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Rosh HaShanah Reflection

By Jack Tepper

A couple weeks ago the rabbis came up to me and asked me to answer the question, "what Jewish wisdom would help me ring in the New Year." Now, I had some ideas on how to answer this. But, first I had to answer and ask myself, "What is Jewish wisdom?" So I went searching. I asked myself, my parents, and finally I asked Google.  And, after many days, of trying to figure out what I wanted to speak about, I came across a quote. This quote was from world famous Jew, Jerry Seinfeld. He says, " the greatest Jewish tradition is to laugh. the cornerstone of Jewish survival has always been to find humor in life and in ourselves". Now, I known there is not a book of jokes in the Torah. But, laughter is truly a Jewish tradition that gets me through the year. I love the time...

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