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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Shofarot Section, framed on the power of Jewish learning and tradition.

By Juliet Spector

What jewish wisdom sustains you as we enter this new year? Psalm 121 – “I lift up my eyes to the mountains. From where will my help come? My help comes from God, who made heaven and earth. The Eternal will not allow your foot to give way. The One who guards you will not slumber. For the Guide of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. The Eternal is your Keeper; God is your Shade at your right hand. The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night. God shall protect you from all evil and will keep your soul always. The Eternal God shall guard your going out and your coming in, from this time forever more.” This year was the 5-year anniversary of my father’s death. And a week after the anniversary, we lost my father-in-law. It is human to feel very alone during these...

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Rosh HaShanah Reflection

By Jonathan Solomon

  I’ve always been an Fall person.    We all have our own associations with this season: the return of cooler weather, the cozy sweaters, and Pumpkin Spice Everything. And, of course, and the sound of the Shofar.   I confess, I love it.     At a personal level, my own modest hopes of sitting in my chair and reading a book, maybe with a cup of tea beside me, come into crisp autumnal focus.    But there are other things about the fall that make me hopeful. For my children, and for me after twenty years of teaching, this is the start of the of the new school year, a miraculous annual opportunity to restart, surrounded by new faces in new places and to welcome the learning of new things.    I know that for many birth and growth is reasonably associated with the spring: plants blooming and little...

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Another New Year

By Niki Tovin

  As I stand here, this morning, on the bimah preparing to listen to the ancient sound of the Shofar welcoming in another new year. My thoughts are of the journey that brought me to this moment.  In 1980, my husband's career necessitated our relocation to Chicago. Needless to say, it was difficult leaving our two sons, dear friends, and our beloved home in the rolling hills of Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, to head towards a city unfamiliar to me located somewhere between the east and west coasts. To my delight, I soon discovered that Chicago was a beautiful city located on the shore of the amazing Lake Michigan. With world class museums, along with highly acclaimed symphony, dance, and theater companies. But, best of all, the people warmly embraced us and introduced us to Chicago Sinai Congregation that to this day enrich our lives. Looking back at my first high Holy...

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The Shofar Call To My Memories

By Emil G. Hirsch III

82 years ago I stood on this Sinai’s bimah, then on Grand Boulevard and 46th Street, with 132 other fourteen-year-old boys and girls, and was confirmed in  our Jewish faith by Rabbi Dr. Louis Mann.  I recall at the beginning of the Jewish year on Rosh Hashanah in 1939, for the  first time attending high holiday services with my grandmother Hirsch who  had assigned seats on the left center aisle about ten rows back. The  prayerbook we prayed from was the English translation by my grandfather  Emil, of the prayerbook written in German by my grandmother’s father, Rabbi  Dr. David Einhorn; which he authored in 1855 when he came to the United  States to become Rabbi of Temple Har Sinai in Baltimore.  At that Sinai service in 1939, many congregants introduced themselves to tell  me about my grandfather, Rabbi Dr. Emil G Hirsch, and their encounters with  him. I, much...

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Rosh HaShanah Remarks

By Alec Harris, President

Good evening. My name is Alec Harris. And, honestly, I'm not used to speaking during this particular moment in the service. Thank you, Rabbi Weinberg, for your beautiful and thoughtful sermon. I assure you, I'm not giving a second sermon!  But as president of Sinai, it is a tremendous honor to welcome you here today—members, friends, and guests—and to wish all of you a happy and healthy New Year. It is so gratifying to be with all of you at the start of these High Holy Days.  In the Covid era, and during a time of rabbinic transition, I'm proud to say, “we're here”. Sinai is here for you, and we are strong. I look forward to being together with all of you as we learn and explore, provide support for each other in challenging times, celebrate together in joyful times, and work together to make the world a better...

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Rosh HaShanah 5783

When I was in eighth grade an unusual event took place. One morning, as we were all settling into our seats and getting our books out of our backpacks, our teacher stepped outside the room. Suddenly a student ran through the room screaming and yelling. Then another student ran after the first. The first student, whose arm was bleeding, grabbed something off the teacher’s desk and ran out the other door of the room. The second student chased after the first. The rest of us were pretty much dumbfounded, not really understanding what had happened. Then our teacher came back into the room and some students started to report to her what had just gone on. She silenced them and instructed all of us to sit down and be quiet. Then she told each of us to write down exactly what had happened.   It will likely come as no...

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Erev Rosh HaShanah 5783

Here we are, once again, together for the High Holidays. Here we are, once again, gathered as a congregation: for worship and for celebration; for inspiring prayers and for beautiful music; for heartfelt meditation and for serious introspection. With the worst of the pandemic hopefully in our rear-view mirror, so many more of us are together in-person than in the past couple of years. And, from our time apart we have learned that we can gather as a congregation, and feel each other’s presence, both physically in the same room and remotely via the internet – and although we cannot all see each other, we can nonetheless feel that we are one community joined by invisible lines of connection. Personally, I am deeply honored to be a part of the Sinai community and to share this holy day with all of you.    For some in our Sinai family, 5782...

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Rage is Not All the Rage

Yom Kippur, 5728/2021

  Remember 18 months ago, at the beginning of the Shelter-in-Place mandate? Remember when working from home in sweatpants, without shoes on was all the rage? Remember when we sat at home binge watching TV and when Tiger King was all the rage? Remember when 1000 piece puzzles were...all the rage? --- Now it’s different.  Now it’s:  Did you hear he didn’t wear a mask at Lollapalooza?  Can you believe it?  Now it’s: She doesn’t care about anyone but herself. She goes out every weekend, travels on airplanes...and she’s not even vaccinated! Then she sends her kids to school?! Now it’s: The government is just awful -- whatever happened to freedom of choice! I’m vaccinated and don’t have children -- why do I have to wear a mask all the time?  Somehow, we’ve now arrived at a moment, where the only thing that seems to be all the rage, is...

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Telling Our Stories

Rosh Hashanah Evening 5782 Sermon

Our first Passover was a rushed and hurried affair.  We had plans, but they were all for naught. Standing on the edge of the wilderness, everything was chaotic.  We made it up as we went along and tried out new practices for the first time.  We observed it as best we could.  Some had the proper food, some were together with other people, some owned the right objects; and yet, many  had to improvise. To share food, to borrow objects, to observe that first Passover alone.  And we did, we observed it, each in our household. As we reached our second Passover, we thought we would be on the other side of this wilderness.  We had hoped we would have reached the promised land by then.  But it was not to be. So we did it again, in the wilderness, a second Passover.  This go-around we had more time to...

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