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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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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One Bit Better

Yom Kippur Morning 5781 Service

It happens every summer. In the middle of a long meeting about something completely unrelated, Rabbi Limmer pauses, looks at me and says, “So, what are you thinking of speaking about on Yom Kippur?” Some years, I have a quick answer; other years it’s more of a process. This year, I blurted out a rant: I don't need Yom Kippur this year to tell me to be a better person or to tell me to do better. This year has been challenging enough! I have been hard on myself already, and I know many of our congregants have been hard on themselves, too.  This year, what I need is for Yom Kippur to tell me that it's going to be okay, that we’re going to be okay. And that all we need to do is just take each day one at a time. These past six months have been nothing...

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Ner Tamid – Keeping the Flame Lit

Winter 2020 Bulletin Article

I still remember the day when I was in 10th grade confirmation learning my Temple’s best kept secret. For as long as I could remember, a light hung above the ark in the sanctuary. The ner tamid, or eternal light, as I learned it was called in religious school. The truth is, I never bothered to ask how the light stayed lit, and never went out. It sort of felt like magic. But as I grew older, I assumed there was some secret to the light staying lit, and on that first night of Confirmation class, our rabbi took us into the sanctuary, and we learned the secret, we discovered that which made the light eternal. It wasn’t magic after all. As we walked into the sanctuary, we saw a ladder on the bima right beneath the eternal light. Our rabbi turned to the class and said, “As the oldest...

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What Are We Going to Do About It?

Yom Kippur Day 5780

It was a Saturday morning around 8am. I picked up a few dozen donuts and drove to Sinai to deliver breakfast to our 5th and 6th students who spent the night sleeping at the temple. When I arrived, half of the students were barely awake, struggling to pack up their sleeping bags,  and the other half  had a ton of energy, “we’ve been awake since 5, rabbi!”. And by 9, all students had been picked up. I got in my car feeling like the Shabbat sleepover was a success. The 5th and 6th graders had a great time, and everyone made it home safely. Well, not everyone. It was October 27th, 2018. As our students made their way home safely that Shabbat morning,  a gunman entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and opened fire. 11 worshipers were murdered. 7 others wounded. All at the hands of a terrorist...

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Ensuring Freedom for All: A Letter from our Rabbis

As we welcome this anniversary of our nation’s independence, we rightfully celebrate the unique liberties we enjoy in America. At the same time, our Jewish heritage reminds us that our celebrations of liberty should compel us to work for the liberation of all. This July 4th is especially bitter as it arrives amidst horrifying news of squalor and degradation emerging from the detention centers at which the very country we celebrate is confining those who seek the freedoms we enjoy. We have heard horrifying reports from Homestead, FL and Clint, TX, anguishing arguments over the minimal support our government is providing asylum seekers, and continuing coverage of children separated from their families. This should be troubling to all Americans; it is especially disconcerting to our Jewish community. The question we ask ourselves, and which we are asked almost every day is: what can I do to make a difference? The...

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Something New Under the Sun

Yom Kippur Day 5779

To watch Rabbi Greene give her sermon, click here.  “They called her a THOT,” the female counselors shared one night during a staff meeting this summer. “The 6th grade boys, they called a THOT” “What’s a THOT?”, I chimed in? The counselors giggled at my naive question. “No but, really, I asked again, what’s a “THOT”? They all paused sheepishly, until the Unit Head took one for the team, “Rabbi,” she said as she rolled her eyes, “it’s an acronym, T-H-O-T, THOT, ‘That Ho Over There.” I froze. So did the laughter. And this is where it all begins. October 5th, 2017 revealed the news coverage of the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal. Ten days later, actress Alyssa Milano posted the following tweet, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write, ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” And within hours, minutes, seconds, posts emerged...from everywhere. Here are just a...

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If You Build It, They Will Come

Religious School

Last year, after conducting a series of listening groups with our religious school families, our religious school committee decided it was time to pick two areas of focus for our 5779 school year.  Strengthening Our Community This year, the religious school committee has decided to create intentional opportunities and experiences to create meaningful connections among families, parents, and students in our religious school. Below are opportunities to connect with the religious school community:   September 23   Pancake Breakfast & First Day of School   September 28     Sinai Family Shabbat Services and Dinner   October 14   Parent Coffee & Breakfast at Drop-off   Sunday Speaker Series   October 21     Parent Coffee and Breakfast at Drop-off   November 18      Parent Program with the Rabbis followed by       Family Service   December 7      Sinai Family Shabbat Services and Dinner   More to...

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Three Simple Summer Tasks


My Summer To-Do List: 1. Take a long walk. 2. Read a good book. 3. Make a new friend. Advice I learned from Rabbi Lisa Greene, who often quoted her father, Rabbi Barry Greene’s annual summer to-do list (and no we are not related). Take a long walk. I hope to take many long walks. I love summer in Chicago. When the weather is nice, I try my best to be outside. I think Rabbi Barry Greene’s advice was poignant -- for what happens on those long walks? My mind wanders, and yet I appreciate my surroundings. Sometimes I notice beautiful flowers or a spectacular tree. Sometimes I get lost in my own thoughts. Sometimes, I have no idea where I ended up or how I arrived. Often I find myself in a moment of awe and wonder, or as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel called it Radical Amazement. Think about...

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Israel: A Journey


“Your trip can be just another vacation, or it can be the journey of your life,” writes Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman in his book Israel: A Spiritual Travel Guide. I still remember my first trip to Israel. I was 18 years old, a senior in High School. It was a teen trip through my home syangogue. I still remember the first time I stepped off the bus. That first breath of fresh air. I’d always heard stories of people kissing the ground upon landing in Israel. The Tel Aviv airport had recently been remodeled. But my friends and I still wanted to kiss the holy ground. So we walked off the bus, onto the Jerusalem stone, knelt down and kissed the holy land. I still remember the first time I saw the Old City, in person. Our trip began at the most perfect look-out point. The Dome of the Rock shone...

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