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Wednesday Wisdom & Wit

01/27/2022 08:51:23 AM

Jan27

Rabbi Daniel Sherman

             There’s a lot going on this week.  We hope that everyone is doing well and staying healthy.  I am glad to see our overall COVID numbers going down, but I urge everyone to remain careful.  I want to remind you that at Temple everyone is required to wear a mask inside the building.

            Thursday, January 27 is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Every year I get asked, “what is this day?”  In 2005 the United Nations established this Holocaust Remembrance Day on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau on January 27.  The purpose of the day is to serve as date for official commemoration of the victims of the Nazi regime and to promote Holocaust education throughout the world.  Every year there are a number of events and themes to mark this day. For more information, I encourage you to go the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (ushmm.org).  This date is not to be confused with Yom HaShoah – our Jewish Holocaust Remembrance Day that takes place on the 27th day of Nisan (about a week after the conclusion of Passover) every year.

            This week we will also be participating in “Repro Shabbat” on Friday evening, January 28.  For our second year, we are partnering with WRJ and NCJW to be an advocate for reproductive health, rights, and justice in our community.  As Women of Reform Judaism reminds us: “The stakes are so high this year around abortion access.  We seek to create a Jewish movement by carving out a moment to honor reproductive freedom over Shabbat.  We start to reclaim the narrative from the Religious Right when we build from the ground up, right at home in our communities.”  For more information, please visit the WRJ website (wrj.org).  This is a very important issue for Judaism and in our community – I hope you will choose to add your voice in support of reproductive health and rights and get involved.

            Please remember that Friday evening services are available both in-person and online.  Shabbat morning services and Torah study will continue online only for now.

            I hope to see you soon.  Please take care and stay well!

 

Wednesday Wisdom & Wit

01/19/2022 03:44:55 PM

Jan19

Rabbi Daniel Sherman

            It is Wednesday, but I still very much have Colleyville, TX and the events from this past Shabbat at Congregation Beth Israel on my mind.  I am grateful that everyone escaped the Temple without physical harm.  I am grateful for and so appreciative of all the law enforcement agencies and professionals who were involved and who made a safe outcome happen.

            I am grateful for so much.  But I am also sad and scared and disappointed and mad.  What happened was shocking in so many ways – but it was not necessarily unbelievable.  Sadly we have seen a rise not only in hate and violence in our country, but specifically a rise in anti-Semitism and in acts of hatred targeting Jews and Jewish communities.  Unfortunately, this is part of our current reality.

            Here’s what I think we should take away from the events of last Saturday.

            First, we Jews are one community.  What affects one group or one synagogue affects all of us.  We want our fellow Jews and fellow Reform Congregation in Texas to know that we stand with them and are here for them.  They are not alone.

            Second, please know that we take safety and security very seriously here at Temple Sinai.  We have security plans in place.  We continue to be in contact with security experts from the Jewish community and greater New Orleans community who have advised and coached us.  There is no perfect plan; there is no way to be prepared for everything.  But know that we are trying.  I am grateful to our head of security, Joe Williamson, for all that he does for our Temple and congregation.  Security is always on our minds and on the minds of our staff and leadership.

            Third, please know that we are here for you.  We love our congregants and our community.  We – your Temple family, our Sinai leadership, clergy, and staff – care about you and are committed to do all that we can for you.  If you have concerns or if you just want to talk, know that we are happy to reach out.  Please just let us know.  We are here.  We are listening.  We care.

            Fourth, please know that we will get through this.  We have been through a lot throughout our history as a people.  There have always been challenges and obstacles in our path.  But we have survived, persevered, and thrived.  We are still here and, with the help of God, we hope to be here for a long, long time still to come.

            With all of this in mind, we push forward here at Temple Sinai.  I hope that you will consider joining us for Shabbat services this Friday evening at 6pm – whether in person or online.  Every Shabbat service is a service of healing and hope – this week I think those prayers are needed even more.  We will pray for our community, our people, and our world. 

            Please stay safe, try to stay healthy, and I hope to see you soon!

Wednesday Wisdom & Wit

01/12/2022 03:00:56 PM

Jan12

Rabbi Daniel Sherman

This is my first Wednesday Message of 2022.  So let me begin by wishing everyone a happy and healthier New Year.  I know we are off to a shaky start.  It is scary to see our current COVID numbers in our city and community.  Again, I want to urge everyone to be safe and smart: let’s be sure that everyone who is eligible is vaccinated and boosted, and that we are all wearing our masks and avoiding large gatherings.  This latest strand of COVID is so very contagious – please be careful.  To all who are sick, we wish you a complete and speedy recovery.

            We are being extra careful at Temple right now.  Masks are required for everyone inside the building.  We have no receptions or meals planned at Temple for the time being.  We are continuing to offer our Shabbat Evening Services both in person and on-line.  We request that everyone attending worship services provide proof of vaccination status and practice social distancing.  Our Shabbat Morning Services and Torah Study will remain only on-line this month.

            We delayed the beginning of Religious School for our students one week.  This Sunday we will celebrate the upcoming holiday of Tu Bishevat – the birthday of the trees – with an outdoor visit to the Botanical Gardens in City Park.  We hope it will be an educational and fun (and not too cold) start to the new semester.  In honor of Tu Bishevat, I hope that everyone will consider “Going Green” and take steps not only to appreciate but also to protect our beautiful earth and environment.

            Our Adult Education classes and discussions will continue online only this month.  This evening I will begin a new class: “What Jews Believe, Part III – The People of Israel.”  We will continue our study of Jewish beliefs.  Having begun with our beliefs in God and Torah, we will shift our focus to what does it mean to be Jewish and to be a part of the Jewish people today.  Tonight we will ask, “Who is a Jew?”  I hope you will plan on joining me on Zoom at 7:00pm.

            It is hard to believe that it has been a year since we lost our beloved Executive Director Emeritus, Herbert Barton, z’l.  We will honor and remember Mr. Barton at a special Shabbat Service this Friday evening, January 14.  I hope you will plan on joining us in-person or on-line as we remember all that Mr. Barton meant to Temple Sinai.  Rabbi Cohn and I will lead the service together, and we will be joined by Dr. Marcus St. Julien and a vocal quartet for some special music.

            There is lots that we have planned for 2022 at Temple Sinai.  I hope you will check with our Monthly Bulletin, our website, and our weekly email messages for the most up-to-date information on all that is happening at Temple.

            Please stay well, stay safe, stay connected, and I hope to see you soon!

Wednesday Wisdom & Wit

12/15/2021 03:21:32 PM

Dec15

Rabbi Daniel Sherman

TOGETHER NEW ORLEANS – Yesterday I was honored to participate in the new Together New Orleans Citywide Delegates Assembly.  Harry Lowenburg, Tyler Guidroz, and I represented Temple Sinai for the gathering at First Grace United Methodist Church.  We joined with 50 other organizations, including churches, synagogues, and civic institutions who are striving to build a new “WE” in New Orleans to solve our common problems.  Goals for Together New Orleans include developing trust across the lines that have divided our community in the past, in particular the line of race; strengthening community leadership so that we are more effective at working together; and achieving change on concrete issues of our choosing.  We are proud that Temple Sinai will be a founding member institution of this new “WE” for New Orleans.  To learn more, check out the website togethernola.org.  I want to thank Harry, who has been an integral part of Together New Orleans since its inception, and Tyler, who recently helped to lead a community forum that we hosted at the Temple.  I also want to thank our Temple’s Social Justice Committee, chaired by Luz Molina, and our Temple officers and board for their support of this important endeavor.  We will keep you updated as to what happens next.

            When you drive by Temple Sinai, you might notice a slight change outside of our building.  The banner that proudly stood above the entrance to our sanctuary has come down.  The banner had been up for the past several years, a symbol of our commitment to be a House of Prayer for all and a haven of love not hate.  Banners have a limited lifespan, but the message remains important.  The banner had begun to fade and to look tattered and worn.  Our Temple Board voted to remove the banner (or not to put it back up the next time it fell), which is now the case.  We want to thank all those who have helped the Temple to be a beacon of light and hope to our entire community – we pledge to continue to work to protect the rights of all and to pursue justice, equality, and peace in our community.

            Please let me know or contact the Temple if you have any questions or are interested in becoming more involved.   Together we can make a difference.

Wednesday Wisdom & Wit

12/08/2021 02:26:58 PM

Dec8

Rabbi Daniel Sherman

What a nice Chanukah we celebrated this year!  It was wonderful to come together for Chanukah on the Avenue and a special Shabbat of Chanukah service this past Friday evening at Temple.  It felt so good to be together in person outside to light up the Menorah and sing the blessings and Chanukah songs.  The latkes and cookies were a nice additional treat.  Then on Sunday we continued our celebrations with a fun morning for our Chavurah@Sinai students, including a Chanukah Carnival with games and snacks.  We concluded with a special Menorah-lighting ceremony at the St. Louis Cathedral.  I want to thank everyone who participated in our Chanukah events and celebrations this year – and a special TODAH RABBAH (Thank you very much!) goes to our volunteers, staff, and leadership who made everything happen.

            This evening I invite you to join with Cantor Colman for Wednesday Night Live on Zoom at 7:00pm as he explores “Israeli Folk Music & Composers.”  It sounds like a great class that will take place this week and next week (Dec. 8 & 15).  Please join us online to learn more and to hear some beautiful music.

            We are excited to celebrate this Shabbat as Auden Emerson becomes a Bar Mitzvah during our Shabbat Morning Service at 10:30am.  Mazal Tov to Auden and his family!  I also want to remind our Religious School students and families that today is our final Hebrew School afternoon of the semester, and this Sunday will be our last Chavurah@Sinai classes for 2021.

            Please take care and I hope to see you soon!

Wednesday Wisdom & Wit

11/24/2021 03:00:39 PM

Nov24

Rabbi Daniel Sherman

            This week we will join together with our fellow Americans to celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving.  I hope we will all take some time to remember to give thanks this Thanksgiving.  The following prayer comes from our home prayerbook, On the Doorposts of Your House: Prayers and Ceremonies for the Jewish Home (CCAR Press), published by the Reform Movement.  It can be recited before eating the Thanksgiving meal.

Creative Source of all being, from You come our blessings from day to day and from year to year.  The towering mountains and the shaded forests, the abundant streams and the fruitful earth are Your gift to us.  May we preserve this gift for our children, that they, too, may give thanks for the blessings that will be theirs.

For this land so richly blessed, we raise our voice in thanks.  Your children have come to these shores from many lands in quest of liberty and new life.  Many have been pilgrims to this western world.  Here they found a safe haven, soil on which to prosper, and the opportunity to outgrow old fears and superstitions.  For our country, for its freedom promised, attained, and yet to be enlarged, for the richness of its natural blessings, and for a growing harmony that we pray will ever increase among its citizens, we give thanks.

God of justice and right, inspire all who dwell in our land with loyalty to the ideals of its founders.  Give us wisdom and strength to labor for its well-being, on the firm foundation of justice and truth.  Fill us with the spirit of kindness, generosity, and peace, that this land may be a beacon-light to many peoples.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!  Beteiavon!

Wednesday Wisdom & Wit

11/17/2021 04:39:16 PM

Nov17

Rabbi Daniel Sherman

MODEH ANI LEFANECHA – I offer thanks to You, our ever-living Sovereign” – traditionally these are some of the very first words we say each morning upon waking up.  We start our day by offering thanks, thus reminding ourselves that every day is a blessing and we strive to make the most of it.

            I am looking forward to the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday.  Thanksgiving has always been a beloved holiday of American Jews.  An American holiday based on the immigrant experience that focuses on food, family, and gratitude – that sounds pretty Jewish to me! 

We have one week to get ready for Thanksgiving.  I hope you will spend some time over the course of the week and on Thanksgiving Day itself remembering to give thanks.  We have so much for which to be grateful – let’s not take all the blessings and good things in our life for granted.

I am grateful for my family and for my Temple Sinai Family – please know how important you are to me and to all of us here at Temple.  I especially grateful for our Rabbi Emeritus, Rabbi Edward P. Cohn, for all of his support and for all that he continues to do for our congregation.  Rabbi Cohn will be leading services with Cantor Colman and speaking this week at our Shabbat Evening Service on Friday, Nov. 19 at 6:00pm.  I hope you will plan on joining us.

I am also grateful for my colleagues who are serving our neighboring houses of worship.  We had a wonderful lunch together today.  It was a great reminder that we are all in this together.  Our congregations will prepare for Thanksgiving by joining together for a Community Interfaith Service next Tuesday, Nov. 23 at 6:00pm at Trinity Episcopal Church.  It is always a very special service, and I hope you will make plans to participate along with Cantor Colman.

Wednesday Wisdom & Wit | 11/10/21

11/10/2021 03:00:46 PM

Nov10

Rabbi Daniel Sherman

As I look at this week’s calendar, three particular dates jump out at me: Nov. 9, 11, and 13.  Let me explain.

            November 9 marks the 83rd anniversary of Kristallnacht – the “Night of Broken Glass” in Germany, which began a new level of atrocities committed against the Jews of Germany and the entire region.  This was a turning point and a date that many people point to as the beginning of the Holocaust: the systematic genocide of the Jewish people in Europe.  There are not many people alive today who lived through and who can remember Kristallnacht.  That makes it even more important for us to remember and to retell what happened on that day in 1938 and everything that followed.  It is up to us to stand up and to fight against anti-Semitism, as well as prejudice, bigotry, hatred and violence of all types – which are all again on the rise here in our country and around the world.  May the memory of Kristallnacht inspire us to act and never to forget.

            Tomorrow is Veterans’ Day, another important day on the calendar.  It is important for us to thank the brave men and women who make up our armed services and who have sacrificed so much to serve and defend our country.  We thank all of those who have served our country and who continue to serve – we are grateful for your commitment and service.  May God bless the United States of America and all of our veterans.

            And finally, November 13 – the date on which Ezra Terk will become a Bar Mitzvah.  Ezra is our first Bar or Bat Mitzvah of 5782 here at Temple, and we are very proud of him and excited for him and his family.  All of us here at Temple wish Ezra a hearty “MAZAL TOV!”

            I hope everyone is having a good week.  I look forward to seeing you for our Wednesday Night Live discussion this evening as we continue our class on “What Jews Believe – Torah and Mitzvot” at 7:00pm over Zoom.  Tomorrow I invite you to join me for our Thursday Lunch Discussion over Zoom at 12:30pm.  And I would love to see more people join us for Shabbat Services on Friday evening at 6:00pm and Saturday morning at 10:30am.

            Take care and I hope to see you soon!

Wednesday Wisdom & Wit | Wednesday 11/3/21

11/03/2021 03:07:33 PM

Nov3

Rabbi Daniel Sherman

                        Wow – November is really here!  And even the weather has changed (at least a little).  There is a lot happening at Temple this month: services, adult education classes, book & movie clubs, a night at the new Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience with Brotherhood, and much more.  Please read through our November/December 2021 Temple Bulletin and our Temple Sinai website for more information and details.  Don’t forget: Chanukah begins this year on November 28 – the Sunday evening following Thanksgiving.
                         I am so pleased that COVID numbers in our community have been on the decline.  Thankfully we are moving in the right direction – but we must still do our part and be smart to keep things improving.  With the latest announcements from both the Governor and Mayor, we are rethinking our current health protocols and safety policies here at Temple.  I am also excited and relieved that hopefully all of our elementary and middle school students will soon be vaccinated.  For now, we are continuing to ask everyone to wear a mask inside the Temple building and to practice social distancing.  We will keep you updated with changes as they occur.  We want to encourage everyone to come back to Temple, and we want you to feel safe and happy in your return.  Please feel free to share comments and questions – we would love to hear from you.  Stay well, Happy November, and I hope to see you soon!
                      Don’t forget: Please join me at 7:00pm this evening on Zoom for our next Wednesday Night Live Adult Education Class.  We will be discussing: “What Jews Believe – Torah & Mitzvot” for the next three weeks.

 

Wednesday Wisdom & Wit | Wednesday 10/27/21

10/27/2021 03:30:08 PM

Oct27

Rabbi Daniel Sherman

Today is a very important date: it is the third anniversary of the tragic shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA.  11 Jews were murdered in this deadliest act of anti-Semitism in American Jewish History.  It is important that we remember those whose lives were taken, those who lost family members, and those who were injured – they are all an important part of our Jewish family here in this country.  We mourn their loss as well as the loss of feelings of safety and security and peace.  We will remember the victims as we say Kaddish this week at our Shabbat Services: I invite you to join with us as we come together as one community to remember – “we are stronger together.” 

            I want to share with you the following statement from President  Biden:

 

Statement by President Joe Biden Three Years After the Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting
OCTOBER 27, 2021

Three years ago, on a peaceful Shabbat morning, a lone gunman stormed into the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood and stole the lives of 11 souls in prayer. Eleven others managed to escape — some with serious physical injuries, others with indelible scars of grief.

The attack was the deadliest act of antisemitism in our nation’s history. It was an assault on members of the Tree of Life, New Light, and Dor Hadash congregations, the American Jewish community, and our country. And it was a reminder that hate never goes away, it only hides; and if we give hate oxygen, it can consume.

But the days, weeks, and months that followed also revealed the unyielding character of a community: The first responders who rushed into harm’s way. The teenagers who organized a Havdalah vigil for a neighborhood in need. The art teacher who painted hearts and Stars of David in the windows of a local coffee shop. The designer who formed an iconic image that defined a city and inspired a nation with three simple words: stronger than hate.

That day and those that followed remind all of us to embrace the better angels of our nature – and to turn pain into purpose. We must always stand up and speak out against antisemitism with clarity and conviction, and rally against the forces of hate in all its forms, because silence is complicity. We must recognize in others our shared humanity and strive to summon unexpected faith in unanticipated moments — in the hope that we might heal and rebuild.

That continues to be the work of my Administration — laying out our country’s first-ever comprehensive strategy to address domestic terrorism, signing legislation aimed at strengthening our efforts to counter unlawful acts of hate, taking executive actions to protect houses of worship, and pressing forward with executive and legislative action to reduce all forms of gun violence.

This Shabbat, in synagogues around the country, worshipers will sing the timeless words from the Book of Proverbs: Eitz Chayim Hee La’machazikim Bah. “It is a tree of life for those who hold fast to it.” As we mark three years since this heinous attack, we resolve to remember the lives lost and commit to protecting a future worthy of their memories. May the survivors and the families of the victims hold fast to the teachings of their faith and find comfort in the embrace of their community and their country.

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

05/04/2021 11:29:09 AM

May4

Rabbi Daniel Sherman

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Dear Temple Sinai Family,

           Welcome to the first week of May! All one has to do is take a quick glance at the calendar, and you will see what a busy and special month May 2021 will be at Temple Sinai this year.

           I wanted to point out a few highlights. First, please don’t forget that today is GiveNOLA Day. GiveNOLA Day is our annual opportunity for tzedakah as well as gemilut chasadim – acts of loving kindness. For those who are able, I hope you will consider supporting some of the many amazing nonprofits in our community who are doing such important and meaningful work on behalf of Greater New Orleans. Please consider making a donation towards Temple Sinai, as well as other Jewish organizations and all who are working to make our community stronger and better for all.

           This week during Wednesday Night Live, we will ask the question: “Do Jews celebrate Cinco de Mayo?” Join me at 7:00pm on Zoom as we discuss Jews around the world. Also this week we will hold our next Thursday Lunch Discussion at 12:30pm. On Friday we will join together to celebrate our May Anniversaries and Birthdays at our 6:00pm Shabbat Evening Service. Please remember that Sunday, May 9, is Mother’s Day – and it is a mitzvah to remember and honor our mothers!

           And don’t forget to mark your calendars for more of May’s special events: Preparing for Shavuot programs on Wednesday 5/12 and Thursday 5/13; Brotherhood Bingo on Saturday 5/15; our End of the School Year Picnic with Chavurah@Sinai on Sunday, 5/16; Confirmation Service on Sunday, 5/16 to begin our celebration of Shavuot; Sisterhood Sabbath on Friday, 5/21; and the Temple Sinai On-Line Annual Meeting on Sunday, 5/23.

           I hope that everyone is healthy and safe. I look forward to seeing you this month. Please stay connected and well.

Shalom u’vracha – peace & blessing,

Rabbi Daniel Sherman

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

04/27/2021 11:59:53 AM

Apr27

Rabbi Daniel Sherman

Dear Temple Sinai Family,

           Where did April go? I cannot believe that May is right around the corner. This is a busy time around Temple with lots of great things going on.

           This week is our final session in our two-part Adult Education series: “Modern Movements in Judaism Today.” Last week we focused on the Reform Movement. This week we will discuss other branches of Judaism including Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Humanist, and more. I invite you to join me on Wednesday evening at 7:00pm over Zoom. Also this week we will host our Thursday Lunch Discussion at 12:30pm on Zoom.

           I want to remind everyone that our Shabbat services are available both on-line and in-person for both Friday evenings and Saturday mornings. It has been wonderful to welcome people back slowly into our sanctuary. We invite you to join us. For those planning on attending in-person, we kindly ask for you to make a reservation. Inside the building we require mask-wearing and social-distancing.

           I also want to remind everyone that next Tuesday, May 4 is GiveNOLA Day. This 24-hour event is hosted by the Greater New Orleans Foundation to inspire people to give generously to nonprofits making our region stronger and creating a thriving community for all. I think it is especially important for us to give back to our community this year as the need for help continues to rise. GiveNOLA Day is a wonderful opportunity for us to practice TZEDAKAH. Tzedakah is more than just “charity” – Tzedakah is a righteous act and a mitzvah. It is one of the ways we give back and share what we have with those who are in need because it is both a loving act as well as the right thing to do. I hope you will consider supporting the Temple and your favorite local nonprofits this GiveNOLA Day as we show our support for both the Jewish community and the city we love.

           Please stay well and stay connected!

Shalom u’vracha – peace & blessing,

Rabbi Daniel Sherman

From Where I Stand | Rabbi Edward P. Cohn

10/04/2020 02:34:21 PM

Oct4

From Where I Stand

Rabbi Edward P. Cohn

Sukkot is my favorite holiday! In antiquity, Sukkot was so central in Jewish observance as to receive the additional moniker, “Heh-Chag – THE Festival.” In pre-Biblical times, Sukkot was a pagan harvest celebration. By the time the Torah was canonized it had become designated as the Jewish Fall Harvest Festival extraordinaire!

Occurring while the autumnal moon fills the evening sky with light, the sukkah booth erected so as to always afford an unimpeded glimpse of the sky, becomes the centerpiece of Sukkot observance.

Though Passover enjoys its beloved Seder plate and Chanukah its nine light menorah, Sukkot has no lasting ceremonial object. By the festival’s conclusion the sukkah leaves and decorative vegetables and fruits on strings have become dry and all but unrecognizable. Even the fragrant Etrog and the leafy Lulav have become noticeably shriveled. But, that is at the center of Sukkot’s abiding message – life is fleeting. Open your eyes to see the beauty and the wonders of life!

In fact, as is often pointed out, the building of this impermanent sukkah is meant to be more than just the locus of a week outside. The sukkah is a stark reminder of the forces of nature and the undeniable vulnerability which is inherent to all life. Surely, this lesson continues to make itself all too plain during the Covid-19 pandemic!

Nevertheless, rejoice good people, in the blessings which are ours and don’t forget to share them with those many who have so much less.

Faithfully yours,

Rabbi Edward Paul CohnFrom

“Stand Strong” produced by the American Conference of Cantors

09/27/2020 03:56:06 PM

Sep27

Cantor Colman participated in a virtual choir performance of the song “Stand Strong” produced by the American Conference of Cantors. Click here check it out!

 

Thu, January 27 2022 25 Shevat 5782