Every Saturday, 10:30 am, following services
Torah study begins at 10:30am and go until 11:45ish. We look at both modern scholarship, traditional commentary, and considering how these ancient texts can help us explore our own spiritual lives, our values, and what it means to be human. No prior knowledge is needed!
Newcomers are warmly welcomed!
Changes in schedule will be noted on our home page.
Shalom Temple Sinai!
Happy Tu b’Av! Tu b’Av, ( the 15th of Av) is Jewish Valentines Day, a day devoted to love. It was an ancient tradition that fell out of practice but has been revived in recent decades. With all that is happening around, it is good to give thanks for the love we have in our lives.2020-08-04 email
TO REOPEN OR NOT TO REOPEN — THAT IS THE QUESTION
This is an agonizing issue—whether Temple should reopen our sanctuary and conduct in-person services and gatherings or whether we should continue to worship together virtually? I know that after almost 5-months, there is a strong sense of disappointment and, yes, suffering as the result of our lack of human contact. I know we long for something beyond our virtual community and to actually get together to sing and dance, smile and hug. And I know we long for a return to our real world, the one before COVID-19 struck. I get that and the Temple Sinai Board gets that. So the Board has spent significant portions of the past several Board Meetings in vigorous discussion about this very issue. And each month we have unanimously come to the same conclusions: (1) not to reopen this month and (2) to reevaluate new information and data at next month’s meeting. I want to take a moment to explain our decision.
Our number one concern is minimizing the health risks to our members, Rabbi, Stacie and all guests who may come by our Synagogue. This deserves a cautious approach. Accordingly, we have followed the recommendations and guidelines of the Vermont Department of Health and the CDC, spoken directly with experts, and routinely communicated with other congregations and religious institutions. Our decision not to reopen at this time is deeply informed by these actors. We are also aware that the nature of our services would likely change dramatically if held in-person. While 6-feet is commonly understood as appropriate social distancing under normal situations, when singing, that distance increases to 21-feet. And we all know the important and central role singing has in our services and prayer. While we have established a practice of obtaining necessary supplies and cleaning our facility commensurate with our current use, reopening dramatically changes all that. Maybe a bit simplistic, but what we have decided not to do is to engage in continuous policy decisions about how many people can attend services, who those people should be, where they should sit, how to use prayer books, and how to make bathrooms available. In my mind, and the Board’s mind, the calculus on these matters involves too many judgment calls each of which has too much potential to put our health at risk.
Importantly, I believe our approach is consistent with Jewish principles. Pikuach nefesh, “saving a life,” is the principle in Jewish law that the preservation of human life is paramount and overrides all the other commandments in Judaism. When the life of a specific person is in danger, we are required to disregard a law that conflicts with that person’s life or health. In our case, as we face the COVID-19 pandemic, pikuach nefesh must guide us. Our practice to remain virtual does this.
Finally, it is important to point out that our decision to continue to hold virtual services is consistent with every other reform and conservative synagogue of which we are aware. No one on the Board thinks this is a time for us to get ahead of the curve.
Nevertheless, we are always entertaining ideas about how we can congregate safely. Sisterhood regularly sponsors pop-up gatherings on our grounds. We are exploring ways to expand our outdoor offerings for Saturday worship including services, Torah study and Havdalah. We are considering an outdoor concert, a service at the Sunset Drive-in, and small group events like Trivia Night where we can all fit under a tent or social distance safely. Our plan is for our High Holy Days to incorporate outside gatherings. I encourage you to look to our website, weekly messages from Rabbi, and other Temple-related emails for updates on Temple gatherings. And please, if you have ideas, don’t hesitate to reach out to me, Stacie or Rabbi.
Outdoor activities, however, are not the panacea. We cannot forget that in this time of COVID- 19 and widespread movements for racial and social equality, we have seen a distinct rise in anti- Semitism and general hate activity. So we must be cautious and proactive about security and make sure that however we are able to congregate, we can do so safely (and at a reasonable cost).
The next Board meeting is scheduled for August 10th. If you have comments or thoughts about reopening, whether for or against, and you wish to share them with the Board for consideration please email me at President@TempleSinaiVT.org.
Shalom. And stay safe.
Your President, Doug Marden
Five Ways You Can Get Involved To Make A Difference In Our Community
Reform Judaism’s beliefs grow from the Hebrew Prophets’ calls for social justice. We are to do what we can to make those values manifest and real in our community. Here are four things you can get involved with or attend with Temple Sinai to make a difference:
- Anti-Racism Book Group
- Speaker Evan Traylor
- Help Get Out the Vote
- Support the South Burlington Food Shelf
- Get Involved With Our Social Action/Tikkun Olam Committee
MASK MAKING CONTINUES
Chaverim’s small, but dedicated mask making army continues their sewing. To date we have made 1170 masks. Chances are, by the time you read this, the count will have changed! At this time most of our efforts are for Howard Mental Health. They have approximately 1500 employees and so far we’ve made 400 masks for them.
Thanks to Barb Hicken for securing a donation of mask kits from Vermont Teddy Bear Company for us. This is a big help in our efforts to make the world safer one mask at a time!
GRANDPARENTING AT A DISTANCE
Staying in touch with my grandchildren has been a big challenge during COVID and will continue to be challenging for some time to come, I imagine. I’m thankful for Skype, Zoom and Facetime calls which have enabled us to stay in touch. Now if someone would just invent “Hug- a-Vision,” I’d be happy. A newly acquired friend was telling me about JEWISH GRANDPARENTS NETWORK and how it’s been helpful to her during COVID in maintaining contact with her grandkids. I checked it out and it has some wonderful resources. I invite all you grandparents to check it out, if you’re not familiar with it.
Another resource this friend mentioned was the Caribu app. You can video chat with kids and it integrates stories and other fun things. It’s free. I’ll be checking it out this week and will update you on my experience with it in coming weeks.
CALLING CHICKS WITH STICKS
Chaverim is reigniting the knitting group at Temple. Henceforth, we shall be known as the KNITZVAH CREW. If you knit or crochet, consider joining us to create items to be donated to various local organizations. If you’re interested in joining us, please contact the Temple office. I hope to have a virtual meeting of the group sometime in August so we can decide where we want our efforts to go for Fall/Winter 2020.
We are working on putting together a Family Game Night for some time in August. More details to follow.
We also are hoping to start an Interfaith Women’s Book Group with women of the Jewish, Christian and Islamic faith to explore each other’s faith systems and our experiences. This would a non-political group. Hopefully, it will be a vehicle for great understanding and friendship between our groups. If you’re interested in such a group, let us know. I hope we can do this face to face rather than via Zoom. Our email address is email@example.com
As always, if you or someone you know is in need of support with meals, transportation or a phone call, let us know. You can email us or leave a message on the Temple phone, 802-862-5125, and we’ll be in touch. Stay safe. And wear your mask, please!