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From the President


From the President

John N. Louie

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John Louie grew up in Southern California, where his parents had been Israeli folk dancing since 1962. He started Israeli dancing 32 years ago while working on his PhD at Caltech's Seismo Lab. He married Neva Donovan 30 years ago; she is a family physician. Recruited to the University of Nevada, Reno in 1992, John teaches geophysics at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, doing research in energy exploration and earthquake hazards. John and Neva began attending Sinai services in 1999, with both of their children Anna and Ben becoming B'nei Mitzvah at Sinai. First joining the Sinai Board in 2001 as Secretary, John subsequently converted with Rabbi Soifer.


Your Sinai Board of Trustees, Working for Our Congregation

Written by // John N. Louie Categories // 2017 Posts

Last Sunday your Temple Sinai Board of Trustees attended a 5-hour retreat at the synagogue, together with committee chairs and representatives. I need to thank everyone who attended, those who wanted to attend but could not; and especially Stefanie Fenton for volunteering many hours to plan and facilitate this retreat, as well as the previous retreat in late June. This retreat focused on how well the board and committees are implementing the strategic initiatives we defined in late June, and on refining these initiatives. The board is spending much effort on the two initiatives identified in June as most critical, so these were not refined further:

  • Develop a sound financial plan/Set up rainy day fund. Since this initiative enables everything else we do at Sinai, we have emphasized it. The Financial Advisory Council of TS (FACTS) is meeting several times each month, and drawing many hours of effort from a dozen volunteers, including five board members. FACTS focuses on Budget and Finance, Philanthropy and Legacy, and Grants. If you would like to attend a FACTS meeting, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
  • Get clear on/codify what TS is looking for in a Rabbi. Our search for rabbinic leadership has gotten a strong start. The rabbinic search committee is working hard, and applications from candidates are coming in.

Here are the initiatives that we have much work yet to do on, with the purposes set down just last Sunday:

  • Board governance/operations. Ensure Temple Sinai runs effectively, efficiently, and transparently.
  • Healing divisiveness. To facilitate inclusiveness, educate about what the Reform Movement represents.
  • Better communications. To increase engagement, provide more openness; encourage transparent dialogue among our board and congregation.
  • Understanding various demographics. What would attract participation from the underrepresented and underserved?
  • Jewish education. Pillars: Students, teachers, Rabbi, curriculum, Torah, financial, support, results.
  • Increase membership/bring in new members. Become more relevant to our various Jewish demographics; explore alternatives to traditional membership.

As you can see, we have our work cut out for us. The Board invites Sinai members to all of its meetings- we want you to know what we are doing, and we want to hear from you. (Next meeting 7 p.m. Nov. 8)

Two more invitations: Did you know that Sinai’s twice-monthly Shabbat morning services (1st and 3rd Saturday’s) (9:30am) and Torah study (10:30am) are as well attended as Friday nights? Many thanks to Deborah Achtenberg and Marilyn Roberts, for elevating Sinai’s Shabbat mornings. Come and be a part of it, next Shabbat Nov. 4!

Also, starting Nov. 17, every 3rd Friday night will be an uplifting, musical, camp-style, rockin’ Shabbat called “Shabbat Alive!” These services will take place at 6:00 p.m. followed by a robust Oneg. They will feature a song-leader from URJ Camp Newman! Please join us and invite a friend!

Moving forward together,
John Louie


Shanah Tovah from your Sinai Family

Written by // John N. Louie Categories // 2017 Posts

Shanah Tovah! It's always a pleasure at this time of year to see such a wonderful turnout of our congregation, as well as non-members and guests, joining us in worship. Thanks to everyone at Temple Sinai who helps out, the Board, all the committees, Mike for running our office, Tracy who sets up before and locks up after events, and all of you for attending. You all make Temple Sinai our welcoming Jewish home.

There are a number of people who have been working hard to get everything ready for us. I want to especially recognize Marilyn Roberts and the Jewish Practice committee, who got us organized early. Many thanks to those who helped set up the room Sunday. You have also seen our new Holiday Torah mantles, and the table cloth and Torah covers, thanks to further dedication by the inimitable Judy Schumer. Michael Gorden is heading up the hard work by our Building, Grounds, and Security committee. They have figured out the sound system and engaged the security and police presence to keep us secure. Many thanks also to our terrific holiday Choir.

I need to make sure you know that Rabbi Bair has made the difficult decision that these High Holy Days will be his last with us. He and his growing family will be seeking new opportunities. We will miss his scholarship, his commitment to social justice, and his quick smile. Our newly convened Rabbinic Search Committee is underway, and already evaluating applicants.

We are very excited for the coming year. Our Board and committee members are diligently at work planning programs to address your many interests, including: Hebrew School, Adult and Jewish Practice, Men's club, Sisterhood, family activities, and Social Action.

Whether you are a member or a guest, we need your financial support to ensure we can continue to provide programs that meet the needs of our congregation and community. That includes these High Holy Day services. On the chairs during services we will have remittance envelopes, or you can visit . We are suggesting a donation of $180. This amount was chosen because it is ten times the numerical value of the Hebrew word “Chai” which means life; and an amount that sustains the livelihood of the Synagogue. If you can afford to give more, we would greatly appreciate it. But even if can't afford $180, please know that we value any contribution you feel comfortable with giving. A donation of $180 averages out to $15 a month - less than the cost of a movie for two, or one Starbucks beverage each week. Your contribution will go a long way toward ensuring our Synagogue's financial health for the upcoming year.

Thank you for your continued commitment to Temple Sinai.

Shanah Tovah!
John Louie

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