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From the Rabbi

REGULAR BLOG FROM OUR RABBI

From the Rabbi

Rabbi Ethan Bair

JULY 2013 TO PRESENT

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Rabbi Ethan Bair grew up in Boston where he was raised by spiritual seekers who rediscovered their Judaism through the Jewish Renewal movement. A graduate of Oberlin College and a former Fulbright scholar to Germany, Rabbi Bair was ordained at the Reform seminary, Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles, in 2011. He wrote his Rabbinic thesis on "Re-Envisioning Reform Jewish Prayer," with Dr. Rachel Adler. While in rabbinical school, he was a recipient of the prestigious Schusterman Rabbinical Fellowship, which brought together future Reform and Conservative rabbis to learn about volunteer engagement, strategic planning and synagogue management. Stemming from this experience, Rabbi Bair would describe himself as a member of a new generation of Jewish leaders for whom denominations are secondary to transformational Jewish experience. Over the last six years, he has served congregations in Ogden, Utah; Vancouver, British Columbia; Sun Valley, Idaho; and San Rafael, CA. Most recently, he worked at American Jewish World Service, a global Jewish non-profit working to realize human rights in the developing world. Before that, he served as Campus Rabbi at the University of Southern California Hillel. Rabbi Bair is committed to creating a participatory and authentic Jewish prayer culture; promoting inter-faith social justice work; and integrating Jewish studies with traditional Jewish sources into his repertoire of teaching. He enjoys running, hiking, singing, and welcoming Shabbat guests into his home with his wife, Nadya. She is a doctoral candidate in Art History, currently writing her dissertation.

Sep08

Change Is Possible

Written by // Rabbi Ethan Bair Categories // 2017 Posts

It may be hard to believe that Rosh HaShanah is less than two weeks away. Are we ready?

This Shabbat is the 18th of Elul, the month of reflection and longing that leads up to the 1st of Tishrei on Rosh Hashanah and the Days of Awe. Elul is an acronym It may be hard to believe that Rosh HaShanah is less than two weeks away. Are we ready?

This Shabbat is the 18th of Elul, the month of reflection and longing that leads up to the 1st of Tishrei on Rosh HaShanah and the Days of Awe. Elul is an acronym for the phrase from the Song of Songs (6:3), ani l’dodi v’dodi li, “I am my beloved and my beloved is mine.” The foundation for the possibility of change is love and relationship with God, which is how I imagine the source of love and acceptance that makes us feel safe to examine our deeds and to be able to change.

I have always loved that the Song of Songs is the megillah, or scroll of Khetuvim (Writings of the Hebrew Bible) associated with Yom Kippur. For the rabbis, the Song of Songs is an allegorical love story between the Jewish people and God. Why does Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year come before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement? Rabbi Michael Strassfeld teaches in A Book of Life: Embracing Judaism As a Spiritual Practice that we enter the New Year not with our slate clean or all our relationships repaired. We enter Rosh HaShanah with the promise of change. He writes: “This promise [of change] supports us as we struggle with the past and with the nagging feeling that nothing ever changes. Though these may be our thirtieth or fiftieth High Holidays, many of us are still dealing with the same issues that we struggled with last year or ten years ago. Rosh HaShanah says that change is possible. The Torah readings speak of pregnancy in old age and a slaughter knife halted in mid-decent. The possibilities of the future lie stretched out before us.”

In our personal and communal season of reflection, renewal and transformation I bless each of us to re-connect with our relationship with God in the next week and a half. However you best feel connected to God’s love—whether at services at Sinai, in nature or a hot air balloon, on a quiet walk or meditation, we enter Rosh HaShanah with remembering God’s presence in our lives. From there, we might uncover the personal safety to examine our deeds in a way that feels supportive and reconnect with the love of relationships all around us.

Shana Tova and I look forward to a meaningful Days of Awe in community with you!

Shabbat shalom,
Rabbi Bair

Aug10

To a Good New (School) Year!

Categories // 2017 Posts

My Facebook feed has been filled this week with first day of school pictures. What a beautiful way to mark how fast kids grow! As we look forward to a new year of Sinai School here at T.S., I am very happy that with Beth Slamowitz at its helm, the Familyhood Committee is planning some wonderful programing and meeting for the first time this at 6:00 p.m., this Monday night, August 14th in the Temple Sinai Library. All parents are welcome! We are also pleased to publish the Sinai School calendar for the year, here. Parents, please note that the first day of Sinai School is Sunday, September 10 this year. While the start date is two weeks later than in the past, we have removed some of the breaks for long weekends and we will have four more regular days of Sinai School this year than we had last year. The deadline for registering for Sinai School is August 30th! Please register your child/ren today!

With Marilyn Roberts at the helm of Jewish Practice, we are also planning a wonderful High Holy Days this year. Please see below or here for the schedule, and note that the Slichot Service this year will utilize the new Mishkan HaLev siddur for Slichot from the CCAR Press. Slichot is a service on the Saturday night before Rosh Hashanah that begins in earnest our personal, spiritual reflection and repentance and prepares the congregation for High Holy Days by switching out the Torah mantles. Please read here for more information. If you’ve never come to Slichot services before, please join us beginning with havdallah at 8:00 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16th in the sanctuary.

Please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are interested in joining the High Holy Day Choir this year. Rehearsal dates will be announced shortly, and we want to know if you plan to join us (once again or newly).

Finally, I want to say a special thank you to everyone who showed up to support Carol at Herb Pevney’s Unveiling yesterday, over thirty people. It was a beautiful example of what we learn in this week’s Torah portion, Eikev: “Now Oh Israel, what does God ask of you? …To love Him, and to serve Adonai, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deut. 10:12) Deeds of compassion and support to others in our community are a beautiful manifestation of our love for God and our deep respect for one another.

Shalom uv’racha,
Rabbi Bair

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