We often mark what we call “Jewish Time.” Secular holidays and events happen and we are pretty well attuned to them. But Jewish events are harder to track, especially when we are the only ones on our calendar. And yet, Jewish Time, the holidays, milestones, and other happenings that are unique to us, continue on.
For nearly a year, we have been distancing and quarantining. All the while, “Jewish Time” continued. We did our best to keep up with the big dates – Passover, Shavuot, the High Holy Days. Some of the events did not receive the same attention. Our adult study and other programming have been less active and less accessible than we would have liked. But “Jewish Time” marches on, whether we observe each and every little (or large) event or not. And some events have done very well virtually. Torah study, for example, has become a weekly event and has grown exponentially!
The good news is even more than that! We are continuing with events and working to add more and more, even though for now we’re remaining distanced. In fact, our Tu B’shevat Seder, which has heretofore been an easily forgotten January event, will be live via Zoom this year. If you’ve never been to one, come and join us! More events about Purim and our other spring holidays are to follow.
The other great news is that the vaccine is rolling out. Our most treasured value is that of pikuach nefesh – the saving of lives. This vaccine is a way that we can help save lives, but it will only work if we all do our part. That means continuing to practice social distancing and mask-wearing, and all of us who are able to, getting vaccinated as soon as we are eligible. We are monitoring the rollout and if you need help understanding when or where to get yours or need help with a ride, please let us know. And we will do our part to let you know what is happening – both in and around our community – and with the availability of the vaccine.
We are here and will continue to mark “Jewish Time.” We hope that by helping bring Judaism, with its traditions and its occasions into your homes, we can all step out of the chaos of the rest of the world, at least for a little while. Wishing you rest, peace, and good things in this new year.
What does Calendar year 2021 look like for us? I am extremely hopeful that we will be able to start gathering in-person again, in coordination with the distribution of vaccines. In the meantime, I want to recognize all of our ongoing committees, which continue to work hard to meet all of Temple Sinai’s needs. Our synagogue has a Caring Committee, a Jewish Practice Committee, a Building, Grounds and Security Committee, a Membership Committee, a Social Action Committee, and a Library Committee. These committees, and their members, are very committed to our continued success in every way possible and have remained that way throughout this pandemic. New members are always welcome, and with the added stress of serving on a committee during a pandemic, joining now will help our veteran committee members fight off burnout and fatigue. If you can help out, please do.
We will be holding our Semi-Annual Congregational Forum on Sunday, January 31, 2021, at 1:30 pm. At this meeting, we will provide you updates on all that is going on at Temple Sinai. We will also present some legislation for a vote, in regards to Temple membership. More information about that will be going out soon.
And right now, we are half-way through our fiscal year. So, this is the time when we start working on Board Positions. This year, all positions on the Board are up for a vote. I have asked John Louie to chair the nominating committee, so if you are interested in any positions, please let John know. The Board is vital to maintaining our congregation, and we hope that you will consider joining.
We have many reasons to be thankful for this week.
First, the Board and the Rabbis have agreed to a five-year contract extension that will keep the Rabbis (and Toby, Naomi, and Ramona) in Reno through June 30, 2026. This does not mean they are leaving in 2026, only that their current contract extension ends on that date. Their initial contract was set to expire on June 30, 2021. We are overwhelmed and thankful they came to Reno to lead Temple Sinai and have blessed us with their energy, enthusiasm, pragmatism, and their wonderful family.
Second, we are thankful for all of the anonymous donors who have contributed and/or pledged to contribute to the Rabbi Compensation Fund over the next five years. These additional monies will allow us to pay the Rabbis appropriately, without negatively impacting our budget.
Third, we are thankful for the Board of Trustees, who work tirelessly to lead Temple Sinai, and for all of our members and friends of Sinai who support us financially, donate their time, expertise, or other skills to the benefit of our congregation and community.
Finally, we are thankful for Mike Stombaugh, without whom Temple Sinai would not run as smoothly.
Enjoy this season, stay healthy and safe, follow our Governor’s guidelines and mandates, and be thankful we have each other, our family and our friends… even if we can’t meet in person right now.
Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!
I am still in awe at the accomplishments that we, as a Jewish Community, have demonstrated — especially during the nonstop pandemic. When they say it takes a community… it’s absolutely true. The hard work and dedication have proven that nothing that can keep us down, not even a pandemic.
We were very successful in streaming the High Holy Days and bringing our community together, even from afar. Our wonderful rabbis, with the continued support of the board, still offer our regularly scheduled programming from their home. Russell Slamowitz, in front of a small crowd, did an outstanding job on his Bar Mitzvah, which we live-streamed to everyone so that his Sinai family could also partake in his big day. Special thanks go to the Slamowitz family, Dave Levine, Tova McGilvray, Atty Garfinkle-Berry, Mike Medvin, and Rabbi Sara for doing their best to keep everyone Healthy and Safe during the event. In case you missed it, you can watch the Bar Mitzvah Service on our YouTube channel HERE.
The amazing support for our annual HHD donation drive brought in $20,000 dollars. This is so phenomenal! There is so much still going on in our Temple and this support is needed, along with our ongoing membership dues. Your Temple Sinai Board members understand the value of hard work and dedication and could not be more proud to serve our congregation.
Last, but not least… after 2 years of dedication, Temple Sinai has been given the official word that we have received a Federal Non-Profit Security Grant in the amount of $100,000. I will be putting together a committee to ensure we are following all the policies and procedures this grant requires. This will have a huge impact on us and will help us to accomplish all of our security needs. This is a matching grant, meaning that we are expected to match 25-30% in Temple funds. These funds will go towards items that are secondary expenses that we will incur that are not covered by the specifics of the grant. We welcome any donations towards these expenses. This is a 3-year grant and we look forward to seeing the results of the hard work that this enables us to accomplish.
Still, I know the question remains: “when will we open up?” The board has worked hard forming the guidelines that we need in our community during the pandemic. We were really looking forward to coming together a little more. However, we all know that the number of positive cases in our area is currently out of control and Governor Sisolak has asked us to all remain home over the next few weeks. Please know that your health and safety is our highest priority at this time. Keep your families and yourself safe and healthy; please wear your masks, and remember to maintain social distancing.
There are so many things that are unique and different about the times we are living in. One such thing that we seldom mention is that this is a time of great creativity and openness to new ideas. The combination of technology and need means that our options for activities during quarantine have been more varied and innovative than we ever could have imagined. Certainly, nothing takes the place of meeting in person. But remember back to our Tikkun Leil Shavuot in May – would we have ever thought to study late into the night with people all over the world without this experience? Would we have found so many ways to connect and so many different voices for the High Holy Days, if we had gathered as was usual in years past?
Now that the High Holy Days are over, with winter approaching, we need to find more ways to connect with one another, and more things to do to maintain our sense of community. Perhaps you have been sitting on an idea (or, half of one has been rolling around in your mind). Maybe there is a group or club you would like to start or join. Or maybe, you just want to find more opportunities to see your Sinai family, even if it is in a Zoom room or on a cold winter hike.
Rabbi Sara and I are working to continue to bring you services, learning, and other activities. And we want to hear from you! In February, we will come together for our annual calendar meeting, where committees, groups, and individual Temple members have the opportunity to put their events on the calendar. If there is something you would like to do or an event you would love to see, let’s make it happen! We know not everyone is comfortable with the technology. Not everyone wants to lead an event. We have enough people who can do both of those things, so don’t let that be a barrier to your good idea. Bring those ideas and enthusiasm to us and we can help figure out how to make it a reality.
So don’t be shy, even if you have never led an event before. We want to see your creativity, and we also want to see you! Let’s find new ways to live, learn, and be a congregation, together.
Our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who helped to make our recent High Holy Day celebrations such an amazing success. Most of these names have been mentioned before, but these contributions of time and talent from Sinai members definitely bear repeating.
Thanks to Marilyn Roberts and the Jewish Practice Committee for organizing the High Holy Day honors and thanks to all who participated in the Torah Service. Thanks to Deborah Achtenberg for her Elul Adult Study class and thanks to Laura Smith, Aaron Hill, and Ignacio Montoya for the Yom Kippur afternoon meditations. Thanks also to Carol Pevney for making High Holy Day phone calls.
Thanks to Dave Levine and the Levine Family for donating to expand our Yahrzeit memorial wall in memory of Dave’s wife, Peggy Levine, and thanks to the Slamowitz Family and Michael Gorden for getting the memorial wall and our sanctuary in shape for the holidays.
Thanks to the Caring Committee for providing High Holy Day gift bags to all of our members, with special thanks to Saundra Goodman and Judy and Gary Schumer for organizing the project and donating supplies.
Thanks to Quentin Foley for his help preparing the prerecorded video segments of our broadcast as his Bar Mitzvah project and thanks to Rabbi Benjamin Zober and Rabbi Sara Zober, for their hard work filming and doing preliminary editing of the prerecorded segments.
Thanks also to Temple Sinai administrator, Mike Stombaugh for technical support running our live-streaming streaming broadcasts.