If someone were to ask me to describe the essence of Temple Israel while standing on one foot, I would say: it's all about relationships, meaning, and impact. I suppose one could say that about many organizations and causes, so let me add a little commentary here. When it comes to relationships, the connections we share in our congregation possess a genuine warmth and depth.

In the coming months, we will have many opportunities to extend and deepen those connections. These are the ways we build community and foster real, not just virtual, relationships.

When it comes to meaning, what we share is firmly-rooted in the wisdom and values of our tradition. We nourish those roots through regular opportunities for spiritual practice and intellectual engagement, supplemented by visits from leading contemporary scholars. Our shared search for meaning is what brings us together, along with an openness to be touched and transformed by it.

Lastly, when it comes to impact, we are all doing our part to make a difference locally and with regard to some of our world's most pressing issues.

“Relationships. Meaning. Impact.” These three words describe the essential elements of our congregation. The additional commentary I've shared may help to describe the unique ways in which we embody those words. Yet as remarkable as our community is in these ways, equally remarkable is what will happen when someone reading this article comes to an event and allows himself/herself to be touched and transformed by it.

If you find even one program or service on our calendar that looks interesting, that someone may be you. Like Hillel, I invite you to come and find out for yourself.

Hear more from Rabbi Heyn by attending our weekly Shabbat services. We'd love for you to join us each Friday night at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m.

Rabbi recommends

7:30 pm Shabbat Services @ Bertha Abess Sanctuary
Shabbat Services @ Bertha Abess Sanctuary
Nov 24 @ 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
10:00 am Shabbat Morning Service @ Gumenick Chapel
Shabbat Morning Service @ Gumenick Chapel
Nov 25 @ 10:00 am – 11:15 am
Join us for our weekly Saturday Morning Services.


This week's Torah portion, Terumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19), describes the gifts that the Israelites brought for the building of the Tabernacle in the wilderness. But what exactly was this Tabernacle and what was its significance? As the Israelites began their forty year journey through the wilderness to the Promised Land, they carried with them a set […]

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In this week's Torah portion, Parashat Bo (Ex 10:1-13:16), we read about the three final plagues leading up to the Exodus, the actual going forth from Egypt. Pharaoh continues to resist Moses' pleas even after causing the Egyptians to suffering through the first seven plagues. Consequently, Pharaoh brings upon himself and his people the plague […]

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We all know that history repeats itself. We also know that the Exodus is the most ancient and enduring liberation story of all, probably because it plays itself out again and again on so many levels. A ruler fears that his nation will be overrun by a minority population and enacts laws to protect the […]

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In this week's Torah portion, Parashat Shemot (Exodus 1:1-6:1) we read about how "a new king arose over Egypt who knew not Joseph." (Ex 1:8)  Of course, the king must have known who Joseph was, given the impact he had in saving Egypt and making possible its immense accumulation of wealth. Instead, the verse implies that […]

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December 21 was the winter solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year.  It's no coincidence that we celebrate Chanukah during this time of year, using candles to symbolically bring light into the world even during the darkest of times. It's also no coincidence that we read Parashat Vayeishev this time of year, which […]

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A Day to Give Thanks and Praise

A pupil once asked the Maggid of Mezeritch: "How can we praise God for the bad days in our lives?" "A difficult question," the teacher replied. "Go to Anapoli and see Reb Zusha who has suffered much. He will tell you." So the pupil went to Anapoli and found Reb Zusha living with his wife […]

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After learning the results of this week's U.S. presidential election, some feel elated while others are deeply troubled. The results underscore deep divisions in the U.S. political landscape but, fortunately, Jewish voters are not as divided. This was confirmed by three polls published this week: a NYT exit poll, a study released by the Pew […]

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The stories in our Torah have very deep roots. They connect us to our distant past as well as to our immediate concerns about life and our place in the world. This is especially true with regard to the stories in the first few chapters of Genesis. In this week's Torah portion, we read the […]

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Can You Hear Me Now?

 You probably remember the long-running ad campaign featuring a guy wearing a grey Verizon jacket and horn-rimmed glasses asking the question, "Can you hear me now?" Even though that simple question still reminds many of us of those commercials, it's already been five years since that ad campaign ended. And the actor (Paul Marcarelli) is […]

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Vanity of Vanities…All is Vanity

 This week's message should be a happy one. Here we are, in the midst of the festival of Sukkot, traditionally known as "z'man simchateinu - the season of our rejoicing." We rejoice in our Jewish New Year celebrations which culminate next week in Simchat Torah, and we give thanks for the bountiful blessings we enjoy […]

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