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
Feb 23 @ 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
10:00 am Shabbat Morning Service @ Gumenick Chapel
Shabbat Morning Service @ Gumenick Chapel
Feb 24 @ 10:00 am – 11:15 am
Join us for our weekly Saturday Morning Services.


Like last week, I'm sending this message from South Africa where Jill and I are finishing up our two week visit. We have spent most of this week in Cape Town, where there is an exceptionally strong Jewish community. Although Reform Judaism (Progressive Judaism, as it is known here) is not as well-established in South […]

Continue reading


As I write this message from a game reserve near the town of Hluhluwe in South Africa, I have never been closer to animals in the wild that resemble their prehistoric predecessors. The rhinos, hippos, giraffes, elephants and other animals we are seeing here are in no hurry to get anywhere. They have been here […]

Continue reading


Sukkot presents us with a paradox. The week-long festival which began last night is also known as "Z'man Simchateinu - the season of our rejoicing." We are invited - even commanded, according to tradition - to rejoice, as did our ancestors who dwelt in booths during the harvest season, in the abundance of the earth […]

Continue reading


Sometimes when teaching a session in our local "Intro to Judaism" class (offered twice a year), I ask the students, "What is the most important day in the Jewish calendar?" Some students will say "Yom Kippur," though another appropriate response is "Shabbat." This weekend, both of these important holidays fall on the same day. It's […]

Continue reading


Today is Shemini Atzeret, a Jewish holiday that most Jews know very little about. It's mentioned in the Torah (Lev 23:36, 23:39 & Num 29:35) which says that after the seven-day festival of Sukkot, those Israelites who made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem should linger an extra day. "Shemini" refers to the "eighth day" and "atzeret" […]

Continue reading


"How did you fare during Hurricane Irma?" That may have been the most frequently-asked question in the entire State of Florida this week. How did YOU fare? Let us know how you're doing. I am glad to report that virtually all of our staff and Temple members are fine. There are reports of some damage […]

Continue reading


Every year before the High Holy Days, AIPAC hosts a Rabbinic Symposium in Washington, D.C. to provide rabbis with material they can use for their sermons. I am grateful to have the opportunity to attend this year, which is where I am this very moment, participating in informative sessions with about 200 other rabbis. It's a […]

Continue reading

I hope that it is apparent to most readers by now that I am a student of Torah and proudly affiliated with the Reform movement and its progressive stance on egalitarianism, social justice, interfaith relations and similar values. I also have a longstanding appreciation for spirituality in its many forms, from Jewish mystical traditions such […]

Continue reading


Jill and I will be hosting a few athletes for the upcoming JCC Maccabi Games. At last night's planning meeting I saw a quote on the back of someone's T-shirt that said,"You haven't lived a perfect day unless you have done something for someone who will never be able to repay you." I looked up […]

Continue reading


In this week's Torah portion, Matot - Masei (Numbers 30:2-36:13) we come to the end of the Book of Numbers. There are several portions throughout the Torah that are combined during a non-leap year, and this is one of them. In this message, I have chosen to focus on parashat Masei. Like an ancient TripTik, […]

Continue reading