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.

I've had to write quite a few sermons. For that to happen, I read many more. I read a wonderful yizkor sermon written about 6 years ago by Cantor Linda Hirschhorn of Temple Beth Sholom in San Leandro, CA. She wrote something lovely I'll share here about the afterlife. “About my afterlife,” she writes. “after […]

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We've all been to a seminar or team building workshop where we've done a trust exercise. The most common exercise is to allow yourself to fall back and wait for someone standing behind you to catch you. When this goes well, it strengthens the bond between participants and enhances one's sense of trust. But imagine […]

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Thirty years ago on Yom Kippur, the late Rabbi Kenneth Berger from Tampa delivered a now famous sermon. He spoke about a tragedy many of his congregants had witnessed eight months earlier: the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. I'm sure many of you remember it vividly, even now. Rabbi Berger focused on one particular […]

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Abraham! Abraham!! This was what our Patriarch heard just as he was about to sacrifice his son, Isaac. He responded by saying, “Hineini–Here I am.” The voice, apparently that of an angel, continued: "Do not lay your hand on the boy; do nothing to him–for now I know you are in awe of God, since you […]

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A year has ended and a new year begins. Time to look back. And a time to look ahead. I'm hopeful about our future, but in some ways, I'm also scared. The world is in the most serious trouble that it's been in for a long time. Here we are, one month before election day, […]

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How Observant are You?

Religion in America is in a state of flux. When surveys ask people to identify their religion, more and more are checking the box "none." Studies now indicate that about 1 out of 4 Americans fall into this category. One recent study found that nearly 80 percent of "nones" had been raised in a religion […]

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Torah Reading as an Olympic Sport?

I've been watching the Olympics these past few weeks and, like millions of spectators around the world, have been impressed by this year's athletes - not only their achievements but their drive, discipline and determination. It's clear that they push themselves and, in some cases, devote their lives to mastering their chosen skills or routines […]

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Creativity and Inspiration

In this week's Torah portion, D'varim, we read the first three chapters in the book of Deuteronomy. These chapters consist of a recounting of our ancestors' journey through the wilderness as Moses reflects on their trials and tribulations over the past forty-years. What have they learned? What have we learned? This really is the point: […]

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Celebrating the Journey

Because the Hebrew calendar has frequent leap years, it often happens that two Torah portions are bundled together. Such is the case this week when we read the last two parshiyot in the book of Numbers - Matot and Mas-ei. A summary of these chapters (Numbers 30:2-36:13) with related commentaries can be found here, but […]

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