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Posts by Rachel-Ann Levy

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Rabbi Sam Rotenberg


Recently ordained by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, Rabbi Sam Rotenberg is the newest member to the Sinai Temple clergy team.  Rabbi Rotenberg’s portfolio and areas of focus include Sinai Temple Teen Center, Atid Young Professionals, Sinai Temple Religious School, Social Action, and Adult B’nai Mitzvah. Rabbi Rotenberg has a deep love of studying and teaching Jewish text. He finds deep meaning in uplifting Jewish communities through ritual and relationship building. As a proficient musician, Rabbi Rotenberg continually seeks new and engaging ways to integrate music into the study and practice of Judaism. He has been part of musical prayer leadership…

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You Deserve Ice Cream


Revel a little. Eat the ice cream. It’s not in my personality to be spontaneous. I am a methodical person and live by to-do-lists and thoughtful planning. But there is something about the start of summer that makes me want to throw away the list and embrace the extra hours of sunlight. The dishes will still be there. The vacuuming and laundry will continue to knock on my door. And the most important lesson: learning Torah is best internalized when living Torah. So throw down the list, jump in the car with some people you love, and go live a…

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Turning Hatred Into Blessing


Today, I am being shadowed by a 4th grade student from Sinai Akiba Academy, who will have the opportunity to be a “Rabbi for a day.” The questions I have been asked are both innocent and deep. One such conversation revolved around the upcoming holiday of Shavuot and the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people. The Talmud teaches us that God gave the Jews the Torah at Mount Sinai. Why was it called Sinai? Because it was at that mountain, when the Jewish people were chosen, that the hatred (sinah) of the other nations of the Jews came…

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To Observe and Remember


Our little guy, Henry learned how to jump out of his crib. At 4:00am, we heard the pitter- patter of little feet and there he was. Blonde curls, pajama clad, huge smile. I remember our other children slightly frightened at the possibility of falling or injuring themselves. Not this kid. Just pure pride that he accomplished his goal. And now we look at the crib with a sense of nostalgia, understanding that the baby stages of Henry’s life are creeping further and further away. When I mentioned that sadness to a friend, she remarked, “You’ll see. It only gets better.”…

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I Am Now Taking Questions


Every year I wonder what it is that someone should learn at the Passover seder. One might suggest that participants understand the entirety Passover story. Another might think that that every symbol be explained and the Haggadah deconstructed verse by verse. These are perfectly fine answers. But I am struck by Maimonides’ “take away” of seder night. He writes, “And it is required to make changes during the night for the children to notice and they will ask, ‘How is this night different from all other nights’ until you answer them by saying, ‘This and this happened.’ What changes should…

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ALYSSA ROSENBAUM


My name is Alyssa Rosenbaum, and I am entering my third year of teaching 6th grade and Trope at Sinai Temple Religious School! A very important day in my calendar will be May 31st, 2021, when I anticipate being ordained as a “Hazzan and Teacher in Israel” with a Master’s Degree in Jewish Sacred Music from my school, the Academy for Jewish Religion, California. I am currently in my fourth year of cantorial school. It is at once exciting to see a finish line in sight for becoming a cantor, as I have worked hard toward this goal the last…

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ORA TARASHANDEGAN


My name is Ora Tarashandegan and this is my third year as a 3rd grade Religious School Teacher at Sinai Temple. The date that is special to me is June 27, 2003 (27th of Sivan 5763) , which is first time I was blessed to become a mother. The special moment when a child is placed in the arms of  a mother is one that cannot be surpassed in power or emotional bliss. New babies are pure magic, sparkling hope, fresh beginnings and sweet surprises. The face of a baby is an open book, yet to be written. My daughter…

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