By Rachel Polansky, Programming Manager
For many, it has been over two months of sheltering in place and remaining socially distant. During this time, it can be a challenge to remain connected to one another and to Judaism. Sinai Temple Men’s Club, led by president Farshad Rafii, has risen to the occasion during these challenging times, providing a plethora of resources and engagement for their community.
Cary Lerman muses, “There is no substitute for one-on-one contacts and conversations, even if done remotely. At the Men’s Club, we pick up the phone to talk with one another, email and send messages to one another, and even use FaceTime for regular visits. We have started a Zoom book club where we get to talk “face to face” about issues raised by the books chosen… But of all the things we do, none is more important than the old-fashioned phone (even if it is now a cell phone) call to say hello. As for how Hallie [his wife] and I are staying connected to Judaism, it really is not that difficult. We still look forward to our Friday night Shabbat dinners, even though there are only the two of us. Each Shabbat morning, we sit in front of an iPad to “attend” Sinai Shabbat morning services, followed by our own, two person Shabbat lunch. We connect to Sinai Temple during the week, listening to Rabbi Wolpe’s daily inspirational messages and his Torah study class, and to the many programs that Sinai has made available. The Yom Ha’atzmaut program spearheaded by Rabbi Sherman was terrific. And then there are the daily visits from our grandkids, who bike over to our house, and, at a safe distance, tell us about what they are learning online at their Jewish day schools. Staying connected has not been a problem. The problem is accounting for where all the time has gone.”
Elie Alyshmerni reflects on similar topics. “One major change has been the fact that there has been no need to respond to the noise of life as I knew it. What is important has become clear and contacts and connections have been more meaningful and holy. I appreciate the opportunities that Sinai Temple has provided by way of services, activities and words of wisdom, but the sustaining part has been the close connection that I had forged with fellow Sinai Temple Men’s Club members. I am grateful for a strong Men’s Club and its incredible leadership.” Mark Haloossim also appreciates this extra free time to learn more about Judaism via online learning, sermons, and Words of Inspiration with Rabbi Wolpe.
Others like Minou Michlin appreciate the programming opportunities, like Book Club, as a chance to interact and get to know others who she may not normally talk to in-person. The smaller cohorts are creating a sense of intimacy, even though she prefers face-to-face. In a beautiful touch to her childhood traditions, lighting the Shabbos candles reminds her of her mother. “One of the things my mother did was stand in front of the candles and she would say ‘God give health and take care of everybody and my family too.’ The world comes first and then my family, as a gift. I feel her presence in the continuity of traditions.”
We will leave you with a video message from dedicated Men’s Club member Michael Silberstein about how he stays connected during this unusual time.