Sandy Springs Cares – Temple Sinai Stands with Israel in Time of Crisis

In the wake of the deeply unsettling events that unfolded in Israel on October 7th, the global Jewish community and supporters of Israel have been profoundly affected. Local Sandy Springs synagogue, Temple Sinai, has strong ties to Israel and has swiftly morphed programming and support towards solidarity with Israel as well as educating people here locally. This war, coupled with a sharp increase in antisemitic incidents worldwide, has struck a personal chord within the congregation.

Tragically, the congregation mourns the loss of a 20-year-old family member of Temple Sinai congregants, who was killed while serving as an IDF border police officer in early November. This heartbreaking loss has only intensified the synagogue’s commitment to educating anyone willing to learn about the ongoing conflict, the history of Israel and the surrounding region, and the troubling rise of antisemitism across the globe.  Rabbi Natan Trief, the director of adult learning at Temple Sinai, emphasizes that there is so much misinformation and disinformation out there, it is paramount to all for people to have the true facts.

To achieve this mission, Temple Sinai has organized a series of informative sessions, which are open to the public and easily accessible through Zoom.  Each session offers a unique perspective. These sessions cover a wide range of topics, including “The Weaponization of Language,” “Israel’s Soul through Music,” “Denial,” and “Dialogue,” among others. One particularly poignant event hosted at the synagogue featured a survivor of the Reim music festival massacre on October 7th. Rabbi Trief highlighted the profound impact of hearing an eyewitness account of the tragedy, stating, “No matter how much you may think you have been made aware of what took place there, nothing compares to the horrors of an eyewitness account. It was a true miracle, that by an unlikely series of circumstances, she made it out alive.”

Temple Sinai leaders believe it’s paramount to organize ongoing trips to Israel to show solidarity, volunteer, and educate

In addition to these informative sessions, every rabbi at Temple Sinai has paid a visit to Israel since October 7th.  In early February, the synagogue organized a trip there with a multifaceted mission. The trip aimed to demonstrate solidarity with the Israeli people during a time when global support appears to be wavering.  Additionally, it allowed for participants to engage in volunteer work, and educational opportunities. Over the course of four intense days, participants met with police officers who were on the ground during the events of October 7th. They visited sites that had been targeted that day, including the music festival venue, private homes, and a bomb shelter. The group paid their respects at memorials, including the grave site of Rose Lubin, the local 20-year-old soldier who sacrificed her life while defending Israel.

The tour included a visit to Net Ivot where they volunteered in a special kitchen designed to serve thousands of soldiers engaged in the ongoing conflict. In Hostage Square, a memorial and advocacy point for those held hostage in Gaza, the group learned about efforts on behalf of the hostages. This location, marked by rallies, signs with photos of all who were taken, and a permanent Shabbat table that is perpetually set with empty chairs for those still missing, is a central hub for advocacy led by dedicated Israeli volunteers. Temple Sinai children also played a role, as they were encouraged to write prayers on slips of paper, which they placed in a replica of the Kotel (Western Wall) constructed at the synagogue. These heartfelt prayers were then transported to Israel and inserted into the Western Wall there.

“Hopefully, neighboring churches and organizations will have an interest in partnering with us in order to educate their members and offer meaningful assistance.”   – Rabbi Natan Trief

Temple Sinai has received calls from neighboring churches in Sandy Springs offering solidarity and hopes to foster partnerships with local churches and organizations. Rabbi Trief aspires to collaborate on educational initiatives within the religious community to support Israel and Jewish people worldwide.

In a time of adversity, Temple Sinai stands unwaveringly with Israel, striving to educate, support, and strengthen bonds to ensure that the hatred experienced in Israel on October 7th, which was so reminiscent of the Holocaust, does not happen again.