L’dor Va Dor: Building our Foundation for the Future

My connection with Temple Sinai began nearly 20 years ago.  Before starting college at GW, I worked at Camp Harlam.  There, I met Rabbi Reiner who was on staff for a two week rotation.  After working together on a few programs, he encouraged me to visit Temple Sinai if I needed anything while in DC.  Shortly thereafter, Rabbi Reiner introduced me to Marilyn Goldhammer and I started teaching Sunday school to fifth graders.  I enjoyed teaching and I earned enough money to cover my entertainment expenses (including taking my then girlfriend, now wife, Raanan, on dates).

Being involved in a synagogue was not new to me.  I am a third generation Reform Jew.  My maternal grandparents were founding members of my childhood synagogue, Temple Emanuel in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.  My first Jewish memories are of the old Union prayer book — it could fit in your hand and was filled with enough “thou” “shalt” and “thy” that reading Shakespeare was never an issue.  My Jewish identity, centered around my Temple, was a vital part of my life:  all four grandparents were members as well as uncles, aunts, and cousins; my father was a congregational President; I was a local and regional youth group president; I went to Camp Harlam; traveled to Israel for six weeks at 16 years old; and most of my friends were from the Temple.  I left for college with a strong Jewish foundation.

Much to my parents’ delight that foundation continued.  I met my wife at GW Hillel.  We became members of Temple Sinai shortly after we married and before having children.  Both of our families still live up north, so we go to New Jersey for the High Holidays.  For all other occasions, we are at Temple Sinai.  Our children went to Temple Sinai nursery school and now to Sunday school.  I am privileged to serve on a few Temple Sinai committees.

The challenge now is how to provide our children the solid foundation our parents provided us.  My parents made it look so easy to do.  They made the Temple be a central part of my life.  My aim is to do the same for my children.

Temple Sinai’s vision is precisely what we are looking for our family:  “[A] congregation where members feel a strong sense of Jewish community; enjoy a personal connection with the Temple and their clergy; are intellectually and spiritually engaged; are inspired, stimulated and challenged by the Reform Jewish tradition; and are building a strong foundation for the future.”  That’s exactly what we have at Temple Sinai.  The proof is how enthusiastic our children are about Temple Sinai.  It reminds me of how I felt about my Temple growing up.

It is my sincere hope that if my children are asked one day to write a note in their synagogue’s newsletter, they will be able to write something similar.  That will be at least one sign that I was as successful as my parents in providing them with a strong Jewish foundation for the future.


-Michael Baratz