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Religious School Will Open For 2020-21

“The more Torah, the more life” – Pirkei Avot 2:7

Union Temple Religious School 2020-21/5781: REGISTRATION UPDATE

Jewish Education is an “essential service” that we are fully committed to providing. In this time of great change and uncertainty, our commitment to providing an excellent Jewish educational experience that addresses the social, emotional, spiritual and cognitive needs of each learner is unwavering. Jewish tradition teaches chazak v’nitchazek—we are strong and we will be strengthened by being together, whether physically or virtually.

Union Temple WILL have a robust Pre-K-7 Religious School Program in 2020-21/5781 where our children and families can learn and grow together. The format of that program is still being determined as we assess many variables including emotional and physical safety, space availability in our building, varied learning needs, and budget. Our Jewish values, including pikuach nefesh (the sanctity of human life superseding all else), have and will continue to guide us in decision-making, as will the recommendations and standards set by city and state agencies and the CDC and WHO. Our current reality requires that programs remain flexible and responsive to changing circumstances, and we are exploring options that account for these dynamics while providing consistently accessible and meaningful content.


Religious School Registration for 2020-21/5781 will be available later this summer. Please watch your email for further information or email educator@uniontemple.org with questions.

Ways to Help Keep Calm During the Pandemic by Dr. Rabbi Michele B. Medwin, D.Mi. LMHC

I have spoken to many people who are getting anxious about having to be home and worrying about themselves, friends, and family. I am going to put on my mental health counseling hat and offer some ways to help you cope with the stress you are feeling.

First, know that it will pass. We may not know how long it will take, so be patient, understanding, and flexible. But there will be an end to this. For now, we have to find ways to adjust to a new, but temporary, normal.

  1. Moving: Moving around can really help calm you down. As the weather is getting warmer, and you are able, consider going outside for a walk. You can do this alone and not be near anybody. Outside air can be refreshing. More than something to do, physically moving releases endorphins which naturally help to calm down anxiety and lift depression. You can also do some exercising indoors. There are many different apps or You Tube videos you can exercise or do Yoga or stretching with. Rather than waiting until anxiety is high, schedule these things in your day. Actually write it in your calendar. “Every day at ___ a.m. and ___ p.m. I will walk/exercise/do yoga.”
  2. Slow Deep Breathing: This helps to calm down the physical changes caused by anxiety and stress. Take a slow deep breath in and then a slow deep breath out. To time it right, count to four each time: breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, breathe out for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts.
  3. Use a mantra: Pick your favorite blessing, or line of a prayer or psalm. Repeat it over and over. You can do this during your deep breathing.
  4. Muscle Relaxation: This also helps calm down the physical changes caused by anxiety and stress. Do the slow deep breathing during this exercise. Sit or lay down in a comfortable place. Starting at your toes, consciously relax the muscles in your toes, then your ankles, then your calves… slowly, mentally work your way up your body focusing especially on your shoulders, neck and face.
  5. Imagery: Think of a peaceful place you enjoy being at, either real or imaginary. Picture yourself there. Using your five senses, describe what you see, what you feel, what you smell, what you hear, what you taste. (i.e. being at the beach – I see the waves, the sand, the sky. I feel the warmth of the sun on my face and a light breeze. I smell the salt water. I hear the sound of the waves and the cry of the seagulls. I can taste the ice cream cone I just bought. Stay in that place for a while.)
  6. Put Your Thoughts on Trial: What you think affects how you feel. Are you imagining the worst? Are you worrying about the future and imagining things that you really don’t know will happen? Question your thoughts. How true are they? How accurate are they? Is there a different, more realistic way to look at this? Can you find the positive in the negative and focus on more positive thoughts?

UT Covid-19 Information: Synagogue Closure & Livestreaming

Given the rapidly changing facts on the ground and guidance we have received from public health officials, we have made the difficult decision to close the Union Temple building for all synagogue programming, including Religious School, Preschool, and Shabbat Services, until May 15. We will be reassessing this decision as new information and guidance becomes available and determining whether we can re-open at that time.

Our staff will work remotely, however the process for contacting us should not be disrupted. You will be able to contact the synagogue by calling 718- 638-7600 between the hours of 8:30AM and 4:30PM. You will be prompted to select your department and you may Press 1 for Harriet in the Admin office if you are seeking the office or the Rabbi. In the event your call is not directly answered upon your selection, please leave your message. Calls will be returned as quickly as possible. You will also be prompted on how to contact the Rabbi in the event of a death or other life cycle emergency. Calls received after hours will be returned the next morning.

As we practice “physical distancing” in order to protect one another, we are deeply committed to “spiritually connecting.” We all need it now more than ever. Below, you will find some changes to our schedule and some ways to connect. Note: These are changes from even this week’s recent letter.

Changes to our Programming:

  • Friday night Shabbat services will be conducted virtually, using Zoom. Click the link and register to participate and use this virtual prayer book, Mishkan Tefilah, to follow along.
  • Saturday morning Shabbat services will be postponed until we re-open.
  • All of our early childhood programming, including Friday’s @ 4 and Out of the Shabbox, will take place virtually on our Zoom Channel. Use the links to register for sessions through May.
  • While our Religious School is temporarily suspended, look for some exciting and interesting online learning opportunities from Caryn, our Director of Youth and Family Engagement!
  • Saturdays enjoy Shabbat and Shmooze. 1:30PM on our Zoom Channel. Bring your lunch and interact with one another. Talk, eat, and learn with members of our UT community.
  • Postponed:
    o Friday, March 27th Fourth Friday program on Genealogy is postponed.
    o Sunday, March 29th An die Musik NYC is postponed.
    o Youth Group Programming is postponed.

Spiritual Connecting:

  • We will be using the virtual platform of Zoom for our Shabbat services. We can connect you to a helpful volunteer who will assist you in using Zoom and can show you how to find us! Let us know you need help by emailing: UTFuture@uniontemple.org. We can even help you get online by tonight!
  • If you are over 65 or are particularly at risk in this moment, we want to check in with you! You can expect to hear from a Union Temple member to see how you are doing and how we can support you. If you can make a call to one of our Union Temple family members, please let Rabbi Kolin know at rabbi.kolin@uniontemple.org.
  • These are difficult times. The Institute for Jewish Spirituality has made some beautiful meditative tools free and available to everyone who is seeking a sense of peace, wholeness, and connectedness.
  • Keep an eye on our website and your inbox for opportunities for distance learning and connecting in the weeks ahead.

We know this decision is hard on each of us in different ways and we hold you in our hearts through all of it. By proceeding in this way right now, you are participating in one of the greatest mitzvot in Jewish tradition – the commandment of pikuach nefesh, which guides us to protect life, above all else. Because we value one another and each human being so very much, we are enacting our social and ethical responsibility to keep each other healthy and to help “flatten the curve,” in order to slow down the spread of COVID-19, so that our healthcare system can effectively provide the care that each sick person will need.

With love and prayers for health,

Rabbi Stephanie Kolin

Union Temple Board of Trustees


How Can I Be Part of Virtual Shabbat  at 6:30pm?

As we go virtual for Shabbat services for the time being, while we will be physically distant, our highest priority is to be spiritually connected and close.

Here is how you can join us and what you can expect!

  • We will be livestreaming via Zoom for Friday night services. Using Zoom we can see one another and chat and we all can be part of the service. Turn up your sound and sing along! All ages welcome, as always!
  • When we use Facebook Live if you click “like” on the Union Temple Facebook Page, then when our Facebook Live Stream begins, you will get a notification.
  • Through the generosity of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, you can follow along for free in our virtual prayer book. Tip: click on the page number at the bottom to plug in the pages that Ben and I call out. You can also buy it discounted for Kindle here. And there’s a sweet kid’s version here.
  • You can make comments and talk to each other during the service, too, to let others know you’re there!
  • If you need help using the technology, we are here to help. Email UTFuture@uniontemple.org and we will connect you with someone who will call you and talk you through it!
  •  What to expect: Well, we’re not sure! Ben and I are new to this moment as well. We will talk with you, light Shabbat candles, sing a bunch, offer some words of Torah, and love on each other through the airwaves. It might get awkward at times, it may get silly, it may be emotional. Be with us as we figure this out and let us know how it can be better going forward (some time over the weekend and maybe not right away)!

We know this is very hard; hugging and hand shaking and looking into one another’s eyes are part of who we are and are deeply embedded in what it means to be a Jewish community. To keep each other safe, though, we will do what we have to do. We will hold each other up, mitigate our sense of isolation and anxiety, and bring joy to one another.

May this Shabbat offer you calm, hopefulness, and the comfort that our love for humanity will guide our steps in these days.

With blessings for health,

Rabbi Stephanie Kolin

Make Payments Online

Make payments online via PayPal!

To pay Membership Dues click here. You now have the ability to pay your dues in installments. We offer the options of a one-time, quarterly or monthly payment. See the “Choose Installment Frequency” box before you click the “Pay Now” button.

To pay Religious School tuition, and other types of payments, click here. To make a donation to a Union Temple special purpose fund, click here. If you wish to make recurring payments to Union Temple, be sure to activate that feature on your PayPal account.

Add a Name to the Mi Shebeirach list

Mi Shebeirach - Prayer for Healing Image: ReformJudaism.org

During Shabbat services we recite the names of family members and friends of our congregants who are ill and sing the Mi Shebeirach (a prayer for healing). Add the name of a loved one to our list by writing to Rabbi Stephanie Kolin. We begin a new list at the start of every month so please resubmit the name if you would like prayers to continue. When you come to services you may choose to recite a name yourself and participate in the healing prayer.

Mi Shebeirach avoteinu v’imoteinu,
Avraham, Yitzchak v’Yaakov, Sarah, Rivkah,
Rachel v’Lei-ah, hu y’vareich et hacholim
[names]. HaKadosh Baruch Hu yimalei
rachamim aleihem, l’hachalimam ul’rapotam
ul’hachazikam, v’yishlach lahem m’heirah
r’fuah, r’fuah shleimah min hashamayim,
r’fuat hanefesh ur’fuat haguf, hashta
baagala uviz’man kariv. V’nomar: Amen.

May the one who blessed our ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, bless and heal those who are ill [names]. May the Blessed Holy One be filled with compassion for their health to be restored and their strength to be revived. May God swiftly send them a complete renewal of body and spirit, and let us say, Amen.

All Friday Night Services at 6:30PM

Clock showing 6:30PM

 All Shabbat Evening services will begin at 6:30PM including those on Fourth Friday. Please check the Shabbat page to learn about the detailed schedule for each of our four distinct Friday night services, about Saturday morning services, and about our Shabbat programs for children. The weekly Shabbat service schedule can be found on the homepage and in our calendar.

Donate High Holy Day Prayerbooks

Mishkan Hanefesh. Union Temples High Holy Day Prayerbooks.

Dedicate one or more sets of our beautiful and inspiring new High Holy Day Machzor of the Reform Movement, Mishkan HaNefesh, in honor or in memory of someone you love or make a gift to Union Temple in your own name. This new prayerbook is the result of years of effort to create a more inclusive prayer experience and includes: Fully transliterated liturgy; Expanded options for Torah readings; Study texts that provide background and context; Contemporary poetry and alternative readings; Rich commentary drawing from Jewish tradition; New translations; Original woodblock art.
A bookplate with your dedication will be placed in each of the books and we will notify the honoree or family members of your gift. The cost is $65 for a standard set; large-print sets are $100. Just send a check to the UT office with the name of the honoree as you would like it to appear on the bookplates.