Let Freedom Ring - Celebration of the Life & Work of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Temple Israel was honored to host Rev. Martin Luther King Day on Monday, January 21st. Despite the bitter cold, 40 people participated in a celebration of the importance of interfaith and intercultural respect and understanding.

Athol-Orange Community Television produced a video of this event. The presentation of guest speaker Asima Silva is interspersed with messages from members of the participating religious and community organizations, and an excerpt from Reb Noyo's sermon is included toward the end of the video. It can be viewed at

Honoring the Legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - Monday, January 21, 2019

LET FREEDOM RING– The North Quabbin Faith Communities, Interfaith Neighbors Connecting and September Eleventh Families For Peaceful Tomorrows will hold  the 17th annual event remembering the powerful life and values of Dr. Martin Luther King on Monday, January 21 at the Temple Israel, 107 Walnut St.. Athol.  

“From every mountainside, Let Freedom ring” is the theme for the event this year. The dedication of Dr. King to make a difference in our own lives, our community, and our world will be the focus. Robyn Bernstein Donati coordinator from Temple Israel, Athol, and co-chair of Anti-Islamophobia Committee of Peaceful Tomorrows shared, “The day will include activities for the whole family! Presenters from secular as well as religious organizations have prepared discussion topics , service opportunities and expressive music and art experiences.   Participants may choose the workshops and opportunities for volunteer service that speak to them. ” 

The event will begin with Breakfast at 9:00 a.m. Service opportunities and workshops will be held from 9:30 – 11:30 .  A combined community worship service will take place at 11:45 to focus lives on ‘From every mountainside, Let Freedom ring! ”  celebrating the uniqueness of each person and their ability to make difference. The event will be followed by a light lunch. This is a family friendly event. Activities are provided for  children , teens and  adults.  Reservations and information is available by calling 978-249-9481.


Prayer for Veterans Day

The opening prayer for the Athol Veterans Day Observance on November 11th was presented by Temple Israel’s President. The prayer was written by Jewish poet, Alden Solovy.

God of compassion,
God of dignity and strength,
Watch over the veterans of the United States
In recognition of their loyal service to our nation.
Bless them with wholeness and love.
Shelter them.
Heal their wounds,
Comfort their hearts.
Grant them peace.

God of justice and truth,
Rock of our lives,
Bless our veterans,
These men, women, people of courage and valor,
With a deep and abiding understanding
Of our profound gratitude.
Protect them and their families from loneliness and want.
Grant them lives of joy and bounty.
May their dedication and honor
Be remembered as a blessing
From generation to generation.

Blessed are You,
Protector and Redeemer,
Our Shield and our Stronghold.


Gathering in Response to Tree of Life Synagogue Murders

A Community Faith Gathering to offer prayers of comfort, healing and solidarity, will take place this afternoon (Sunday, October 28), at 5 PM at Temple Emanuel Sinai, 661 Salisbury Street, Worcester, Massachusetts.

This gathering will involve local synagogues and the Jewish Federation of Central Massachusetts, along with the Greater Worcester Faith Community.

Children in the Sanctuary

At this time of year, when we are focused on beginnings, renewal and hope for the future, it was especially meaningful to have had young children at our Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services.

The Talmud tells us that when a child enters the synagogue for the first time, that child is accompanied by the Prophet Elijah - inspiring us to sing "Eliahu Hanavi." Elijah is also with us at Havdalah marking the end of Shabbat, at the Passover Seder, at the Bris, and will be there to announce the coming of Messiach.

We hope that many more families will join us, bring their children, and not worry if they are fussy or unable to be quiet, for the Talmud also tells us “By the breath of children God sustains the world.”

Zubin Ambat Levinson, 2 week old son of Noah & Lia Levinson (waiting for Elijah?)

Zubin Ambat Levinson, 2 week old son of Noah & Lia Levinson (waiting for Elijah?)

Isaac Julian, 1 year old son of Rich & Stephanie Julian, whose smile could light up the Sanctuary.

Isaac Julian, 1 year old son of Rich & Stephanie Julian, whose smile could light up the Sanctuary.

President's Rosh Hashanah Message to the Congregation

At the Annual Meeting back in 2016, Jeff Plotkin, who was president at the time, looked at me with hopeful eyes and asked if I would consider becoming president of the Board.  Jeff, like several other stalwart members of Temple Israel, had been president more times than was fair to anyone.  I had served several years on the Board, but had managed to skirt most major responsibilities. I realized my time had come to get serious, and so I agreed.  That decision pretty much fell under the old saying that “fools rush in where angels fear to tread!”    

Last year it was necessary for me to ask if members of this congregation cared enough to keep the doors of the synagogue open.  There were times when it seemed likely that I would not be standing here on another Rosh Hashanah.   

But during this past year, we engaged in serious self-examination and difficult discussions.  We came together and shared openly what we loved about this community and wrestled with what was not working and needed to change.  We had to make hard and sometimes painful decisions.  But our focus remained on what we agreed was in the best interests of the community and what choices would be most likely to ensure a stronger future for Temple Israel.  I am very grateful to everyone who participated in this process, and I stand here today very proud of this congregation and honored to be its president.   

Two years ago I had little understanding of what is involved in the successful operation of a synagogue.  Now, I am fully aware that caring for and nurturing a synagogue community is an immense and sacred responsibility – not just for the president, the Board, or the Rabbi, but for all of us who care about the future of this community.   

There is a well-worn, but very true, saying “It takes a village to raise a child.”  It also takes a village to establish and maintain a thriving synagogue. 

Some of us have more money to contribute; some of us have more free time.  Some of us know a lot about maintaining a building, while others know how to navigate social media to maintain connections among the members.  Some of us have benefited from life-long Jewish practice and traditional Jewish education, and speak and read Hebrew like a native Israeli.  Some others, like me, still stumble over much of the Hebrew and cannot remember the order of the services or the significance of much of the liturgy. 

Together, though, we are like one of Bill Clark’s fabulous soups.  All of the ingredients, no matter if their measure is small or large, or even how unusual or oddball they may seem, by some mysterious process combine to create something far greater than the sum of its parts.  Each one of us has gifts and talents and the ability to contribute to the health and well-being of our extended Jewish family and its spiritual home.   

It is very important for each person to participate as much as they can and contribute financially to the best of their ability.  It is critical that everyone feel a sense of ownership and is empowered to help shape the structure and culture of the synagogue so that it can meet the multiple needs and visions of its members.   

At Mt. Sinai our ancestors were asked to contribute gold, silver, incense and precious stones to build the sanctuary.  Today we are asked to contribute money, time, and work to support the synagogue.  Despite the centuries between Mt. Sinai and today, the purpose of these requests is still the same:  so that God will dwell among us. 

For some of us the God who dwells here is the one envisioned by our ancestors. But even for those of us who may struggle with that ancient image, this can still be a place of safety and community.  It can be a place where we remember and honor the traditions of our mothers and fathers.  It can be a place where we work together to repair this broken world.  Most importantly it can be a place where each person who passes through these doors, whatever their abilities, their history, or their hopes and dreams, will find here a vibrant and welcoming spiritual home. 

During this coming year, may we all be blessed with healing and peace and gain increased strength and commitment to care for each other and nurture our Temple Israel family.  L’Shana Tovah!

New Spiritual Leader at Temple Israel

Temple Israel welcomes our new spiritual leader, Reb Sarah Noyovitz (Reb Noyo). She brings to us a deep respect and appreciation for tradition, interest in our community history and stories, and excitement about sharing her love of Jewish prayer, music and learning.

Although she does not officially start until the High Holidays in September, Reb Noyo conducted our Shabbat service yesterday and led a Torah study discussion after lunch.  

During the coming year, Reb Noyo will be conducting two services a month, occasional holiday or special services, and religious school.  See calendar for details.

Keeping in contact in between services and programs.

This site is for important announcements, messages from the Board, Synagogue President, Rabbi, or divrei Torah and sermons.  Depending on the particular post, comments can be made. We hope to initiate on-line discussion of the weekly Torah portion in order create a sense of continuity during the weeks we do not have services.