Unless you know where to look, the World Wide Web can sometimes feel more like a black hole than cyberspace. The following are some of the best websites Jewish L.A. has to offer. This is a highly subjective decision, but I've used a few criteria, namely, how does the page look, is it easy to use, and has it been updated recently? So, during the Jewish Web/Net Week (Feb. 22-27, it will be raining anyhow, so why not spend some time at the computer), visit The Jewish Journal's web page ( http://www.lafn.org/jjla ) -- where you'll find this article complete with active links.
To find these web pages, I enlisted the help of "At L.A.", (http://www.at-la.com) a site with a vast set of directories to almost everything online in L.A. Looking under Religion: Judaism, I went to http://www.at-la.com/@la-god/jewish.htm, where I found a diverse and nearly comprehensive list of Jewish sites. Another very helpful site in this search was http://www1.jewishgen.org/jgsla/shuls.htm, which is a listing of synagogues from the Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles.
My Top Picks
Valley Beth Shalom
All around great site, great organization, looks great, sounds great, links for both congregants and visitors -- you can hear the rabbis talk, find out what's going on and which services are offered. It proves that a synagogue doesn't have to hire a professional designer or spend a ton of money to make a bang-up site, this one is volunteer run.
Temple Beth Sholom of Orange County in Tustin.
On the other hand, this is what a synagogue site can look like when someone hires a high-end designer. It is beautiful, with fancy graphics, and some real content. Like "Grandma Zelda's Kitchen" -- a recipe exchange bulletin board. It also has a place for congregants to post messages to each other. A terrific site.
Anshe Emes Synagogue
From the looks of it, the webmaster of this site is very, very enthusiastic. The site is innovative, with a bulletin board, video of lectures and, above all, a sense of humor! There is a link to a detailed Parshat HaShavuah page, with the suggestion that it be printed and used as a discussion guide for the Shabbat table.
Ohr HaTorah's site is well organized, updated frequently, useful for both members and non-members, and not too vast, containing just the right amount of information for a quick visit.
Temple Ami Shalom in West Covina
Useful and well-organized, the page contains the temple bulletin online and is updated often. Overall, a good, manageable page clearly done by a dedicated individual.
Two JCCs, Long Beach and West Valley, have web
pages that are worth a visit:
http://www.jcclb.org/ Long Beach JCC
A dynamic page, with current information, creative presentation and
http://www.wvjcc.markv.com/ West Valley JCC
a well-organized, informative, in-out-nobody-gets-hurt page.
For secular Jews, the Sholom Community's web page is just as impressive as most synagogue pages. It is well maintained with up-to-date information.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center/Museum of Tolerance
Admittedly a very attractive site, with information on the museum and the programs of the center but not terribly interactive. It is a major resource on "Swiss banks which failed to return monies and material possesions to Holocaust victims and their heirs."
Also of Interest
Kosher Restaurant Guide
Hosted on Shamash, that venerable workhorse of a Jewish website, this bulletin board is for listing and locating kosher restaurants. Search by city, type in Los Angeles and you'll find 34 entries. A great service.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles
With Super Sunday coming, take a look at the Jewish Federation's site, a starting point for learning about this vast and essential organization.
http://www.aliyah.org/ Israel Aliyah Center, Los Angeles
Thinking about making aliyah to Israel? This well-designed site is a resource for those interested in moving to Israel from L.A.
Ami in Santa Clarita
Yes, there are Jews there. This gets my vote for the most haimish site. Turn down your speaker volume before you get there, though. Homespun, but welcoming!
Congregation Shomrei Torah in West Hills
A somewhat utilitarian site, but it has the standout feature of links to congregants pages -- a great idea!
http://www.templeetzchaim.com/ Temple Etz
Chaim in Thousand Oaks
Check out the youth department page, with a fun interactive picture, which would appeal to kids (well, I liked it).
For one of the coolest Jewish images I have ever seen, look at the Jewish Deaf Community Center's Dec. 1997 newsletter on line, then find someone who knows sign language to help read it.
These are just a few of the hundreds of sites put up by Jewish organizations in Los Angeles. Do your own search, and find your own way through Jewish cyberspace.