September 2, 2004
Humanistic High Holidays
Three secular humanist groups -- Adat Chaverim, Society for Humanistic Judaism and The Sholem Community -- will hold High Holidays services in the Los Angeles area.
Adat Chaverim, whose "celebrations" have been led by a madrich, or trained lay leader, since its founding four years ago, will welcome an ordained humanist rabbi, Miriam Jerris, for the first time at its Yom Kippur service.
In another first, the services will be held at the Valley Cities Jewish Community Center in Sherman Oaks, instead of the Methodist church, which has housed Adat Chaverim until now.
"It's nice for our 65 members and their guests to come together at a Jewish venue," co-founder Joe Steinberg said.
The Society for Humanistic Judaism will meet in West Los Angeles, and The Sholem Community in Culver City and Rancho Park.
For more information, contact: Adat Chaverim, (818) 623-7363, www.vchj.net; Society for Humanistic Judaism, (213) 891-4303, www.shjla.org; and Sholem Community, (818) 760-6625, www.sholem.org. -- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor
Biblical Meets Digital
An Israeli company has come up with a unique way of helping people search through the myriad Jewish religious texts that have accumulated since the Torah was given on Sinai 5,000 years ago. DBS International has put more than 500 texts, including the entire text of the Tanach and the Talmud, onto two CD-ROMs called Torah Treasures.
"It's like the Concordance but much more efficient," said Rabbi Yoseph Gubits, the director of the American office for DBS International, referring to the classic Jewish reference texts that lists the sources for any mention of a name or place in the Tanach and Talmud. "You type in a word, and then in a few seconds you receive a list of all the places that word is mentioned. If you click on [the listing] you get the whole page, and then if you click on it again you get the commentaries on that page. And you can search through any or all of the books."
DBS sells two versions of Torah Treasures. Version nine has 512 books on it and costs $310; version 10 has 562 books and costs $420.
Gubits thinks that the CD-ROMs will be indispensable to rabbis and teachers who need to prepares talks and classes.
Currently, the texts on the CD-ROMs are only available in Hebrew.
For more information, visit www.dbsus.com or call (718) 437-7337. -- Gaby Wenig, Staff Writer
Synaplex Revives Synagogues
This September, two Los Angeles-area temples will be among five new synagogues that will begin participating in the Synaplex Initiative, a program of STAR (Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal), which is designed to boost synagogue attendance.
Synaplex (a combination of synagogue and multiplex, as in movie theatres) is already in place at Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills, University Synagogue in Irvine and at nine other synagogues across the country.
Synaplex supplements the traditional Friday night prayer service with a range of options -- anything from Torah-based yoga to a family-friendly pizza party, a community service project to a guest lecturer -- to get people excited about Shabbat. Any or all of the activities could be going on in a Synaplex synagogue at the same time.
On average, Synaplex synagogues have seen their attendance increase by 78 percent on Friday evenings. Temple Emmanuel in Beverly Hills has increased its average attendance on Synaplex Shabbats by 940 percent.
"Synaplex is an expression of how the Sabbath can be celebrated in a way that speaks to modern individuals and families and restores the synagogue to its traditional position as a communal and spiritual center," said Rabbi Hayim Herring, executive director of STAR.
For more information, visit www.starsynagogue.org . --GW