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Jewish Journal

Moving and shaking

by Ryan Torok

July 9, 2014 | 12:32 pm

<em>Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center’s (PJTC) community Torah procession provided former congregants of Shaarei Torah in Arcadia a chance to say goodbye to the shul they called home until its merger with PJTC a few years ago. Last year, PJTC sold the Shaarei Torah building. The event took place in advance of the Shaarei shul being torn down. Approximately 70 people turned out to the ceremonial Torah event held on June 22. Photos by Ira Blitz</em>

Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center’s (PJTC) community Torah procession provided former congregants of Shaarei Torah in Arcadia a chance to say goodbye to the shul they called home until its merger with PJTC a few years ago. Last year, PJTC sold the Shaarei Torah building. The event took place in advance of the Shaarei shul being torn down. Approximately 70 people turned out to the ceremonial Torah event held on June 22. Photos by Ira Blitz

Five years after merging with Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center (PJTC), former members of Congregation Shaarei Torah in Arcadia were among those who took part June 22 in a symbolic Torah scroll procession from their old building to their new home.

Since merging in 2009, PJTC has housed all of Shaarei Torah’s 11 scrolls. Still, the Torah walk (and drive) was attended by about 70 people and prompted by the fact that the former property, transferred to PJTC with the merger, was sold. 

“The new owner took possession of the property on July 1 and demolition may already be underway,” said Jeff Landau, PJTC executive vice president of programs.

Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater, spiritual leader of PJTC, said, “I hope it felt like some sense of closure — respect, kavod, for that space.”

On June 22, a final Sunday minyan took place at the Shaarei Torah building on Second Avenue in Arcadia. This was followed by the community Torah walk, during which people passed the holy scroll from one to another for a short distance. The majority of the 6 1/2 miles between the two sites was covered by car. 

Many of those who returned together to PJTC did so without dry eyes, according to Grater.

“We wanted to have this commemoration to honor the memory and allow folks to say goodbye to the space,” Grater told the Journal. “It was a very moving, emotional and touching morning.”


Los Angeles Dodgers’ baseball hats — emblazoned with the team’s name in Hebrew — dotted Dodgers Stadium stands on June 29 during the 15th annual Jewish Community Day.

On the scorching, summer afternoon, a group sales representative estimated Jewish community groups purchased 800 tickets. The day’s strong turnout was due, in part, to the tireless efforts of people like Jason Stern, brotherhood/men’s club president of Valley Beth Shalom in Encino. He sold 300 tickets and was one of several people honored on the field prior to the game.

From left: Hazzan Mimi Haselkorn of Temple Aliyah, Valley Beth Shalom’s men’s club president Jason Stern, and Shaarey Zedek congregant Michael Halpern and his children, Benjamin and Emma, participated in a pregame recognition ceremony at Dodgers Jewish Community Day on June 29. Photo by Ryan Torok

“I’m feeling just kind of excited about how successfully the community came together for this event,” Stern said walking down to the field for the ceremony. “Anytime you can get this much of the community together for anything it’s always a challenge — but to have people turn out in [these] kind of numbers and all be excited and having this much fun, you can’t ask for more than this.”

Hazzan Mimi Haselkorn of Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills; Michael Halpern of Shaarey Zedek in Valley Village; Neil Wedge of Chabad of the Beach Cities and Beverly Hills Little League’s Eric Weissman were also honored during the pregame event, which recognized those who sold tickets in bulk.

The Dodgers beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-0, but they weren’t the only winners. Jeff Rohatiner, owner of Jeff’s Gourmet Kosher Sausage Factory in Pico-Robertson, said he was thrilled to take part in the day’s event. Invited by the Dodgers, Rohatiner brought in a portable stand, complete with steam cookers capable of heating dozens of dogs simultaneously. A Kehilla Kosher rabbi supervised.

 “There’s nothing more American than baseball, apple pie and kosher hot dogs,” said Jay Falk of Shomrei Torah Synagogue in West Hills. 

Fans enjoyed a seventh-inning stretch that featured more than the customary rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Israeli singer Elliott Yamin sang “God Bless America.”


The seventh KindredSPIRITS benefit concert for Israeli humanitarian project Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) took place at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills on June 14.

KindredSPIRITS is a Jewish charity organization that produces an annual world-class concert that, according to its website, has raised nearly $1 million for six charities and drawn more than 5,000 people to its concerts. SACH is an international group that works to bring quality care to children suffering from heart disease in developing countries.

Performers at the concert included KindredSPIRITS founder Cantor Ilan Davidson of Temple Beth El in San Pedro; Cantor Ilysia Pierce of Temple of the Arts in Beverly Hills; and the L. A. Jewish Symphony, with founder and conductor Noreen Green. Singer-songwriter Bea Miller from the TV music competition “The X-Factor,” the Agape International Choir and singer Freda Payne were also part of the annual gala.

Performers included Cantor Ilan Davidson, the founder, president and artistic director of KindredSPIRITS, and “The X-Factor” singer Bea Miller. Photo courtesy of KindredSPIRITS

Michael Beckwith and his wife, Rickie Byars Beckwith, were honored with the KindredSPIRITS Humanitarian Award. Michael Beckwith is the founder and spiritual director of the Agape International Spiritual Center in Culver City, and Rickie Byars Beckwith is a recording artist of religious music.

Additional supporters of the June event included Congresswoman Janice Hahn; L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe; L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino, and restaurateur and interior designer Barbara Lazaroff.


Misfits of Jewish Outreach (MOJO) held its first event in grand fashion — on a quadruple-decker yacht, “Noah’s Ark,” that left dock from Marina del Rey.

The June 15 evening masquerade party drew 250 Jewish young adults and featured everything from casino games to an exhibit with live animals. There were open bars, live music and a rooftop cabana, too.

MOJO’s mission is to create programs that “unravel the purpose and meaning of life” and highlight “the responsibility of the Jewish people” to the rest of the world to be a “light unto the nations,” explained Joubin Hanaie, one of the organization’s founder.

Guests at Misfits of Jewish Outreach’s “Noah’s Ark” event try their hand at blackjack. Photo by Jared Sichel

Hana titled the event after the biblical story of Noah because he wants his organization to help young Jews be leaders to their generation. The Biblical figure Noah, after the flood, was the leader of a new generation of humanity.

Friends and strangers dressed for a night on the town as they socialized and mingled, many with a drink in hand. Lauren Schwartz, 23, said one reason she came was to find a potential date.

One floor below, Rami Kayvar, Jonathan Jay and Aaron Kahen were enjoying their beverages and having a few laughs. Kayvar, who said he had not been to any Jewish events for a while, came in order to be “reintroduced into the Jewish scene.”

Hana added: “There are not many Jewish events that are unique, and I think this one really captured that.” 

— Jared Sichel, Staff Writer


Moving and Shaking highlights events, honors and simchas. Got a tip? Email ryant@jewishjournal.com.

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