Shabbat Shalom, Los Feliz
When Rabbi Leibel Korf came to Los Angeles more than seven years ago, he started up a Chabad center in his Los Feliz home's dining room. By October 2000, he moved to a 1,200-square-foot storefront on Vermont Avenue, in a strip mall just north of Hollywood Boulevard. For the last five years, Chabad of Greater Los Feliz has thrived so much that Korf felt it was time to move to bigger premises.
"For the past years, we felt there was a lot we could do if we had the space and a presence in the neighborhood," he said.
Now they will, with the purchase of a 6,750-square-foot lot on Hillhurst Avenue for $1.4 million. The two-building property, located on a trendy restaurant row north of Franklin Avenue, was formerly the famous Vida restaurant. (The Los Angeles Times erroneously reported the property was sold to the Kabbalah Center.)
The new Chabad of Greater Los Feliz is set to open there Feb. 1. Synagogue services will take place in the renovated back building, and Chabad classes, lectures, day school, teen clubs and programs will take place in the main building, which will also undergo renovations once the additional funds -- about $1 million -- are raised.
Korf, 35, hopes to use the new premises to expand his programs and host more of the community. (Korf boasts a mailing list of 7,000 -- "We know of the existence of 2,000, and we have some contact with 1,300-1,500," he said.) They are kashering the restaurant kitchen so that his wife, Dvonye, who normally prepares large meals in their home, can now have the professional, kosher facilities for Shabbat and holiday meals.
The only cloud on this silver-lined horizon may be that it is located next door to a Scientology center, where young Hollywood types stand outside distributing leaflets and beckoning passersby to enter. But Korf says he will not get involved.
"We are very nonjudgmental in general -- no matter who our neighbors are, we are very accommodating," he said.
Korf hopes the new center will attract more people from the Hollywood Hills, Silver Lake and the surrounding Eastside areas than being "in a strip mall on the edge of the neighborhood," he said.
"I feel if there's one more Jew-plus by being here, then, it's all worth it."
Chabad of Greater Los Feliz will be located at 1930 N. Hillhurst Ave. For more information, call (323) 660-5177 or visit www.chabadlosfeliz.com
Torah, Arts Meet at the Beach
The Pacific Jewish Center (PJC), or "the shul on the beach" as it is known, is one of six synagogues to win a $20,000 grant from the Orthodox Union (OU) programming initiative awards competition. PJC is the only L.A. synagogue to receive one of these first-time grants, which were announced in May for "encouraging initiatives to strengthen local synagogue and communal life."
PJC won for the Venice Torah Arts Festival project, which will transform the synagogue, gardens and parking lot into a summer arts exhibition. Normally, the structure is closed except for daily prayers and Shabbat and holiday services. During the summer, the festival coordinator and volunteers will greet boardwalkers and entice them to Torah, Judaism and the local synagogue in hopes of inspiring "a vibrant revival of Jewish interest," according to PJC's grant application.
The OU awarded grants to programs that could be easily replicated in other synagogues. Stephen Savitsky, OU president, said, "Rabbi Benjamin Geiger, President Judd Magilnick and their colleagues are to be commended for their effort in putting this program together and for the vision and foresight they displayed in evaluating their community's needs and in devising this program as a response."
Pacific Jewish Center is located at 505 Ocean Front Walk. For more information call (310) 392-8749 or visit www.pjcenter.com
Separate but Egalitarian
The new monthly minyan, 10 and 10, will hold its next services on Friday, Jan. 20, at the Workmen's Circle on Robertson Boulevard. The congregation follows traditional Shabbat services with a mehitzah dividing men and women, but also has women leading certain parts of the service, as well as getting aliyot.
10 and 10 is modeled after the shul, Shira Chadasha in Jerusalem, which adheres to traditional Jewish law, but is progressive in searching for egalitarian allowances of Jewish law. For example, 10 and 10 only begins davening when both 10 men and 10 women are present. The group meets at the Workmen's Circle in the winter and in private homes in the spring and summer. Friday night services are followed by a dairy potluck.
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