Rabbi Toba August likes to accentuate the positive, and the new year is no exception.
"Too often for the High Holidays, we're told about our shortcomings," August said. "I want to concentrate on what we're doing right.... We don't recognize the things we do that matter. I want us to walk out of services feeling elevated and validated and renewed."
August has reason to focus on the positive, because this summer she was made the principal spiritual leader of Adat Shalom, a Conservative synagogue in West Los Angeles. Currently, August is one of only two women to head a longstanding Conservative congregation in Los Angeles. (The other is Rabbi Sally Olins of Temple Bnai Hayim in Sherman Oaks.) Her appointment comes just as the Conservative movement is grappling with the disparity of women rabbis in the movement.
Alan Rosenberg and Marg Helgenberger know playwright A.R. Gurney is perhaps the quintessential chronicler of WASP American life. So why are the Jewish actor and his lapsed Catholic TV-star wife performing Gurney's "Love Letters" June 9 at the Skirball Cultural Center to benefit West L.A. congregation Adat Shalom?
"It's a bit odd," says the willowy Helgenberger, 43, who's on the CBS smash hit "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation."
"But theater is the purview of Jews more than any other group," pipes up Rosenberg ("The Guardian"). "So the play wouldn't have been successful if Jews hadn't gone to see it."