This year, for the first time since 2008, February came and went without a LimmudLA conference.
From generation to generation, starting in 1950 and continuing today, one of the most important sites on the map of the Jewish community in Southern California was a stretch of rolling hills in Simi Valley. The story is richly told in the pages of “The Brandeis-Bardin Institute: A Living History” by Jenna Leventhal (American Jewish University, $30), an “official” history. Published by the university that now owns the property, it is predictably upbeat but also, at moments, candid and forthright about the birth pangs and growing pains of a Jewish institution.
Gady Levy, vice president in charge of the Department of Continuing Education at the University of Judaism (UJ), likes to talk about how "all over the place" he is. It is true that as he talks about the new opportunities offered up by the merger between UJ and the Brandeis-Bardin Institute (BBI), he verbally skitters between programs and philosophies and a zillion new ideas he has. But it is also true that all of his scattered energy focuses in on one goal: enriching people's lives through Judaism.
When Linda Volpert Gross took on chairing the board at Brandeis-Bardin Institute (BBI), it seemed that she would have a simple tenure. The institute had just hired Rabbi Isaac Jeret as president, someone they hoped could lead BBI into a bright new future.
The University of Judaism (UJ) and Brandeis-Bardin Institute (BBI), two Southern California institutions that for the last 60 years have educated and inspired Jews of all ages and affiliations -- and that have both at times struggled through financial and leadership troubles -- this week will announce that they have merged into one entity, to be known as the American Jewish University.
Drive into The Brandeis-Bardin Institute, up the pepper tree-lined main thoroughfare and through the gates leading to 3,000 acres of rolling hills in the Santa Susana Mountains. Enter a setting so magnificent that it's easy to believe, as Rabbi Ed Feinstein of Valley Beth Shalom does, that God lives there.
Jeff and Liz Kramer and their three teenage sons could only watch and wait. The Sutton Valley residents paced the sidewalk in front of their home on Thursday morning, watching as the head of the Topanga Canyon Fire crept along a ridge less than 800 yards away, consuming brush and sending up billows of smoke.
After less than 10 months on the job, the president of the Brandeis-Bardin Institute has announced plans to step down, a development that surprised board members and raised questions about the health and future of the Jewish-owned camp, retreat and conference center.
Rabbi Isaac Jeret insisted his departure was voluntary and amicable. He said he enjoyed his time at Brandeis but wanted to move on to a more spiritually fulfilling job.
We are driving to pick up our son from camp. He's been there three weeks, the longest stretch he's been away from us since his birth.
In this age of e-mails and BlackBerrys and cell phones, the rule at Camp Alonim at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute in Simi Valley is no e-mails, BlackBerrys or cell phones. He's sent us a few postcards home, clearly written by an 11-year-old who has put away childish things, like parents.
"Dear Family: We prayed and prayed and had havdalah end of story. Love, Adi. P.S. I love you. P.P.S. Tomorrow's our overnight and we're creating our own fire and no letters on Sunday."
For Rena, missing weeks of dance rehearsal was unthinkable, but so was missing out on the quintessential Jewish youth experience of summer camp.
This summer, Rena hopes to have that conflict resolved for her for at least two weeks when she attends T'hila, a new program at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute in Simi Valley that integrates a Jewish camping experience with an arts experience molded for young, talented artists who are as serious about their craft as Rena.
The ad caught our eye: an all-expense paid Shabbat weekend at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute for couples married withinthe past 18 months. I had been to Brandeis before, so I knew that, if nothing else, my husband, Neal, and I would experience a tranquil Shabbat in a beautiful setting.