USC Trojans march for restored Torah; backyard tashlich in Fairfax.
Questions, Prayers and Shabbat Lights.
"Just one Shabbos and we'll all be free," religious rocker Mordechai Ben David sang back in the 1980s. Well, for the last decade, one Jewish organization has tried to get people to experience Shabbat at least once a year.
Let's face it. Many people go to synagogue on the High Holidays because they have to. A feeling of poorly understood and unappreciated obligation can pervade this time of year. But it doesn't have to. You can put yourself or your children in the spirit and in the know with help from this by-no-means-comprehensive list of titles that elucidate the prayers and customs of the holiday.
Are You watching, God?
Have You seen the innocent swept away?
Are You listening, God?
Have You heard their cries?
Be with them, God.
Be their strength and their comfort.
Let them know You are near.
Work through us, God.
Teach us to be Your messengers on earth.
Wake us up, God,
Show us how to help.
Use us, God, shine through us,
Inspire us to rebuild the ruins.
Open our hearts so we can comfort the mourning.
Open our arms so we can extend our hands to those in need.
Shake us out of our complacency, God.
Be our guide,
Transform our helplessness into action,
Our generous intentions into charity,
Turn the prayers of our souls into acts of kindness and compassion.
In New Orleans, the Jews are the only ones buried in the ground. Others, if their mourners have any means at all, are laid with the expectation of eternal rest in stone crypts to protect them from rising waters. My mother used to say, "Someday, we Jews'll all be floatin' down the river."
Just as in California, where we know that one day "the big one" will come, in New Orleans, we knew that someday the water would overtake us. But the denial overtakes the wisdom, and we stay and build lives. I think of Pompeii. New Orleans was so beautiful.
When Boy Scout troop 711 from Alaska lost four of its leaders in a freak electrical accident on the first day of the recent National Scout Jamboree here, the one Jewish Scout in the Alaska contingent was left in a quandary.
On the Sunday morning of the gathering, when jamboree activities were suspended for a few hours, all of Noah Magen's troop mates were headed to religious services for their respective faiths. But what does a Jewish Scout do on Sunday?
For Noah, the answer was the Shul Tent, where daily services and special programming were provided for Jewish Scouts.
When my friend, Debra, learned that a young man she knew had been in a tragic accident and was comatose, she went to the hospital to visit him every day for three months. No one knew if the man would emerge from his deep, distant sleep, but Debra believed that he would.
Growing up religious in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, I didn't have much choice when it came to religious studies: it was full time till I was 18. I always felt it was being shoved down my throat.
So I stayed away from religious studies for about a decade -- from college, through marriage, a year of service in Vietnam and three children.
During that time I stayed close to religion through observance, community and friends, but I avoided any formal religious study.
I felt a great, humbling appreciation that I was now doing what so many of my ancestors had wished to do for thousands of years.
Almost every Friday afternoon for the last few months, I've been visited at my office by a pair of young Chasidic Jews -- high school students in big black hats and sporting the wispy beginnings of what I am certain will someday be fine beards.
The UPS man brought an envelope containing a beautiful ray of hope, an exceptional picture book by Jane Breskin Zalben titled "Let There Be Light: Poems and Prayers for Repairing the World" (Dutton Books, $15.99).
To address the needs of congregants not fully comfortable with Hebrew liturgy, Rabbi Shelton J. Donnell, along with a group of lay leaders, spent eight years developing a new siddur.
By the time you read this, it's probably too late for me. To repent, I mean.
We are entering the homestretch. Aug. 9 is the first of Elul, the last month in the Jewish calendar.
It was a postcard-perfect afternoon outside Kerckhoff Hall on UCLA's campus on Tuesday, Aug. 6., but Debra Bach could not stop crying.
I wear a piece of red string around my right wrist, a talisman for healing.
Tuesday morning prayers at the girls school of Yeshiva High School of Los Angeles (YULA) took a little longer than usual this week.
Today I received a phone call from an 18-year-old named Steven. Steven and I were scheduled to meet at Starbucks in a few days, prior to his leaving for U.S. military service. He called to let me know that he could not keep our appointment as the Marine Corps insisted that he report for duty that very evening, two weeks ahead of schedule. I asked him for his Hebrew name (Shlomo Yakar ben Nechama) to add his name to our prayers recited each Shabbos on behalf of the entire American and Israeli Defense Forces.
There once was a man who could provide only potatoes for his family's subsistence. As the monotony and the poverty wore on, he prayed, and his prayers were answered. There fell into his hands a mysterious map to a magical Island of Diamonds.
Three Rabbis were talking over a regular Sunday morning breakfast get-together.
During the past few years, an effort has been made to retrieve women's devotional literature and present it to a contemporary Jewish world.
I learned most of my theology not from my teachers but from my children. When my daughter, Nessa, was 3 years old, we had a routine. Each night, I would tuck her into bed, sing our bedtime prayers, kiss her good night and attempt to sneak out of the room. Halfway down the hall, she began to scream, "Abba!" An avid reader of Parents magazine, the Torah of parenting, I knew what to do: I walked back to the child's room and turned on every light. I looked under the bed. "No alligator, Nessa." I checked the closet. "No monsters, Nessa." I surveyed the ceiling. "No spiders, Nessa. Now go to bed. Tomorrow is coming, and you've got to get to sleep," I'd say. "Everything is safe. Good night." "OK, Abba," she said, "but leave the light on."