Upon arriving in Egypt, fresh from his encounter with God at the burning bush, Moshe enlists his brother Aharon as well as the elders of Israel to confront Pharaoh.
I would like to offer a view on Jewish neighborhoods that is so contrary to accepted wisdom that I can only ask that people read this column with as open a mind as possible.
Why is this book club different from all other book clubs? I know this phrase is out of season, but the strange confluence of holidays this year permits some flexibility.
“And Leah’s eyes were tender, but Rachel was fair in form and fair to look at, and Jacob loved Rachel” (Genesis 29:17).
In my last column, I suggested a number of reasons for the rise of Orthodox Judaism and the decline in membership among non-Orthodox denominations.
Wells, water, history and peace. Seems like as much as the world changes, advances and develops, some things remain intact, remain essential to our future. In the midst of this week’s parasha, Toldot, within the stories of familial strife among Isaac, Rebecca and their twin sons, Jacob and Esau, in between the pain, we have a scene that brings hope, if not for the immediate pain of the Torah’s story, then for the future, perhaps for us today.
Our fellow Jews are sick. They don’t admit it. They don’t even know it. Yet the malady is grave. “The most destructive, painful, most contagious disease of all,” Rabbi Noah Weinberg said, “is ignorance. Ignorance perverts people and leads to wasted, counterproductive lives. Ignorance causes untold suffering — mistreatment of children, marital strife and suffering in a dead-end job.”
Shabbat dinner tells one part of the story. When Alon Kashanian, a UCLA senior, wants a “very big social atmosphere” on erev Shabbat, he goes to Hillel’s grand, Jerusalem-stone-adorned, 25,000-square-foot Yitzhak Rabin Hillel Center for Jewish Life on Hilgard Avenue in Westwood. He socializes with friends and mingles with some of the 100 to 200 students — the number can vary widely — who come for services and Friday night dinner.
Did Avraham attend Yitzchak’s wedding? Well, in the closest thing we have to a wedding description — right at the end of this parasha — Avraham is nowhere to be found. The servant who made the match is there, and the spirit of Sarah is there as she looms large in her son’s memory, but there’s no mention of Avraham.
“Who is a Jew?” is a uniquely Jewish question. It is a question that epitomizes the Jewish people and culture. It is a philosophical question that embodies the history of Jewish debate. It is a question of belonging that symbolizes Jews as a minority.
Forget the “Seinfeld” reruns, and come laugh live! “Tales From the Mouth: Failures, Fiascos & Other Triumphs” will get you giggling, guffawing and getting it. Whether you love Korzen for her role as Doris Klompus, her National Public Radio humor or as a Moth Mainstage artist, you’ll love her all the more for her witty insights.
The ink is barely dry on the latest Pew report on declining Jewish affiliation and concerned community leaders are quickly weighing in on what to do to attract the unaffiliated back under the tent. Notwithstanding all the good ideas, something, from my experience, is missing from the conversation.
Word went out from the congregation that a longtime member was nearing the end of her life. She has no partner and no children, but, on the day after Yom Kippur, 17 friends from the congregation came to visit her, including current and former clergy, and grown children she used to baby-sit.
Dozens of men sit around a few tables, humming a soft Chasidic niggun (tune), swaying slowly back and forth, noshing on cold cuts, salads and light snacks. Some are sipping on small cups of vodka. Most wear white dress shirts, black dress pants and a long black coat.
I want to tell you about a man I’ll call Jack. Jack was a man who slept under the 405 underpass that I cross on my walk to synagogue every Shabbat. For a long time, I didn’t really see him. He was tucked away in the bushes next to the on-ramp. But that’s not what kept me from seeing him.
When Allen Alevy was 12 years old, he was called to the Torah for the first time. Although he hadn’t yet had a bar mitzvah, his maternal grandfather’s Orthodox synagogue was one man shy of a minyan.
When my mother, Shulamit E. Kustanowitz, died in May 2011, the in-person Jewish community provided all the basics — post-shivah meals, abundant hugs and three places to say Kaddish: Temple Beth Am for daily minyan, Friday nights at IKAR and Shabbat mornings at B’nai David-Judea. Although I was grateful for the support, my emotional needs during that year turned out to be more complex.
Sonia grew up in Minsk, Russia, her teen years abruptly cut short by the eruption of a war that would destroy most of her family and friends, and catapult her into a harrowing struggle to survive. And survive she did, fleeing from village to village with her family, finding work of any kind wherever they found refuge, traversing the unforgiving Ural Mountain ranges to escape the relentless Nazi rampage.
Not long ago, I showed up for a Friday night Shabbat service at Beit T’Shuvah in Culver City. Over the years, I have counseled a number of congregants whose adult children were saved by this addiction recovery program, and I wanted to experience Beit T’Shuvah’s spiritual Shabbat service, which I had heard so much about.
The trek to Chabad of Downtown Los Angeles was not exactly my normal pre-Shabbat routine. Living in Pico-Robertson, the most noticeable sound I hear on the streets and sidewalks as Friday night approaches isn’t typically car engines — it’s silence.
The eastward expansion of Pico-Robertson’s Orthodox community hit a new milestone recently with the Aug. 24 opening of LINK East, a satellite branch of LINK, the Los Angeles Intercommunity Kollel.
Here in Pico-Robertson, we’re bracing ourselves for the annual onslaught of kosher calories known as the Holy Month. Some people think that this time of year calls for only a few big meals. Not quite. If you’re a stickler for tradition, the actual number of Thanksgiving-level meals over the next month is closer to — I’m not kidding — about 18. And that’s not even counting the Yom Kippur pre-fast and break-the-fast meals.
The question “Where are you going for services?” is a mainstay among Jews around this time of year. Numerous congregations that ordinarily perform Shabbat services at their own locale often need to find larger, and more spacious, nontraditional venues — often churches, theaters or hotels — for the High Holy Days to accommodate the many who come only then to meet their spiritual needs.
As twilight approached on yet another gorgeous Southern California day, a cantor led a service bursting with guitar and dance. The room was packed with daveners, and kids circled a table, the youngest ones carrying Torah scrolls.
What does a beautiful, successful, and, uh, married actress like Natalie Portman need to do to find men willing to come over for Shabbat dinner? Turn to Craigslist, naturally!
Rico Collins, 39, was raised Southern Baptist in Jacksonville, Fla., but could never relate to the messages he heard in church as a boy. “It’s very fire and brimstone,” he said. “I didn’t like it.”
I saw two opposite ends of Jewish tolerance last Friday night in Jerusalem’s Old City. As I walked through the Jaffa Gate on my way to a Shabbat dinner, I noticed some black-hatted Charedim kicking a taxicab while yelling, “Shabbos, Shabbos!”
On a recent Thursday evening, instead of reading a book or watching a movie at home with her children, Stacy Kent brought her daughter, Rayna, 9, and son, Ami, 7, to a warehouse on the corner of Pico Boulevard and Wetherly Drive.
Military life can be grueling — both physically and emotionally draining. For Eric Goldie, military life has made for a storied and rewarding career that has challenged him in unexpected ways. In 2010, Goldie was mobilized for deployment to Iraq, and added to his list of challenges as a soldier came the question of how to observe Shabbat in Baghdad.
We conclude the reading of Bamidbar (Numbers) this week. Over the course of the book, the children of Israel spend approximately 40 years in the desert, camping in 42 different places, each of which is mentioned in Masei, the second of this week’s two parshiyot.
On a recent trip to New York, I spent Shabbat morning at The Jewish Center in Manhattan, a vibrant Modern Orthodox community. As services came to a close, the 500 congregants did not make the typical mad rush for the door. Instead, everyone remained seated, anxiously waiting to hear scholar-in-residence Tova Manzel.
After being disrupted by construction on the 405 Freeway, the Los Angeles Community Eruv was expected to be back in operation for the Shabbat beginning at sundown on June 21, Howard Witkin, a community member who oversees the eruv’s maintenance, told the Journal on June 17.
The Los Angeles Community Eruv will not be in operation during the Shabbat that begins at sundown tonight, June 14, due to construction on the 405 Freeway.
I never thought I’d ever sit around a Shabbat table talking about bulls---, a word we don’t usually print in the Journal. But there I was recently at my friend David Brandes’ house, sitting across from the prominent philosopher and former Princeton University professor Harry Frankfurt, author of “On Bullshit” (2005).
As a key leader in a number of organizations at Sierra Canyon School in Chatsworth, it’s hard to imagine that Michael Sacks ever felt left out.
Last August, in conjunction with the beginning of a new seven-and-a-half year cycle of “daf yomi”—the daily study of a double page of the Babylonian Talmud that is observed by tens of thousands of Jews worldwide—Nicholls inaugurated an online “Draw Yomi” project that day-by-day results in a hand-drawn response to what she has studied.
“Mommy, I’ll be right back.” Irene Rosenberg — then Irene Grunfeld — said as she was leaving the apartment of her cousin Mancy Weiss, where she and her mother were staying temporarily.
A typical study session for Elul, a pluralistic Israel-based beit midrash (house of study), doesn’t confine itself to a discussion of Abraham’s journey in Genesis.
In a crummy economy, people are always looking for good investments — a promising stock, a real estate opportunity, a star mutual fund. It’s really not that different in the “mitzvah economy”— donors and do-gooders are also looking to squeeze the maximum amount of goodness out of every charity investment.
There are a variety of options for how to begin the process, but all involve study with a rabbi. Some people study with an individual rabbi for a period of time, and other people enroll in group classes designed especially for converts.
Everyone has their moments of failure, when they transgress. Not necessarily out of malice, but in response to temptation or opportunity or out of fear.
On a recent Saturday morning, at Congregation Mogen David’s Ashkenazic Shabbat service, a blond-haired girl in a shimmery pink sundress tugged at the fringes of a man’s tallit (prayer shawl). The tallit belonged to Alex Katz, and he tried to ignore her entreaties as he led 90 people in the social hall in the prayer for the United States.
Celebrate Passover, Shabbat and family during a Tot Shabbat with Rabbi Karen Bender, Cantor Alison Wissot and Len Levitt and the Levitty Puppets. Sat. 9:30 a.m. Free. Temple Judea, 5429 Lindley Ave., Tarzana. (818) 758-3800. templejudea.com.
On a freezing Friday night in Brooklyn, a group of 18 Crown Heights residents scurry through the crowds of Jews leaving synagogue and make their way to a second-story apartment on Rogers Avenue for Shabbat dinner.
Some synagogues have cancelled services ahead of a potentially historic blizzard.
On a recent Friday night, a group of 20-something foodies gathered to celebrate Shabbat.
In these dark, cold days of winter, it’s so easy to lose hope. Add to this the hardships of loss, with which life seems intent on liberally sprinkling our lives, and we get something akin to paralysis. We may feel like a tree in winter, shorn of its leaves, standing still like death. Will spring ever come, and will we survive until it does?
I don’t often write about the same subject in consecutive weeks, but because my “Birthright Shabbat” column last week elicited an unusual amount of feedback, I thought I’d share some of it with you, as well as build on the idea.