First, an apology. To the good men and women of the LGBT community at Sinai Temple and everywhere else in the world, on the subject of said temple’s recent announcement that it would henceforth perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, in reference to the mindless, intolerant and hurtful remarks of a few individuals as expressed in letters and e-mails and (it must have been a slow news day at The New York Times) the national press, about the issues of homosexuality, gay marriage and the proper role of rabbis in helping their congregation maintain the standards of decency to which we should all aspire: I’m sorry.
We take light for granted. But in the Torah’s opening chapter of Bereshit, it was God’s first gift. It seems fitting, then, that when a local synagogue committed itself to helping an impoverished village in rural Uganda, the first gift would be to turn on the lights — to give the gift of solar-powered electricity.
After all the political speechmaking of the past few weeks, in the wake of all the claims and fact-checking, name-calling and back-slapping, one simple word has stuck in my mind and my heart. It was spoken at the beginning of Barack Obama’s short tribute film that was shown just before the president made his speech to accept the nomination for re-election.
Last Sunday, I took my first trip to Beit T’Shuvah. I’ve been hearing about this highly successful addiction treatment center for years and had met some of its staff, but I’d never visited its campus on Venice Boulevard, with its sanctuary adorned with stained-glass windows, as well as some 80 to 90 bedrooms housing double that number of residents in various stages of recovery.
A week ago last Monday, my daughter brought her laptop to the dinner table and insisted, “We have to watch this.” This never happens in our house. We don’t watch TV at dinner, nor does my very independent 16-year-old tend to share.
Amid all the boozing, smoking and jumping from bed to bed in “Mad Men,” there’s a certain 1960s persona that’s missing from the popular TV show — and that’s the sort of dedicated young woman who devoted herself not just to her husband and family, or even to her work, but to causes.
Amid all the hubris and rancor flying around the subject of women’s reproductive rights these days, I suggest we stop for a moment and send a word of thanks to Planned Parenthood for its 100 years of caring for both women and men with nowhere else to turn — almost 50 of those years in Los Angeles.
One evening last February, 1,500 people poured into the vast sanctuary of Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, filling every inch.
Each autumn, the Milken Family Foundation throws one of the best luncheons of the year, and it’s not the fine kosher fare at the Luxe Sunset Boulevard hotel that draws us in.
On a particularly beautiful day like last Sunday, I, to be honest, had a hard time facing the prospect of spending the afternoon in windowless conference rooms at the Sheraton Universal Hotel.
At the Los Angeles County Museum of Art right now, in the ground-level hall of the Art of the Americas building, right off the main courtyard, a life-sized, lifelike sculptural installation shows a black man being castrated by a group of five white men wearing cartoonish masks.
When an e-mail arrived in my inbox recently announcing a public conversation between Gloria Steinem and Mona Eltahawy, I knew I had to be there, even though it was scheduled for midday on a Thursday across town at UCLA’s Hammer Museum.
I’m standing in a room with Sheldon G. Adelson, the tough, outspoken billionaire casino magnate. And I’m wondering: Where is he?
Right around the time the curtain was dropping on the opening night of Broadway’s new “South Park”-inspired musical, “The Book of Mormon,” I was in Salt Lake City, Utah, having dinner with two top-level elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, plus a few other saints (as observant Mormons are known), as well as three rabbis and a scholar of ancient Hebrew from American Jewish University (AJU). As the satire about missionaries was playing to rave reviews in New York, we Jews were engaged in a conversation completely lacking in irony in a penthouse dining room overlooking Temple Square — guests for two days of LDS church leaders from Los Angeles and Salt Lake, who hosted us with a graciousness of a sort only Emily Post could dream up.
My daughter Rachel is a Jewish American girl from China. She is not the only Asian girl in her school -- there are three, all adopted (two from China, one from Vietnam) -- and she says she feels no different from anyone else. But among the mix of mostly Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews that make up our community, she adds a special spice. And in her own discreet style, I believe she has helped teach her friends to be colorblind in ways that could last a lifetime.
I've joined 14 adults on a daylong excursion in Malibu Creek State Park led by Rabbi Mike Comins, who runs Torah Trek, Spiritual Wilderness Adventures. Whether it's a one-day exercise for first-timers -- like ours is -- or a multiday meditative adventure, the idea is to spend time studying Torah, reading, thinking, meditating and seeking a "God experience," as Comins calls it. We are now at the ultimate moment of the day, the portion called "hitbodedut," which translates from the Hebrew as "to be alone."