Joel Pressman, a cantor and longtime performing arts teacher at Beverly Hills High School, died on Nov. 18. He was 63.
On a brilliantly sunny Sunday in late September, Joel Pressman, an esteemed cantor and a venerated former performing arts teacher at Beverly Hills High School, wearing a black T-shirt that proclaimed “I’m not dead yet,” walked slowly with a cane into Will Rogers Memorial Park in Beverly Hills.
Andi Murez, 21, a swimmer from Venice Beach competing in her second Maccabiah Games this year, was named Most Outstanding Athlete out of all the women who competed during the 19th annual international athletic Jewish event.
There was a crack and a gasp and then a murmur that traveled in a wave back through the rows of seats at Temple Beth Am’s Library Minyan on the first day of Rosh Hashanah.
“Let me show you the dogs,” Cantor Magda Fishman says as she excitedly pulls out her iPhone and scrolls through photos until she comes upon a candid shot of two gorgeous poodles.
Pressman and the group did create another entity, what has become known as "The Library Minyan," named for the downstairs library where the 15 families began to meet weekly to pray. Members organized and participated in all parts of the service (especially the weekly sermon), discussed all aspects of Judaism and debated the increasingly complex issues of the changing times.Thirty-six years later, the Library Minyan, with its opportunities for engagement and intellectual rigor is seen as having helped to start a revolution -- empowering lay leaders in the essential structure of spiritual leadership. It has become a model for many Conservative and Reform congregations seeking to create alternatives both within and outside the fold of conventional synagogue structure, and has allowed individual congregations to morph it into new and ever-changing incarnations.This weekend, the Library Minyan will celebrate its double-chai anniversary (two times "life") with a Shabbaton Nov. 2-4 that will remember the past but also look toward the future.
As an attorney representing several victims of sexually predatory Catholic priests, Mark Itzkowitz has witnessed the church's pedophilia scandal from an almost too-close-for-comfort vantage point. Not long ago, Itzkowitz's life took a surreal turn when he found himself confronting clergy sexual abuse from a different perspective: The problem had come home to roost in his own synagogue.
Consul General -- now Ambassador -- Yuval Rotem arrived as a 39-year-old career diplomat in Los Angeles in September 1999, with his wife, Miri, and their three children. He will return to Jerusalem Aug. 16, leaving behind hundreds of friends who consider him one of the most popular and effective envoys to have represented his country in Southern California, the Southwestern United States and Hawaii.
When Temple Beth Am of Los Angeles extended a konnichi wa during Saturday services to its Japanese visitors, they answered "Shabbat shalom." Small Hands, a group of Japanese goodwill ambassadors, ages 12-18, offered a cultural exchange on its July 26 visit.
So what do you say to children when hate explodes in our world, taking with it thousands of lives?
That is what educators at Pressman Academy at Temple Beth Am dealt with Tuesday, after they made an early morning decision to keep the Westside Conservative day school open, even as other Jewish day schools across Los Angeles canceled classes for the day.