Preparing for a bar or bat mitzvah is time consuming. A student in the throes of becoming a teenager has to learn Torah and haftarah portions, plus required prayers and blessings. Then there’s the speech, the mitzvah project and the weekly meetings with the cantor or rabbi, or both.
Congressional staff members heard cogent arguments on the topics of separation of church and state, women's reproductive health and banning assault weapons from some singular constituents recently -- the confirmation class members of University Synagogue in Brentwood. Led by Rabbi Morley Feinstein, the students -- Alyssa Mannis, Sabrina Benun, Ben Marcus, Eric Rosenstein, Spencer Strasmore and Jack Eller -- attended the L'Taken Seminar of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C., in February.
New Zealand has never been considered a center of Jewish life, but since our congregation, University Synagogue, was visiting Australia, we decided to hop over (1,200 miles) to this incredibly beautiful country.
The next day, we were deeply moved at the Canterbury Hebrew Congregation -- named after the county so as not to be called the "Christchurch Synagogue" -- where our hosts, Dr. David Cohen, a local professor originally from Fresno and a graduate of UCLA, and Dr. Ali Wegner, originally from Buenos Aires and Chicago, introduced us to their synagogue. They moved to what many would consider yenne velt (the end of the earth) to live at a slower pace with serenity and security.
University Synagogue paid tribute to the 30-year career of Rabbi Allen Freehling, on the occasion of the socially active rabbi's retirement, with a gala at the Regent Beverly Wilshire.
A chapter is about to close for the Reform movement. After 30 years, Rabbi Allen Freehling is retiring from University Synagogue. As of June 30, Freehling, 70, will turn over the Brentwood synagogue's spiritual leadership to incoming Rabbi Morley Feinstein from Temple Beth El in South Bend, Ind.