Posted by Danielle Berrin
Beginning Friday evening, our daily lives were left at the door and the Sabbath halo enveloped us with the scents of simmering sautÃ© pans and the sounds of conversation filling the hallways. Almost every Shabbat, we opened our home to share our blessing with others. On this night, we could talk to each other and listen more deeply than the rush of the workweek allowed. Shabbat was a gathering of life; a blanket of togetherness.
And it was so much fun. Each member of my family had a âpartâ during the service. My mother assigned these roles early on to ensure we were always actively engaged in the observance—our part was our responsibility and the holiday was incomplete without it. If we were talkative or rowdy during the blessings (as was the proclivity in my household), my mother would just start over. She wouldn’t proceed until we all met in the same spiritual place.
For twenty-years, Shabbat was a Friday evening bustle of heightened family dynamics, the warm company of friends and strangers and a dessert spread that makes Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory seem sparse. There was always laughing and feasting and joy.
As I got older, I valued the joy but I craved enlightenment. I began attending Saturday morning Torah study with my mentor, teacher and friend, Rabbi Terry Bookman. There, I found more community, more warmth, more love, more Judaism. Afterwards, we would gather in the chapel for a musical minyan and I could sing from my soul. When it ended, the Miami sun would be shining and I remember feeling so full, so fulfilled.
When I moved to Los Angeles, I knew it would be just as hard to leave my synagogue as it would be to leave my family. Shabbat would never be the same and I would have to accept that loss and swim through it, in order to discover a new way to celebrate. Alone, I would have to reinvent a day that had always been about being close to the people I love.
(Pictured: our family member Max)
8.18.08 at 2:26 pm | Hollywood producer/talent manager Joan Hyler. . .
8.15.08 at 7:21 pm | Just when you thought there couldn't possibly be. . .
8.14.08 at 6:37 pm | In town to promote her new book, House Speaker. . .
7.18.08 at 3:03 pm | The new Contemporary Jewish Museum in San. . .
6.25.08 at 10:36 am | Jina, our Calendar intern, is heading to an. . .
6.24.08 at 11:18 am | A clandestine love affair at a girls seminary. . .
August 16, 2007 | 11:24 am
Posted by Danielle Berrin
“A story is told that God’s divine throne is filled with empty spaces of varying sizes and designs. Each space represents the soul of a person who has fulfilled his or her task in this world. Each soul is a different colored jewel…only when the spaces are filled and the crown is complete, will the messiah descend and the world be completed.”
The Jewish calendar month of Elul began yesterday. It is customary during Elul to begin spiritual preparation for the high holy days. For the third consecutive year, artist/musician Craig Taubman has compiled 29 unique stories that comprise “Jewels of Elul.” Limned by an extraordinary group of people including Elie Wiesel, the Dalai Lama, Deepak Chopra, Matisyahu and Neshama Carlebach, each story is a reflection on this year’s theme of ‘hope and healing.’
Each day throughout the month, a new “jewel” will be posted to the website and hard copies are available for free, thanks to the generous contribution of the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.
Elul begins the repentance process; “selichot,” prayers for forgiveness, echo inside our minds. It is believed that the Hebrew letters of Elul—Alef-Lamed-Vav-Lamed—represent an acronym for the phrase “Ani l’dodi v’dodi li,” which in English translates to “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” The ‘beloved’ being God and ‘I’ being the Jewish people.
As a people, we look to each other and to God as we reflect on our lives and ask forgiveness from those we have hurt. We forgive one another and we forgive ourselves. Thus, healing begins and we can look to the future with hope.
For a dose of daily inspiration, you can find the glittering jewels at www.jewelsofelul.com.
August 15, 2007 | 2:08 pm
Posted by Dikla Kadosh
Dr. Robert Klapper is one amazing guy. He’s a world-renowned orthopedic surgeon whose patients include Dustin Hoffman, Sasha Baron Cohen and Brett Ratner. He holds numerous patents for surgical tools. He is an avid surfer. He sculpts pietas out of imported Italian marble from the same quarry that Michelangelo used. And, at the opening of his exhibit at his own art gallery this past Saturday night, I overheard someone saying that he is always upbeat and cheerful. Always.
True to form, Dr. Klapper was charming the socks off of his patients (Elliot Gould was the only recognizable face), friends and supporters at the Klapper Gallery on Beverly Boulevard in the shadow of Cedars Sinai Medical Center, where he is the Clinical Chief of Orthopedic Surgery. Raised in New York, educated at Columbia and Cornell and now living in several homes in the southland, the good doctor is a Jewish mother’s dream come true.
Sadly, Dr. Klapper’s own mother was not there to bear witness to what he appears to consider his greatest accomplishment: a gallery full of gleaming white half-finished Michelangelo-inspired marble statues. His mother-in-law was there and she’s a huge fan of The Jewish Journal. After hearing about last week’s Friday Night Live, I am even more grateful to have met a loyal reader, live and in person.
The exhibit, titled “Michelangelo’s Slaves,” pays homage to the great artist’s unfinished slaves lining the walkway leading up to the monumental David. Dr. Klapper was particularly taken by the slaves’ struggle to break free from the stone surrounding them and has mimicked that style in every one of his sculptures.
The subjects he decided to chisel out of the incredibly heavy slabs of stone shipped to Los Angeles from Carrara in large boxes called coffins reflect the doctor’s scattered interests: Abraham, The Sixth Sense, The Surfer, Ghost, Noah, Mary, Pieta…
It seemed odd to me that a Jewish man would be moved to lovingly recreate a pivotal moment in Christian history, but then the artist explained that a mother losing her son is a universally touching subject.
And Dr. Klapper is all about touching: touching people’s lives as a healer and touching people’s hearts with his art. This man may not be the next Michelangelo, but he sure is enjoying life a great deal more than the notoriously melancholy and dissatisfied Renaissance man.
August 13, 2007 | 3:30 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Rob Eshman does not need defending. Yet during his conversation with Rabbi David Wolpe following Friday Night Live last week, I wanted to stand up and speak out. But I didn’t have to. Rabbi Wolpe rather eloquently took to the task and fended off the firestorm.
It was a highly charged evening—beginning with a particularly moving FNL service and followed by a heated discussion, not between Rob and Rabbi Wolpe, but projected onto them by the impassioned feelings and provocative questions posed by the audience.
Is The Journal biased to the ‘left’? Which side is morally justified, the Israelis or the Palestinians? How could you suggest Jewish women in their 30s and 40s should date non-Jews?
Good questions. Tough questions. But asking them means getting an answer, whether you like it or not.
The truth is, you can only really edit a Jewish publication, if you love being Jewish, if you love Israel with your soul. Yet among the crowd gathered at Sinai Temple late Friday night, The Journalâs support of Israel was challenged; its “service” to the community was challenged. I thought: if only these people visited The Journal, they would feel how much love there is…
Real love is not unbiased love. Real love is complex; it’s complicated. And really loving something or someone is not believing in their perfection or in their flawlessness, but in learning of their weaknesses and accepting their vulnerabilities—and challenging them to grow. Robert Frost once said, “I have never learned anything from any man who has agreed with me.”
The service of The Jewish Journal to the community is both to celebrate our great love of the wisdom tradition that is Judaism, but also to challenge it - to love it more deeply because we recognize all of its facets and flaws. In acknowledging those issues, in reporting on what is taxing and stimulating and tough in our Jewish community, we penetrate the core. The love then becomes a profounder love, a spiritual love, a real love. That’s when dialogue happens. That’s when debate and discussion happen. That is what unites a community. Unanimous agreement isolates it.
Read The Jewish Journal. Disagree with it. Write a letter to the editor. Isn’t that the mutual exchange of a relationship? The essence of participating in a community? Actually, it sounds more like family dinners at my house.
August 10, 2007 | 6:35 pm
Posted by Dikla Kadosh
As the least observant member of my family for most of my life, I don’t think my mom ever expected me to start lighting shabbat candles. But I have recently. At first, I did it because it means a lot to my boyfriend, who also keeps kosher, puts on tefillin every morning and goes to synagogue every Saturday morning. But then I started to check the lighting times on my own, without David having to nudge me. Sometimes I’m worried I’ll forget (it hasn’t become an ingrained habit yet) so I set an alarm to remind myself.
I like lighting the shabbat candles because it makes me feel like a woman. I feel like the spiritual guide of our household though David and I would be in deep trouble if I was to lead us in religious practices. I feel holy. Like in those 30 seconds when I’m covering my eyes and reciting the prayer I deserve my last name (Kadosh). I feel significant because if I wasn’t there, that apartment on Zelzah Avenue would be without the warm glow of the Sabbath candles.
Lighting time tonight is 7:28 p.m.
Shabbat Shalom to you all!!!
August 9, 2007 | 4:39 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Carl Sandburg wrote:
The single clenched fist lifted and ready,
Or the open hand held out and waiting.
For we meet by one or the other.
The Daniel Pearl Foundation believes that journalism, writing and innovative communication will create a more understanding, more peaceful world. As part of their mission, they sponsor a Daniel Pearl Fellow who is a promising foreign journalist and provide them with an opportunity to work in U.S. news media for a six-month period. This year, an Egyptian journalist was invited to work at the San Francisco Chronicle and will spend a week in Los Angeles at The Jewish Journal, observing the dynamics of our Jewish community.
On August 16, the Journal’s editor in chief Rob Eshman will engage in a discussion with the journalist on how America is perceived abroad, especially in Egypt and among Muslim nations, and how his personal experiences have influenced his perspective. Judea and Ruth Pearl will also participate on the panel and share their stories about initiating Jewish-Muslim dialogue.
If we all open our hands as the Pearls have done, perhaps our hearts will follow.
7:30 p.m. Steven Allen Theater, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. Co-sponsored by L.A. Press Club. www.danielpearl.org.
August 8, 2007 | 3:19 pm
Posted by Dikla Kadosh
Admittedly, Jews as a group are not an athletic powerhouse. But we have a notable and fascinating sports history nonetheless. We have our shining stars: Sandy Koufax, Mark Spitz, Sasha Cohen…We have our proud moments: 13 Jews won medals in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and 40 Israelis participated, the highest number ever to attend the games. And we have our heart-breaks: the massacre at the 1972 Munich Olympics. And there’s much more…
“Sports, Ethnicity, Gender and the Struggle for Human Rights,” will be hosted by the UC Irvine Program in Jewish Studies on August 14. Symposiums tend to be sleep-inducers, but this one sounds like a potential winner. The intellectual gathering is tied to the U.S. Youth Maccabiah Games going on in Orange County August 12-17 and across the country this month. Whether you participate in the games or not (ATID is organizing a Maccabia Sports Day for young professionals on Aug. 12), it would be interesting to learn how and when they began. And you can do that at this symposium without having to lift an arm.
“A History of the Maccabi Movement - Origins, Goals and Future Directions” will be a discussion led by Nina Spiegel, assistant professor of Israeli History at the University of Maryland. Who knew they were teaching Israeli history in Maryland? That’s pretty cool.
Another topic that peaked my interest is “Children and Play in the Holocaust: Games Among the Shadows.” I wonder what games kids played in the ghettos and concentration camps. Did they play hide-and-seek as in “Life is Beautiful”? Did they have a ball for soccer? Did they have the strength for tag?
The centerpiece of the symposium is a new documentary by history professor Dr. Linda Borish, “Jewish Women in American Sport: Settlement Houses to the Olympics.” With documentaries rapidly becoming the most riveting genre in the film industry, there’s a good chance this one based on original groundbreaking research will be up to current standards.
This evening will be, at the very least, an exercise of the mind, and at the most, an inspiration to get out there and exercise your Jewish tuchus.
Tuesday, Aug. 14. 5 p.m. (dinner - $25). 6:30 p.m. (symposium - FREE). University Club, UCI Campus, Building 801 on campus map. R.S.V.P., (714) 456-2317.
August 6, 2007 | 5:42 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Jules Engel may have invented modern animation. He was a seminal cartoonist during the 1930s whose work animating for Walt Disney Studios and later as a founding member of UPA, constituted new formal and stylistic approaches to animation. He was the first to suggest that fine art aesthetics could infuse abstract animation and enjoyed an illustrious career as a painter and filmmaker before founding the Experimental Animation Program at CalArts. He demonstrated these formal experiments in Disney’s “Fantasia,” particularly in the mushroom dance sequences, where he culled from artists like Kandinsky and Klee, integrating bold contrasts between his figures and their backgrounds. His forms pulsed with rhythm. Geometric shapes bursting with color seemed to create “visual music” within his compositions. Imagine an art gallery screening these images, the ones that made animation history and the man who drew them a legend—and then imagine the dvd player malfunctions.
A disappointing turn to say the least, but such was the destiny for Tobey C. Moss Gallery’s tribute to Jules Engel (Thursday, Aug. 2). Smack in the middle of “Gerald McBoing Boing” and a mere three minutes into the screening, Engel’s famed cartoon about a young boy who can’t speak words but utters onomatopoeia instead, zapped to black. At first I thought it might be Engel’s famous use of dark backgrounds, but poor Gerald disappeared the minute the doctor arrived to try and cure him. The saving grace might have been special guest Amid Amidi, who was signing copies of his $40 book “Cartoon Modern: Style and Design in 1950s Animation,” but when a disgruntled woman from the audience asked if he could give his talk during the intermission (so organizers could acquire another dvd player), he replied, “I didn’t really prepare a speech.”
Oh well. At least there were a few bottles of uncorked wine present to distract guests from the minute-hand rapidly ticking towards “time to go.“Sadly, the press materials misled the public by promising a two-hour screening “presented” by Amid Amidi, whose animation blog Cartoon Brew is one of the most widely read on the web. So why didn’t he have anything to say except, “we’ll be showing some clips from an interview with Engel and selections of some of his works—it’s only about half an hour.” It’s also a half-hour drive home.
Jules Engel’s sketches, drawings and cartoons are on display (and on sale $700-$4800) at Tobey C. Moss Gallery through August 31. 7321 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles. (323) 933-5523. www.tobeycmossgallery.com