Acts of Faith

Rabbinical School Moves to UCLA Hillel

The Academy for Jewish Religion, California (AJR CA) has moved to its new home at the Yitzhak Rabin Hillel Center For Jewish Life at UCLA. Just five years since its establishment, the non-denominational graduate school for rabbinic, cantorial and chaplaincy studies outgrew its first location at Temple Beth Torah in West Los Angeles. Although Hillel is a center for Jewish students on UCLA campus and the Academy is a graduate program, both institutions are devoted to pluralism and diversity in Jewish life.

The Academy also attracted a number of respected congregational clergy from synagogues throughout the L.A. area. These include Temple Adat Shalom, Temple Beth Am, Beth Jacob Congregation, B’nai Horin-Children of Freedom, Congregation Mogen David, Kahal Joseph, Kehillat Israel, N’vay Shalom, Ohr HaTorah Congregation, Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel, Shomrei Torah Synagogue, Sinai Temple, Stephen S. Wise Temple and Wilshire Boulevard Temple.

With a current student body of 65 students, AJR leaders hope the move will increase applicants, faculty and supporters for AJR CA.

“It’s a huge move for this young school,” said Stan Levy, founding chair of AJR CA’s board of governors.

“It gives us tremendous credibility and visibility in the community that these two institutions with philosophies of making Judaism inclusive to all branches and denominations of Judaism have come together,” he said.

A Tendler Resignation

After 22 years as head rabbi of Shaarey Zedek Congregation in Valley Village, Rabbi Aron Tendler resigned last weekend.

“It is with mixed emotions that I write you today to let you know of my decision that, after 22 wonderful years, I have decided to step down as rabbi of Shaarey Zedek,” Tendler wrote in a letter to the 400 member families of the Orthodox synagogue.

“This has been a decision I have contemplated for some time, and after great soul searching and deliberation and with the full support of Esther and the family, I decided that it was time to explore other opportunities and embark on a new aspect of my personal and professional life.”

Tendler wrote that he intends to stay in the community but wants to spend more time with his family and pursuing writing, teaching and other projects.

“On occasion, I would like to sleep for more than four hours. Selfishly put, I want more time, and if not now, when?” he wrote.

Tendler will stay on through the High Holidays and help the search committee in its quest to find a new rabbi.

“Rabbi Tendler turned innumerable lives around, and it will be a great loss for us,” Brad Turell, Shaarey Zedek’s communications director, told The Journal. “He’s very talented and we wish him the best.”

A Singing Sabbath

Temple Beth El of San Pedro will hold its first musician-in-residence weekend Feb. 10-12, featuring jazz artist Mark Bloom. Bloom, a pianist, stage and musical director, producer, composer and performing artist, combines jazz music and Jewish services and prayer. In addition to producing hundreds of scores for stage and screen, he has also composed, arranged and accompanied such Jewish performers as Rabbi Joe Black, Doug Cotler, Ron Eliran, Danny Maseng, Peri Smilow and Bat-ella.

During the Temple Beth El weekend of Shabbat Shira (the Sabbath of Song), Bloom will lead his Jazz Shabbat Service, which has been performed in more than 50 congregations nationwide. He will also teach a workshop on “Nefesh” Shabbat (The soul of Shabbat) and perform a jazz concert on Saturday night. He’ll present aspecial children’s concerts on Sunday morning, during Torah school.

This musician-in-residence weekend will culminate a year of celebration honoring Cantor Ilan Davidson’s 10th anniversary with Temple Beth El.

Cantor Davidson said that both jazz and prayer are fixed forms, “each take on their similarities, thereby making it an individual expression for each participant.”

“Prayer,” Rabbi Charles Briskin said, “is a combination of keva, the written word, and kavanah, the spiritual dimension of each individual. Mark’s Jazz Shaabbat Service combines aspects of the service with the music that melds with prayer.”

For more information about concert tickets (services are free), contact (310) 833-2467.