September 20, 2018

Comedians Stand Up for ADL, ‘Giants of Justice’ Honored

From left: Temple Judea Executive Director Ellen Franklin; Rabbi Cantor Alison Wissot; Rabbi Sam Spector; Rabbi Josh Aaronson; and Cantor Yonah Kliger marked the departure of Spector from Temple Judea with a Shabbat celebration.

Reform congregation Temple Judea in Tarzana held a Shabbat celebration on June 15 honoring its departing Associate Rabbi Sam Spector. 

The approximately 250 people who attended heard Spector, 30, speak about the memories, experiences and lessons he gained during his several years serving at Temple Judea, including his involvement in developing the congregation’s young professionals community. 

“He spoke beautifully,” Temple Judea Executive Director Ellen Franklin told the Journal. “He thanked the community for their role in his growth and in his ongoing learning. Temple Judea will always be a significant part of his story as he develops his rabbinate.”

Spector, who completed his work at Temple Judea on June 30, is joining the clergy team at Congregation Kol Ami in Salt Lake City.

Meanwhile, Temple Judea has no immediate plans to fill Spector’s position. 

“At this point, we’re laying low,” Franklin said. “We have a rabbinic intern who will handle some of his responsibilities. We are not formerly replacing him at this time.”

Eric Rosenstein, a fifth-year student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, is the rabbinic intern at Temple Judea. 

Also participating in the Shabbat celebration were Temple Judea Senior Rabbi Joshua Aaronson, Rabbi Cantor Alison Wissot and Cantor Yonah Kliger.


Rabbi Matt Shapiro has joined the clergy team of Conservative congregation Temple Beth Am as a full-time interim associate rabbi. 

Shapiro had been working as a spiritual counselor at Beit T’Shuvah, a Jewish residential treatment center for people with addictions and other harmful behaviors. 

A statement on the Beth Am website says Shapiro, in his new role, “hopes to develop programming and teaching emphasizing personal spiritual growth grounded in the Jewish tradition.” 

Shapiro’s hiring follows the departure of Associate Rabbi Ari Lucas, who served the Beth Am community since 2012 and will be assuming a new position at Congregation Agudath Israel in Caldwell, N.J., beginning in August. 

Meanwhile, a Beth Am committee chaired by Mike Cohn has been convened to find a long-term, permanent successor to Lucas. “Though we remain sad to have said goodbye to Rabbi Lucas, we feel confident that we have set up our community for thriving for next year, and are well on the way to doing so for the years beyond,” a Beth Am statement said.

Temple Beth Am is holding a special welcome event for Shapiro on July 13 at its on La Cienega Boulevard campus. 


Beth Chayim Chadashim Rabbi Heather Miller embraces CLUE Executive Director Rabbi Jonathan Klein after being honored at the CLUE annual “Giants of Justice” breakfast.

Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) held its 15th annual “Giants of Justice” breakfast on May 31 at Saint Sophia Cathedral.

The gathering honored Beth Chayim Chadashim Rabbi Heather Miller; Jim Mangia, CEO of St. John’s Well Child and Family Clinic; and Juana Melara and Sandra Pezqueda of Unite Here Local 11. Melara and Pezqueda were part of a group of women named as Time magazine’s Persons of the Year in 2017 for breaking the silence on sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace.

Patrisse Khan-Cullors, a Los Angeles native and co-founder of Black Lives Matter, served as the keynote speaker.

CLUE is an interfaith organization working for justice on behalf of low-wage workers and economically disadvantaged communities. 


The Orthodox Union named 16 recipients, including Los Angeles congregation Westwood Kehilla, of its Women’s Initiative Challenge Grant.

Westwood Kehilla synagogue has been awarded a $5,000 challenge grant from the Orthodox Union (OU) for the OU’s new Inspired Leadership for Women initiative.

The OU website says the grant is to be used “to hire a part-time woman who will specialize in developing women’s participation and leadership in the synagogue by working with them to plan and implement programming that specifically speaks to women, significantly increasing their participation in synagogue life while connecting them more deeply to the institution and to each other.”

Westwood Kehilla was selected for the grant out of 93 applicants.

“The challenge grant is an exciting initiative that captures the positive energy of so many communities,” Rebbetzin Adina Shmidman, founding director of the OU department of women’s initiatives, said in a statement. “The Women’s Initiative is proudly empowering our communities to develop creative approaches to addressing spiritual and communal needs. Once these programs are piloted, they can be offered widely in other communities so that they too can benefit from the wisdom and experience of these successful initiatives.”


From left: Comedian Wayne Federman, emcee Bruce Fine, ADL regional director Amanda Susskind and comedians Whitney Cummings and Bill Burr attended the ADL’s second annual Stand-Up Against Hate event.

Comedians Wayne Federman, Bruce Fine, Whitney Cummings and Bill Burr were among the performers who took the stage at the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) second annual Stand-Up Against Hate show on June 26 at the Comedy Store.

Additional comedians included Jeff Dye, Zainab Johnson and Guy Branum. Fine emceed the event.

The more than 180 attendees included ADL Regional Board Chair Scott Harris and ADL Regional Director Amanda Susskind. Harris spoke about how the ADL’s work extends beyond the Jewish community, notably its current opposition to the Trump administration’s immigration policy of separating immigrant parents from children at the U.S.-Mexico border. 

The event’s effort to provide some comedy relief from the news of the day included Cummings’ jokes about being a strong woman and Johnson’s humorous embrace of her Muslim heritage. 

Organized by the ADL’s NextGen initiative, its young professional branch, the event raised more than $15,000 for the ADL.

Marty Salvin was the lead sponsor of the event and the Comedy Store also provided support.