SHAVUOT: 10 ways to celebrate


Saturday, May 26

“TEN”
Rabbis Yonah Bookstein (Jewlicious) and Sharon Brous (IKAR) meet for a rabbinic head-to-head during a night of Shavuot celebration, which features TED-style learning, challah baking, meditation, tequila shots with the rabbis and more. Special guest speakers include Rabbis Shawn Fields-Meyer, Adam Greenwald, Rebecca Rosenthal, Shlomo Seidenfeld and Ronit Tsadok; David Myers, UCLA History Department chair; educators Batsheva Frankel and Becca Farber; filmmaker Tahlia Miller; Rachel Bookstein; and musician Hillel Tigay. Hosted by IKAR and Jewlicious, the celebration includes drinks, food, coffee, beer on tap and desserts throughout the night. Sat. 7 p.m. (dinner), 8 p.m.-1 a.m. (program). $10 (dinner), free (program). 1134 S. Crest Drive, Los Angeles. (323) 634-1870. jewlicious.ticketleap.com.

BETH CHAYIM CHADASHIM
What did God say to the Israelites when they gathered at the foot of Mount Sinai? Answer: “Can you hear me now?” We’re called to answer the same question every Shavuot, when Jews traditionally gather to read the Ten Commandments and study all night in celebration and commemoration of receiving those commandments. In keeping with that, the LGBT synagogue remains open all night and invites the community to participate in learning, prayer, meditation and maybe even movement, starting with the chanting of the Ten Commandments, then a Yizkor service, followed by noshing and studying. Please bring something to share for the vegetarian/dairy potluck. Sat. 7 p.m. Free. Beth Chayim Chadashim, 6090 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 931-7023. bcc-la.org.

“THE SWEETNESS OF TORAH”
Valley Beth Shalom’s celebration features interactive text studies: “Removing the Slumber From Our Eyes: Religious Awakening in the Jewish Tradition,” led by Rabbi Joshua Hoffman; “Romancing the Torah: A Mystical Perspective,” led by Rabbi Paul Steinberg; and “The Hooker, the Spy, the Judge: Girls of the Bible,” led by Noah Zvi Farkas. Rabbis Ed Feinstein and Harold Schulweis discuss “Holy Heresy — Why God Loves Doubters,” followed by a blintz reception and late-night study with Rabbi Farkas.  On Sunday, May 27, Rabbi Schulweis officiates services (8:45 a.m.). On Monday, May 28, the second day of Shavuot, Rabbi Hoffman officiates services and Yizkor (8:45 a.m.). Sat. Through May 28. 7 p.m. (text studies), 8:30 p.m. (Ma’ariv and conversation), 10:30 p.m. (late-night study). Free. Valley Beth Shalom, 15739 Ventura Blvd., Encino. (818) 788-6000. vbs.org.

“70 FACES OF TORAH”
With many clergy come many opinions. Tonight at Stephen S. Wise Temple, learn how the values of our Jewish tradition inform clergy’s positions on relevant modern issues. A brief service includes the traditional reading of the Ten Commandments, followed by discussions “The Death Penalty: Moral Dilemma or Moral Insight?” led by Rabbis Spike Anderson and David Woznica; “What Is the Place of Taxes and Tzedakah in Creating a Moral Economy?” led by Rabbi Ron Stern and Cantor Nathan Lam; and “Judaism and Gay Marriage” led by Rabbis Eli Herscher and Lydia Medwin. Stick around for cheesecake. Sat. 7 p.m. Free. Stephen S. Wise Temple, 15500 Stephen S. Wise Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 476-8561. wisela.org.

YOUNG ISRAEL OF CENTURY CITY
Author and educator Rabbi Yitzchak Blau travels from Israel to serve as scholar-in-residence during three days of celebration. Blau discusses “How Does the Prophet Differ From the Fortune Teller” during today’s Shabbat lecture. A full night of learning with Rabbis Blau, Elazar Muskin and Zeev Goldberg; chavruta learning and parent-child learning follow (11:45 p.m.-5 a.m.). On the afternoon of Sunday, May 27, Blau examines “Miracles and the Natural Order in Jewish Thought.” Finally on Monday, May 28, a women’s Shavuot lecture addresses “Fear, Anger and Arrogance,” and a special Shavuot party at the shul features food, singing and a presentation by Blau on “Excuses and the Meaning of Life.” Sat. Through May 28. 7:40 p.m. Free. Young Israel of Century City, 9317 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 273-6954. yicc.org.

NASHUVA
In commemoration of mystics who began a tradition of studying late into the night as a commitment to receiving Torah anew each year, the independent congregation holds a night of learning led by Rabbi Naomi Levy. Please bring a dessert for the dairy potluck. Sat. 8 p.m. Free. Brentwood Presbyterian Church, Room 121, 1200 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles. nashuva.com/shavuot_service.html

SHOMREI TORAH SYNAGOGUE
Experience the divine through the body and soul. Mincha, soulful singing by Minyan Kol Chai and Ma’ariv begin the celebration. A panel features body and soul professionals — including Taly Bar (Healing Body Work); Rabbi Sara Brandes, a certified yoga instructor; hypnotherapist Jesslyn Shani; and American Jewish University’s Rabbi Jay Strear — on “Experiencing the Divine Through Body and Soul,” followed by break-out sessions with individual panelists. Stick around for desert and late-night study sessions, going from 10:30 p.m. until midnight. Sat. 8 p.m. Free. Shomrei Torah Synagogue, 7353 Valley Circle Blvd., West Hills. (818) 346-0811. stsonline.org.

ADAT ARI EL
Cantor Ila Bigeleisen, Rabbinic Intern Matt Rosenberg and Rabbi Deborah Silver conduct a carousel of learning over three sessions during “On One Foot,” seeking a modern response to the challenge posed to Hillel: “Teach me Torah while I stand on one foot.” Break for cheesecake at 10 p.m. At 10:45 p.m. Rabbi Jonathan Jaffe Bernhard leads late-night session “The Original On One Foot Judaism.” Sat. 8:30 p.m. Free. Adat Ari El, 12020 Burbank Blvd., Valley Village. (818) 766-9426. adatariel.org.

TEMPLE BETH AM
Will the real Judaism please stand up? Temple Beth Am partners with Adat Shalom, Temple Emanuel, prayer group Pico Egal and the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies for a joint Tikkun Leil Shavuot. Emanuel’s Rabbi Laura Geller and Rabbi Shlomo “Schwartzie” Schwartz of the Chai Center lead a midnight session. On Sunday, May 27, participate in combined services at Temple Beth Am at 9:30 a.m. Second-day services on Monday, May 28, include Shir Hadash in the synagogue’s sanctuary at 9:15 a.m., and the Library Minyan gathers in the synagogue’s Dorff Nelson Chapel at 9:30 a.m. Yizkor follows at both locations. Immediately after, join a shul-wide picnic at La Cienega Park (meet at the picnic table on the east side of La Cienega Boulevard, north of Olympic Boulevard). Bring a dairy picnic lunch, drinks and blankets. Child care provided. Sat. Through May 28. 9 p.m. Free. Temple Beth Am, 1039 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 652-7353. tbala.org/tikkun.

TEMPLE ISRAEL OF HOLLYWOOD
“How is the Jewish community both a blessing and a burden?” Listen to personal stories, spoken-word pieces and music, and explore ancient and meaningful texts. Eat, drink, study, share, celebrate and stay up until midnight and beyond. Sat. 9 p.m. Free. Temple Israel of Hollywood, 7300 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 876-8330. rsvp.tioh.org.

Rosh Hashanah 5765


So, what do math and Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, have in common? On this day, Jews are supposed to do a cheshbon hanefesh.

This literally means “accounting of the soul.”

We count up and categorize all the actions we’ve taken

and all the thoughts we’ve had during the year:

How many good? How many bad? How many generous?

How many selfish? How many useful? How many just a waste of time?

Then we decide which actions and thoughts we want to repeat

and which ones we will throw away.

Yom Hooledet Samech!

Rosh Hashanah celebrates the birthday of the world. The Jewish/Hebrew calendar follows the cycle of the moon. The English/Gregorian calendar follows the cycle of the sun. Both calendars are divided into 12 months.

Mail your cartoons, drawings, puzzles, etc. to The Jewish Journal, 3580 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1510, Los Angeles, CA 90010. E-mail your written answers to our contests, or your jokes, riddles, poems, etc., to kids@jewishjournal.com. Make sure you write your name and address in your e-mail. See you next week!

Students, Schools Remember Sept. 11


This year, Jewish schools and supplemental schools will incorporate a new memorial day into their calendars and curriculums. Educators throughout the community are quickly organizing how their students will commemorate the one-year anniversary of Sept. 11. While the terrorist attacks are clearly a national tragedy, Jewish administrators are taking this opportunity to reinforce children’s Jewish identity while mourning the devastating loss.

Rabbi Mitchel Malkus, head of school at Rabbi Jacob Pressman Academy at Temple Beth Am in West Los Angeles, is preparing to help his students remember Sept. 11. "The event brought back a lot about how Jews are seen in the world and Israel’s relationship to everything that goes on in the United States," Malkus said. "When you couple that with what’s going on in Israel, there’s a sense of aloneness Jews haven’t felt in a long time. For us, it was an American event, but we experience it not just as Americans, but as Jews."

Pressman Academy students will memorialize the day differently, depending on grade level. Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders will have a special commemoration as part of their morning tefillah. The lower grades will mark the day with age-appropriate discussions in their classrooms.

"Part of our mission is to develop students who are committed Jews and engaged in America," Malkus said. "This is a perfect moment to see how we, as Jewish people, fit into larger American society."

Meanwhile, Milken Community High School of Stephen S. Wise Temple in Los Angeles will have a special town hall meeting in honor of Sept. 11. During the program, students will read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech, which was originally given after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Both speeches will also be read in New York City that day. In addition, students will have an opportunity to present their own responses to the historic event.

One group of Milken students is making a commemorative video in response to the attacks. The presentation will include reactions from people involved in the tragedy, as well as responses from student body members. Lior Agam, a senior, will present a Sept. 11-related sermon along with the week’s Torah portion.

"We wanted to do a combination of marking the day, but making it nonpolitical," explains Dr. Matt Albert, the school’s student life director. "We value life so much as Jews. To kill in the name of God is antithetical to Jewish law. I’d like our students to have that same feeling."

Religious school students in the fourth through seventh grades at Temple Beth Torah in Granada Hills will participate in class discussions with Rabbi Sheryl Nosan, the school’s education director. "We’re a fairly small community, and I know all the children in our school," Nosan said. "I’ll visit each classroom personally and will be spending time with our children in small groups."

The synagogue, which shares facilities with the Episcopal Church of St. Andrew and St. Charles, will have an interfaith commemoration after religious school hours on Sept. 11. Nosan will officiate with the Rev. Gregory Frost.

"There is something that transcends our differences [with other faiths]," Nosan said. "We’ve experienced something tremendous as a national community. We can use that unity out of tragedy to try to build a better future. Our approach to the questions might differ, but we’re asking a lot of the same questions."

Regardless of how schools choose to memorialize Sept. 11, it will be a core event in the children’s lives. "The generation of kids in our schools will be shaped by this event, and it will affect how they view the world," Malkus said "I don’t know if schools will commemorate it from now on, but kids will remember it."