U.S. halts UNESCO funding over Palestinian vote


The United States said on Monday it had stopped funding UNESCO, the U.N. cultural agency, following its vote to grant the Palestinians full membership.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters the United States had no choice but to halt funding because of U.S. laws passed in the 1990s, saying Washington would not make a planned $60 million transfer that was due in November.

“The United States … remains strongly committed to robust, multilateral engagement across the U.N. system. However, Palestinian membership as a state in UNESCO triggers long-standing legislative restrictions which will compel the United States to refrain from making contributions to UNESCO,” Nuland said.

Nuland also said the vote Monday by the member states of UNESCO to admit Palestine as a member was “regrettable, premature and undermines our shared goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

The United States provides 22 percent of the funding of the United Nations Economic, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

That agency decided on Monday to give the Palestinians full membership, a vote that will boost their bid at the United Nations for recognition as a state.

UNESCO is the first U.N. agency the Palestinians have joined as a full member since Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas applied for full membership of the United Nations on Sept. 23.

The United States and its ally Israel oppose the Palestinian diplomatic foray in the U.N. system, describing it as an attempt to bypass the two-decade old peace process. Washington says only a resumption of peace talks ending in a treaty with Israel can bring about the Palestinian goal of statehood.

Earlier Monday, Republican U.S. lawmakers demanded the funding cutoff, and the White House as well as other officials across the U.S. political spectrum criticized UNESCO’s action.

“I expect the administration to enforce existing law and stop contributions to UNESCO and any other U.N. agency that enables the Palestinians to short-cut the peace process,” said Representative Kay Granger, the Republican chairwoman of the House committee in charge of foreign aid.

Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said the UNESCO move was “no substitute for negotiations, but it is deeply damaging to UNESCO.”

The laws passed in the 1990s prohibit U.S. funding to any U.N. organization that grants full membership to any group that does not have the “internationally recognized attributes” of statehood.

The language was intended to pre-emptively block normalization of Palestinian relations and activities in the international community, said Lara Friedman, policy director at Americans for Peace Now, an American Jewish group.

The American Jewish group J Street called on Congress to amend U.S. law to preserve American contributions to UNESCO, saying without U.S. support, the group’s work in development and expanding educational opportunities around the globe would be at risk.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told U.S. lawmakers earlier this month that the U.S. government should have the flexibility to decide whether to cut off money for such agencies if they take in the Palestinians.

Additional reporting by Debbie Charles, Andrew Quinn and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Philip Barbara

Economy forces tough dues decisions for congregants, synagogues.


With Rosh Hashanah 5770 fast approaching, the synagogue membership renewal season is in full swing. Throughout the summer months, billing statements with letters explaining dues, fees — and often increases — arrive in congregants’ mailboxes.

But many congregants affected by the economic downturn of the past year are struggling to meet their financial obligations, including those to their synagogues. At the same time, synagogues are facing their own reduced incomes and diminished returns on investments, leaving them all the more dependent on membership dues to help meet rising costs.

Although it’s too early to know the full impact of the economy on this year’s membership (dues collection continues through the fall), many shuls have been anticipating and are already seeing an increase in requests for financial assistance. As a result, they are faced with the need to cut costs while trying to maintain the offerings and services members have come to expect.

While balancing the financial needs of a synagogue with those of its members is often a struggle, it has become especially challenging in the current economy. Clergy and staff remain committed to extending compassionate help to their members in times of need, even when it means partially forgiving dues; at the same time, synagogues have to balance their budgets. Members, on the other hand, often don’t know how to ask for help, or are embarrassed by the prospect of doing so. But with some knowledge of shul policies and procedures on dues assistance, and of the role dues play in a synagogue’s budget, congregants in financial straits will most likely find they can reach a workable solution with their synagogue.

Allen Ishakis, executive director of Beth Jacob in Beverly Hills, said he’s “definitely seen an uptick in the number of people who have asked for help.”

Because the Orthodox synagogue saw the problem developing over the past year, Ishakis said the congregation decided to send out membership packets to its 750 families earlier this year so the staff would have more time to deal with special requests.

Requesting assistance with Beth Jacob’s $1,320 basic membership fee is an informal and confidential process. All requests go directly to Ishakis and remain private, though occasionally, he needs to consult the board president or finance committee. He sits down with anyone who asks for help and discusses what their needs are.

“Everybody’s situation is different,” he said.

Ellen Franklin, executive director at Temple Judea in Tarzana, said she has been seeing congregants struggling on two fronts — completing payments on last year’s dues and paying for the upcoming year. And while the Reform synagogue’s “policies for dealing with dues relief are great,” Franklin said, “in these times, we end up with a lot of individual, case-by-case decisions.”

At Judea, where the standard membership contribution is $2,750 per year per family, members fill out a form to request assistance, which only a small group of people (the director of finance, one board member and Franklin) has access to. In addition, “our philosophy on adjustments is completely based on the honor system…. We want to hear people’s stories; we don’t want to see their tax returns,” Franklin said, referring to a practice some synagogue administrators once used to determine need.

At Temple Beth Am, a 1,100-family Conservative synagogue in West Los Angeles where basic family dues are $2,585, members asking for relief complete an application that is reviewed by a small “equity committee” and kept confidential, Executive Director Sheryl Goldman said. Though the form asks members to state their income and expenses (no proof of either is required), it also includes space to describe extenuating circumstances, such as a failed business or a prolonged illness. Congregants are also asked to suggest the amount of dues they feel they can afford, a practice shared by many synagogues.

Temple Judea’s Franklin said her goal is to “work out a solution that’s equitable for both the synagogue and the family,” but her instinct is to grant the amount families suggest. She also tries to keep the process as simple and straightforward as possible so “the predominant conversation with the shul isn’t about business, since that would detract from the ability to see this as a sacred community,” she said.

Most synagogues also offer options for paying dues over time, whether as two or more lump sums or monthly payments throughout the year. Ishakis of Beth Jacob said he’s always willing to give people extra time, “as long as they’re making progress … even if they’re paying $25 a month.”

Beth Am’s Goldman said that some members, especially those who have never before had to ask for assistance, are reluctant to approach the issue.

“We want to make them as comfortable as possible … and let them know that now, of all times, we want to support them through this,” she said, echoing a sentiment expressed by all the synagogue staff consulted for this article.

At the same time, the executive directors said, members need to understand what it takes to keep a synagogue running.

While congregants might argue they don’t use their shul often, and therefore shouldn’t have to pay much to belong, a synagogue still needs to be up and running every day.

“It’s wonderful that people don’t need our services all the time, but we still have to be here for when you do,” said Franklin, citing funerals as an example of an infrequent but essential service.

Synagogues have always tried to educate their congregants that they are not fee-for-service organizations, said Jane Zuckerman, who was executive director at Temple Israel of Hollywood for 10 years before becoming a nonprofit marketing and development consultant two years ago. She believes that many people, especially younger ones, “don’t see supporting temple as a moral and ethical obligation — they’d pay more money for a gym.”

In times of financial trouble, some families might not be willing “to prioritize membership relative to their means,” said Goldman of Beth Am. And synagogues have always struggled with how they can remain open and caring, letting it be known there is flexibility on dues, without inviting people to take unfair advantage. Administrators also said some members have misconceptions about where synagogues get funding.

“A lot of people make the erroneous assumption that there is some umbrella organization that helps to support synagogues,” Zuckerman said.

In fact, synagogues must rely on dues, program fees, school fees (where applicable) and fundraising in order to operate. Members who can afford to do so will sometimes pay some form of enhanced dues, which can help make up for those who can’t afford standard dues.

The percentage of a synagogue’s costs supported by dues varies, although most shuls aim for 60 to 70 percent. But in reality, the figure is often much lower; dues at Judea, for example, cover between 45 and 50 percent of the synagogue’s costs.

When income from dues decreases, synagogues have to find ways to make up their budget shortfalls, either through program reductions, staff cutbacks, increased fees for programs or fundraising. While no one consulted for this article wants to make any of these cuts, they would rather do so than see members leave.

Synagogues across the board are facing these same challenges, but each must ultimately grapple with funding decisions for themselves.

“These are the times that challenge and test us, and there are no easy answers,” said Rabbi Mark Diamond, executive vice president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, whose fall 2008 survey of more than 30 rabbis revealed widespread concern over the developing financial challenges.

Despite their individual needs and responses, Diamond anticipates a commonality in shuls’ responses to the crisis. He believes synagogues across all denominations will be “resetting their priorities and holding on to what’s most important, their three basic functions: as a beit knesset, where Jews come together; a beit tefillah, house of prayer; and a beit midrash, house of learning.” 

The rest, as they say, is commentary.

Arnold stops at Jewish Home for Aging; Cal GOP says ad campaign worked; North Valley JCC shooting la


One Special Stop on the Campaign Trail

Even when the gubernatorial election was just two days away, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger found time to talk to a large group of senior citizens at the Jewish Home for the Aging in Reseda.

After arriving nearly an hour late, the governor was met with applause and a few cries of “Arnold!” Along with his wife, Maria Shriver, the governor stopped to shake hands on the way to the microphone. Perfectly coiffed and sporting a suit with no tie, the governor seemed relaxed, if rushed, as he told the crowd that he had attended a memorial for the five firefighters killed in the Esperanza fire.Towering over a sea of seated white heads as he spoke, Schwarzenegger recapped his first term in office, talked about the economy and briefly derided the federal government: “They’re all fighting, the Democrats and Republicans, but in Sacramento we all get along now.”

He made a special attempt to bond with his audience as well, reminding them that he was an immigrant to the United States, and that all his successes were due to his move to California. As usual, he found time to mention his past as a Hollywood star, though he refrained from quoting any of his movies. At one point, he did mention Sugar Ray Robinson, a former middleweight boxing champion, as a mentor who gave him $500 at the beginning of his career. Though he talked at length about his own experiences as an immigrant, he never discussed any current immigration issues.

Schwarzenegger also reminded everyone that his first visit outside the country as governor had been to Israel, and that he had attended the pro-Israel rallies, which was met with more applause.

Shriver also spoke, saying that she had been to the Jewish Home on five or six occasions, and that she had brought her children’s schools there on field trips.

The two held a brief Q-and-A session after the 15-minute talk, fielding questions about social security, which the governor said was a matter for the federal government.

As the governor and the first lady exited the room they were besieged by photographers and fans.

The Jewish Home’s residents voiced varying opinions. Tauba Grischkan, an immigrant who came to the U.S. from Lithuania shortly after World War II expressed satisfaction with Schwarzenegger.

“I like him,” she said. “He’s a good man.”

Mort Symans, another resident, had some reservations about Schwarzenegger.

“He said some wonderful things, but the only problem is, he is a Republican talking like a Democrat,” Symans noted. “He has a Republican ideology and he’s trying to talk with the mouth of a Democrat.”

— Alex Collins-Shotwell, Contributing Writer

California Republicans Report Ads Drew New Members

Three hundred new members joined the California Republican Jewish Coalition in September and October, the largest two-month gain in the group’s history, according to Larry Greenfield the group’s director. Membership is now nearly 7,500 members, up from 2,000 just two and a half years ago, Greenfield said.

The membership boost came on the heels of 11 national RJC ads that argued that Democratic support for Israel is weakening. One ad, which ran in The Jewish Journal, suggested that Ned Lamont’s Connecticut primary victory over Sen. Joseph Lieberman reflected a Democratic shift away from the party’s historically strong support of the Jewish state. Another ad spotlighted a number of opinion polls, including one from the Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg, which found Republicans more sympathetic toward Israel than Democrats.

The RJC spots have “generated a tremendous response for our organization,” said Greenfield, who, along with RJC California Chair Joel Geiderman, served among Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s statewide re-election campaign co-chairs.

Howard Welinsky, chair of Democrats for Israel, Los Angeles, and other Democratic leaders have denounced the RJC’s ad campaign for distorting strong Democratic support for the Jewish state and for undermining bipartisanship.

The ads notwithstanding, Welinsky believes that the overwhelmingly majority of Jews have and will continue to vote Democratic, because “the values and convictions of the Democratic Party and American Jews are very much in sync.”— Marc Ballon, Senior Writer

Suit: Gun Shop Mishandled Shooter

A gun shop did not adequately vet a white supremacist jailed for life after a shooting attack on the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills, a lawsuit contends. The family of Joseph Ileto, a Philippine-born postal worker shot dead by Buford Furrow shortly after Furrow’s 1999 attack on the JCC filed a wrongful death suit Thursday against the Loaner Too pawn shop in Seattle.

The family’s lawyer, Mike Withey, contends that the shop failed to require Furrow to fill out a federal form that would have disqualified him from purchasing a pistol because he was a convicted felon who had spent time in a mental institution.

Three children, a receptionist and a teenage counselor were injured in Furrow’s shooting attack on the center. Withey also filed a $15 million claim in August on behalf of families of five children injured or traumatized in the attack against the Washington state corrections authority, which was supervising Burrow at the time.

— Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Acts of Faith – Farewell Service


After World War II, two Jewish GIs returned to Los Angeles and founded a synagogue in Westchester. Beth Tikvah, as it was called, finally found a permanent home in 1959 on the Westchester bluffs.

But last month, the Conservative congregation — known since 1968 as B’nai Tikvah after merging with the nearby B’nai Israel in Baldwin Hills — held its last service at the historic Westchester building, with its 204-seat sanctuary. On Aug. 20, about 100 people showed up for a final Havdalah service to say goodbye.

Because of dwindling membership and a lack of Jewish families in the area, the congregation decided to sell the property and look for a new location on the Westside.

“We got well over the appraised price, and about a half a million over the asking price,” said Rabbi Jason van Leeuwen, or “Reb Jason,” who did not disclose what the congregation received from a real estate company that plans to build condominiums.

At its apex in the 1960s, B’nai Tikvah had some 400 member families, said Rabbi Marvin Bornstein, who served as its leader from 1953-1984.

“It was humming day and night there,” he told The Journal.

But then white flight happened, and Jews began leaving Westchester and the nearby neighborhoods of Inglewood and Ladera Heights. The airport also needed more land and started buying up property.

“They cut our membership in half just by expanding the airport. It reduced us to maybe 150 families,” Bornstein said. “That was a big blow.”

But things are not over for B’nai Tivkah, said Van Leeuwen, who had been brought in a year ago to drive up membership.

The congregation will move its religious and nursery schools to the site of the former Montessori school at 8820 Sepulveda Eastway in Westchester, and will hold most services at the adjacent Westchester Christian Church. In addition, the congregation will share a location with Temple Beth Torah in Mar Vista, which has about 60 families.

Van Leeuwen said he hopes in the next three to five years to increase membership, cultivate a donor base and find a new site.

Bornstein delivered the keynote speech at the goodbye ceremony.

“I told them that the spirit of a synagogue is not expressed in the building that they have. It’s expressed in the hopes and dreams of the congregation, and that I hope they will continue to dream and rebuild. And someday, I hope they will invite me to put a mezuzah on their new building.”

“It must have been a pretty emotional speech,” he said, “because for the first time in my life, I got a standing ovation.”

For more information on services, schools or the Festival of Faith ceremony on Sept. 18 at 1:30 p.m. with the Westchester Christian Church, call (310) 645 6262.

100 Shofars to Sound

Michael Chusid was 10 years old when he first tried to blow a shofar, the traditional ram’s horn sounded on the High Holidays.

“I did not have a teacher, so I huffed and puffed until my cheeks hurt without getting even a small toot,” he said.

It was so difficult that he did not touch a shofar again for 30 years.

“During that time, I would go to synagogue on the High Holidays, but I felt alienated from what was going on there. When I would hear shofar during the services, I noticed everyone around me was excited, but I could not feel any connect with the ritual.”

But Chusid has come a long way. These days he is such an expert in the art of the horn that he teaches classes around the city for other amateurs who were once like himself.

How did he come so far?

In 1994, he began attending Makom Ohr Shalom, a Jewish Renewal temple in Granada Hills. There he discovered how to participate in all aspects of worship — including blowing the shofar, which was accomplished by many members of the congregation instead of just one leader.

“The sound they made was on a whole different magnitude, both acoustically and spiritually, from anything I had experienced before. When I heard the shofar, I felt a great relief, as if a heavy burden had been lifted from my spirit.”

Chusid went out and bought himself a shofar, learned how to play it — and started teaching others. Now, this Rosh Hashanah (Oct. 3, 4 and 5), he expects to hear the sound of 100 people blowing shofar at Makom Ohr Shalom. That’s a twist on the tradition that Jews are meant to hear 100 blasts of the Shofar throughout the holiday.

For anyone who wants to participate — or learn for their own synagogue — Chusid is teaching workshops this month around the city on the art and spirituality of shofar-blowing.

He compares it to “blowing raspberries,” except that the lips have to be curled over the teeth and pressed together. The sound is made by the buzzing of the lips, and when you force air through the pursed lips, they vibrate and make a sound.

“Many people know the shofar as a battle cry, like at Jericho,” Chusid said, noting that it can also be used to call the end of war, for teshuva or repentance, as well as a wake-up call for tikkun olam, the obligation to help repair the world.

“When I blow the shofar, I visualize my blast creating a vibration that travels throughout the community and around the planet to wherever healing needs to take place.”

Free shofar blowing classes: Monday, Sept. 12, 6:30 to 8 p.m., Valley Beth Shalom, 15739 Ventura Blvd., Encino, (818) 788-6000, www.vbs.org. Friday, Sept. 16, 7:10-8 p.m., prior to Shabbat services, Makom Ohr Shalom, 5619 Lindley Ave. (at Burbank Boulevard), Tarzana, (818) 725-7600, www.makom.org. To schedule classes, contact Michael Chusid at (818) 774-0003 or send an e-mail to shofarot@gmail.com.

 

Synagogue Perks Entice Unaffiliated


What does $1,000 buy you these days in Jewish life?

Maybe, if you’re lucky, a full-year family synagogue membership. But what exactly does that mean? Two tickets to High Holiday services? Free parking? Entree to Kiddushes?

At a time when families have limited time and money and so much competing for it, synagogue leaders are realizing the need to offer more to potential and existing congregant.

The Journal surveyed a number of synagogues in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley to find out what membership brings these days. Remember: Membership has its privileges.

No. 1: The "Come Join Our Synagogue So You Can Enroll in Our Day School" Model

A family membership at Temple Beth Am (www.tbala.org) costs $1,925. The price might seem a bit steep, but not only does the membership come with two High Holiday tickets, but it also gives members the privilege of sending their children to Pressman Academy, the synagogue’s affiliate day school. Pressman Academy is named after Rabbi Jacob Pressman, Beth Am’s rabbi emeritus, and, according to its Web site, it teaches students "to be serious and committed Jews and responsible American citizens." The only way you get to send your kids to Pressman is if you are a Beth Am member.

If those are not enticements enough, then Beth Am also has a social coordinator who helps members meet each other by organizing havurahs, or social groups. The havurahs are grouped together according to age, and they that meet various times throughout the year for different activities, like going out to dinner and to the park.

No. 2: The "Join Our Synagogue So You Can Get a Discount on Our Other Institutions" Model:

With 2,500 members, Wilshire Boulevard Temple (www.wilshireboulevardtemple.org) is one of the largest synagogues in Los Angeles, and it requires you to be a member of the synagogue (cost of family membership: $1,728, includes High Holiday tickets) before you can enroll your children in its religious school. But if you are wanting more religious education for your children than what a secular school can offer, you can enroll them in the temple’s nursery or elementary school. Both are open to members and nonmembers, but members get a substantial discount and get bumped up the waiting list.

"It makes financial sense to be a member in order to get in," Wilshire Boulevard Executive Director Stephen Breuer said. "Our schools are subsidized by the congregation, and the day school tuition for a member is substantially cheaper than for a nonmember. Our schools are part of the total synagogue experience — they are not stand-alone businesses that we operate."

Breuer said that in addition to the schools, the synagogue offers everything from children’s services on Shabbat to grief counseling.

No. 3: The "Come Join Our Synagogue So You Can Send Your Kids To Our Religious or Nursery School" Model.

Most synagogues are not fortunate enough to have a day school attached to them, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t care about Jewish education. A good number of synagogues offer an afternoon or Sunday religious school program for children attending non-Jewish schools. Many also have nursery schools attached to them.

At most of these synagogues you need to join before you can enroll your children in its religious school.

Temple Aliyah (www.templealiyah.org) in West Hills charges $1,950 for a family membership, which includes High Holiday tickets for parents and children younger than 18 and the right to send children to its religious school. Temple Aliyah also offers a children’s program during High Holiday services.

No. 4: The "Join Our Synagogue Because We Make Religious Life Easy For You" Model

Beth Jacob (www.bethjacob.org) in Pico-Robertson is the largest Orthodox congregation in Los Angeles, and while it can’t offer its members anything in the way of affiliate schools, it does offer a full range of religious services that are designed to fit into any schedule. Membership at Beth Jacob is $1,000 for a family, which includes two High Holiday tickets, but throughout the year that membership entitles you to your choice of three Shacharit minyanim every morning, as well as a large range of Torah classes throughout the week.

No. 5: The "Our Shul Needs You" Model

Unlike other congregations, Aish HaTorah Los Angeles (www.aishla.com) says its primary mission is not building a congregation, but outreach to unaffiliated Jews.

"We are looking for people who want to be part of that commitment," said William Gross, chair of the Aish Hatorah Los Angeles Community. "Our membership is not just for the synagogue — we are packing it together with the outreach organization as well. If we sell $1,000 worth of tickets to the High Holidays we have failed, but if we get 10 people to help us achieve our mission [we have succeeded]."

Therefore, a family membership at Aish is $1,800, but built into that membership is not only two High Holiday tickets, but also two tickets to Aish HaTorah’s annual banquet, which supports its outreach activities.

There are other membership models, too. Shuls like Beth Shir Sholom (BSS) in Santa Monica which want 2 percent of your gross income as membership, with a suggested minimum of $1,500, which excludes anyone earning less than $75,000 a year (in fairness, a spokesperson for BSS said that people needing to pay less than $1,500 "could work it out with the executive director.")

There is a shul in Pico-Robertson, which offers a $600 family membership that includes High Holiday for all family members, but they don’t want to publicize it because "we don’t want people who are just going to come for the High Holidays and not come the rest of the year."

Despite the secrecy, that shul has managed to boost its membership from 100 families to 210 families within one year.

But the good news for those seeking synagogue memberships is most of the synagogues that The Journal spoke to, in many different parts of Los Angeles, said that they would not turn away any Jew because of financial problems. In other words, getting Jews to be religiously affiliated is more important than money in the bank.

Jews Say Bonjour to Club Lampadaire


In between the prayers at the Pinto Shul in the Pico-Robertson area, people who only speak English might feel a little lost.

Not because congregants there don’t speak English — they do, except they are likely to break off into French every so often, leaving behind the hapless English speakers. Likewise, if you are expecting cholent or kugel or any of the other regular foods that you find at an English-speaking shul, you have gone to the wrong place. "Kiddush" at the Pinto Shul has a North African flair. Instead of cholent, they serve salmon cooked in red sauce with garbanzo beans, rice sticky with prunes and apricots and boutargue, a special Tunisian delicacy of dried waxed fish (which to the uninitiated palate tastes like shriveled goldfish).

The Pinto Shul is one of several congregations in Los Angeles that serves the French-speaking Jewish community. Unlike other ethnic Jewish communities in Los Angeles, such as the Persian community, the French-speaking community does not have a cohesive origin. French speaking Jews in Los Angeles are predominantly Sephardic, but they emigrated from a variety of places — Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and France. Eager to escape the perceived and real hostility toward Jews in their countries of origin, and in some cases attracted by the greater personal freedoms that America offered, French-speaking Jews have been coming to Los Angeles for several decades now. They view Los Angeles as a good weather alternative to Montreal, where the French community is the largest outside Israel and France. In Los Angeles, despite their disparate origins, French-speaking Jews tend to stick together, united by the language and a shared cultural affinity.

In 1997, there were approximately 2,500 Jews of North African or French origin in Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles Jewish Population Survey. Today, some estimate that the number has grown to 5,000.

Up until now, this community’s organized communal life has been relegated to the synagogue. Shuls like the Pinto Shul; Congregation Em Habanim and Adat Yeshurun in the Valley; the Baba Sale Shul in the Fairfax district; and the West Coast Torah Center in Beverly Hills have predominantly French-speaking congregations.

This Chanukah, however, marks the emergence of Club Lampadaire (The Lamp Club), a new French community group in Los Angeles, which aims to unite the French Jewish community with social, spiritual and cultural events.

"I think a lot of Jews living in France see California as an antidote to the stuffiness and formality of French society, and the pleasant weather reminds us of our childhood on the Mediterranean, and it appeals to our sense of nostalgia," said David Suissa, one of the founders of Club Lampadaire, who was born in Morocco. "But at the same time, the way the city is so spread out it does not encourage the fathering of the community which would otherwise happen naturally. So we have to compensate for that by creating this organization to make it easier for us to get together on a regular basis."

Club Lampadaire currently has a membership of 600 families, and has already raised $25,000 for its events from French Jews. Suissa said that Club Lampadaire was inspired by a conference given to French-speaking Jews in Los Angeles by Yechiya Benchetrit, one of the leading rabbis in France. "During this talk he brought up the word lampadaire, lamp, and suggested that Jews are like lamps and our mission in life is to light up the world," Suissa said. "So we decided to start an association which would bring together all the different synagogues and create a family of French Jews in Los Angeles. Our slogan is Alluman Le Foi et La Joir — light up faith and joy — and our first event will be to light up the first night of Chanukah. We want to seek out all the French Jews in Los Angeles, affiliated or nonaffiliated, and tell them that they have a home."

"I have a lot of American friends, but because of the wittiness of the French language, I feel more at ease on a cultural level with Jews who are French speaking," said Lolita Engleson, a psychologist, who was born in Lebanon but moved here from France while trying to market a documentary film she made about the Jews in Lebanon.

In Los Angeles, many French-speaking Jews find it difficult to get working visas or green cards, so they attempt to network in the community to find employment and sponsors that will allow them to do so. "They love it here," said Rafael Gabay, a French Moroccan who is president of the Baba Sale Shul. "If they can live here free without having a problem with a green card, then this place is a paradise."

Hollywood Legend Turns 75


Like most legends in Hollywood, Temple Israel of Hollywood has undergone a few makeovers to stay fresh since it was founded in 1926. Maybe that’s why even as it celebrates its 75th anniversary, the Reform synagogue is even more bustling than it was in its heyday when it was billed as “Filmland’s House of Worship.”

Founded by a handful of Hollywood legends, the shul on Hollywood Boulevard west of La Brea Avenue thrived from 1942-1974 under the leadership of Rabbi Max Nussbaum, who not only married such stars Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fischer, but managed to bring in speakers like Golda Meir and Martin Luther King Jr.

But in a familiar story, shifting demographics and a deteriorating Hollywood Boulevard left the shul with a dwindling membership in the ’70s and early ’80s, until the arrival of Rabbi John Rosove in 1988. Rabbi Rosove rebuilt the temple, focusing on the preschool and the religious school, and building up the day school.

Today, with 850 member families, the synagogue is a center of adult learning and social action. Most recently, the shul embarked on a three-year period of introspection and change under the guidance of Synagogue 2000, a synagogue revitalization project run out of the Whizin Center for the Jewish Future at the University of Judaism.

“We are looking at all our assumptions and coming up with ideas about how to make Judaism more than pediatric — where people just come for the kids,” says Jane Zuckerman, the temple’s executive director. “We’re looking for ways to make it family inclusive, with adult prayer and advanced adult education.”

In celebration of the 75th anniversary, Temple Israel has installed a new wall of history in the synagogue. The community and anyone who has been involved with Temple Israel is invited to Friday night services June 1 at 7 p.m. to participate in a special anniversary Shabbat, where many past and present members will join together for services, Israeli dancing and an Oneg Shabbat. The celebration will continue Saturday night, June 2 at 6:30 p.m. at a dinner dance.

Temple Israel of Hollywood is at 7300 Hollywood Blvd. at Martel. For more information, call (323) 876-8330.

No Kidding


On the evening of Sept. 29, the line will start early at The Laugh Factory on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. About 500 people will wait patiently to jam every available space in the showroom or crowd around TV monitors upstairs.

If you think they’re expecting Seinfeld, think again.

For the past 15 years, Laugh Factory founder Jamie Chaim Masada has hosted free High Holy Days services, advertised in large letters on the club’s marquee. Anyone is welcome, but mostly the worshippers are struggling comics, artists, actors and musicians working on the fringes of showbusiness.

“They come to Hollywood with high hopes, and then reality strikes,” says Masada, who was motivated to offer the services and other free programs because of his own struggle in Hollywood years ago.

He grew up in Israel and Iran, the son of a cantor and entertainer who used to take him along to wedding and Bar Mitzvah gigs. At the simchas, Masada’s father played accor-dion while Jamie told jokes; one day a man visiting from Los Angeles who called himself a producer suggested the boy had a future in show business.

Before long, the 14-year-old was on an airplane to L.A., armed with only $850 and the producer’s address at Sunset and La Cienega. When the man took the money and ran, Masada found himself alone and penniless in a strange city. Fortunately, the building manager took him under his wing, offering Masada a job cleaning apartments and a couch in an empty garage. Local comics befriended the immigrant comedian, allowing him to tag along to clubs and coffee shops in the wee hours.

Masada wasn’t so lucky his first Rosh Hashanah, when he walked to a Fairfax-area shul and was turned away for lack of a ticket.

“I didn’t know I needed a ticket, and I couldn’t afford to buy one,” recalls the 39-year-old impresario, who walked back home, dejected.

Masada remembered the feeling after he founded The Laugh Factory with borrowed money in a leased storefront on Sunset in 1979. As Steve Martin and Robin Williams began dropping by, the impresario started hosting free Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, which now seat more than 4,000 people each year.

In the early days, Masada also began buying High Holy Days tickets for Jewish comics with no place to go – until he realized the $2,000 he was shelling out for 10 seats could help establish a free service for hundreds of people.

In 1985, more than 200 worshippers gathered for the first Laugh Factory service led by a Reform rabbi and cantor; over the years, the congregants have included toddlers to nona-genarians, including a woman who attends annually in a wheelchair. Kirk Douglas and his son Michael have even put in an appearance.This year, the services are back, to be conducted by Rabbi Bob Jacobs, with apples and honey on Rosh Hashanah, and bagels and lox to break the Yom Kippur fast. Masada will greet everyone, as usual.”I still don’t have any family in Los Angeles,” he explains, “so these people have become my family. I made it in Hollywood, and now I want to give back to the community.”

For information about the free services, call (323) 656-1336, ext. 1.

Congregational Directory


The listings below are for Jewish congregations within the geographic area of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. Congregations in areas adjacent to Los Angeles Federation can be found by calling neighboring federations:

San Gabriel Valley: Jewish Federation of San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys at (626) 967-3656; sgpvfed@aol.com

Southeastern Los Angeles County: Jewish Federation of Greater Long Beach and West Orange County at (562) 426-7601, ext. 1314 or 1008; sharonk@jewishlongbeach.org

The Internet is a great tool to use in screening synagogues. Many, many congregations have Web sites, as do the national offices of the major Jewish movements (which have links to those synagogues with Web sites). Also, local movement offices may be able to help you find a congenial synagogue:

Chabad Lubavitch West Coast Headquarters (310) 208-7511; rabbicunin@chabad.com

Jewish Reconstructionist Federation (323) 933-7491; Jrfwcreg@aol.com

Union of American HebrewCongregations (Reform) (323) 653-9962; pswuahc@uahc.org

Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations (310) 229-9000; srebro1@juno.com

United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (818) 986-0907; pacsw@uscj.org

Key to denominations:

A denominational label means that a congregation is formally affiliated with a Jewish religious movement OR that it generally follows the philosophy and worship style of that movement.

(R) Reform

(C) Conservative

(O) Orthodox

(T) Traditional (Orthodox-style service without separation of men and women)

(S) Sephardic, including Persian and Middle Eastern congregations

(Rec.) Reconstructionist

(Ren.) Jewish Renewal

(I) Independent

Westside South

Adat Shalom (C) Rancho Park area: (310) 475-4985; ADATSHALO2@aol.com

Temple Akiba (R) Culver City: (310) 398-5783; TemAkiba@aol.com

Temple Beth Torah (C) Mar Vista: (310) 398-4536

Bais Chabad of Simcha Monica (O) Santa Monica: (310) 829-5620

B’nai Horin (Ren.) West Los Angeles: (310) 559-0587; lindasings@aol.com

Chabad of Cheviot Hills (O): (310) 837-8083; aronbcoch@aol.com

Chabad of Marina Del Rey (O): (310) 578-6000

The Chai Center (O): (310) 391-7995; schwartzie@chaicenter.org

Temple Isaiah (R) Rancho Park: (310) 277-2772; Sue@TempleIsaiah.com

Kahal Joseph (S) Westwood area: (310) 474-0559

Kehillat Ma’arav (C) Santa Monica: (310) 829-0566; office@KMwebsite.com

Cong. Mishkon Tephilo (C) Venice: (310) 392-3029; mail@mishkon.org

The Movable Minyan (I): (310) 285-3317

Nessah Educational & Cultural Center (S/O) Santa Monica: (310) 453-2218

Cong. N’vay Shalom (I): (323) 463-7728, (310) 535-1617

OhrHaTorah (I) Rancho Park area: (310) 278-9049, (818) 769-8223; office@ohrhatorah.org

Pacific Jewish Center (O) Santa Monica: (310) 392-8749; office@pjcenter.com

Sha’arei Am (R) Santa Monica; (310) 453-4276: shaareiam@aol.com

Sholem Community (I) Culver City: (818) 760-6625

Society for Humanistic Judaism (I): (213) 891-4303; info@shj.org

Westwood Kehilla (O); (310) 441-5288: outreach@kehilla.org

Young Israel of Santa Monica (O): (310) 314-3888

Young Israel of Venice (O): (310) 450-7541

Westside North

Beth Shir Shalom (R) Santa Monica: (310) 453-3361

Chabad of Bel Air (O): (310) 475-5311; belair770@aol.com

Chabad of Brentwood (O): (310) 826-4453

Chabad on Montana (O) Santa Monica: (310) 394-5699

Chabad of Malibu (O): (310) 456-6581

Chabad of North Beverly Hills (O): (310) 859-3948

Chabad of Pacific Palisades (O): (310) 454-7783

Temple Emanuel (R) Beverly Hills: (310) 274-6388; TEBBJS@aol.com

Kehillat Israel (Rec.) Pacific Palisades: (310) 459-2328; KIHOME@aol.com

Leo Baeck Temple (R) Bel Air: (310) 476-2861; lbtoffice@aol.com

Magen David of Beverly Hills (S/O): (310) 285-9957

Malibu Jewish Center & Synagogue (Rec.): (310) 456-2178; mjcandsynagogue@earthlink.net

Sephardic Jewish Center/Persian Chabad (S/O) Beverly Hills: (310) 855-0555; (310) 275-6920

Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel (S/T) Westwood: (310) 475-7311

Sinai Temple (C) Westwood: (310) 474-1518

Stephen S. Wise Temple (R) Bel Air: (310) 476-8561

Synagogue for the Performing Arts (I): (310) 472-3500

University Synagogue (R) Brentwood: (310) 472-1255; jkrautman@unisyn.org

Westwood Village Synagogue (O): (310) 470-0080

Young Israel of North Beverly Hills (O): (310) 203-0170; rst@pacbell.net

Hollywood/ L.A. East

Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park (C): (323) 255-5416

Chabad of Greater Los Feliz (O): (323) 660-5177

Chabad of Mt. Olympus (O): (323)650-1444

Chabad Russian Synagogue (O) West Hollywood: (323) 848-2999

Creative Arts Temple (I): (323) 656-6685

Hollywood Temple Beth El (C) and Iranian American Jewish Center (S) West Hollywood: (323) 656-3150

Temple Israel of Hollywood (R): (323) 876-8330; shalom@tioh.org

Temple Knesset Israel of Hollywood (C): (323) 665-5171

Cong. Kol Ami (R) West Hollywood: (310) 248-6320; staff@kol-ami.org

Shir Hadash (R) Mid-Wilshire: (310) 456-5323

Wilshire Boulevard Temple (R) Mid-Wilshire; (213) 388-2401

Fairfax/LaBrea

Aaron David Cong. (O): (323) 933-1411

Ahavas Yisroel Syn. (O): (323) 937-1247

Cong. Bais Naftoli (O): (323) 931-2476

Cong. Bais Yehuda (O): (323) 936-7568

Cong. Bet Elazar (O): (323) 857-0577

Bet Midrash (O): (323) 939-0298

Cong. Beth Israel (T): (323) 651-4022

Chabad of Hancock Park (O): (323) 954-8381

Chabad Mid-City Center (O): (323) 655-9282

Etz Jacob Cong. (O): (323) 938-2619

Jewish Learning Exchange (O): (323) 857-0923; jleoutreach@yahoo.com

Kehilas Yaakov (O): (323) 935-8572

Midrash Od Yosef Hai (S/O): (323) 653-5163

Cong. Ner Israel (O): (323) 933-3405

Cong. Ohel David (O): (323) 651-3594

Cong. Ohev Shalom (O): (323) 653-7190

Cong. Shaarei Tefila (O): (323) 938-7147

Temple Shalom for the Arts (I): (310) 858-1100

Tifereth Zvi (O): (323) 931-3252

Torah Ohr (S): (323) 939-6763; torahohr@torahohr.org

Cong. Torah V’Chesed (O): (323) 653-5083

Yismach Moshe Cong. (O): (323) 939-2681

Young Israel of Hancock Park (O): (323) 931-4030

Young Israel of Los Angeles (O): (323) 655-0300

Pico-Robertson

Aish Los Angeles (O): (310) 278-8672; LA@aish.com

Anshe Emes Synagogue (O): (310) 275-5640; info@anshe.org

Temple Beth Am (C): (310) 652-7353; betham@tbala.org

Cong. Beth Chayim Chadashim (R): (323) 931-7023; bcc@bcc-la.org

Beth Jacob Cong. (O): (310) 278-1911; bjacob@pacbell.net

Temple Beth Zion (C): (323) 933-9136; TempleBethZion@juno.com

B’nai David-Judea Cong. (O): (310) 276-9269; bnaidavid@aol.com

Congregation Bais Bezalel (O): (310)282-0444

Chabad Israeli Center (O): (310) 271-6193

Kehillat Hashalom (O): (310) 652-9014; hashalom@hotmail.com

Cong. Knesseth Israel of Beverlywood (T): (310) 839-4962

Midrasho Shel Shem (O): (323) 935-6081

Cong. Mogen David (T): (310) 556-5609

Ohel Moshe Cong. (S): (310) 652-1533

Torat Hayim Synagogue (S/O): (310) 652-8349

Arbeter Ring/Workmen’s Circle (I): (310) 552-2007; ArbeterSCA@mindspring.com

Yeshiva of Los Angeles Beis Midrash (O): (310) 553-4478 ext. 296

Young Israel of Beverly Hills (O): (310) 275-3020

Young Israel of Century City (O): (310) 273-6954; Rebekah@yicc.org

San Fernando Valley West

Temple Ahavat Shalom (R) Northridge: (818) 360-2258; templeas@aol.com

Temple Aliyah (C) Woodland Hills: (818) 346-3545; sylvia.moskovitz@templealiyah.org

The Ami Havurah (C) Woodland Hills: (818) 884-6042

Beit Hamidrash of Woodland Hills (O): (818) 712-0365

Temple Beth Solomon of the Deaf (R) Tarzana: (818) 363-5580

Temple Beth Torah (R) Granada Hills: (818) 831-0835; office@bethtorah-sfv.org

B’nai Ami Syn. (C) Chatsworth: (818) 700-0492; tuckeranch@aol.com

Chabad of Encino (O): (818) 784-9986

Chabad of Northridge (O): (818) 368-3937

Chabad of Tarzana (O): (818) 758-1818

Eretz Cultural Center (S/T) Reseda: (818) 342-9303

Temple Judea (R) Tarzana: (818) 758-3800; judeatarz@templejudea.com

Kol Tikvah (R) Woodland Hills: (818) 348-0670

Makom Ohr Shalom (Ren.) Woodland Hills: (310) 479-0559; mikem@melnick.com

Temple Ner Maarav (C) Encino: (818) 345-7833

Temple Ramat Zion (C) Northridge: (818) 360-1881; gayleb@trz.org

Sephardic Cohen Syn. (O) Tarzana: (818) 705-4557

Shomrei Torah Syn. (C) West Hills: (818) 346-0811; info@shomreitorahsynagogue.org

Valley Beth Shalom (C) Encino: (818) 788-6000; info@vbs.org

Valley Outreach Syn. (R): (818) 348-4867

Young Israel of Northridge (O): (818) 368-2221

San Fernando Valley East

Adat Ari El (C) North Hollywood: (818) 766-9426; alankarpel@adatariel.org

Adat Yeshurun Cong. (O) North Hollywood: (818) 766-4682

Bais Medresh Ohr Simcha (O) North Hollywood: (818) 760-2189

Beis Midrash Toras Hashem (O) Valley Village: (818) 980-6934

Bet Midrash Mishkan Israel (S) Sherman Oaks: (818) 901-1598

Temple Beth Emet (R) Burbank: (818) 843-4787

Temple Beth Hillel (R) Valley Village: (818) 763-9148

Cong. Beth Meier (T) Studio City: (818) 769-0515

Cong. Beth Ohr (I) Studio City: (818) 773-3663

Temple B’nai Hayim (C) Sherman Oaks: (818) 788-4664

Burbank Temple Emanu El (C): (818) 845-1734; Btee2000@juno.com

Chabad of Glendale (O): (818) 240-2750

Chabad of North Hollywood (O): (818) 989-9539

Chabad of Sherman Oaks (O): (818) 789-0850

Em Habanim Cong. (S/O) North Hollywood: (818) 762-7779

Shaarey Zedek Cong. (O) North Hollywood: (818) 763-0560

Temple Sinai of Glendale (R): (818) 246-8101

Valley Beth Israel (C) Sun Valley: (818) 782-2281

Valley Mishkan Israel Cong. (O) North Hollywood: (818) 769-8043

Yad Avraham (O) North Hollywood: (818) 766-6736

Conejo Valley/Santa Clarita

Temple Adat Elohim (R) Thousand Oaks: (805) 497-7101; adatelohim@earthlink.net

Temple Beth Ami (R) Santa Clarita: (661) 255-6410

Temple Beth Haverim (C) Agoura Hills: (818) 991-7111; tbh@templebethhaverim.org

Beth Knesset Bamidbar (R) Lancaster: (661) 942-4415; office@bkb.org

Cong. Beth Shalom (C) Santa Clarita: (661) 254-2411

Cong. B’nai Emet (R) Simi Valley: (805) 581-3723; bnaiemet@rain.org

Chabad of Agoura Hills/Chabad of Conejo/Chabad of Oak Park (O): (818) 991-0991; rmdb@aol.com

Chabad of Santa Clarita Valley (O): (661) 254-3434

Chabad of Simi Valley (O): (805) 577-0573

Temple Etz Chaim (C) Thousand Oaks: (805) 497-6891; office@templeetzchaim.com

Cong. Or Ami (R) Agoura Hills: (818) 880-6818; kipper23@aol.com

South Bay

Temple Beth El (R) San Pedro: (310) 833-2467; bethelsp@aol.com

B’nai Tikvah Cong. (C) Westchester: (310) 645-6262; btc@lafn.org

Chabad of the Beach Cities (O) Redondo Beach: (310) 372-6879; chabad@msn.com

Chabad of Palos Verdes (O): (310) 544-5544; chabadpv@aol.com

Chabad of the South Bay (O) Lomita: (310) 326-8234

Temple Menorah (R) Redondo Beach/Torrance: (310) 316-8444

Cong. Ner Tamid of the South Bay (C) Rancho Palos Verdes: (310) 377-6986

Temple Rodeph Shalom (R) El Segundo: (310) 390-3242; irvnao@aol.com

Southwest Temple Beth Torah (C) Gardena: (310) 327-8734

Cong. Tifereth Jacob (C) Manhattan Beach: (310) 546-3667

Reaching Out


Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein is talking about kabbalistic teachings with such passion that he pitches forward in his chair, but just as quickly settles back. His arms are a flurry of activity, and he continuously grabs the black kippah that keeps threatening to slip from his head.

It’s Monday, Sept. 18, and Adlerstein fully acknowledges that he’s competing with “Monday Night Football,” but every chair around the conference table in Project Next Step’s ground-floor suite at 9911 Pico Blvd. is full. The crowd is more interested in wrestling with the existence of evil and existence itself than watching the tackles and touchdowns.

Welcome to Mysticism on Mondays, a course offered through Project Next Step, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s educational outreach program for the unaffiliated post-college set.

“We’re looking for the kind of people who are not so comfortable other places,” Adlerstein says. “We’re trying to get to people that are not going to go to a synagogue, haven’t gone to a synagogue, don’t feel comfortable there, somehow aren’t going to be turned off to the fact that there’s a yarmulke on my head, but are still willing to look at the various parts of the Jewish experience, particularly the content of it, and react positively.”

Less than six months old, Project Next Step is still in the experimental stage and slowly evolving to better meet the needs of their intended audience. New courses being offered include an overview of Jewish law and “The Ethical Screen” on Wednesday nights. “We’ll take clips from TV and movies where the industry has actually handled different issues well and use them as trigger films for discussion,” Adlerstein says.Project Next Step’s monthly series of intellectually stimulating town hall meetings is another feature, with intimate audience sizes purposefully capped between 40-60 people and a $5 suggested donation, though no one is ever turned away for inability to pay. One recent meeting featured former neo-Nazi T.J. Leyden recounting his experiences as a white supremacist. Adlerstein says celebrity speakers probably won’t be too far off in the future.

Together with his colleague, Rabbi Yitzchak Etshalom, Adlerstein is hoping that Project Next Step will eventually spin off some social groups and varied activities where people can meet new ideas and new people.

“Obviously we’re not going to get 100 percent of the crowd. We’re poor competition for a disco. But to think that all young people want nothing more than beer and music would be terribly unfair,” says Adlerstein.

Project Next Step, among other groups, is trying to reach out to young Jews who, as Etshalom says, are “disaffected or haven’t yet been affected.”

Establishing a career, paying off school costs and looking for a beshert are of primary concern to most 20-somethings. Many can lose touch with the Jewish community or, worse, have a negative experience that pushes them away.

Appealing to 20-something Jews who aren’t involved in the community can be a difficult task. But there are groups that put forth the effort to keep 20-somethings involved in the Jewish community, even if it means that they might lose money in the process. The groups are more interested in providing individuals with a great Jewish experience so that they won’t feel the need to look elsewhere for communal, social or spiritual fulfillment.

Project Next Step’s organizers pursue Jewish involvement through an academic bent but want to make sure that people are eased into a Jewish identity at their own comfort level. “Growth is the main thing,” says Etshalom.

Adlerstein says that the tools of guilt and Israel don’t work anymore as methods to keep young Jews involved with the community.

“The next item that is going to work to keep Jews interested in their Judaism is the impact that Jewishness has on the moral and ethical issues that people face, as a society and as individuals,” says Adlerstein.Courtney Mizel, a 27-year-old sales and marketing v.p. for an Internet company, has yet to join a synagogue because she hasn’t “found the right fit.”

She’s been involved with Project Next Step from the start and says she will stick with the program even after she joins a synagogue.

“It’s one thing when you meet someone at a party. It’s another when you’re meeting people and talking to them about significant, intellectual things and not worrying about where you work and what you do, but coming together to focus on something that is outside of your everyday life,” says Mizel.”In terms of going to a kabbalah class, I had never taken one and knew nothing about it. I came into the second or third class because I had missed the first one, and it was a very gentle introduction and very nonjudgmental. You don’t feel like you’re taking a class and getting quizzed.”

Facing issues of growing concern, like intermarriage and Jews who convert, groups like Project Next Step want to show 20-somethings that Judaism and the Jewish community still have something to offer.In April, 32-year-old Jeff Posner started Nexus, a group for 20- and 30-something singles and couples from the South Bay and Orange County. Tired of the same old brunches and dinners offered to young professionals, Posner got together with a few volunteers to start a group that would engage young Jews in activities that appealed to them. The group started slow with a rock-climbing class, a few movie nights and a Memorial Day party.

“[Young] Jews are just like everybody else. We like to go to movies, we like to have coffee nights, ski, bike. If we don’t offer that type atmosphere for Jewish young adults, they’re just going to do it with someone else who isn’t Jewish. Why not give them the opportunity to do this in a Jewish environment?” says Posner.

Posner says that many for-profit businesses that appeal to Jewish singles look to Nexus as competition. He says that was never his intention.

“If I’m throwing a dance and they’re throwing a dance, they make money on their dance and I lose money on mine,” says Posner. “But they look it at as ‘That could have been 100 people at our party that we could have made money on.'”

Nexus regularly collaborates with other groups to provide the participants with a variety of opportunities: spiritual, social and charitable.

For tzedakah, Nexus has already volunteered time at the Seal Beach Animal Care Center and is intending to donate gifts to orphans during Chanukah and volunteer time with Habitat for Humanity. Posner even encourages his members to donate whatever they can to the federation in their area.

For Shabbat, the group participates with Traveling Shabbat Singles and 405 Singles. “I try to encourage people to participate both in the social and the spiritual events,” says Posner.

Posner has not yet joined a synagogue himself, so Nexus has also been a great opportunity for Posner to keep a connected to the Jewish community.

“Nexus has provided a chance for myself, our volunteers and our participants to feel secure in knowing that there are other people who feel the same way they do, who want to belong to a synagogue but at this point feel that membership is too expensive, or if they’ve gone looking, they haven’t found a congregation that’s young enough for them.”

Posner says that there’s a lack of commitment to 20-somethings because a financial return equal to or greater than the amount spent in an effort to appeal to them can be sporadic at best.

A nonprofit group, Nexus doesn’t have a beneficiary agency and doesn’t bring in enough money itself to purchase advertising to make its existence known. Posner has had to rely on free newspaper listings, a Web page and word of mouth.

Posner would like to work with the larger organizations and see more money invested in outreach to young Jews.

“After college, a lot of Jews seem to drop off the map,” says Posner. “If [the community] is really looking toward continuity, teenagers don’t convert out of Judaism or intermarry. It’s the 20- and 30-year-olds who date and are lo
oking for friends and lifelong relationships that usually leave Judaism or intermarry.”For more information about Project Next Step, call (310) 552-4595 or visit www.projectnextstep.org. To contact Nexus, visit www.jewishnexus.org, or call (562) 799-9965 between 9 a.m and 8 p.m.

Voluntary Dues


Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco had a problem. No matter how hard it tried to promote its innovative Hebrew school, dynamic clergy or range of services, prospective members always had one question: How much does it cost?

“They didn’t want to know who the rabbi was or what the programs were,” recalled Gary Cohn, the temple’s executive director. “They wanted to know about dues, and we wanted to take that out of the equation.”

So four years ago the Reform temple did something that is standard marketing in the for-profit world, but unusual for a Jewish organization: It offered one-year trial memberships.

Under Temple Emanu-El’s policy of “voluntary dues,” newcomers are encouraged, but not required, to make a contri-bution the first year. If they stay on as members, they are asked to increase the contribution gradually during the next three years to the standard rate: 2 percent of the family’s household income, with a suggested minimum of $1,400.

Dues for continuing members are collected according to an honor system, with no one at the temple checking tax forms to ensure that people are honestly reporting their incomes. That means some people have cheated. One family bought a $5 million house but paid only $2,000 in dues, said Cohn.

“Some congregations will make a big deal of that,” Cohn said. “We say, OK, it happened. Now it’s our job to create a bond between us and the member so when we ask for a large capital gift for the endowment or ask them to sponsor a program, they’re going to want to do it.”

So far, the voluntary first year has attracted approximately 200 new members each year, compared with 50 new members per year before the policy existed.

About 65 percent have gone on to become paying members.

In a Brandeis University study of Emanu-El’s policy, 78 percent of new members said the dues policy was important in their decision to join the synagogue. About 73 percent of those surveyed had never belonged to a synagogue as adults.

Many newcomers actually opted to pay more than they were asked, with one person jumping from a $400 contri-bution to a $4,000 contribution and another going from giving nothing to contributing $3,000.Despite the apparent success of Emanu-El’s experiment, which has become standard policy for the 1,775-family congregation, only a handful of synagogues have mimicked the approach so far.

However, Synagogue 2000, an organization leading synagogue transformation efforts around the country, recently began encouraging congregations to think about dues when it makes efforts to attract newcomers.

Membership dues vary widely throughout the country. They range from $100 in small congregations that offer few services to more than $3,000 plus building fund contributions in large synagogues with religious schools and other amenities. Most congregations have set rates for families, singles and seniors, but a growing number are shifting to rates based on percentage of income.

While most synagogues say they turn no one away and are willing to discuss scholarships or reduced rates privately, sticker shock often scares off potential members. Other Jews considering membership frequently economize by joining a synagogue only when their children reach Hebrew school age.

“We recognize that very frequently the financial considerations keep people away from synagogues,” said Rabbi Larry Hoffman, a Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion professor who is one of Synagogue 2000’s co-founders.

Voluntary dues can be a hard sell to congregations, said Hoffman, noting that “many think they’re unrealistic.”

As Rabbi Moshe Krupka, national director of synagogue services for the Orthodox Union said, “The bottom line is that synagogues need dues as a basis for their budgets. Synagogues don’t have readily available cash flow other than dues and donations, so it’s not a very appealing practice to have voluntary dues or abolish dues.”

One particular strategy Synagogue 2000 plans to promote is combining voluntary dues with a Jewish Lamaze class as a way to recruit young families.

The Lamaze class would provide a forum for expectant parents not only to learn about childbirth but to study Jewish rituals and teachings related to parenting. The idea is to create a community of young parents who then feel tied to the congregation and want to stay on as members even after they face a charge.

Redefining the Synagogue


It’s a Friday evening in the middle of summer and casually attired worshipers – many of them young singles – are lining up on Manhattan’s West 88th Street to enter the large Gothic-inspired edifice that is B’nai Jeshurun.

Virtually every seat in this large, recently restored Moorish sanctuary is occupied even before the rabbi approaches the bimah, leaving those who arrive as the service begins to settle for tattered siddurim and the balcony.

Soon the brightly painted sanctuary is pulsating with singing, organ music, clapping. In the middle of the song “Lecha Dodi,” the atmosphere is akin to a wedding reception, with the rabbi and cantor swaying and singing joyously and strangers linking arms to snake dance through the aisles and onto the bimah.When services are over, it takes a good 15 minutes to leave the balcony, as hundreds of people clog the stairs and entryway and hundreds more spill out onto the street to chat.

This is B’nai Jeshurun in the quiet time of year, when one of the rabbis is on leave and Manhattan is relatively quiet. When it’s not summer, the congregation has twice as many people every Shabbat, forcing it to rent space at a nearby church and offer two separate Friday night services.

“B.J.,” as it is known to insiders, was a location for the recent Ben Stiller film “Keeping the Faith,” about a hip young rabbi who livens up services and draws in new blood with unorthodox music.

It was fitting to shoot the movie at this synagogue that is now world-renowned for its lively worship but just 15 years ago was an aging, demoralized synagogue that could barely pull together a minyan on Shabbat.

Most credit the shul’s transformation to the leadership of its late rabbi, Marshall Meyer, who died in 1993.Synagogue lay leaders brought Meyer – an American who was instrumental in founding the Jewish Theological Seminary’s Latin American campus and active in organizing Jewish resistance to repressive political regimes in that region – to B.J. in 1985 in hopes he would revitalize it.

A charismatic leader, Meyer attracted congregants with his passion for social justice, his openness to innovation and the vision he articulated, which is still displayed prominently on the congregation’s Web site: “A community synagogue which responds to the authentic questions of life, death, love, anxiety, longing and the search for meaning can, once again, attract Jews – families and individuals – if it is willing to grapple with the great issues of life.”

B.J., which was originally Conservative but is now unaffili-ated, has become a regular desti-nation for many Jewish visitors to New York. It is arguably the most-talked-about shul in the United States. Congregations around the country want to replicate at least some of B.J.’s rags-to-riches success.

But is B.J. a recipe for reinvent-ing American congregations or simply a fluke, a lucky combina-tion of circumstances?

The leading synagogue renewal engine, Synagogue 2000, is banking on the notion that the shul has something to teach. That organization, which works with congregations seeking to change, recently launched a $160,000 ethnographic study of the synagogue.

“We hope to find out what makes B.J. the place that it is and then to invite other congrega-tions to employ the principles in their own case – not to become a B.J., but to become their own kind of spiritual success story,” says Rabbi Larry Hoffman, one of the co-founders of Synagogue 2000.

“We have 900 congregations and can’t ask them to start from scratch. They have to go through incremental, slow change,” adds Freelander.

Through a recently discon-tinued project called Friday Night Alive, the Jewish Federa-tion of Greater Philadelphia actually imported the all-Hebrew B.J. service to several area congregations in hopes that it would attract unaffiliated Jews.

While hundreds of people attended the services – held once a month at rotating Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist congregations – and many praised the project, it did not work well in Reform congregations where congre-gants were less accustomed to Hebrew or unfamiliar with the melodies.”We felt like a one-size-fits-all isn’t the way to go,” says Ellen Bernstein, who coordinated the project. She notes that while Friday Night Alive energized the participants, it was less successful at engaging the unaffiliated in any ongoing way.

Ilana Eberson, a 39-year-old natural medicine student, says she found B.J. after years of trying out other Upper West Side synagogues and was so happy her first time at services – where a stranger welcomed her right away and she instantly fell in love with the music – that she burst into tears.

“Where else are you going to find 1,200 Jews on a Friday night happy to go to shul?” she asks, adding, “If there were more B.J.’s, there would probably be more affiliated Jews.”

Machzorim (prayerbooks)


Gates of Repentance (standard Reform liturgy): Temple Menorah, Rodeph Shalom, Temple Emanuel (main sanctuary and family services), Beth Ohr

On Wings of Awe (nondenominational, known for its poetic interpretative English readings): Beth Chayim Chadashim, Kol Ami, Temple Emanuel (minyan service), UCLA Hillel (liberal service)

Rabbinical Assembly machzor (new Conservative): Mishkon Tephilo, UCLA Hillel (traditional service)

Silverman machzor (old Conservative): Beth Am, B’nai Ami, Ner Tamid, Valley Beth Israel

Machzor Hadash (Conservative structure but with more transliteration and many supplemental English readings): Adat Shalom, Beth Shalom, B’nai Tikvah, N’vay Shalom

Tikunay Nefashot (a streamlined, alternative liberal machzor): Or Ami and four or five other congregations, mainly Reform

Birnbaum (Orthodox): Etz Jacob, B’nai David-Judea

Temple’s own prayerbook: Temple Isaiah, Makom Ohr Shalom, Leo Baeck, Sha’arei Am, Beth Shir Shalom, Temple Beth Hillel

Other: Kehillat Israel and Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue use the Reconstructionist machzor, Kol Haneshamah; Temple Beth Emet uses the old Reform machzor, Union Prayer Book II

Music styles

Many synagogues describe themselves as offering a mix of musical styles (one or more among traditional chant, formal set pieces, folk tunes and “pop” settings of liturgy) and a balance between congregational singing and “active listening.” But in some temples, a certain style or philosophy will predominate.

Participatory (the congregation gets to sing a lot): Temple Beth Am (Library Minyan and BAIT Tefillah services), Beth Chayim Chadashim, B’nai Ami, B’nai Tikvah, B’nai David-Judea, Temple Emanuel (New Emanuel Minyan and family services), Temple Isaiah, Sha’arei Am, Sholem Community (Yiddish songs), UCLA Hillel (liberal service), Arbeter Ring (also Yiddish)Formal cantorial: Temple Beth Emet, Adat Shalom, Temple Emanuel (adult service in sanctuary); Beth Am (main sanctuary service)

Volunteer choir: Temple Isaiah, Makom Ohr Shalom, Valley Beth Israel, Or Ami, Mishkon Tephilo, Kehillat Israel, Beth Shir Shalom, Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue

Professional choir: Leo Baeck, Stephen S. Wise (services in the sanctuary and satellite locations), Temple Emanuel (adult service in sanctuary), Beth Am (main sanctuary service)

Traditional chant: Mishkon Tephilo, Beth Ohr, Southwest Temple Beth Torah, UCLA Hillel’s traditional services, most Orthodox venues

Guitars will be strummed at: Leo Baeck, Temple Menorah, Beth Shir Shalom, Temple Emanuel (New Emanuel Minyan services), Sha’arei Am, UCLA Hillel’s liberal service

The organ is alive and well at: Leo Baeck, Temple Menorah, Stephen S. WiseNo instrumental accompaniment: Mishkon Tephilo, Ner Tamid (traditional services), Beth Am, any Orthodox synagogue

Take time to meditate: Makom Ohr Shalom, N’vay Shalom, Shir Hadash

Congregational Directory


The listings below are for Jewish congregations within the geographic area of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. Congregations in areas adjacent to Los Angeles Federation can be found by calling neighboring federations:

San Gabriel Valley: Jewish Federation of San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys at (626) 967-3656; sgpvfed@aol.com

Southeastern Los Angeles County: Jewish Federation of Greater Long Beach and West Orange County at (562) 426-7601, ext. 1314 or 1008; sharonk@jewishlongbeach.org

The Internet is a great tool to use in screening synagogues. Many, many congregations have Web sites, as do the national offices of the major Jewish movements (which have links to those synagogues with Web sites). Also, local movement offices may be able to help you find a congenial synagogue:

Chabad Lubavitch West Coast Headquarters (310) 208-7511; rabbicunin@chabad.com

Jewish Reconstructionist Federation (323) 933-7491; Jrfwcreg@aol.com

Union of American HebrewCongregations (Reform) (323) 653-9962; pswuahc@uahc.org

Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations (310) 229-9000; srebro1@juno.com

United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (818) 986-0907; pacsw@uscj.org

Key to denominations:

A denominational label means that a congregation is formally affiliated with a Jewish religious movement OR that it generally follows the philosophy and worship style of that movement.

(R) Reform

(C) Conservative

(O) Orthodox

(T) Traditional (Orthodox-style service without separation of men and women)

(S) Sephardic, including Persian and Middle Eastern congregations

(Rec.) Reconstructionist

(Ren.) Jewish Renewal

(I) Independent

Westside South

Adat Shalom (C) Rancho Park area: (310) 475-4985; ADATSHALO2@aol.com

Temple Akiba (R) Culver City: (310) 398-5783; TemAkiba@aol.com

Temple Beth Torah (C) Mar Vista: (310) 398-4536

Bais Chabad of Simcha Monica (O) Santa Monica: (310) 829-5620

B’nai Horin (Ren.) West Los Angeles: (310) 559-0587; lindasings@aol.com

Chabad of Cheviot Hills (O): (310) 837-8083; aronbcoch@aol.com

Chabad of Marina Del Rey (O): (310) 578-6000

The Chai Center (O): (310) 391-7995; schwartzie@chaicenter.org

Temple Isaiah (R) Rancho Park: (310) 277-2772; Sue@TempleIsaiah.com

Kahal Joseph (S) Westwood area: (310) 474-0559

Kehillat Ma’arav (C) Santa Monica: (310) 829-0566; office@KMwebsite.com

Cong. Mishkon Tephilo (C) Venice: (310) 392-3029; mail@mishkon.org

The Movable Minyan (I): (310) 285-3317

Nessah Educational & Cultural Center (S/O) Santa Monica: (310) 453-2218

Cong. N’vay Shalom (I): (323) 463-7728, (310) 535-1617

OhrHaTorah (I) Rancho Park area: (310) 278-9049, (818) 769-8223; office@ohrhatorah.org

Pacific Jewish Center (O) Santa Monica: (310) 392-8749; office@pjcenter.com

Sha’arei Am (R) Santa Monica; (310) 453-4276: shaareiam@aol.com

Sholem Community (I) Culver City: (818) 760-6625

Society for Humanistic Judaism (I): (213) 891-4303; info@shj.org

Westwood Kehilla (O); (310) 441-5288: outreach@kehilla.org

Young Israel of Santa Monica (O): (310) 314-3888

Young Israel of Venice (O): (310) 450-7541

Westside North

Beth Shir Shalom (R) Santa Monica: (310) 453-3361

Chabad of Bel Air (O): (310) 475-5311; belair770@aol.com

Chabad of Brentwood (O): (310) 826-4453

Chabad on Montana (O) Santa Monica: (310) 394-5699

Chabad of Malibu (O): (310) 456-6581

Chabad of North Beverly Hills (O): (310) 859-3948

Chabad of Pacific Palisades (O): (310) 454-7783

Temple Emanuel (R) Beverly Hills: (310) 274-6388; TEBBJS@aol.com

Kehillat Israel (Rec.) Pacific Palisades: (310) 459-2328; KIHOME@aol.com

Leo Baeck Temple (R) Bel Air: (310) 476-2861; lbtoffice@aol.com

Magen David of Beverly Hills (S/O): (310) 285-9957

Malibu Jewish Center & Synagogue (Rec.): (310) 456-2178; mjcandsynagogue@earthlink.net

Sephardic Jewish Center/Persian Chabad (S/O) Beverly Hills: (310) 855-0555; (310) 275-6920

Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel (S/T) Westwood: (310) 475-7311

Sinai Temple (C) Westwood: (310) 474-1518

Stephen S. Wise Temple (R) Bel Air: (310) 476-8561

Synagogue for the Performing Arts (I): (310) 472-3500

University Synagogue (R) Brentwood: (310) 472-1255; jkrautman@unisyn.org

Westwood Village Synagogue (O): (310) 470-0080

Young Israel of North Beverly Hills (O): (310) 203-0170; rst@pacbell.net

Hollywood/ L.A. East

Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park (C): (323) 255-5416

Chabad of Greater Los Feliz (O): (323) 660-5177

Chabad of Mt. Olympus (O): (323)650-1444

Chabad Russian Synagogue (O) West Hollywood: (323) 848-2999

Creative Arts Temple (I): (323) 656-6685

Hollywood Temple Beth El (C) and Iranian American Jewish Center (S) West Hollywood: (323) 656-3150

Temple Israel of Hollywood (R): (323) 876-8330; shalom@tioh.org

Temple Knesset Israel of Hollywood (C): (323) 665-5171

Cong. Kol Ami (R) West Hollywood: (310) 248-6320; staff@kol-ami.org

Shir Hadash (R) Mid-Wilshire: (310) 456-5323

Wilshire Boulevard Temple (R) Mid-Wilshire; (213) 388-2401

Fairfax/LaBrea

Aaron David Cong. (O): (323) 933-1411

Ahavas Yisroel Syn. (O): (323) 937-1247

Cong. Bais Naftoli (O): (323) 931-2476

Cong. Bais Yehuda (O): (323) 936-7568

Cong. Bet Elazar (O): (323) 857-0577

Bet Midrash (O): (323) 939-0298

Cong. Beth Israel (T): (323) 651-4022

Chabad of Hancock Park (O): (323) 954-8381

Chabad Mid-City Center (O): (323) 655-9282

Etz Jacob Cong. (O): (323) 938-2619

Jewish Learning Exchange (O): (323) 857-0923; jleoutreach@yahoo.com

Kehilas Yaakov (O): (323) 935-8572

Midrash Od Yosef Hai (S/O): (323) 653-5163

Cong. Ner Israel (O): (323) 933-3405

Cong. Ohel David (O): (323) 651-3594

Cong. Ohev Shalom (O): (323) 653-7190

Cong. Shaarei Tefila (O): (323) 938-7147

Temple Shalom for the Arts (I): (310) 858-1100

Tifereth Zvi (O): (323) 931-3252

Torah Ohr (S): (323) 939-6763; torahohr@torahohr.org

Cong. Torah V’Chesed (O): (323) 653-5083

Yismach Moshe Cong. (O): (323) 939-2681

Young Israel of Hancock Park (O): (323) 931-4030

Young Israel of Los Angeles (O): (323) 655-0300

Pico-Robertson

Aish Los Angeles (O): (310) 278-8672; LA@aish.com

Anshe Emes Synagogue (O): (310) 275-5640; info@anshe.org

Temple Beth Am (C): (310) 652-7353; betham@tbala.org

Cong. Beth Chayim Chadashim (R): (323) 931-7023; bcc@bcc-la.org

Beth Jacob Cong. (O): (310) 278-1911; bjacob@pacbell.net

Temple Beth Zion (C): (323) 933-9136; TempleBethZion@juno.com

B’nai David-Judea Cong. (O): (310) 276-9269; bnaidavid@aol.com

Congregation Bais Bezalel (O): (310)282-0444

Chabad Israeli Center (O): (310) 271-6193

Kehillat Hashalom (O): (310) 652-9014; hashalom@hotmail.com

Cong. Knesseth Israel of Beverlywood (T): (310) 839-4962

Midrasho Shel Shem (O): (323) 935-6081

Cong. Mogen David (T): (310) 556-5609

Ohel Moshe Cong. (S): (310) 652-1533

Torat Hayim Synagogue (S/O): (310) 652-8349

Arbeter Ring/Workmen’s Circle (I): (310) 552-2007; ArbeterSCA@mindspring.com

Yeshiva of Los Angeles Beis Midrash (O): (310) 553-4478 ext. 296

Young Israel of Beverly Hills (O): (310) 275-3020

Young Israel of Century City (O): (310) 273-6954; Rebekah@yicc.org

San Fernando Valley West

Temple Ahavat Shalom (R) Northridge: (818) 360-2258; templeas@aol.com

Temple Aliyah (C) Woodland Hills: (818) 346-3545; sylvia.moskovitz@templealiyah.org

The Ami Havurah (C) Woodland Hills: (818) 884-6042

Beit Hamidrash of Woodland Hills (O): (818) 712-0365

Temple Beth Solomon of the Deaf (R) Tarzana: (818) 363-5580

Temple Beth Torah (R) Granada Hills: (818) 831-0835; office@bethtorah-sfv.org

B’nai Ami Syn. (C) Chatsworth: (818) 700-0492; tuckeranch@aol.com

Chabad of Encino (O): (818) 784-9986

Chabad of Northridge (O): (818) 368-3937

Chabad of Tarzana (O): (818) 758-1818

Eretz Cultural Center (S/T) Reseda: (818) 342-9303

Temple Judea (R) Tarzana: (818) 758-3800; judeatarz@templejudea.com

Kol Tikvah (R) Woodland Hills: (818) 348-0670

Makom Ohr Shalom (Ren.) Woodland Hills: (310) 479-0559; mikem@melnick.com

Temple Ner Maarav (C) Encino: (818) 345-7833

Temple Ramat Zion (C) Northridge: (818) 360-1881; gayleb@trz.org

Sephardic Cohen Syn. (O) Tarzana: (818) 705-4557

Shomrei Torah Syn. (C) West Hills: (818) 346-0811; info@shomreitorahsynagogue.org

Valley Beth Shalom (C) Encino: (818) 788-6000; info@vbs.org

Valley Outreach Syn. (R): (818) 348-4867

Young Israel of Northridge (O): (818) 368-2221

San Fernando Valley East

Adat Ari El (C) North Hollywood: (818) 766-9426; alankarpel@adatariel.org

Adat Yeshurun Cong. (O) North Hollywood: (818) 766-4682

Bais Medresh Ohr Simcha (O) North Hollywood: (818) 760-2189

Beis Midrash Toras Hashem (O) Valley Village: (818) 980-6934

Bet Midrash Mishkan Israel (S) Sherman Oaks: (818) 901-1598

Temple Beth Emet (R) Burbank: (818) 843-4787

Temple Beth Hillel (R) Valley Village: (818) 763-9148

Cong. Beth Meier (T) Studio City: (818) 769-0515

Cong. Beth Ohr (I) Studio City: (818) 773-3663

Temple B’nai Hayim (C) Sherman Oaks: (818) 788-4664

Burbank Temple Emanu El (C): (818) 845-1734; Btee2000@juno.com

Chabad of Glendale (O): (818) 240-2750

Chabad of North Hollywood (O): (818) 989-9539

Chabad of Sherman Oaks (O): (818) 789-0850

Em Habanim Cong. (S/O) North Hollywood: (818) 762-7779

Shaarey Zedek Cong. (O) North Hollywood: (818) 763-0560

Temple Sinai of Glendale (R): (818) 246-8101

Valley Beth Israel (C) Sun Valley: (818) 782-2281

Valley Mishkan Israel Cong. (O) North Hollywood: (818) 769-8043

Yad Avraham (O) North Hollywood: (818) 766-6736

Conejo Valley/Santa Clarita

Temple Adat Elohim (R) Thousand Oaks: (805) 497-7101; adatelohim@earthlink.net

Temple Beth Ami (R) Santa Clarita: (661) 255-6410

Temple Beth Haverim (C) Agoura Hills: (818) 991-7111; tbh@templebethhaverim.org

Beth Knesset Bamidbar (R) Lancaster: (661) 942-4415; office@bkb.org

Cong. Beth Shalom (C) Santa Clarita: (661) 254-2411

Cong. B’nai Emet (R) Simi Valley: (805) 581-3723; bnaiemet@rain.org

Chabad of Agoura Hills/Chabad of Conejo/Chabad of Oak Park (O): (818) 991-0991; rmdb@aol.com

Chabad of Santa Clarita Valley (O): (661) 254-3434

Chabad of Simi Valley (O): (805) 577-0573

Temple Etz Chaim (C) Thousand Oaks: (805) 497-6891; office@templeetzchaim.com

Cong. Or Ami (R) Agoura Hills: (818) 880-6818; kipper23@aol.com

South Bay

Temple Beth El (R) San Pedro: (310) 833-2467; bethelsp@aol.com

B’nai Tikvah Cong. (C) Westchester: (310) 645-6262; btc@lafn.org

Chabad of the Beach Cities (O) Redondo Beach: (310) 372-6879; chabad@msn.com

Chabad of Palos Verdes (O): (310) 544-5544; chabadpv@aol.com

Chabad of the South Bay (O) Lomita: (310) 326-8234

Temple Menorah (R) Redondo Beach/Torrance: (310) 316-8444

Cong. Ner Tamid of the South Bay (C) Rancho Palos Verdes: (310) 377-6986

Temple Rodeph Shalom (R) El Segundo: (310) 390-3242; irvnao@aol.com

Southwest Temple Beth Torah (C) Gardena: (310) 327-8734

Cong. Tifereth Jacob (C) Manhattan Beach: (310) 546-3667

Ticket prices


Ticket prices are for the full series, including Rosh Hashanah evening and morning, Yom Kippur evening, and all day on Yom Kippur. Many synagogues offer tickets for single services, and many will nego-tiate. And remember, whatever you pay for holiday tickets is a tax-deductible charitable contribution.

$5-$50

  • Arbeter Ring/Workmen’s Circle

  • Temple Beth Israel

  • Aish Los Angeles

  • Sholem Community (Kol Nidre)

$51-$100

  • Temple Beth Emet

  • B’nai Ami Synagogue

  • B’nai Tikvah Congregation

  • Etz Jacob Congregation

$101-150

  • Jewish Learning Exchange ($50 children)

  • B’nai David-Judea

  • Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue

  • Cong. N’vay Shalom

  • Cong. Or Ami ($25 children)

  • Rodeph Shalom

$151-$200

  • Beth Chayim Chadashim

  • Temple Beth Hillel ($100 seniors, $40 students)

  • Beth Shir Shalom

  • Cong. Kol Ami

  • Leo Baeck Temple

  • Makom Ohr Shalom

  • Temple Menorah

  • Mishkon Tephilo

  • Sha’arei Am

  • UCLA Hillel (other than UCLA students)

$201-up

  • Adat Shalom ($140 for people under 25)

  • Temple Beth Am (less for alternative BAIT Tefillah service)

  • Cong. Beth Ohr

  • B’nai Horin

  • Temple Emanuel

  • Temple Isaiah (seniors $150)

  • Kehillat Israel

  • Stephen S. Wise Temple ($50 membership ages 21-32)

Congregation Ner Tamid in Rancho Palos Verdes does not sell tickets to nonmembers but offers a three-month membership.

Free services and programs

  • All holiday services at Southwest Temple Beth Torah in Gardena are free and open to the public.

  • Leo Baeck Temple offers a free service for families with very young children at 2 p.m. on the first day of Rosh Hashanah and on Yom Kippur, and a Rosh Hashanah “family program” with music, art and drama activities at 10 a.m. on the second day of Rosh Hashanah.

  • Cong. Or Ami offers free family services at 2 p.m. on the first day of Rosh Hashanah and on Yom Kippur.

Many synagogues that hold services on the second day of Rosh Hashanah (most do, except for some Reform temples) do not require tickets. Similarly, many congregations do not require tickets for Yom Kippur services late in the day, following an after-noon break. Call around to locate temples offering these open services.

Chabad offers free holiday services all over Southern California; see synagogue listings for West Coast headquarters and specific congregations. Also, the Chai Center will hold free services near LAX.

How the field guide was compiled


The Journal contacted about 80 synagogues and other organizations that conduct High Holy Days services, from across the spectrum of religious observance. About 40 percent of the synagogues contacted returned information.

We assumed that synagogues which chose not to respond to our requests for information had few or no seats available to unaffiliated Jews.

The field guide is meant to be an informal overview of what’s out there for unaffiliated Jews who want to worship in community during the High Holy Days. A complete listing of all synagogues in the area served by Los Angeles Jewish Federation begins on page 29, or visit www.jewishjournal.com.

We encourage readers to contact and visit as many synagogues listed in the larger directory as they can before the holidays.

Size

Figures below represent number of member households. To estimate the number of people in the room when the entire congregation prays together, you can double or triple the membership figure for all but the smallest synagogues.

Tiny (75 or fewer households)

Temple Beth Israel, Highland Park Cong. Beth Ohr, Studio City Cong. B’nai Ami, Chatsworth Temple Rodeph Shalom, El Segundo Southwest Temple Beth Torah, Gardena

Small (75-200 households)

Cong. Beth Shalom, Santa Clarita B’nai Tikvah Congregation, Westchester Jewish Learning Exchange, Los Angeles Makom Ohr Shalom, Woodland Hills Cong. N’vay Shalom, West Los Angeles Cong. Or Ami, Agoura Hills Shir Hadash, Los Angeles Sholem Community

Medium (200-500 households)

Adat Shalom, West Los Angeles Arbeter Ring/Workmen’s Circle, Los Angeles Beth Chayim Chadashim, Los Angeles Temple Beth Emet, Burbank Beth Shir Shalom, Santa Monica B’nai David-Judea, Los Angeles Etz Jacob Congregation, Los Angeles Cong. Kol Ami, West Hollywood Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue Temple Menorah, Redondo Beach Mishkon Tephilo, Venice Sha’arei Am, Santa Monica

Big (500-800 households)

Temple Beth Hillel, North Hollywood Kehillat Israel, Pacific Palisades Leo Baeck Temple, Bel-Air Cong. Ner Tamid, Rancho Palos Verdes Temple Isaiah, West Los Angeles Temple Israel of Hollywood

Mega (more than 800 households)

Temple Beth Am, Los Angeles Temple Emanuel, Beverly Hills Stephen S. Wise Temple, Bel-Air Wilshire Blvd. Temple, Los Angeles Sinai Temple, Los Angeles Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel, Los Angeles University Syngaogue, Pacific Palisades Valley Beth Shalom, Encino Temple Judea, Tarzana Adat Ari El, North Hollywood Temple Aliyah, Woodland Hills

JDate Parties Offline


Midway through JDate’s first annual Tu B’Av get-together, Nurit Ze’evi, product manager of the Internet-based Jewish dating service, halted the music and Israeli folk dancing taking place. With marked enthusiasm, she turned to the audience of 50 and began to expound on the significance of Tu B’Av – an obscure, forgotten love holiday created 4,000 years ago, when women, dressed in white, arrived to choose male suitors. Looking around the room rented from Congregation Mogen David, I gathered that the lecture might have been a waste of breath – judging from the median age of the partiers, they undoubtedly remem-ber the days when the ceremony was new.

Yes, the initial shock following my arrival at one of JDate’s rare offline parties was that a few professionals in their 30’s seemed to be the youngest people there. This was even more surprising since, in its three years, JDate has captured such a massive membership of young adults of the Internet generation. Expecting GenX, I encountered GenZzzzzz.

JDate, with a membership nearing 150,000, is the leading online Jewish singles service, where chat rooms and extensive profiles allow one to meet singles all over the city, the country or even the world. Launched in February 1997, the Beverly Hills-based business is the brainchild of Alon Carmel and Joe Shapira, two Israeli-raised entrepreneurs in their mid-40’s. Carmel and Shapira weren’t hi-tech mavericks – Carmel ran a real estate company, while Shapira worked in video manufacturing. Yet after a decade of working together on various business ventures, the longtime friends decided to try something in new media.”Joe was single at the time, and he got on the Great Expectations mailing list. We looked at it and said, ‘Wow! This would be a perfect business for the Internet,'” recalls the long-married Carmel.So they targeted Jewish singles.

Since Shapira dabbled with Internet technology, the partners didn’t turn to outside help to realize their online concept. They struck a revenue-sharing deal with Lewis Weinger of Stu & Lew Productions, whose mailing list was instrumental early on. Since its debut, JDate has grown rapidly, culling members from as far as Russia and Australia.

“What drove the traffic to JDate was word-of-mouth,” says Carmel.

Word-of-mouth is why one woman says she is among those who have gathered on this night, as she cagily denies that she is a JDate member. An older woman of South American/Polish descent, whose online pseudonym is “Blue Eyes,” seems more forthcoming when she says she loves what JDate offers.

“It’s fun for me,” says Blue Eyes. “Sometimes when I’m bored, I go into the chat rooms.”

I see a 30-year-old acquaintance of mine – a cute, effervescent woman we’ll call “Davida.” She says that she has never contacted anyone on JDate – rather, men have always contacted her. When she first joined, she routinely received 10 messages a day. These days, since JDate restructured its pricing plan, Davida gets only about two e-mails a week. And although she has yet to meet her perfect match, her JDate experiences clearly have not left her jaded.

“I’ve actually had good luck that I haven’t had any crazy people,” says Davida. “I’ve met lots of friends, just nothing romantic.”

On this Tu B’Av eve, Davida is enjoying some casual socializing but is disappointed by the turnout, which she diplomatically describes as “out of my age range. “

Then Davida tells an interesting story. About two years ago, an enterprising Redondo Beach woman, fed up with communicating with her fellow JDate members online, used the chat room to invite members to her home for a JDate house party. Accord-ing to Davida, some 200 people showed up (“Much more than here,” she notes, eyes darting around the hall). The house party attracted a cross section of age groups, a lot of energy and fun JDate-inspired kitsch, such as a book of member profiles that the hostess composed for her guests to leaf through. The party was outstanding, according to Davida.

Perhaps that is the true by-product of the JDate experience: occasionally a love connection; more often, access to a thriving community. After all, as Davida puts it, she has heard of many people marrying thanks to JDate, but the stories are always as distant as a lighthouse beacon blinking off the coast of Maine – a friend of a friend of a friend.

On the other hand, Blue Eyes leans in and informs me, “I know one person who met someone through JDate and they are living together in a condominium. It worked for them!”

An attorney at the Tu B’Av function tells me he recently joined JDate after attending a wedding and learning that the couple had met through the site. In fact, JDate boasts that 900 known weddings have so far resulted from unions facilitated through its service.

Optimistic if unsupported statistics notwithstanding, the two men behind JDate do not fancy themselves as modern day Cupids.

“We are actually not matchmakers,” Carmel stresses. “The people themselves are the matchmakers. We just give them a medium to present themselves.”

Since JDate’s popularity exploded, Shapira has married (and no, he did not meet his wife through his own site), and Carmel and Shapira’s umbrella com-pany, MatchNet, has expanded to include singles sites catering to Australian, British and German singles. But JDate remains a special enterprise for its founders.Says Carmel, ” Here I’ve found myself a business where when I wake up every morning, I know people will be happy.”

To find JDate, go to www.jdate.com. For other MatchNet sites, visit www.matchnet.com

Why Synagogues Are Going Broke


Unemployment hit a 30-year low in April and the economy is, if not booming, at least bouncing. So why is it that so many synagogues, even in wealthy areas, are struggling? Perhaps it is because members fail to understand that dues only go so far, according to Sylvia Moskovitz, executive director at Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills.

“A lot of generous people belong to synagogues who give to Federation and give to charities but don’t realize that the synagogue needs their charitable dollars, too,” Moskovitz said. “The dues and fees we charge don’t cover the whole budget. They can’t – we’d have to charge $5,000 a family, and we cannot do that. We can’t make fees so high that it’s like an exclusive club.”

Moskovitz said about 10 percent of Aliyah’s 900 families ask for some sort of financial assistance. The problem comes, she said, when members put off paying dues or fees and then, when the synagogue comes calling, assert that forcing payment “isn’t the Jewish way.” “This is a constant battle we wage between being a business and being Jewish,” she said. “There are lights and prayer books and seats to be set up and bills to be paid. I cannot say to the electric company and the gas company and the bank that holds the mortgage [that] we cannot pay our bills because we’re in the business of God.”

Synagogue budgets tend to throw most of their weight toward two factors, people and buildings, and Temple Aliyah is no exception. Moskovitz estimates about two-thirds of Aliyah’s budget goes to salaries, which does not give the synagogue a lot of room for cutting costs. Security expenses also escalated here and at other local synagogues in response to last year’s shooting at the North Valley Jewish Community Center. In addition, members are asking for more programming than ever before while at the same time spending less money and time at the shul than prior generations did.

“We’re a young congregation, only 36 years old,” Moskovitz notes. “A lot of older congregations in the East Valley have longtime members who leave endowments and that sort of thing. But young families have their priorities elsewhere; they’re buying homes and dealing with their kids’ schooling. Somehow we have to get them connected into their religion and show them that it’s important to make that commitment if they want their children to grow up and be Jewish.”

Rabbi Alice Dubinsky, the outgoing director of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations’ Pacific Southwest Council, lectures frequently on the issue of money and Judaism. She observes that the problem of synagogue financing is driven not only by individual member’s priorities but also those of the congregation as a whole.

“If you look at the budget of a synagogue, you can tell a lot about them from the choices they make: how they raise their money and how they spend their money,” Dubinsky said. “There are congregations that have large infusions of cash but equally large budgets, and they have this atmosphere of anxiety that takes its toll on the board, on the clergy and staff and on the congregation.

“I think it is very important that congregations live within their means,” Dubinsky added. “That’s not very fashionable these days – people have leased cars and leased homes and that is the dominant culture, but a synagogue cannot be run that way. It needs financial discipline. In fact, this is an area where synagogues could be at the forefront, teaching people about financial ethics. We can’t be frustrated with people for not having a sense of philanthropy; instead we need to go out and do the teaching.”- Wendy Madnick, Valley Editor

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