Moving and shaking

Five years after merging with Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center (PJTC), former members of Congregation Shaarei Torah in Arcadia were among those who took part June 22 in a symbolic Torah scroll procession from their old building to their new home.

Since merging in 2009, PJTC has housed all of Shaarei Torah’s 11 scrolls. Still, the Torah walk (and drive) was attended by about 70 people and prompted by the fact that the former property, transferred to PJTC with the merger, was sold. 

“The new owner took possession of the property on July 1 and demolition may already be underway,” said Jeff Landau, PJTC executive vice president of programs.

Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater, spiritual leader of PJTC, said, “I hope it felt like some sense of closure — respect, kavod, for that space.”

On June 22, a final Sunday minyan took place at the Shaarei Torah building on Second Avenue in Arcadia. This was followed by the community Torah walk, during which people passed the holy scroll from one to another for a short distance. The majority of the 6 1/2 miles between the two sites was covered by car. 

Many of those who returned together to PJTC did so without dry eyes, according to Grater.

“We wanted to have this commemoration to honor the memory and allow folks to say goodbye to the space,” Grater told the Journal. “It was a very moving, emotional and touching morning.”

Los Angeles Dodgers’ baseball hats — emblazoned with the team’s name in Hebrew — dotted Dodgers Stadium stands on June 29 during the 15th annual Jewish Community Day.

On the scorching, summer afternoon, a group sales representative estimated Jewish community groups purchased 800 tickets. The day’s strong turnout was due, in part, to the tireless efforts of people like Jason Stern, brotherhood/men’s club president of Valley Beth Shalom in Encino. He sold 300 tickets and was one of several people honored on the field prior to the game.

From left: Hazzan Mimi Haselkorn of Temple Aliyah, Valley Beth Shalom’s men’s club president Jason Stern, and Shaarey Zedek congregant Michael Halpern and his children, Benjamin and Emma, participated in a pregame recognition ceremony at Dodgers Jewish Community Day on June 29. Photo by Ryan Torok

“I’m feeling just kind of excited about how successfully the community came together for this event,” Stern said walking down to the field for the ceremony. “Anytime you can get this much of the community together for anything it’s always a challenge — but to have people turn out in [these] kind of numbers and all be excited and having this much fun, you can’t ask for more than this.”

Hazzan Mimi Haselkorn of Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills; Michael Halpern of Shaarey Zedek in Valley Village; Neil Wedge of Chabad of the Beach Cities and Beverly Hills Little League’s Eric Weissman were also honored during the pregame event, which recognized those who sold tickets in bulk.

The Dodgers beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-0, but they weren’t the only winners. Jeff Rohatiner, owner of Jeff’s Gourmet Kosher Sausage Factory in Pico-Robertson, said he was thrilled to take part in the day’s event. Invited by the Dodgers, Rohatiner brought in a portable stand, complete with steam cookers capable of heating dozens of dogs simultaneously. A Kehilla Kosher rabbi supervised.

 “There’s nothing more American than baseball, apple pie and kosher hot dogs,” said Jay Falk of Shomrei Torah Synagogue in West Hills. 

Fans enjoyed a seventh-inning stretch that featured more than the customary rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Israeli singer Elliott Yamin sang “God Bless America.”

The seventh KindredSPIRITS benefit concert for Israeli humanitarian project Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) took place at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills on June 14.

KindredSPIRITS is a Jewish charity organization that produces an annual world-class concert that, according to its website, has raised nearly $1 million for six charities and drawn more than 5,000 people to its concerts. SACH is an international group that works to bring quality care to children suffering from heart disease in developing countries.

Performers at the concert included KindredSPIRITS founder Cantor Ilan Davidson of Temple Beth El in San Pedro; Cantor Ilysia Pierce of Temple of the Arts in Beverly Hills; and the L. A. Jewish Symphony, with founder and conductor Noreen Green. Singer-songwriter Bea Miller from the TV music competition “The X-Factor,” the Agape International Choir and singer Freda Payne were also part of the annual gala.

Performers included Cantor Ilan Davidson, the founder, president and artistic director of KindredSPIRITS, and “The X-Factor” singer Bea Miller. Photo courtesy of KindredSPIRITS

Michael Beckwith and his wife, Rickie Byars Beckwith, were honored with the KindredSPIRITS Humanitarian Award. Michael Beckwith is the founder and spiritual director of the Agape International Spiritual Center in Culver City, and Rickie Byars Beckwith is a recording artist of religious music.

Additional supporters of the June event included Congresswoman Janice Hahn; L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe; L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino, and restaurateur and interior designer Barbara Lazaroff.

Misfits of Jewish Outreach (MOJO) held its first event in grand fashion — on a quadruple-decker yacht, “Noah’s Ark,” that left dock from Marina del Rey.

The June 15 evening masquerade party drew 250 Jewish young adults and featured everything from casino games to an exhibit with live animals. There were open bars, live music and a rooftop cabana, too.

MOJO’s mission is to create programs that “unravel the purpose and meaning of life” and highlight “the responsibility of the Jewish people” to the rest of the world to be a “light unto the nations,” explained Joubin Hanaie, one of the organization’s founder.

Guests at Misfits of Jewish Outreach’s “Noah’s Ark” event try their hand at blackjack. Photo by Jared Sichel

Hana titled the event after the biblical story of Noah because he wants his organization to help young Jews be leaders to their generation. The Biblical figure Noah, after the flood, was the leader of a new generation of humanity.

Friends and strangers dressed for a night on the town as they socialized and mingled, many with a drink in hand. Lauren Schwartz, 23, said one reason she came was to find a potential date.

One floor below, Rami Kayvar, Jonathan Jay and Aaron Kahen were enjoying their beverages and having a few laughs. Kayvar, who said he had not been to any Jewish events for a while, came in order to be “reintroduced into the Jewish scene.”

Hana added: “There are not many Jewish events that are unique, and I think this one really captured that.” 

— Jared Sichel, Staff Writer

Moving and Shaking highlights events, honors and simchas. Got a tip? Email

Missing: My Mojo

I can’t explain it any better than this. I think I’ve lost my mojo. That phrase has been going through my head for months now. Lost my mojo.

How do you know you’ve lost your mojo? You get a couple clues.

I’m eating dinner alone at a restaurant when an attractive older man approaches. He puts down his crossword puzzle. We chat. I discern that he’s a divorcé with a teenager, not much my type, but since I’m feeling the mojo slip away, I’m less discerning.

He asks for my e-mail. Never writes me.

What’s a four-letter word for that thing you used to have, that charm, that magic that makes guys ask you out? Mojo.

My friend’s brother, an actor you’ve seen in many movies from the 1980s, asks me out. He brings me gloves because I mention in a column that I gave mine away. We see a play. He insists on taking me to dinner afterward.

Never heard from him again. So, thinking — in a moment of delusion — that my phone may actually not be receiving incoming calls (for a week, despite several calls from people with the last name Strasser) I called him. He didn’t call back. I tried again. I relate a condensed version of that conversational carnage here:

"Hi, this is Teresa. I haven’t heard from you and I just wanted to see how you were doing."

"Yeah, been busy."

"So, I was surprised I didn’t hear from you. I don’t know many people here in New York and I was hoping we could be friends."

"Yeah, what can I say? I thought by not calling you back I was communicating something."


"That I’m not interested in pursuing … anything … with you," he said, with all the dynamism of a sleep-deprived substitute teacher.

"You don’t even want to be friends?"

"No. I’m trying to be clear about this. Sorry. See you around campus."

See you around campus? What school are we going to? The University of No Mojo, or U NoMo, as we call it on campus?


A comedian I interviewed for the morning show I work on comes up to me after the show.

"I’m a guy, you’re a girl, we should go out."

It wasn’t the best line, but he gave me his card and as I slipped it in my pocket I thought, I’m back.

I left him a message. A week went by before he returned the call. I called back. He returned my call another week later. You see, when the mojo is working, that call comes the next day, or maybe two days later. Mojo eliminates phone tag. Phone tag is for suckers.

I’ve started to wonder if I’ve reached some sort of expiration date that I can’t find printed on my person. Is it over? My best male friend says I’m crazy. My mom tells me that I’ve just become intimidating to ask out because I’m on TV now, a statement I’m sure is right out of the mom handbook. She has to say that. A Jewish mother is a highly unreliable source.

What if I’m not intimidating but in fact simply unappealing and unattractive? What if this self-deprecating thing I’ve been working for years has grown tired? What if I was such a mess in my 20s that I seemed like a good time to save and a blazing, sloppy fire to put out, and now that I’m slightly more together, there’s no allure?

I pay a sweet woman with smart blazers, sensible shoes and a very calming hairdo to solve these problems for me once a week in 50-minute intervals. She insists that the high drama I provided in my 20s might have been useful in getting into relationships, but it was also pivotal in ending them.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to tell you that from age 16 to 28, I never went more than a week without a boyfriend. I listened to my friends drone on about their loneliness, their Internet dating, their desperation and felt the secret smug comfort of knowing that though I was never the prettiest in the room and rarely the smartest, I always had mojo.

Now that I’ve matured, I’m far less likely to, for example, throw a plate at you, hang up on you, toss your stuff out the window or storm out of a restaurant as if you’ve just shot my cat when all you’ve done is infer that your ex-girlfriend was pretty. Just when I’m becoming someone it might not be a nightmare to date, I’m being asked out solely by people who are at least 20 years my senior or 10 years my junior. Worst of all, I’ve become the girl you don’t call back.

Mojo, come back to me. I don’t know where you went, but if you return, I promise not to throw any plates your way.

Teresa Strasser writes from Manhattan where she is a feature reporter for
Fox’s “Good Day New York.” She’s on the Web at