Letters to the Editor: Cantor’s Kavanah, Homeland, Kol Nidre LIVE

Cantor’s Kavanah Remains Cool

We are grateful for the lovely profile on our immensely talented chazzan, Hillel Tigay (“The Rock Cantor,” Sept. 21). But we want to set the record straight on one matter. Here’s what went down mere moments before Kol Nidre at IKAR four years ago: With deep kavanah and intense focus combined with anticipation, excitement and a bit of absent-mindedness, our beloved chazzan took a final deep breath before beginning Kol Nidre and knelt down behind the podium to take a swig of … wait, is that Diet Pepsi? Our rabbis, perched on either side of him, stared in shock — one (lovingly) kicked him in the shin and whisper-shouted, “What are you doing?” Hillel, somewhat startled, cleared his throat, discarded the bottle and began a transcendent Kol Nidre, illuminated by the awareness that even with the best of intentions, we are all avaryanim — people who sometimes fall short. In the years that followed, this near miss was spun into urban legend (the cantor drinking soda at Kol Nidre) and became great Purim shpiel fodder, but was unfortunately incorrectly reported in the Jewish Journal as fact. We regret to inform anyone who was inspired by reports of this act of rebellion: We’re cool, but we’re not unhinged. One of the reasons Hillel is so adored at IKAR and around the Jewish world is because his hipster, tweed-cloaked, rocker persona is intimately bound up in a deeply reverent Jew who has worked his whole adult life to honor the Jewish tradition and bring it to life with love. 

Rabbis Sharon Brous and Scott Perlo, Melissa Balaban, Jaclyn Beck, Dev Brous, Ross Levinson

Editor’s note: The Journal stands by its story as reported.

Another MOT Missed Out

Your Sept. 28 issue contained a list of some Jewish nominees who did not go home with an Emmy (“ ‘Homeland’ Sweeps Emmys,” Sept. 28). I was not included. My nomination was for guest actor in a drama series for “Breaking Bad.”
I don’t know that you can find a more authentic Jewish name than Margolis. In the same category, Ben Feldman of “Mad Men” also lost out. I suspect that he might be a Member of the Tribe.

Mark Margolis
via e-mail

Shul-Hopping Spreads Tolerance

Kudos to David Suissa on his article “Sticking to Our Labels” (Oct. 5). I was raised on an Ashkenazi Modern Orthodox kibbutz practicing one dimension of Judaism: ours. Hence, the “more religious Jews” were considered obsessive compulsive, the less religious were below grade-level and the non-Ashkenazi Orthodox were simply on the other side of the tracks.

After teaching Hebrew and bar mitzvah as well as reading the Torah for over 30 years in various types of synagogues in Los Angeles, from Sephardi to ultra-Orthodox to Conservative to Reform, I learned to appreciate each and every community. The transformation wasn’t easy. It took me many years to let other customs, traditions and rituals enter and become part and parcel of my comfort zone.  

I believe that “shul-hopping” would usher a great deal of good and love into the Jewish community around the world. Familiarity eradicates animosity and may even usher in acceptance. We are a small nation facing constant threats of annihilation from the outside and need no infighting from the inside.

When we pray, we ask God that “He who makes peace in His heaven may he make peace for us and for all Israel, Amen.” It’s time for a new nusach (formula): “He who makes peace in His heaven may he make peace for us and for all Israel and teach us to do only good and accept each other for what we are.”

Danny Bental

Kol Nidre Streamed Straight to St. John’s

What a surprise when I found myself checked in to St. John’s Medical Center in Santa Monica on Kol Nidre. Uneaten challah and iPad in hand, my son and I searched for a service on the Internet. Then as “manna from heaven” not only did he find a service, but immediately I recognized Rabbi Naomi Levy [streaming live on jewishjournal.com]. Her enthusiasm filled up the screen, and I knew I was on the way to recovery.

What a dichotomy of healing — St. John’s hospital and Rabbi Naomi Levy, and they both worked.

Janet Wortman
Marina del Rey

Intermarriage and Tradition

Ruth was the only comfort and staff for Naomi’s old age, and her great-grandson was King David (“Rabbi Reverses Interfaith Marriage Policy,” Sept. 28). The Reform movement’s last resolution on interfaith marriage from 1973 says that “interfaith marriage is contrary to Jewish tradition.” Who knows what other heroic leader of our people may result from one of these intermarriages?

Louis Richter
via e-mail