December 8, 2019

Moving and Shaking: Foundation for Camp Bob Waldorf, Nashuva, Open Temple and more

“Brunch and Family Day” at Universal Studios in Hollywood on Oct. 9 raised $220,000 for the Foundation for Camp Bob Waldorf, which supports the Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles (JBBBSLA) nondenominational, residential summer camp for underserved children.

“For nearly 80 years, Camp Bob Waldorf has been their safety net and thanks to the Foundation our kids know that we will always be there,” Randy Schwab, CEO and president of JBBBSLA and the Foundation for Camp Bob Waldorf, said in a statement.

The event, which drew more than 225 community leaders, camp supporters and families, honored Joey Behrstock, “who has supported Camp Bob Waldorf on the Max Straus Campus and Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles as a board member, camp committee member, and Big Brother since 2003,” according to a JBBBSLA statement.

Attendees received admission to the Universal Studios theme park for the day, photo ops with Minion characters from the “Despicable Me” films, face-painting, balloon animals, food from Wolfgang Puck Catering and more.

Nashuva congregants (from left) Evan, Kimber, Alex and Avery Sax, and Michelle, Rosie, Jeff and Asher Bader display drought-fighting buckets donated to the congregation through a grant from the Metropolitan Water District in partnership with TreePeople. Courtesy of Nashuva

At its second-day Rosh Hashanah service in Temescal Gateway Park on Oct. 4, the Nashuva spiritual community provided congregants with water-collection buckets and information about the California drought as part of its partnership with the nonprofit organization TreePeople and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

“A substantial amount of water is wasted when we turn on our showers each day and wait for the water to warm up,” said TreePeople founder Andy Lipkis, a Nashuva congregant. “By using these water-collection buckets, we can gather the water from our showers before we step in and then use this water for plants in our houses, trees in our yards or our neighborhoods.”

—Jewish Journal Staff

From left: Open Temple Rabbi Lori Shapiro, Alexa Schwartz, Leonard Atlas, Becca Grumet and Kate Berman attended Open Temple’s inaugural “The Dunk.” Photo by Ryan Torok

On the night before Kol Nidre, about 15 people of the Open Temple community in Venice used the Pacific Ocean as a mikveh in an event called “The Dunk.”

“This is the original mikveh,” Open Temple Rabbi Lori Shapiro said while still wrapped in a towel after emerging from the ocean on Oct. 10. “The bathhouse is something that is an innovation of society. The mikveh, in its essence, is mayim hayim — living waters.”

Open Temple describes itself as an “emerging community” in Venice “for the Jew-ishly curious and those who love us.”

One of its members, Leonard Atlas, a retired floral decorator and father of two teenage girls, participated in the event, which was clothing-optional and co-ed — although no one ventured into the water nude.

“It’s getting out of your comfort zone, doing something you wouldn’t normally do but you’ll never forget and you’ll remember and cherish,” Atlas said. “And doing it with a group of people, or kehillah, made it special. It’s a bond I will have with these people I will always remember.”

The group met at 8 p.m. where Washington Boulevard meets the beach. Shapiro led attendees to the water, singing “Return Again.” The group formed a circle on the beach and, after a brief discussion, stripped down — some to their swimsuits, others to their underwear — and headed into the water.

“It was good — surprisingly warm,” said Kim Schultz, 27.

Alexa Schwartz, program assistant at the National Council of Jewish Women/Los Angeles, has been involved with Open Temple since July and said cleansing in the ocean felt like “freedom — because I was with a community of other people who wanted to be free, too.”

Open Temple was not the only community to use the ocean as a mikveh over the recent High Holy Days. Members of IKAR’s Men’s Circle came together at Santa Monica Beach on Oct. 11, hours before Kol Nidre.

“I think everyone felt like they were energized for Yom Kippur, for Kol Nidre that night,” Scott Fields, an IKAR congregant and organizer of IKAR’s Men’s Circle, said following the mikveh event, which drew about 15 people. “It’s just kind of a cleansing experience to go into the ocean, say these prayers and then feel invigorated to go into the holiday.”

Moti Kahana. Courtesy of Moti Kahana

Beverly Hills Temple of the Arts’ Yom Kippur services at the Saban Theatre drew a variety of guest speakers, participants and musicians.

Among those speaking were Greg Krentzman, a Culver City resident and a survivor of July’s terrorist attack in Nice, France; Moti Kahana, an Israeli-American businessman and founder of the nonprofit Amaliah, which aids Syrian refugees; and Holocaust survivor Leo Melamed.

Kahana discussed Jewish resilience as well as the goal to create a safe zone in Syria.

Temple of the Arts Rabbi David Baron led the service, appearing before an enlarged reproduction of a Marc Chagall work that served as the backdrop to the bimah.

Also appearing were businessman, film producer and philanthropist Steve Tisch; harpist Corky Hale, who performed “Over the Rainbow” with cellist Michael Fitzpatrick; Judea Pearl, father of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl; Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles Sam Grundwerg, Yiddish performer Mike Burstyn and others.

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