When the High Holy Days arrive in just a couple of weeks, the prayers, translations, meditations and poetry found in Mishkan HaNefesh, our new machzor (High Holy Day prayer book), will encourage us to consider the themes of the Holy Days personally, in the context of our day. It is, as the editors continue to say, a machzor for our generation. It is not too late to order your copy here! Gates of Repentance, the red-covered machzor that many of us have tucked away on our home library shelves, served this same purpose for our Reform movement for nearly two generations %u2013 since 1978, when it was published.
Our marketing committee, led by Dave Dreyer and Evan Green, have developed a theme for the High Holy Days of NEW YEAR, NEW MENORAH. Our marketing committee is doing some amazing work in branding, PR, and communications. They%u2019re overflowing with ideas for building a stronger community at Temple Menorah. Perhaps, you%u2019ve seen some of their branding, literature, or flyers featuring this new theme. By now you%u2019ve probably seen this line used in our High Holy Day materials, and on the King Harbor sign.
Readying for the High Holy Days: The Hineini [ 09/14/17 ]
When we step up to Rosh Hashana, we are saying that we are ready to be present, to look at ourselves and take an accounting of our lives, our deeds in the past year, and vow to do better in the coming one. We are saying
With an understanding that national and world events weigh heavily on the minds of many, what follows is an excerpt from my remarks to our congregation last Friday night during our fun and uplifting Barechu and BBQ with music from Queen and The Who:
In Response to the Events in Charlottesville [ 08/17/17 ]
August 14, 2017
23 Av 5777
As happens every Shabbat, last weekend, our sanctuary was filled with the same words of Torah that were being read in Jewish communities all over the world. Here are a few of those words:
When you have eaten your fill and built fine houses to live in, and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold have increased, and everything you own has prospered, beware lest your heart grow haughty and you forget the Eternal your God, who freed you from the land of Egypt, the house of bondage.
By now, many of you have seen the Op-Ed piece in Sunday's Los Angeles Times which claims "It's Too Expensive to be Jewish." Leslee Komaiko, who wrote the piece, is a mother who, like many in our community, is busy trying to make the puzzle pieces of her family's life fit together. She has decided that it is time for her 12-year-old son to begin studying for his Bar Mitzvah and is unable to find a tutor that is, to her, affordable (If you haven't yet seen the piece, you can read it here).
Judaism and the Jewish people have long had a complicated relationship with change. On one hand, we are known as Ivrim, which colloquially means 'Hebrews.' More technically, though, it means 'the ones who cross over.' Since Abraham, the first Ivri, we have been a people well acquainted with change. Our people have often crossed from one place to another, from one way of interpreting the tradition to another or from one way of integrating tradition with modernity to another. On the other hand, the rabbis of the midrash state clearly that 'kol hatchalot kashot… all beginnings are difficult.' While Judaism may provide us with language to describe our complicated relationship with change, having a hard time with it is hardly a phenomenon unique to the Jewish people.
Rekindling the Temple Menorah Flame 2020: Building a K%u2019hillah K%u2019doshah
20 years ago our congregation had over 400 members, Helen Dennis was President. I regard Helen as one of the Matriarchs of our congregation. The congregation was vibrant, dynamic, growing, energized, and financially stable. Our Tuvia pre-school program was the envy of all the other congregations in the South Bay. A large portion of our membership was in a Chavurah. 20 years later we have declined to 250 member families, we have a gap between our revenue and expenses, we lose as many members as we gain every year, we cannot meet our budget, our preschool is shrinking is size, most members refuse to refer their friends, and our congregation is slipping backwards on almost every criteria you could use to benchmark the difference between a "functional%u201D congregation and a GREAT congregation.
A Strong Pillar of Social Justice and Social Action [ 10/05/16 ]
One element of a strong congregation is one that has the values of social justice and social action deeply embedded in the fabric of their communities. As you may recall from my speech at our last Hanukkah celebration, I called for building and enhancing this core value of Judaism in our community.
Under the leadership of our Social Action Committee, chaired by Gail Rodkin, we are beginning a number of programs, activities, and speakers to raise awareness, volunteerism, and a greater participation in social justice advocacy and social action projects. My hope and vision is that we become known as the Social Justice/Action Congregation in the next few years, not only in the South Bay, but through-out the Los Angeles Area.
It takes a significant number of Shekels to keep the doors open in a Synagogue [ 07/26/17 ]
How important is fundraising in a synagogue? Who should be responsible for raising funds to support our congregation? Should congregants dread a call from the President asking for their help in giving - or should we look at those calls as an honor, privilege, and obligation? What does our giving and philanthropy say about us as a Kehillah Kedosha - a sacred community and congregation?
Reflections on my First Year as President [ 06/17/16 ]
We"re approaching the end of our Fiscal Year which runs July 1-June 30. In just a few weeks, I will have completed my first year as President.
Never did I imagine the time, energy, and commitment required to lead our Congregation as President. It"s also been one of the most rewarding, inspiring, and spiritual years of my entire life. Being a Synagogue President has propelled me along a journey of personal Jewish learning and spiritual enrichment I would have never imagined before becoming President.
Every time I reflect upon this journey over the last year, I realize how much more there is that I don"t know or understand. I can"t wait to master learning Hebrew, dig deeper into our Jewish History, study Torah more frequently with Rabbi Silver, and begin to grasp the complex job of transforming a Congregation from Good to Great. I"m a little ashamed that my Jewish learning and spiritual enrichment took a back seat to other life demands over the past 4 decades. How"s the old trite saying go, "It"s never too late."
My journey began with a heart attack last Memorial Day weekend, on a Thursday evening, the same evening the Board approved me on the slate of officers to be presented to the Congregation as President in June. I survived a heart blockage that very few survive. Among cardiologists, it"s called a "widow"s maker".
Recent Surveys - Why so Many Here at Temple Menorah [ 05/11/17 ]
We're rapidly improving the efficiency of our office staff, raising awareness about our warm and welcoming culture, and embarking upon a new phase here at Temple Menorah with a new Rabbi and a journey of re-imaging religious school and congregational education. The recent surveys are meant to find out what's important to you as we transform Temple Menorah.
I am in AWE of Rabbi Silver for his 30 Years of Service to our Congregation [ 04/26/17 ]
In the almost 25 years my family has been a member of Temple Menorah, I never gave much thought before about the tenure, staying power, contract renewals, or length of time a Rabbi stayed in their job until I became President of Temple Menorah. It%u2019s taken me two years as President of constant interaction with Rabbi Silver, phone conversations every few days, and lunch almost every week, to understand his commitment, deep love, and timeless energy for our Congregation.
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