Friday, November 2, 2018

Nov 3 2018 Pittsburgh Tree of Life Martyrs Memorial Comments
We Are Not Alone

Nov 3 2018 Pittsburgh Tree of Life Martyrs Memorial Comments
We Are Not Alone

I have, in my possessions, two photographs of my grandmother, Binah. One shows a well-groomed and well coiffed older woman, a look of a peaceful time.
The other is of almost the same period, but here, my grandmother’s hair is tussled, untidied, as if she were just rushing to get out. This picture bears a stamp of the Polish consulate in Vienna, and I realized that it was her photo for a visa or a passport, which she needed immediately in order to get out.

It was 80 years ago, almost to this date, that she had been attacked by frenzied mobs in the wake of Kristallnacht, the night of shattered glass, Nov 9, 1938. She was among the fortunate ones, as she was able, with my grandfather, Shmuel, to get to Switzerland and safety.

Eighty years later , a man filled with hate for Jews, attacked the peaceful worshippers at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Images of Kristallnacht pop into our mind.

Of course, we are deeply, deeply worried. There is the blatant attack, such as transpired last week. We Jews are still the largest target for hate-crimes against any religious group. There is also a subtle anti-Semitism, whereby the New York Times this week admitted that it has intentionally down played attacks on Jews because the attackers didn’t match any one’s preferred profile for hater. 
There is a subtle anti-Semitism when Columbia University sends an email to the students denouncing the attack yet fails to mention that this was specifically an attack on Jews! 
A Louis Farrakhan can bait us with calls of “ termites” and worse,  and  be a guest of honor at Aretha Franklin’s funeral.

However, it is also, also vital to be aware of the differences of then and now.

Then, we had a President who suppressed reports of the mass killings of Jews because he was afraid that the American public would not support the war effort if they thought they were saving Jews.

Today, we have a President, who, no matter our opinion of him, must surely have been thinking of his own Jewish grandchildren when he laid the wreath at the synagogue this week. The killer, after all, had accused the President of being a tool of the Jews.

Then, a Father Coughlin could draw 30 million avid listeners to his radio show, and spew his claim that Jews were behind Communism and its barbarities.

Today, we have a Catholic Church that speaks openly of its “ Jewish heritage” and has declared that  God never gave up on his covenant with the Jews. The same attitude has shaped Protestant Churches, especially in that wing, the Evangelical wing, with which we have so many differences.

So yes, we have friends among the white, Protestant and Catholic public, far more than we have enemies. We have friends , far more , among African-Americans, than we have enemies.We have friends, far more , among Latinos, than we have enemies.

Yes, even among American Muslims, we have many friends, because the Muslim community here is not the community of Malaysia, for example, whose distinguished past president espoused much the same drivel as the Pittsburgh murderer. The America Muslim community is different. We have friends.

 It is vital then, for us, to continue to forge our bonds with our fellow Americans, of all ethnic origins, and all faiths, and of both parties.

It is so significant, therefore, that we have come together, Jews of Ashkenazi and American roots, and Jews who have fled here to escape persecution in Iran, together as Americans, with our friends of all backgrounds who joined with the Jewish  community this weekend. Here, we shall, to borrow Ben Franklin’s words, all hang together, or be hanged separately.

We have sweated blood and tears in this country to get where we have gotten. We will not allow the failures and dregs of society to rob us of our dignity and our pride. We work together with our all Americans for a society that can enable us to fulfill our dreams in amity and fellowship.


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Are We Still Your People?

Are We Still Your People? Yom Kippur Yizkor 2018

I am going to dedicate my sermon tonight to a lesson in a Hebrew word, but to get to it, I am going to tell you some curious tales about my previous community, in Whittier, California and the first Jewish settlers in Whittier just after World War II.
Before then, it turns out that the only Jew of note to have set foot in Whittier was Albert Einstein, who had visited Whittier College. Eventually, it became the Jewish Beverly Hills of Eastern LA County  and now, by the way, Whittier is, according to the LA Times, the Hispanic Beverly Hills.
But back to  WWII. Young Jews, fresh from military service began to settle in that region. These young people had very little Jewish background  but they knew they needed to have a community of their own in a Quaker–Anglo town.
Well, how do you find Jews in such a Jewish wilderness? One of the first members was the local bus driver. Whenever someone would get up on the bus, he would begin whistling Hatikvah. If the passenger would look up at him, he would immediately invite him or her to join the new community.
This now takes me closer to my point, about the lesson in Hebrew that I said I was giving tonight.
It is another lesson in how we find each other.
I want to take us to the other side of the world, to Europe, about the same time as my story of Whittier.   Keep in mind that, Europe, in the aftermath of World War II ,was a mess, with some 31 million refugees that had to be resettled.  Jews were prominent among those wandering masses, Jews  wandering, from , country to country, village to village, camp to camp The British, in particular, put up obstacles to block the mass flow of Jewish survivors, lest they slip through the British blockade and get to Palestine.  Remember also that pogroms and murder continued against Jews after the cannons fell silent. Jews had to evade the border guards and also, keep evade the locals who thought they needed to finish what Hitler couldn’t.
Yet they needed to find a way to reveal themselves to one another.
My father told me that there was a code word the survivors used. One would see someone who looked Jewish, and he would whisper "Amcha?” If the other one would respond "Amcha!", then each knew who the other was, and they could let their guard down.
Amcha-- How many know the word?
It is a word for the common man in Hebrew and Yiddish. We distinguish die sheine loit—the beautiful people, high society, from amcha-just plain folk. It's not a matter of money, but of style—the Kennedy family, for example, are sheine loit, for example, but most celebrities, though they may have money, are Amcha-ordinary people. That is the figurative meaning.
The literal meaning though, is Am- Cha-Your people. Am is people, the cha at the end—your. Just who does this Am, this people, belong to? Who is the “ your” referring to?
During this High Holy Day season we have repeated, over and again, the 13 attributes of God. Adonay… el rachum v chanun. , The 13 attributes emphasize God as merciful, and this declaration of God’s attributes, what we may call the only definition of God the Torah gives us, is taken from the story of the Golden Calf.
When the children of Israel make the Golden Calf, God is at first incensed. He calls to Moses: “Your people whom you took out of Egypt.”
Here’s that word, Amcha-Your people.”
Here, Moses responds with great Hutzpah, and turns the tables on God, using God’s very words against him.
“Why are you angry at your people whom you took out of Egypt?"
Here is the point.  Whose people are we--amcha- “Your people”, “Moses’ people” or “your people”, God's people?
The parallel, suggested our Rabbi's is in a tale of a king of who had a vineyard run by his tenant. When ever it would be a good vintage year, the king would boast," My wine is great." When it was a bad vintage year, he complained to the tenant—“Your wine is bad!” To this the tenant retorted," Listen, King--good or bad-- it's still your wine!”
Anyone who has ever been a parent knows this--between a father and mother, when the child is good, the father and mother each say, ‘my child"; when the child is bad, each says "Your child."
Moses was making it very clear," God, you took them out of Egypt-they are your people--Good or bad--they're your people."
That is the essence of this idea of Amcha--we Jews may be good, or, very often, we are not good. But good or bad, we remain God's people, won by freedom from slavery in Egypt, and again, by commitment, at Sinai. Good or bad--we are part of that covenant.
That is Amcha.  Amcha yisrael. Your people, Israel. It is a reminder, that as long as we remain part of the covenant, a part of Klal Yisrael—the entity of Israel, the community of the Jewish people-that there is hope for us.
You know that our worship is all in the plural, the communal “We”. We did, we ask, we seek. It is “Our father, our King,” “Our”, not “my”, and we confess to sins, “We have sinned, we have betrayed”; not “ you have sinned” nor “ I have sinned”.
We drown or float together. That is Amcha.
But are we still “Amcha”?  Do our young Jews in America feel bound and responsible for each other? I bring up this thought of Amcha because we have great questions as to whether we are still this “Amcha”-Your People. Are we still a people, or are we falling apart.
A few years ago, the poll Pew reported that 94% of American Jews were proud to be Jews. Big deal !.
  There are no barriers to our achievements, there are no quotas, no obligation to go to the baptismal font to get ahead, no need for that obsession to get ahead in business or academics, full steam ahead. No longer.
But what does it mean in terms of commitment? Of getting off of one’s duff to do something about it.
We all know that America’s Jews are the most secular population in this country; we have been so for many generations, yet something has still pulled us together. We just don’t know what it is anymore.
  We have a sense of a younger generation that no longer feels it shares in the fate of our fellow Jews. Life is good.
So, we have this scene at the graduation this summer, in which a great writer, Michael Chabon, is invited to Hebrew Union College to be the commencement speaker. We all love great speakers, especially one who makes the New York Times best-seller list. So he speaks to the future leaders of American Jewry, and in essence, tells them that he no longer identifies with the story of the Exodus from Egypt, no longer can sit through a Passover seder, no matter how modernized, and that we should no longer try to be different from anyone else. In short, in order to survive, we should all become his kind of intellectual, and be like everyone else- everyone else in his particular crowd of intellectuals.
It’s not new. Heine, the greatest writer of Germany, a baptized Jew, Heine said of Judaism, in one of his bitter days, “Judaism is not a religion, but a misfortune.” But, at least Heine, the Baptized Jew, went on to defend his Jewish people.
The intellectual father of communism, Karl Marx, went much further. “What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money”, “In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.”
So, following ancient Heine and Marx, and modern Chabon- after the turmoil of the past two centuries, after pogroms, and the Holocaust-- and after all, Israel is not a perfect State and the Europeans and the BDS ‘ers are angry with us, and the LA Times doesn’t want to consider denying the Jewish people alone a kind of hate-speech, so after all, maybe, maybe we throw in the towel. No longer,”Amcha”, no longer “ Your people”-not God’s people, not my people. Not a people. Period.
[LA Times in September published an official editorial defending the right to pursue BDS against Israel, and against applying anti-Zionism as a form of hate speech on campus. This paper would never have given such consideration to a right to protect old South Africa from accusations of apartheid, for example.]
And then, and then- the ever-dying Jewish people, always written off as a “ Vanishing people”, written off by the Romans, by Christianity, by Islam, by National Socialism, by Marxism, by wealth and prosperity and its temptations, nevertheless, we are still here. Never vanished, never vanquished.
Something pulls at our heart-strings and brings us together at this sacred season, something reminds us that, in some way, as diluted and watered down as it maybe, we are still,” Amcha”, still one people, still God’s people, however, we may choose to enact that idea and express it in ourselves.
I want to go back to the story of the gold Calf, and to the core verse” adonay, adonay, el rachum”  that is repeated so many times this season. Our version of the verse is not the version that Moses heard.
Moses heard. Moses heard a longer version, which continues “nakeh loyenakeh" will not clear the guilty but will visit the sins of the fathers unto the children unto the third and fourth generation.” This version was erased from our prayer books.
Our Rabbis erased God's words. They removed almost all of that sentence and stopped at the word, "Nakeh"--God will acquit. Period. End of statement.

Our Rabbis defined the Torah for us as a book of hope and in the spirit of that understanding they deliberately edited the Torah in the sprit of the Torah. Again, they were speaking to us, to the Amcha, the people. However far we may stray, no matter what may have been done before, no matter what our parents or grandparents may have done, we will find an open door leading back in. Remember then, that our religion is a religion of hope, that it is the hope for an ultimate universal redemption that stands behind the personal redemption we each seek at the this season. We have never lost that hope, that Hatikvah, for ourselves, for our people, for humankind.
There is then this final thought for us tonight, as we remind ourselves that we are Amcha, your people, O God. We haven’t left you; we haven’t left each other; we haven’t left ourselves.
I want to conclude with a prayer and a melody that tie in now to this day. .
In the Nazi ghettoes, as our fellow Jews faced a threat they had never before faced, one ancient prayer gained new relevance
This is the text of the prayer:
שומר ישראל. שמר שארית ישראל. ואל יאבד ישראל. האומרים שמע ישראל:

Guardian of the people Israel, guard the remnant of Israel, and let not Israel perish, those who say, Shma Yisrael.

I am going to chant it, in the chant that was sung by those Jews in the ghettos and camps. If you know it, join with me:

שומר ישראל. שמר שארית ישראל. ואל יאבד ישראל. האומרים שמע ישראל:

Guardian of the people Israel, guard the remnant of Israel, and let not Israel perish, those who say, Shma Yisrael.

May this year, be one in which we take our place among amcha yisrael, your people Israel, wholeheartedly. Dear Guradian of Israel, we are still  you people, Amcha—you watch out for us, and we will watch out for you. Amen

Sunday, September 16, 2018

What do you see?

High Holy Rosh Day 1  2018  Rabbi Norbert Weinberg

What do you see?

            If any of you checked our Facebook page or gotten one of our emails, you would have seen an interesting line, “Call in 5779 with History-and Her story.” I will be humble. The credit goes to our Cantor, Stacey Morse, who decided, correctly, that our mothers were players in the big game of Judaism, not just the fathers.
            What may seem as an attempt to show that we are hip and relevant, or flip and irreverent, is actually germane to this season. It is not some attempt to force gender-equality on us from some contemporary ideology de jour. Not man-splaining it. It is integral to this very holiday season.
            We speak in terms of “Yom HaDin”, Day of Judgement, and the image of God as judge, as king, as father, all male, harsh, and cold images. We think of an Abraham, taking his son, unemotionally, up on the altar, the abstract ideologue, so wrapped in his vision, that all else fades away.
            But this is only one half of the story.
            Every element in this season is associated with Atonement, Kippurim, achieving forgiveness, Slichah, and even more so, with a plea for Rachamim. Rachamim, Mercy, or compassionate love, comes from the word, “Rechem”- the womb, the uterus, that part of the woman, as mother, as giver of life, as nurturer.
            Hence, our Torah reading of the first day deals, first, with God remembering Sarah, as he promised. It follows with the tension between two mothers, Sarah and Hagar, as to which son, Isaac or Ishmael, is to be the heir to the message of Abraham. The Haftarah focus on the anguish of Hannah, who is the love object of her husband, yet feels unfulfilled as she is barren, childless. Tomorrow, our Haftarah reading depicts a despondent mother, Rachel, moaning as she sees her children led off to slavery in a distant land. It is the Holy One who now breaks down at Rachel’s tears and declare that the Israel is his own ben yakir li”, my dear son,’yeled sha’shuim”, the child whom he has indulged and spoiled. In the Torah reading of the second Day, too, Sarah is present by her absence. The classical Jewish mother. The Midrash says that as she hears of Abraham hauling Isaac up the mountain, she dies of heartbreak. How do we know? Because in the very next paragraph, Sarah is dead. Father is abstract; mother is all too much there.
            So, this is very much a herstory, not a history.
            At this point, I am going to pivot my focus on to one mother, the one who seems to be neglected, passed over by history, in our version, a least, Hagar. Truth be told, she is central to today’s reading. She is central because in her character, we learn about seeing and sight. We understand that she is blinded by her misery and pain. In story number two, Sarah dies; in this story, Hagar is immobilized and can not see her son’s salvation.
            Sight and its counterpart, blindness, are as much a matter of our insight and outlook as it is a matter of photons striking the rods and cones in our retina.
            Blind people who can see, while sighted people are visionless, is a popular theme for many a writer.
            Many years back, there was a play and a movie; called Butterflies are Free, the story of a young man, blind from birth.
            His mother reminds him of the children's tales she composed of "Little Donny Dark" with his slogan" There are none as blind as those who will not see". While the line may sound trite and commonplace, it rings too true for us all--there are those who have no eyesight, yet know very well where they are going, and others, with 20/20 vision, who are constantly walking in to walls.
            For Rosh Hashanah, for a time in which we are to look inside ourselves, it is appropriate that our Torah reading of both days deals with being able and ready to see. 
            The first days reading deals with mother Hagar, abandoned in the desert, outcast, with her son Ishmael, who is dying of thirst. She has given up all hope, steps back at the distance of a bow’s shot because, “I cannot look at the death of my child.” God hears the child’s cry, an angel asks, typical Jewish fashion, a question, “Mah Lach Hagar?” Literally, “What’s it for you”, a kind ironic surprise, to say,” What are you worried about, what’s the matter.”Then”Al tiri”-Don’t be afraid!
            Just then, our reading says:    
 Vayifkah eyeneha-God opened her eyes and “hiney”-behold there is a well.
            Where did this well come from so mysteriously? Our Rabbis never liked the idea of miraculously appearing wells. “Hiney”-It’s here. !
            Our commentaries suggest that the well had been there all along. In her anguish, Hagar had been blind to the solution, to the well of water next to her. By putting fear aside, she was able to see what was there, all along. Water, life, and a future for her child and his progeny.
            On the second day, we read of Abraham and Isaac. This is a parallel with the Ishmael account, only here, Isaac is in danger. We know nothing of Abraham’s emotions. That is common in Biblical story-telling, and he is, unlike the mother, the macho, the stoic—doesn’t show anything. But here, too, we realize that he is blind, for we are told, with the same word as used in the story of the well, " vayar vehiney ayil aher"-Abraham sees and ,”hinei,behold there is another ram, "a ram to offer instead of his son. Did the ram just mysteriously appear?  Rather, it was there because Abraham was no longer blinded by his zeal, ready to recognize that his loyalty to God did not require the sacrifice of his beloved Isaac. Appropriately, the site is then called: Adonay Yireh"-God sees."
            So, we learn form our mothers, and from our fathers.
            Sight, ordinary eyesight, as we sense it, depends  as much on what our mind creates as what our eyes see. This is one of the classic givens of psychology.
             Sight itself is just a mass of information- light in its different frequencies strikes the retina, hits the rods and cones, and provides stimulation to the optic nerve. It is the mind which comprehends these as light and dark, colors, shapes-- it is our mind which then coordinates and interprets to produce vision.  This is true for physical vision. it also holds true for emotional and spiritual vision.
            In truth, people who are physically blind can often be aware of sights that most, with good eyesight, are blind to.
            "Better blind of eye than blind of heart (Midrash Ahikar 2.48) is how the Midrash phrased it, or" Not the eye but the heart is blind,” in the words of the poet, ibn Gabirol (Mivhar Hapninim).
             Helen Keller, deaf and blind from the age of two, who established so much of the principals used today in making the blind self-sufficient, once claimed:
            "I have walked with people whose eyes are full of light, but who see nothing in woods, sea or sky, nothing in the city street, nothing in books. What a witless masquerade is this seeing:
            It were better far to sail forever/
            In the night of blindness/
            With sense and feeling and mind
            Than to be thus content with the mere act of seeing.
They have the sunset, the morning skies, the purple of distant hills, yet their souls voyage through this enchanted world with nothing but a barren stare."
                        Hagar, lost in the wilderness, was blind to a simple well; with words of hope, she could see what was there all along. Abraham, a man of vision, could see that his ultimate sacrifice did not include his own beloved son.
             We too, like them, need to open our eyes constantly both to our physical world and to our immediate personal world. We can find a paradise or we can be blinded and find a hell--or worse--- a boredom.
             Being able to see the spiritual, the healing, the noble and the sacred is a special gift in itself. Our very religion is based on the readiness to see what others have missed. It is Moses who goes into the desert to discover the burning bush, and this is how the poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning described the experience:

            Earth's crammed with heaven
            / And every common bush afire with God/
            But only he who sees, takes off his shoes/
             The rest sit around and pluck blackberries."
            This thought was echoed by the quintessential American philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, who put it this way," If we meet no gods, it is because we harbor none. If there is grandeur in you, you will find grandeur in porters and sweeps."
            Two centuries ago, the English mystic and poet, William Blake warned against a world taken over by the cold force of reason and the wheels of industry--He presaged a world of guillotine, gas chamber and gulag. He called for a return to vision, in his words:
            To see a world in a grain of sand/
And a heaven in a wild flower/
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand/
And eternity in an hour.
             The very essence of the Jewish people, our ability to exist for so many centuries, is precisely because we, as a people, as a sacred community, followed in this pattern of being willing to open our eyes to visions of the sacred.
            An ancient Midrash describes Abraham our ancestor having a vision of a castle glowing with shimmering lights. A voice comes from heaven and tells him," Can there be such a glowing, shining castle without the Lord of the castle." Thus, it is said, he saw the sanctity and holiness in the world, and recognized the existence of a divine source of this sanctity.
            There are those of us who go through life seeing the flames of divinity in every wall and corner. There rest of us see and hear nothing, only pitch black.      
            On  this Rosh Hashanah day, we need to learn, both from our mothers and our fathers, may we open our eyes like Hagar and see the wells of sustenance, may we open our eyes like Abraham and find our offerings of thanksgiving, may we see infinity and eternity, may we find cheyn vahesed- Grace and favor-- in the eyes of God and our fellow man and woman. Amen.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Chai Times- High Holy Days Edition

August - October 2018.  Vol 6, Issue 2

High Holy Days Edition

Days of Awe

Join us for High Holy Days at Hollywood Temple Beth El.

Be part of a truly inclusive, participatory and tremendously welcoming community
Advance reservation required for security purposes at
For more information: 323-656-3150


Sunday, September 9th 2018
7:00 PM

Monday, September 10th 2018
9:00 AM

Tuesday, September 11th 2018
9:00 AM

Tuesday, September 18th 2018
7:00 PM

Wednesday, September 19th 2018
9:00 AM

Sunday, September 23rd  2018
7:00 PM

Yamim Noraim  ימים נוראים  HIGH HOLY DAYS

Messages from  Rabbi Weinberg
Message from Rabbi Rosenberg
Meet our Hazzan Stacey Morse
Membership Prices
A Spiritual Boot Camp for the High Holy Days and Beyond with noted speaker and author-Gilla Nissan
Sova Appeal

Message Rabbi Norbert Weinberg

We will soon converge at our synagogue to mark Rosh Hashanah, the New Year of 5779. The year going out has been hard and trying on us as a nation and we ask what has happened to our ideals and to our sense of common cause. Of course, as Jews, we also know that “ Ain Chadash Tachat Hashemesh”-There is nothing new under the sun, or, in common parlance,” Been there; done that.”.

According to an ancient tradition, on Rosh Hashanah God created humanity and in so doing, completed the action of Creation.

Do not imagine that it was an easy thing to create the first Adam. Do not imagine That the heavens were pleased with the whole process. Thus it is said that when God was about to create the first Adam, the angels in heaven were in an uproar.
All had been in harmony, and all has been in accord with God --up until he said, "Let us make Adam~Humanity." At this moment, dissension entered the universe.

One school demanded ,'Don't do it' and the other demanded ," Do it.
Lovingkindness said " Create him for he will be a kind and loving being.
Justice said " Create him, for he shall do justice."
Peace said," Don't create him, for he is only strife and contention."
What did God do? He threw truth to the ground ! God turned to the angels and said, " Stop your arguing!  Naasah Adam., Adam has already been created."

What a controversial creature we be that the angels in heaven themselves must disagree and that peace is ignored and the truth itself is thrown to the ground in order to make way for the human being.

In this Midrash, our Sages must have known that some two millennia after they taught, we would still be caught up in our strife and our lies, personal and public.  They understood that God must have known full well what a “brave new world” he created “that had such people in it.”

If we understand that God saw full well what his creature could do, we can also understand God’s belief in the potential of his creation, that we could lift ourselves above our strife and contention and carry out acts of lovingkindness and peace. It is that Divine faith in our potential and capability that brings us together, under one roof, in this Bet Knesset, House of Gathering. This year, we will gather ourselves, our thoughts, hopes, and aspirations together and usher in a much better 5779.


Message From Rabbi Steven Rosenberg

It’s a Wonderful New Year in the Neighborhood

 Fifty years ago, Fred Rogers had a simple but important mission: To find a way to convey positive messages to children about who they are and that their feelings matter.  Here are some of his words:
 “Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like “struggle.” To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”

“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of.”
 There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”
 “One of the greatest dignities of humankind is that each successive generation is invested in the welfare of each new generation.”
 “Forgiveness is a strange thing. It can sometimes be easier to forgive our enemies than our friends.”
 “It can be hardest of all to forgive people we love.”
 “Like all of life’s important coping skills, the ability to forgive and the capacity to let go of resentments most likely take root very early in our lives.”
 “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Rogers, an ordained minister, saw the new medium of   Television as an amazing tool to bring these important values to children.

So why is a rabbi talking about Mister Rogers during the High Holy Days? Because his messages were also deeply Jewish ones.

Roger’s most famous message, “I like you just the way you are,” is succinct, powerful and such an important message for today: Accept people where they are. Accept them for what they are and like them for who they are, not what you want them to be.

The Jewish tradition teaches us to “love your neighbor as yourself.” It goes without saying that in order to fulfill this commandment, we must also love ourselves first. In other words, we need to like ourselves just the way we are as well.

As our community grows together at Hollywood Temple Beth El, we would be well served to learn from Mister Rogers wise words and heartfelt thoughts:
"As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has--or ever will have--something inside that is unique to all time. It's our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression."

 That is what a community does at its best. Each day we should encourage each other to be the best “you.” To accept, honor and love our each other just for being themselves, with the simple words, you are welcome here and you matter just by you being you!

As this New Year approaches, let us all learn Fred Rogers’ wonderful and important words of acceptance, love, community and human dignity. Let us go forward with the understanding that the only way to build a healthy and long-lasting community are built upon the values of compassion, caring and mutual respect.

If Mister Rogers was here with us today, I am sure he would say, “You make our community special by just being you.”

I wish you and your family a sweet, happy and healthy new year.

L’Shanah Tovah,
Rabbi Steven Rosenberg
Director of Outreach and Engagement
Welcome to our Family

Hazzan Stacey Morse

Born of a brilliant hippie Democrat and a Republican “McGyver,” our new hazzan lives for harmony – in all forms.

Her family drove from New York, harmonizing all the way ... when Stacey was a toddler. Her Hebrew name, Shira, means Song. Her family’s havurah created the only synagogue in Manhattan Beach.

Our new sheliach tzibbur (messenger of the congregation) has led services and life-cycle events throughout the country, internationally, and on the high seas. Stacey even led services for our armed forces by invitation. She has created and led healing services and drum circles, harmonized for an R&B label, and been blessed to sing with Cantors Phil Baron, Ilan Davidson and Hershel Fox.

She is honored to be with HTBEL, and looks forward to davening with Rabbi Rosenberg and Rabbi Weinberg, in both the Ashkenazic and Sephardic traditions.
Stacey attended Brandeis University, CSUDH, and the Academy of Jewish Religion, studying privately with Cantor William Sharlin (z”l). (También habla y entiende el español, pero es una historia muy larga!) After receiving her Masters, Stacey taught English grammar, religion, and Hebrew to children and adults.

She has also written and edited calendars, newspapers, magazines, and even a physics journal at UCLA. She may also hold the record for the oddest jobs held while working on her theses.

Like the rest of the Morse family, Stacey has sailed and ridden motorcycles her whole life. She is a member of the Renaissance Faire, and a member of her local C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team). Most of all, she loves to hear the congregation harmonize with her.
 Come make a joyful music with Stacey Morse

For a whole month before Rosh Hashanah, we begin to build up to what is intended as the greatest communal and individual meet-up with the Eternal and Infinite.  
That month is known as “ Elul”, which is seen as an acronym for “ Ani- Ledodi V’dodi Li” ( I am for my beloved and my beloved us for me, from The Song of Songs).  We mark that season with a special Psalm and the Shofar is blown  at every weekday morning service.
Sephardic Jews go a step further, with extra prayers, Slichot, recited every day, at the crack of dawn; Ashkenazic Jews tend to take it easier, and begin the Slichot only on the Saturday night,  a week before Rosh Hashanah.
To help us get in the  mood, every Shabbat leading up to Rosh Hashanah will be dedicated to a different theme of the season. Services begin at 9:45 AM.Discussion at 11:45 AM.
Join us for Nosh and Drosh at 1 PM on Shabbat
August 11—Rosh Hashanah- The Beginning of the Year.  Where does this come from?  Why isn’t it in the Torah? What is in the Torah? What do our great sources tell us about this season
August 18—Return- Teshuvah.   Are we in charge of our fate? Is it in the cards? Is it in our DNA? A look at Jewish sources.
August 25— Music and the Holidays - Those tones that hit a primal inner-self.  The Rosh Hashanah Leitmotif and other melodies, Featuring Hazzan Stacey Morse.  Learn the melodies of the service
September 1- The poetry of the Mahzor.  What is in this magic prayerbook that we read  and do not comprehend?

 Memorial Plaque Appeal

Over the years and generations your loved ones names have been inscribed in our Temple’s Memorial Plaques.  We honour their life, love and commitment to our synagogue.

Your  help  is needed to maintain the memorial  plaques for your loved ones. To continue our service of honor to you and your loved ones, we ask for a yearly donation of $18.00 per plaque.
 For your donation HTBE will ensure
  • the inclusion of your loved one’s name in our Memorial Book for Yizkor prayer
  • turning on of yahrzeit lights for your loved one
  • turning on of lights for your loved one at all Yizkor services
  • any necessary repair and maintenance of your loved ones’ plaques
  • email or US post reminders to you of the yahrzeit of your loved one
We thank you for your continued support of Hollywood Temple Beth El.  We welcome and greatly appreciate your generosity and ask anyone who is able, to give beyond the measure stated here.


Book of Remembrance / Memorial Book

 Honour the memories of loved ones

It is the tradition of HTBE to publish our High Holy Days Remembrance and Memorial Book as a loving reminder of those we held close.  This book offers a source of comfort to those of us who grieve and   honors the life and memory of our loved ones.  It includes the names of those who remember, the ones being honored as well as the special prayers and meditations for use when observing Yahrzeit.
Prayers and meditations are written in Hebrew, English and Russian.
 Names are not automatically renewed.  To include your loved ones please submit the names of your loved ones as shown below.

Suggested Donation:  $18.00 per name
 PLEASE PRINT NAMES CLEARLY        Deadline:  September 1 2018
 Remembered By:                                  Name of loved one.                     Relationship to you

Support your community.  Become a member

High Holy Days Tickets and Membership Fees and Dues

Active Military and First Responders Free to all Services.
Please contact the office for ticket.

We strongly encourage members and guest to use a ride share service where possible

☐  Membership: One Adult Household  with children under 21- $300
Includes 1 High Holy Days tickets and Parking for High Holy Days.

☐  Membership: Two Adult Household with children under 21- $600
Includes 2 High Holy Days tickets and Parking for High Holy Days

☐  Membership: Individual Membership -  $200
Includes 1 High Holy Days tickets and Parking for High Holy Days

☐  Membership: Students- $75
Includes 1 High Holy Days tickets  -  NO Parking

☐  General Admission for High Holy Days Services only -$100.00
Includes 1 High Holy Days tickets  -  NO Parking

☐  General Admission for High Holy Days Services only - $175.
 Includes 1 High Holy Days tickets  and Parking for High Holy Days

 Book of Remembrance -  $18.00 per name
 Memorial Plaque Maintenance Donation  -  $18.00 per Name
 New Memorial Plaque - $500.00
 Sisterhood -  Membership $36.00
 Sponsor a High Holy Days Machzor* – (Minimum  Donation $36.00)
          My Donation Amount: $
Sponsor or Honouree’s name will be entered in High Holy Days Machzor

Special High Holy Days Honors

Rosh Hashana  Day 1:
  1. Cohen (Honouree Must be a Cohen.)$175.00
  2. Levi(Honouree Must be a Levi.)$175.00
  3. – 5                  125.00
Maftir            125.00
Haftarah       125.00

Yom Kippur:
  1. Cohen (Honouree Must be a Cohen.)$175.00
  2. Levi (Honouree Must be a Levi.)$2175.00
  3. – 6                  $125.00
Ark Openings/Closing -  $72
Rosh Hashana Day 1  or  Yom Kippur
                    Avinu Malkenu
                    Start of  Torah Service
                    End of Torah Service
Musaf Amidah
Aleynu (in the Amidah)

Kol Nidre       Ark Opening/Closing - $100

Hagbah 1 & 2 -  $72
Rosh Hashana Day 1  or  Yom Kippur

Gelilah 1 & 2  -  $72
Rosh Hashana Day 1  or  Yom Kippur

Annual Giving

In this coming year we appeal for your generosity in giving.  Your commitment is valued and greatly appreciated.
Donations maybe made in single lump sum or on a monthly plan.  If you are able, please consider donating at a level show below.
 Community Builder  -  $18 - $150
Listing in our recognition  booklet
High Holy Day Honour – To be determined
 Friends Circle  - $151 - $500
Carry a Torah on Kol Nidre
Above plus invitation to special appreciation event
Special HTB Donor “T” Shirt
Deborah  Society
 Leaders Nevi’im -  $501 -$3000
Above plus Invitation to special  Leaders Society  appreciation event
1 copy of High Holy Days Machzor signed by Rabbis Weinberg and Rosenberg
Dinner with the Clergy
Aliyah on High Holy Days
Benefactors  Society
 Builders Bonim -  $3001 and above
Above plus Invitation to special  Leaders Society  appreciation event
Dinner with the Clergy
Family Household High Holy Days tickets
Aliyah on Rosh Hashana Day 1 and Yom Kippur
A Spiritual Boot Camp for the High Holy Days and Beyond 
with noted speaker and author-Gilla Nissan 
 “The best way to get rid of darkness is simply to add light”( Rabbi A Steinsaltz)
A Course in Signs & Wonders -  Featuring Noted speaker and author-Gilla Nissan
With added guest appearance by vocalist Catherine Braslavsky, noted teacher of the “Return of the Sacred Voice”
Thursdays evenings, 7:30 -8:30 PM, begins August 9.
Special: 1st Session Free. Pay only if you decide to continue.
Discover your true roots and identity through the Hebrew Letters of your name with Kabalistic views on Torah and the coming New Year of 5778. What does it mean for you to be in the “Here and Now” as a Jew, with insights from the teachings of Kabbalah. This is a rare opportunity to develop practices and expand consciousness via meditation, visualization and learning to explore our inner “Neshamah”, our inner essence.

Centuries before Freud and Jung, or Dr. Phil, the wise scholars of the Kabbalah served as the first healers of the soul. Their wisdom and insights can help us build ourselves up today as well.

Gilla Nissan, author of The Hebrew Alphabet: A Universal Guide with Signs and Wonders, brings the techniques of Gurdjieff together with the teachings of Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man, through the insights of Jewish mystic wisdom, to lead us to a higher plane with meditation, visualization and guided imagery.

Series 1: Five sessions, running Thursdays, August 9-Sept 67:00-8:30PM. The month of introspection leading to the elevation of the High Holy Days. Opening session, Thursday, August 9, will feature Catherine Braslavsky on the musical sound of Alef, the silent letter.

Series 2: Five sessions. Thursdays, Sept. 20 through Oct 18 .The season of our rejoicing and reflections on the theme of happiness and joy that is the focus of Sukkoth
For more information on Gilla Nissan:
For a sample of Catherine Braslvasky’s chanting a Ladino melody:
Registration for each series is through
Fee for each series is $60 for five sessions. Minimum- Ten registrants for each series. Please call 323-656-3150 to register 


You may fully or partially sponsor an event!  All donations are welcome.   We want to keep and expand our services.  Please take part in keeping HTBE moving forward! 


HTBE Joins with  Jewish Family Services in our  ANNUAL SOVA DRIVE 

Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles { SOVA depends on your donations to meet the ongoing hunger crisis in our community. Donations directly benefit the nearly 12,000 people who visit our three pantries each month – people of all ages, races and religions. Please be as generous as you can be – the need has never been greater. Listed below are our greatest needs.

Peanut Butter, Canned Tuna/Fish, Rice, Canned Meats, Canned or Dry Soup,  Whole Grain Cereal, (beef stew, chili w/meat, chicken etc.)

We also welcome other non-perishable foods, personal hygiene items and children’s books including:
Dry Beans, Dry Pasta, Dry Milk, 100% Juice, Oatmeal, Tomato Sauce , Canned Beans, Canned Vegetables,
Canned Fruit, Canned Pasta, Cooking Oil, Kosher Foods, Diapers/Wipes, Soap, Shampoo/Conditioner, Deodorant, Toothpaste, Toothbrushes
Please avoid expired, opened or perishable foods.
For more information, please visit   Or call Kathi Dawidowicz at (818) 988-7682 ext. 120.