Sunday, November 21, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a wonderful holiday. We look forward to seeing you at our exciting Chanukah events!
Learn more.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Chanukah 2010 Party!

Celebrate Chanukah with Rabbi Neal and Miri Weinberg and be part of a fun-filled evening as we experience Chanukah traditions. The festivities include eating latkes (potato pancakes), singing songs, playing dreidel games, and of course lighting the Chanukah candles. A great way to experience the holiday, meet new people and enjoy your Saturday night!

$40. per person
Register by December 1 at

Chanukah Shabbat Dinner - Friday, December 3!

Join Rabbi Neal Weinberg as he leads a special Shabbat dinner on the third night of Chanukah. For those considering Judaism and those who have embraced Judaism. Enjoy a delicious meal, experience Chanukah traditions and meet new people!

$40. per person
Register by December 1 at

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Nov. 20 Wine and Pasta Party - Havdalah Social!

Join the Judaism by Choice community for a fabulous wine and pasta party under the stars.
Rabbi Neal Weinberg will lead us in a beautiful Havdalah ceremony, culminating shabbat. Our community shares a unique bond and this will be a wonderful opportunity for us to spend time together. Have fun, eat, drink, experience Havdalah, meet new people, and enjoy your Saturday night!

Friday, November 5, 2010

PSA for the American Jewish World Service

It was done by Hollywood directing and writing phenom Judd Apatow and a passel of celebrities, celebrating the organization’s 25th anniversary.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Don't miss our Shabbat Dinner and Friday Night Live!

November 12 at Sinai Temple
$40 per person.
Register by November 9 at

"Israel 2011 - Tour of a Lifetime!" May 23 - June 1, 2011

Register today!
To learn more click here.

The Only Surviving Album of Auschwitz

This is the story of a Hungarian Jewish woman who survived Auschwitz and found a coat belonging to a guard which she took to shield her from the cold immediately after her liberation.  In the pocket of this coat she found a photo album.  It contained pictures of what went on in this extermination camp.  Imagine her reaction when she saw a picture of herself coming off of the train as well pictures of her family who were already murdered.  This album at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem was donated by this woman in 1980 and will forever be displayed there.  When you have 5 minutes of peace and quiet in front of your computer, watch it and consider passing it around to people that you know so they can share it and know about it.  It is truly moving and important.

Click here to view.

Who are the people converting to Judaism?

By Rabbi Neal Weinberg, Director and Instructor, Judaism by Choice

For 24 years I have taught thousands of students in Los Angeles the fundamentals of the Jewish religion and subsequently they have chosen to convert to Judaism and are today living productive Jewish lives.

The question I am asked many times is who are the people converting to Judaism today? I want to share my experiences with you of the different kinds of people who today are choosing to follow the Jewish religion and become part of the Jewish people.

The men and women who are converting to Judaism are black, and white, Hispanic and Asian, heterosexual and homosexual, they come from all religious backgrounds such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism,  and there are those who come from no religious background- and so people from all racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds are choosing Judaism today.

I think there are several factors to why people are choosing Judaism in the 21st century.

There are many people who were born Christian, Moslem or from other religions who no longer believe in the religions they were brought up in. They are spiritual seekers who find in Judaism a religion that they can affirm and believe in with integrity.

In the first class session of our program I tell the students that in Judaism we do not do conversions. I mention that the word, “convert,” means “to change” and that we are not going to change anybody.

The adults in my class already know what they believe in- they have a theology and they have values- and so how does one know that he or she wants to become a Jew?

I tell them that it is through the process of study that they will come to understand that Judaism affirms what they already believe in.

I find the people who want to convert to Judaism from other religions are attracted to the Jewish idea of God- a God that is beyond human comprehension, they are attracted to the values and traditions of Judaism and they want to live by the commandments in the Torah. I also find that these people are attracted to the mission of Judaism which is Tikkun Olam- healing and repairing the world. They like that Judaism is this world oriented. What are these people to do? Rather than calling themselves non-practicing and non-believing Christians, Moslems, Hindus or whatever-through conversion to Judaism they now can call themselves Jews.

Let me share with you what one of my students wrote to me about her journey toward Judaism.

She wrote: “I do not feel I am converting into another person. Rather, I feel I am choosing to make a turn, like driving down the highway that is life and changing lanes. It is still the same old me, driving the same old car, it is just that I am now going down a different road. This road is indeed very new to me, and I do not know my way around it very well yet. Before my current exploration into Judaism I was in no man’s land religion wise. I followed no rules, honored no rituals, reckoned to no spiritual authority. God was an instinct to me; a humble sense that there is something out there bigger than me. What I learned right away about Judaism is that to live a Torah life is to live a life of rules, rituals and constant tribute to the holiness around us- 613 commandments to be exact. In the Talmud it says- where people truly wish to go, there their feet will manage to take them. Jewish life is sometimes a difficult life, the Torah is a high standard to hold ourselves against, but it breathes meaning into our life and brings a sense of purpose and direction that makes the challenge worthwhile.”

Isn’t it beautiful what she has written about Judaism? I think it is wonderful that such individuals embrace Judaism and are ready to live by Jewish values and rituals and live a Jewish way of life. These new Jews by Choice are bringing into Judaism a group of religious Jews who are knowledgeable, observant and committed to Jewish life.

What kinds of people are converting to Judaism?

We have in our program many single people- men and women- individuals who are choosing to convert to Judaism on their own. These people are singles with no Jewish partner and no Jewish family connections. Many times these single people are asked by inquiring Jews whether they are converting to Judaism because they are with someone who is Jewish. This is an insult to these people to ask such a question- as if as individuals he or she could not have made this decision on their own- and it is insulting to Judaism as if there is nothing worthwhile in Judaism that would make a single person accept Judaism without some other motive. Many singles who convert to Judaism come back to our program years later with a Jewish fiancé and having met this convert, the Jewish person now becomes more religious.

The majority of students who take our classes, however, are couples- it could be a Jewish man with a Gentile woman or a Jewish woman with a Gentile man. Usually it is a Jewish man with a Gentile woman but through the years I have seen the number of Jewish women with non-Jewish men increasing. Jews are meeting non-Jews in the work place, in school and the barriers that once existed that made such relationships forbidden are no longer there. The couples who are taking our program are those who are trying to eliminate the religious differences between them. At the end of our program many of these mixed couples become Jewish couples through conversion.

There is a stereotype that many Jews have about mixed couples which we need to eliminate and that is, that a gentile who is with a Jew is converting to Judaism only because of marriage. I once read that many gentiles who want to become Jewish had considered conversion to Judaism way before they had ever met a Jew. In fact, they had chosen a Jewish partner on purpose because they wanted to find an entry way into the Jewish community. We should not look negatively upon a gentile who has chosen Judaism because he or she was influenced by the Jewish person he or she is with. In everyday life we have many influences that lead us to the direction we take in our lives and there is nothing wrong to say that the gentile at first was influenced in studying Judaism because he or she had met a Jew, but in the end, that person is choosing Judaism for themselves. In fact, sometimes I have had couples break up while in the program and the gentile person always continues on for conversion and this shows that the gentile’s interest in Judaism had nothing to do with the Jewish person at all.

Now what happens to those Gentiles who take our program who decide not to convert to Judaism? Some of the couples will agree to raise their children as Jews, even though the gentile does not convert to Judaism. If the woman is a gentile, then at the birth of the child, the child can be converted to Judaism. There are a number of graduates from our program where one spouse is gentile and the other is a Jew who are now raising their children successfully as Jews- celebrating Shabbat and Jewish holidays in their homes and providing a Jewish education for their children in the local synagogue.

I want to tell you an amazing story.

Back in the 1990’s I use to officiate at High Holiday services at a small Conservative synagogue in Tucson, Arizona. The first year I was there I stayed for the whole period between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur so I asked for a kosher home to go to for Shabbat on the intervening Friday night. The President of the synagogue told me that there was only one family in the whole congregation that kept a completely kosher home and observed Shabbat so it was set up for me to go to this family on Shabbat.

I came to their home and I was welcomed by the husband, the wife and their two teenage daughters. Never had I seen such a Jewish home! There were mezzuzot on all the doors, and Jewish art hung on the walls, and Jewish books and ritual objects were all over the home.

When Shabbat began, the wife blessed the candles so beautifully- encircling the candles with her hands. And her husband, who had a full beard and wore a kippah on his head, said the Kiddush over wine so perfectly as well as all the other prayers that followed.

In the middle of the dinner the woman told me that she was a convert to Judaism and I told her how surprised I was to hear that. I then turned to her husband, whom I could see was very traditional, and I asked him what kind of Jewish background he came from- Orthodox or Conservative?

He turned to me and smiled and said the he was not even Jewish at all! I said, “What!”

He then explained to me that he and his wife, before they had children, were two gentiles coming from Christian backgrounds who no longer believed or accepted Christianity. His wife was interested in Judaism and so he and his wife took the local conversion course in Tucson.

When the class concluded, his wife converted to Judaism, but he did not out of regard for his parents feelings. He agreed with his wife, however, that they would raise their children as Jews in a Jewish home-so they keep kosher, they celebrate Shabbat and the Jewish holidays in their home and they go to synagogue every Shabbat and for all the holidays.

That taught me a lesson that one does not necessarily have to convert to Judaism in order to raise one’s children as religious Jews.

In our program we have also had some gentile couples and whole families that have converted to Judaism. For example, I once had a couple where the man was from a Protestant background and his wife from a Catholic background. They both had abandoned their religions years before and they did not want to bring their children up as Christians since they no longer held to Christian beliefs. Through their study of Judaism they found that Judaism affirmed what they both believed in and so together they converted to Judaism with their children.

There are also many people from different races and ethnic groups who choose Judaism. In our classes we have had people from all over the world who want to convert to Judaism. I find in our program here in the Southland that among ethnic groups, that the largest group to take our program are Hispanic Jews- primarily from Mexico, Central America and South America. I believe there is a reason for this. Many of these people, and these are primarily women, are with Israelis or Persian Jewish men whom they have met downtown in the garment or jewelry business. Hispanic women meet Israelis or Persian Jewish men in the workplace and an attraction takes place. I also get sometimes women or men who believe they come from a Marrano background and want to return to their ancestor’s religion.

The next largest group is Asians- again mostly women who are with Jewish men. These women are primarily from Korea, Japan, the Philippines and China as well as American born Asians. Again, I think Jewish men are meeting these Asian women in the workplace since we have a large Asian community here in the Southland. In fact, I once got a phone call from a young Jewish man who told me his mother wanted him to marry a Jewish woman but that he liked Asians and so he asked me if I had any Asians converting to Judaism in our program that he could meet. I guess I could make a good living on the side setting up Jews with the ethnic mate of their choice!

The number of Blacks converting to Judaism is the smallest group. The Blacks who come to us who want to become Jewish identify with Jewish history and the Jewish people- that we share the experience of slavery and persecution. These Blacks do not want to be Christians or Moslems who historically were the ones who enslaved them- so they choose Judaism. It is interesting that most of the blacks who come to us are not with Jews, although a few are, but most are single people.

I am very proud of those people who have taken our program and converted to Judaism. Some have gone on to become rabbis and cantors and are active participants in their synagogues leading services, reading Torah and serving as officers in their synagogues and active in the Brotherhoods and Sisterhoods.

It is important that we be accepting of those people who have chosen Judaism and want to live as Jews.

I once officiated at a marriage for a man who converted to Judaism in our program- he was marrying a Jewish woman whose family were Holocaust survivors. This man had become very religious- he kept Shabbat and kept Kosher and attended synagogue every week- he had even gone through a full circumcision to become Jewish.

Well, after the wedding ceremony, I sat down at a table during the reception and the woman next to me said in a strong European accent- “Do you really accept that Shagetz- that Goy as a Jew?”

I was taken aback by her words and so I said to her- “Where are you from?” She answered: “I am an American”. I said- “I do detect a slight accent- where are you from originally?” She said she was from Germany.

So I said- “Oh, you are a German lady?”She protested- “No I am an American!” I asked her- “What makes you an American?”And she said- “Well, after the Second World War I came to America where I took citizenship classes and I took a test and then I went before a judge who swore me in as an American citizen.”

I said to her- “What do you think this young man did? He studied for over six months about Judaism and then he went before the rabbis of the Beth Din who questioned him and found him to be knowledgeable and observant and after immersing in the Mikveh, he received a document from the rabbis saying he had successfully converted to Judaism and was now fully part of the Jewish People.”

I said - if she could not accept him as a Jew, I could not accept her as an American. She paused a moment and then said: “Rabbi, you are right he is a Jew.”

In conclusion, I want to state that it is important that we in the Jewish community be welcoming and accepting of those people who have chosen Judaism and want to live as Jews. These new Jews have enriched our Jewish community and will help the Jewish People to grow and survive and this will greatly benefit Judaism.

Contact Rabbi Neal Weinberg at 888-539-2924. Leave a message and he will return your call. For further information about the classes or post-conversion activities of Judaism by Choice go to

Click here to download.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

November 12 - Shabbat Dinner and Friday Night Live!

Sinai Temple
$40 per person
Register by November 9 here.

Spend a Shabbat evening with JBC as Rabbi Neal Weinberg leads a traditional Shabbat dinner. Learn the basic structure of the dinner at a relaxed pace: how to make blessings over the candles, wine, washing of the hands, challah, singing Shabbat songs and the blessing after the meal. Enjoy a delicious meal, participate in discussion about issues pertaining to becoming Jewish and meet new people who have converted to Judaism or who are currently considering conversion to Judaism.
Leave the dinner feeling more confident in your ability to celebrate Shabbat every week in your home!

Monday, November 1, 2010

"Israel 2011 - Tour of a Lifetime!" May 23 - June 1, 2011

Join Rabbi Neal Weinberg and Miri Weinberg on a 10 day, first class tour specially designed for Jews by Choice and their families. Limited to 25 people. Register by January 15, 2011.

To learn more visit

New Winter Classes - Sign Up Today!

Shabbat Morning Service

Saturday, November 6.
Learn more

Join Rabbi Neal Weinberg at your neighborhood synagogue as he leads a traditional Shabbat service especially geared to those who have embraced Judaism or considering Judaism.
Learn the basic structure and meaning of the prayers at a relaxed pace. Become familiar with terms and vocabulary used during services and engage in Torah study. Use a special prayer book in Hebrew, English and English transliteration to gain familiarity with the service. Share in an open discussion about challenges you've experienced and participate in a question-and-answer session. Meet other members of your community as you share in a Shabbat Kiddush.
Leave services feeling more confident in your ability to participate!

Jewish Innovation Europe vs United States

Conventional wisdom has it that young American Jews are leading the trend toward innovation in Jewish life through entrepreneurial start-ups. There is also the widespread belief that European Jewry is on its last legs, the victim of an aging and shrinking population, and the rise of anti-Semitism, primarily from Arab Muslim immigrants.But a survey of new Jewish initiatives in Europe concludes that per capita, young Europeans are even more active than their American counterparts in these social, educational, cultural and historical ventures.
The new report by Jumpstart, a Los Angeles-based “incubator, catalyst and think tank for sustainable Jewish innovation,” found that “as much as, if not more so, than in North America, there is a European Jewish innovation ecosystem, an interconnected web of leaders and projects taking control of and responsibility for their own Jewish destinies.”
The report says that more than 200 organizations have been founded in Europe in the last decade and engage around 250,000 people of all ages, led by young people with strong Jewish education and identity.
“There is little doubt that they are the vanguard of Jewish life in Europe,” according to the report, “and will be contributing to the global revitalization of Jewish culture…both in Europe and around the world.”
It’s important for American Jews to be aware of this vitality bubbling up in Europe.
I would not have thought it possible had I not attended a program in Stockholm this summer, sponsored and hosted by  Paideia, the Swedish-based European Institute for Jewish Studies, and seen first-hand the passion and commitment among young men and women from Eastern and Western Europe striving to promote Jewish life in their communities, and beyond.
Joshua Avedon of Jumpstart called the findings “exciting and surprising,” noting the growing relationships among young people who have been involved in groups like Paideia, the ROI Community for Young Jewish Innovators and Moishe House, which identify and do programming for young Jews on an international scale. He attributed some of their successful networking to the technological age we live in today.
“It couldn’t have happened on this scale before,” he said, adding that Jumpstart and its partners, ROI and the London-based Pears Foundation, are looking for ways to support and connect these innovators with their American counterparts.
“The more likely they are to be in touch with each other,” said Avedon, “the more likely they are to thrive.”
More analysis is under way, but in the meantime, it’s good for young American Jew innovators to know they are not alone in their creative work, and to look to European colleagues for conversation and collaboration.
James Besser, The Jewish Week

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Jewish Athletes

Down in Texas, the Rangers have an All-Star second baseman who has added flavor and flair to the 2010 season, helping propel his team to the World Series for the first time in its history. And with a name like Ian Kinsler, he might just be …
Well, there’s no Star of David-shaped asterisk next to Kinsler’s name in the media guide or program. On the field he wears a cap, not a kipa.
So how can you know for sure?
Ask Shel Wallman and Ephraim Moxson, co-publishers of The Jewish Sports Review, a bimonthly publication that has made it its business to research and name the Jewish players.
Their verdict: Kinsler qualifies as an heir to Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax.
“Ian came up to the big leagues in 2006,” Wallman says. “Early in the season his uncle contacted Martin Abramowitz, who puts out the Jewish Major Leaguers baseball cards. Martin called me and I called the uncle, who then contacted his brother, Ian’s dad.”
Wallman discovered that Kinsler, whose father is Jewish, had “had no objections” about being included in the magazine. Learn more.

Winter 2011 Class Schedule Just Posted!

Check out our new schedule of classes for the Winter 2011 semester.
Click here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Los Angeles Jewish Deli's

Los Angeles may be one of the few places that’s not losing its authentic Jewish delis, says the author of the book “America’s Great Delis.”
Across the country, Jewish delis are dying out, says Sheryll Bellman. One reason might be that the foods that made them so appealing are available in grocery stores and many other places today -– pastrami at Carl's Jr., bagels at McDonalds –- “not good ones, but bagels,” the author said.
Jewish delis served a specific purpose for the more than 2 million Eastern European Jews who came to the United States from 1881 to 1924, she says.
“The Jews that came from Eastern Europe needed a place to eat the foods they had been used to in their country," Bellman said. "It’s more than a restaurant, It’s a very homey, comforting situation.”
The foods that soothed the immigrant’s soul included pastrami, of course, and Bellman says L.A.’s Langer’s Deli makes the best. But delis also should offer corned beef, pickles, coleslaw, blintzes -– and surly waiters to bring them, she says.
Although every deli has its particular charms, Bellman says, “Canter’s in L.A. is the quintessential New York deli. … It looks like it used to look. It smells the same.”
Bellman, who lives in New York but has spent a lot of time on the West Coast, is scheduled to talk about the world of delis at the Jewish Book Festival on Saturday evening at Temple Beth Israel in Pomona.
Her book, published by Sellers Publishing Inc., includes a timeline of delis and recipes -– cheese blintzes from Barney Greengrass and honey cake from Katz’s Delicatessen, both in New York; smoked whitefish salad from Zingerman’s Delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Mich., and mushroom barley soup from Langer’s Deli in Los Angeles. Click here to try out one from Zingerman's.
-- Mary MacVean, Los Angeles Times

Image: Book cover, Katz's Deli photo courtesy of Katz's Deli and Yura Dashevsky; pastrami sandwich by Jennifer Andal / Stockphoto; Russ and Daughters courtesy Joshua Tupper / Sellers Publishing

Monday, October 25, 2010

Jewish Vegetarian Cooking

Check out these Jewish Cooking books on Amazon:

Jewish Vegetarian Cooking: An Irresistible Choice For Those Who Love Good Food
by Rose Friedman, Click here.


The Jewish Vegetarian Year Cookbook
by Roberta Kalechofsky and Rosa Rasiel



The Lowfat Jewish Vegetarian Cookbook: Healthy Traditions from Around the World
by Debra Wasserman

Millie Chan's Kosher Chinese Cookbook 
Millie Chan

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

October 30 - Wine and Pasta Party!

Join us next Saturday night for a fun-filled evening at the Luxe Hotel in Beverly Hills.
$40 per person. Register here by Wednesday, October 27.

Rabbi Neal Weinberg will lead us in a beautiful Havdalah ceremony, culminating shabbat. Our community shares a unique bond and this will be a wonderful opportunity for us to spend time together. Have fun, eat, drink, experience Havdalah, meet new people, and enjoy your Saturday night!

Monday, October 18, 2010

October 22 - Shabbat Dinner!

7:00 pm
Temple Beth Am 1039 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles
$40 per person. 
Register here by Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Join Rabbi Neal Weinberg as he leads a traditional Shabbat dinner for those considering Judaism and those who have embraced Judaism. Learn the basic structure of the Shabbat dinner. Enjoy a delicious meal, participate in discussion and meet new people.

Check out our October 2010 Newsletter!

Click here to get access to our October issue.

Sign up to receive upcoming issues here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust Opens

The museum opens in a new 14,000-square-foot home in Pan Pacific Park. Its goal, says board president Randy Schoenberg, is to make visitors 'feel like they're in the presence of this terrible event.
Read more. - Jori Finkel, Los Angeles Times

Ethiopian troupe brings shoulder dancing to L.A.

The first time Dr. Ruth Eshel witnessed esketa (which means shoulder dance, in Amharic), she was astounded. “I knew immediately that this was something new and different, something I had never seen before,” Eshel said with enthusiasm over a cup of steaming coffee at Tel Aviv’s renowned Performing Arts Center. “For someone like me, who has been dancing and choreographing for many years, to see something entirely new was very refreshing,” she continued, smiling wider at the memory. Eshel’s dream of one day forming an Ethiopian dance troupe was rooted in that first experience as an awestruck spectator. –Meredith Price Levitt, The Jewish Journal
Read more.

The Beta Dance Troupe performs Oct. 19 at 7:30 p.m., Westside JCC Auditorium, 5870 W. Olympic Los Angeles, Calif. 90036. Tickets $10. For more information, go to or call (323) 938-2531, (310) 633-4830 or (323) 936-0907.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

October 16 - Shabbat Morning Service, Sinai Temple

Join Rabbi Neal Weinberg at Sinai Temple as he leads a traditional Shabbat service especially geared to those who have embraced Judaism or considering Judaism.

Learn the basic structure and meaning of the prayers at a relaxed pace. Become familiar with terms and vocabulary used during services and engage in Torah study. Use a special prayer book in Hebrew, English and English transliteration to gain familiarity with the service. Share in an open discussion about challenges you've experienced and participate in a question-and-answer session. Meet other members of your community as you share in a Shabbat Kiddush.

To learn more visit:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

NBA superstars discover Judaism

Shaq asks Omri Casspi 'how are you?' in Hebrew, LeBron James seeks financial advice from rabbi, Kobe Bryant wants to visit Israel, and Amare Stoudemire spent time in Holy Land searching for his 'Jewish roots.' Sports analyst: Trend spreading throughout entire U.

When Omri Casspi became the first Israeli to play in the National Basketball Association, he never imagined his Hebrew would come in handy.

Shaquille O'Neal asked Casspi, "Shalom, ma shlomcha (how are you?)" and even said in front of the TV cameras, "Baruch Hashem, Shana Tova."
The veteran superstar joined a long list of NBA players who have discovered Kabbalah, Judaism and Israel. Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers recently said, "I want to visit Israel," and he is not the first to do so.  

Read more. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sukkot Wine Tasting Party!

Please join us as we celebrate Sukkot at a spectacular private Brentwood home.
Meet our special wine connoisseur from popular Gjeline in Venice.

Enjoy Socializing and Sampling Wine and Food
Sunday, September 26, 2010, 3:00 - 6:00pm
Location revealed upon registration.

$100 donation per person (tax deductible).
Register by September 21 at

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wine and Pasta Party - Havdalah Social Photos

Check out these photos from our August 21, 2010 Wine and Pasta Party in Beverly Hills.

L' Shana Tova. I wish you a good Jewish New Year.

On September 8th the High Holidays begin. This is a time for renewal - Judaism by Choice helps the Jewish People grow as it brings in new Jews and touches many lives. With our low birthrate and high assimilation rate the only way the Jewish People will grow in numbers is by bringing new people into the Jewish community - people who are educated, observant and committed to Judaism. This is what Judaism by Choice does successfully. Click here for more.

Rabbi Neal Weinberg
Rabbinic Director, Judaism by Choice

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Free High Holiday Services

Rosh Hashanah Sept. 8-10
Yom Kippur Sept. 17-18

High Holidays at PicoEgal
PicoEgal will be hosting free High Holiday services for Erev Rosh Hashana (Thursday Sept. 8) and both mornings of Rosh Hashana (Friday Sept. 9 and Saturday Sept. 10), as well as all of the services of Yom Kippur (Friday Sept. 17 and Saturday Sept. 18). Free; RSVP required. For more information, contact Childcare is available through Beth Am. Reservations are due by August 27.

Get High on the Holidays (Save the Date!)
Join JConnectLA for an inspiring, delicious & friendly Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur experience. Enjoy a friendly, joyous, participatory, celebration of the High Holidays with meaning, melody, and humor. Services led by Rabbi Yonah Bookstein with many special guests. Includes New Year’s Kabbalistic Feast, Neo-traditional & Alternative services, Special break-out sessions & classes. All levels and backgrounds welcome. Hebrew reading skills not required. Delicious Kiddush following services. Additional Shofar Services. Morning coffee and honey cake. Registration required – Space limited. Excellent play-care for children available. Free for full-time students; graduate students half-off. Adults: $50 for both High Holiday services, $36 for one service.

Chabad of the Conejo
To join Chabad of the Conejo for the High Holidays is to enjoy an inspiring synthesis of delights for body and soul. Held at the elegant and spacious Hyatt Westlake Plaza Hotel, the atmosphere is as
physically comfortable as it is spiritually warm and inviting.  Services are not only about prayers and rituals, but moreover about celebrating one’s Judaism as a dynamic and enriching community experience; an experience harmoniously shared by Jews of any and allbackgrounds. Whether you’ve joined Chabad at the Westlake Hyatt for High Holidays past or whether this is your first time celebrating with us, you and your family can look forward to ushering in the New Year enveloped by the uplifting spirit of joy, discovery and solidarity that is the hallmark of this unique program.
Rosh Hashanah: September 8th; evening.
Yom Kippur: September 17th; evening. 818-991-0991.

Whether you are bored every year… and go for family, guilt, or nostalgia…or haven’t gone for years, give it one more chance. (OK, at least show up at 9PM for our annual “New Years Eve Singles Party” following services & you’ll get the Mitzvah of making your Jewish mother happy!). Services are in English with meaning, melody, & humor by Rabbi Shlomo Schwartz & Olivia. Books Provided. All services will take place at The Writers Guild THEATER of America (WGA)  135 South Doheny Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90211.
- Rosh Hashanah Services: Wednesday, September 8, 2010, 7:00 - 8:30 PM.
- Candle lighting for the FIRST night of the year: 6:53 PM.
- Largest Jewish New Years Eve Party: 8:30 - 10:30 PM.
- Services: Thursday, September 9, 2010: 11:00 AM - 1:30 PM .
- Shofar - 12:30 PM.
- Yom Kippur Services: Friday, September 17, 2010, 7:00 - 8:30 PM.
- Services: Saturday, September 18, 2010: 11:00 AM - 2:30 PM.
- “Stump the Rabbi”. This is our very popular and well attended
program intensely animated bcz 100’s of ppl are bursting with Q’s
they’ve had stuck in their Kishkehs since age 12 or 13 etc. and now
they get their chance: 3:00 PM - 5:30 PM
- The very moving “Closing of the gates” prayer (“Neila”): 5:30 - 7:34
P.M. (when the fast ends)
- Free Suka Party: Wednesday, September 22, 7:00 - 10:00 PM.
(310) 391-7995.

[Hollywood, CA] – The Laugh Factory, L.A.’s premiere comedy club, ushers in the Jewish New Year with its joyous gift to the Jewish community – free High Holiday services.  This will be the 28th year the Laugh Factory will open its doors to the Jewish community for the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Reform Jewish tradition, Rabbi Bob Jacobs.  Rosh Hashanah will be celebrated on Thursday, September 9th from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm with refreshments to follow.  The following week, Yom Kippur will begin with the Kol Nidre service on Friday, September 17th from 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm.  The services will continue on the morning of Saturday, September 18th at 11:00 am until 1:00pm, concluding with Neilah service at 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm.  A “break-the-fast” will follow.  No contributions are accepted and tickets are not required. 8001 Sunset Blvd in Hollywood, two blocks west of Fairfax.

Community High Holy Days services free. A service of the heart with tradition, inspiration, music, poetry and spoken word to bring about harmony and peace through the spirit of friendship and unity. 323-653-7420

Temple Ramat Zion
Free Erev Rosh Hashanah Tickets
Northridge, Calif. (Aug. 24, 2010) – Temple Ramat Zion in Northridge is offering free tickets for the Erev Rosh Hashonah service on Wednesday, September 8. Tickets must be picked up in person at the temple office and contact information is required. For more information, call the temple office at 818-360-1881.  There is open seating and ticket supplies may be limited. The temple is open Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Erev Rosh Hashanah services begin at 7:30 p.m. and will be led by Rabbi Ahud Sela and Cantor Paul Dorman.  The community is also invited to attend the temple’s open house on September 5 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Temple Ramat Zion, the North San Fernando Valley’s only conservative temple, is located at 17655 Devonshire St., Northridge, CA, 91325. It is a full-service synagogue featuring Shabbat and holiday services, an on-site pre-school, a fully accredited religious school, an award-winning USY youth chapter as well as educational and social programming for all ages. For more information, contact the temple at 818-360-1881 or visit the Website at

- Jewish Journal

Friday, August 27, 2010

Johnny Mathis Sings Kol Nidre.

Johnny Mathis got up from the mah-jongg table where he was conducting an interview at his Los Angeles home to answer the telephone: “We’re discussing my career as a cantor,” he quipped.
The 74-year-old Mathis — who has recorded more than 130 albums and has cracked the Billboard charts upward of 60 times — is best known as the crooner of iconic back-seat make-out ballads such as “Wonderful, Wonderful” and “It’s Not for Me to Say.” But on Aug. 19 at the Skirball Cultural Center, he will be honored by the New York-based Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation for his surprising contribution to Jewish music: a soaring version of the Yom Kippur prayer, “Kol Nidre,” recorded for his 1958 album of religious music, “Good Night, Dear Lord.”
The founders of the Idelsohn Society — including scholar Josh Kun — discovered Mathis’ “Kol Nidre” courtesy of a 7-inch disc, backed by the Percy Faith Orchestra, that arrived in a battered box of donated albums some years ago. The single, they learned, was a European release from the 1958 “Good Night” album, which featured renditions of “Ave Maria” and black spirituals as well as “Kol Nidre,” the Hebrew-language poem “Eli, Eli” and the Yiddish favorite “Where Can I Go?” 
“But it is Mathis’ ‘Kol Nidre’ which blew us away,” the founders wrote in the liner notes of “Black Sabbath: The Secret Musical History of Black-Jewish Relations,” which was inspired by Mathis’ passionate “Kol Nidre.” His rendition also appears on the Idelsohn CD, which will be released Sept. 14. While much has been written about how black music has influenced Jewish artists, “Black Sabbath” is perhaps the first to spotlight African Americans covering Jewish songs — Billie Holiday singing “My Yiddishe Momme,” for example, and The Temptations doing a “Fiddler on the Roof” medley. 
So why did the African American Mathis, then 23 and at the zenith of his career, choose to record the Aramaic Jewish prayer so crucial to the Jewish Day of Atonement? Settling back down at the mah-jongg table, Mathis traces the endeavor to his childhood in a tolerant, multiracial neighborhood of San Francisco, where his friends included Jewish buddies from the school track team who occasionally took him to shul. He also heard Jewish music courtesy of his music teacher Connie Cox — who took on the talented 13-year-old in exchange for his completing odd jobs around her house — and who introduced him to the cantors-turned-opera singers Robert Merrill and Richard Tucker.
Prominent American Jews helped shape Mathis’ career once he gave up his chance to participate in Olympic trials as a high jumper to record jazz for Columbia Records at age 20. The young artist was “floundering,” in his words, a year later when he was summoned to the offices of Mitch Miller, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants who had become one of the most influential forces in American popular music. 
“Mitch said, ‘I’ve heard what you do, and I don’t like it,’ ” Mathis recalled of that meeting — his memories flowing all the more since Miller had died, at 99, the day before the interview. “Mitch said, ‘I like your voice, but I don’t like the way you’re singing, and I don’t like what you’re singing. ... I’d like to record you, but I want you to sing what I want the way I want it.’ ” 
In fact, Miller stood beside Mathis in the recording booth, tapping his shoulder to make sure the young artist didn’t improvise. But even if Miller could be “very strong,” as Mathis puts it, he credits the producer for guiding him to the romantic ditties that would make him a superstar. 
Mathis went on to record his first No. 1 hit, the dulcet “Chances Are”; to become one of the most prolific American singers of all time, selling more than 180 million albums worldwide; and to set a number of precedents in the music industry. His 1958 greatest-hits album virtually invented that genre and spent almost a decade on the Billboard top albums chart — a feat recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. Mathis’ 1982 album, “Friends in Love,” featured a title duet with Dionne Warwick that became Mathis’s fourth Top 40 single hit in four decades. More recently, Mathis has sung for Presidents George H. W. Bush and Clinton, performed with top symphony orchestras and next month will release a collection of country standards, “Let It Be Me: Mathis in Nashville,” a tribute to his father, who was born in Texas and taught the young Johnny to sing. 
The spiritual music of “Good Night, Dear Lord” was meant as an ode to Mathis’ devout mother; he personally chose the album’s black spirituals from songs he recalled from his childhood African Methodist Episcopal church. But he turned to the prominent bandleader Percy Faith — another son of Jewish immigrants — to advise him on the Jewish selections.
“Kol Nidre” appealed to Mathis, in part, because of the opportunity to showcase the operatic side of his voice, rather than the honeyed tones for which he had become famous. “My interpretation of the song was a mixture of the Muslim call to worship and the [biblical] Jews wandering, lost, in the desert, when their faith was all they had,” he said.
“Recording it was very emotional,” he added. “I lost all of my inhibitions.”
When the Idelsohn Society approached him about his “Kol Nidre,” he said, “I was over the moon.” The album had sold only a moderate number of copies: “Every performer has a little gem, a little pearl they have done that nobody pays much attention to,” he explained. “And then one day, somebody does recognize it, which is so gratifying.” 
But don’t expect Mathis to sing the prayer when the society honors him Aug. 19, timed approximately to the 50th anniversary of “Kol Nidre” and the artist’s 75th birthday, on Sept. 30 — part of the society’s concert program, the “Jews on Vinyl” revue.
“My singing now is more limited,” Mathis said; he will no longer sing the rigorous melody in public. Rather, he will perform a song, “One God,” that reflects his attitude about humankind. 

“Many are the paths winding their way to one God,” he quotes from that song. “So many children calling to Him by so many different names.”

Monday, August 16, 2010

Liz Taylor's Conversion to Judaism

Liz Taylor and her Jewish Audacity
In the new book, Furious Love, about the fervent, stormy romance between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton that has been optioned for film, the lovers have a quarrel about Judaism.
In one scene, the joint biography by Sam Kashner, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, and Nancy Schoenberger, an author, depicts Taylor and Burton having one of their usual, theatrical spats—over who was more “Jewish.”
The authors write:
Burton had referred to the Welsh as “the Jews of Britain”, a comment on their self-identity as the outsiders of the United Kingdom. [Note: Burton was Welsh]
“You’re not Jewish at all,” he told Elizabeth in one of their very public fights, “If there’s any Jew in this family, it’s me!”
“I am Jewish,” she answered, “and you can fuck off!” 
Taylor, the irreverent and dazzling actress was raised a Christian scientist, but converted to Judaism at age 27. Though some say the decision was motivated by marriage to her third husband, Mike Todd—born Avrom Goldbogen, the grandson of a Polish rabbi, according to Time Magazine—Taylor famously denied it, insisting she had always been interested in Judaism. In her book, Elizabeth Takes Off, Taylor tried to set the record straight, and according to Wikipedia wrote: “[Conversion to Judaism] had absolutely nothing to do with my past marriage to Mike [Todd] or my upcoming marriage to Eddie Fisher, both of whom were Jewish. It was something I had wanted to do for a long time.”
Divas do things on their own terms. When she finally decided to convert, Taylor did so at Temple Israel of Hollywood, under the tutelage of then-rabbi Max Nussbaum. According to Time, who reported on Taylor’s conversion in April 1959, Rabbi Nussbaum developed a special curriculum for the actress that included: the Bible, and the books—A History of the Jews, by Abram Leon Sachar, What Is a Jew?, by Morris Kertzer, and Basic Judaism, by Milton Steinberg. Afterwards, “[T]hey discussed the ancient traditions and modern problems of the people of Israel,” Time reported.
At her conversion ceremony, Taylor was given the Hebrew name Elisheba Rachel Taylor (Elisheba being the Hebrew version of Elizabeth and Rachel being the actress’s biblical heroine). Time described the ritual in detail:
[The] ceremony took place in the chapel of Temple Israel in the presence of Convert Taylor’s parents. Facing the open Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Scrolls, she answered the ritual questions put to her by Rabbi Nussbaum. Among them: “Do you promise to cast in your lot with the people of Israel amid all circumstances and conditions?” “Do you agree to rear your future children according to the Jewish faith?”
Then Elisheba Rachel Taylor repeated the pledge: “I, of my own free will, seek the fellowship of Israel . . . I believe that God is One, Almighty, All-Wise and Most Holy . . . I promise that I shall endeavor to live, as far as it is in my power, in accordance with the ideals of Jewish life . . . Most fervently, therefore, do I herewith pronounce the Jewish confession of faith: Shma yisroel adonoy elohenu adonoy echod [Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is One]. Boruch shem kvod malchuso I’olom voed [Praised be his name whose glorious kingdom is for ever and ever].”
Taylor channeled her defiant Jewish spirit into almost everything - even her marriage. Director Mike Nichols is reportedly attached to direct Furious Love, the movie—which should be interesting since Nichols directed Taylor and Burton in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”, the 1966 film that the public came to view as a window into the couple’s real marriage. For those who haven’t seen the film—first of all, you should—but just in case, this line from the New York Times review of the book aptly sums up their relationship: “In their prime, the Burtons made ‘married love’ seem ‘glamorous and sexy,’ ‘even dangerous,’ the authors write. They also made it seem deranged and codependent,” Times writer Ada Calhoun notes. “There’s a lesson here for couples: marriage doesn’t have to be a partnership of equals. It can be a bodice-ripping, booze-soaked, jewel-bedecked brawl that survives even death.”
Imagine reading that on your ketubah.
-Danielle Berrin, Jewish Journal

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Register for Fall Classes!

The Fall semester begins September 20, 2010. Register here.

August 21 - Wine and Pasta Party!

Wine and Pasta Party - Havdalah Evening
August 21, 2010, 7:00pm
Luxe Hotel Rodeo Drive Penthouse
360 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills
$40.00 per person
Register by Wednesday, August 19

A great way to meet new people, spend time together and enjoy your Saturday night! Join us.
Register here.

August 13 - Shabbat Dinner and Friday Night Live!

Shabbat Dinner and Friday Night Live
August 13, 2010, 5:45pm
Sinai Temple
10400 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles
$40.00 per person

Join Rabbi Neal Weinberg as he leads a traditional Shabbat dinner for those considering Judaism and those who have embraced Judaism. After dinner, a musical Shabbat service, complimentary Kiddush and Israeli dancing!
Register here.

New Fall Semester Starts September 20!

Register for our new Fall classes at:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Los Angeles Jewish Symphony Presents Cinema Judaica

The Los Angeles Jewish Symphony celebrates contributions of Jewish composers to film history with its annual concert program, Cinema Judaica, on Sunday, Aug. 8, at 7:30 p.m., under the stars at the Ford Amphitheatre.  The orchestra, led by Founder and Artistic Director Noreen Green, pays tribute to Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein, Steven Schwartz, Danny Pelfrey, Charles Fox, Yuval Ron and other major composers. Guest artists include Ron, percussionist Jamie Papish, and Israeli-born pianist Andy Feldbau.
Learn more.

Best Deli's in Los Angeles

Langer's Delicatessen-Restaurant
Canter's Deli 
Nate N Al Deli & Restaurant
Barney Greengrass
Brent's Deli and Restaurant
Greenblatt's Delicatessen
Art's Delicatessen
Factor's Famous Deli


Saturday, July 31, 2010

August 6 Shabbat Dinner

7:30pm - 11:00pm
Temple Beth Am
1039 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA

$40 per person.
Register by Wednesday, August 4 at:

Join Rabbi Neal Weinberg as he leads a traditional Shabbat dinner for those considering Judaism and those who have embraced Judaism. Learn the basic structure of the Shabbat dinner. Enjoy a delicious meal, participate in discussion and meet new people!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wine and Pasta Party - July 24!

A great way to meet new people, spend time together and enjoy your Saturday night! Join us.
$40 per person. Register by Wednesday, July 21.

Our new JBC Newsletter has just been published.

Be the first to know what's happening at JBC and learn about upcoming events. Sign up here.
Get the latest issue here.

Shabbat Morning Service

July 17, 2010, 9:30am
Sinai Temple
10400 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles

Join Rabbi Neal Weinberg as he leads a traditional Shabbat service for those considering Judaism and those who have embraced Judaism. Meet other members of your community as you share in a Shabbat Kiddush.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

July 9 - Shabbat Dinner and Friday Night Live

Sinai Temple, 5:30 pm to 11:30 pm.
Only $40 per person.
Register at:

Join Rabbi Neal Weinberg as he leads a traditional Shabbat dinner for those considering Judaism and those who have embraced Judaism. Learn the basic structure of the Shabbat dinner. Enjoy a delicious meal, participate in discussion and meet new people.

After dinner join us at Friday Night Live, a musical Shabbat service led by Rabbi David Wolpe and Craig Taubman. Following is a complimentary Kiddush and Israeli dancing!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

Hundreds of Volunteers to Take 'Community Challenge' Throughout L.A. on Sunday

The Federation Mobilizes The Community To Fight Hunger
LOS ANGELES -- The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles is mobilizing hundreds of volunteers in a community-wide day of activities as part of its ongoing effort to fight hunger in L.A. through its Community Challenge on Sunday, June 13th.

"One of our Federation's main priorities is combating poverty in both the Jewish and broader communities," said Jay Sanderson, President of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. "That's why it's critical that we engage the entire community to help us address our city's hunger crisis in a major way."

Volunteering opportunities include sorting donated food at food pantries, collecting fresh produce at local farmers' markets, planting community gardens, preparing meals and much more. Community members can choose from nearly two dozen activities taking place throughout the area from the West Valley to East Los Angeles and everywhere in between. All the information can be found by clicking on the Community Challenge icon on the Federation's website:

"We picked 6/13 for our Community Challenge because it corresponds to the 613 mitzvot (good deeds) in the Torah – and feeding the hungry is one of them," said Sanderson. "Whether you are interested in providing a meal to those in need, advocating for greater utilization of government programs or getting your hands dirty with a gardening project, we have a volunteer opportunity for everyone."
Beyond the Community Challenge volunteer day, The Jewish Federation supports programs throughout the year to feed people and raise awareness of the hunger crisis through its own Fed Up with Hunger initiative, as well as through those of its community partners. Like many of the programs Federation supports and funds, they benefit both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities of Greater Los Angeles.

Who: The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles
What: Community Challenge: A Day to Help the Hungry in L.A.
When: Sunday, June 13th, 2010 – All Day
Where: Numerous locations throughout Los Angeles.
Information can be found by clicking on the Community Challenge icon at
or going to

SOURCE The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles

Monday, June 7, 2010

Lindsay Lohan may convert to Judaism for Samantha Ronson

Lindsay Lohan may convert to Judaism for Samantha Ronson

Thousands Gather in LA for Israeli Solidarity Rally

More than 1,000 supporters of the state of Israel gathered at the office of the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles Sunday to show solidarity a week after a deadly encounter between Israeli commandos and an aid flotilla that defied a naval blockade of Gaza.

Police estimated the crowd at 1,200, while organizers...
Read more.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Changes...Next Steps...How do you handle them?

We've all worked hard to make things happen only to be scared when it gets closer to becoming a reality
(e.g. starting a new job, moving to a different neighborhood, establishing new relationships, etc.)
Sometimes we need encouragement from others to move forward. Sometimes we just need to close our eyes, take a deep breath, and jump in. Other times we need a major push.

What gives you the courage to take the next step?

Learn more from this weeks Torah portion Numbers 13:1 – 15:41.


Kosher Yogurt Show Opens

Located in the Melrose District, on the corner of Fuller and Melrose Avenue, Yogo self-serve frozen yogurt is the only Rabbinical Council of California (RCC) certified, Cholov Yisroel kosher yogurt shop in Los Angeles. Open since April, the family-owned business is expanding with two more locations: one on Fairfax and Santa Monica Boulevard, set to open next week, and the other in the Pico/Robertson area.

So, what's the difference between Yogo and Yogurtland? Yogo must remain under high health and Rabbinical food supervision. And they don't serve strawberries, gummy bears or the popular mochi topping, because those foods are not considered Cholov Yisroel kosher.
Yogo Frozen Yogurt: 7350 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 951-0008, 7901 Santa Monica Blvd #106, West Hollywood; (323) 822-7992, and 8946 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sign up for Spring and Summer Classes online.

Check out our class schedules and register at:
Don't miss out!

How has Judaism by Choice made a difference in your life?

We'd love to hear your story and possibly include it in one of our upcoming newsletters.
Please email your story to Rabbi Weinberg at

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

White House Party Will Fete Jewish Culture

Who Made The List? Jewish Community Wonders Who'll Make White House Reception

NEW YORK (AP) - In politics, as elsewhere, it's a sport that's almost as popular as people-watching: Guest-list watching.

And this week, it's the Jewish community in Washington and beyond that's buzzing over who'll be on the list when Barack and Michelle Obama host the first-ever White House reception marking Jewish Heritage Month.

Read more.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Census - Do you count?

We all need to feel like we count and feel like we are a part of something larger...a community.
It's nothing new. This week's Torah portion deals with this very issue. 
Is there someone you know that isn't being counted? Maybe you?
How do you get heard? And what can you do to help others feel like they count?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Los Angeles Jewish Symphony

This Sunday, the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony presents L'Chayim: A Musical Celebration of Eastern European Culture at the Ford Amphitheater. The program includes Wladislaw Szpilman's Piano Concertino, featured in the Academy Award-winning film "The Pianist" and written while the composer was interned in the Warsaw Ghetto, as well as The Fiddler, based on a Yiddish Shalom Aleichem tale. Featuring violinist Mark Kashper, clarinetist Zinovy Goro, and piano soloist Yevgeniy Milyavskiy, and Mike Burstyn.
For more information, click here or call (323) 461-3673.
Full price - $25 - $36
Students price - $12

For a Special Discount - identify yourself to the Ford Box-Office as a "Friend of LAJS"

Monday, May 17, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Check out our new Havdalah Social photos

Havdalah Social, May 1, 2010, Beverly Hills.

Mumps cases on the rise in Los Angeles Jewish Community

Amid an increasing number of mumps cases reported in Los Angeles County, the Department of Public Health today urged residents to be alert for any sign of the disease in their community and to take steps to protect themselves.
“At least nine cases of mumps have already been reported in Los Angeles County this year, six of which have been confirmed,” said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer. “By comparison, seven cases were confirmed countywide in all of 2009, seven in 2008, and five in 2007.”

Los Angeles Welcomes the IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy!

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles is hosting the annual international conference on Jewish genealogy July 11-16 in L.A. Those beginning their family history research and those continuing their search will find fascinating sessions, amazing resources, interesting films and expert advice.

On the Media: Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles adapts to changing media market -

On the Media: Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles adapts to changing media market -

Posted using ShareThis

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Jewish woman for US Supreme Court

Obama selects Elena Kagan, boosting Jewish justices to 3 if confirmed.

WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama selected Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court on Monday, a nominee who would boost the court’s number of current Jewish justices to an unprecedented three if confirmed.

Kagan, 50, who is the first female US solicitor-general and was the first female dean of Harvard Law School before that, would also raise the number of female justices to three, another historic number, in taking over for the retiring John Paul Stevens, 90.

Noting her fierce intellect and legal achievements in announcing the nomination, Obama also cited Kagan’s immigrant roots and the values her parents instilled as key to her success and life path.

“Understanding of law, not as an intellectual exercise or words on a page but as it affects the lives of ordinary people, has animated every step of Elena’s career,” he said, pointing out that Kagan chose public service over a lucrative private practice.

“Given Elena’s upbringing, it’s a choice that probably came naturally,” Obama said, referring to her being raised by a public school teacher and a tenant lawyer who were the children of immigrants and both the first in their families to go to college.

He then quoted Kagan’s comments during her confirmation hearing for solicitor-general: “Both my parents wanted me to succeed in my chosen profession. But more than that, both drilled into me the importance of service, character and integrity.”

Abner Mikva, who hired Kagan as his clerk when he was an appellate judge in the 1980s and then later when he was legal counsel for the Clinton White House, said that her closeness to the immigrant experience influenced her approach to the law.

“I think she did identify with people who are friendless and powerless, and that the law is there to protect them, not impose further burdens on them,” he said, describing qualities that Obama had previously said were key perspectives for any nominee he chose. “When you talk about the law, you’re talking about individuals, and I think that’s part of the heritage of being close to the immigrant generation.”

Mikva, whom Kagan praised in her remarks upon being nominated Monday, also told The Jerusalem Post how her sense of Jewishness connected to her work.

“Her yiddishkeit, as I call it, informs her views on social justice and compassion and understanding what law is about,” he said. “We the Jews invented the law, and it’s only fitting that someone of Jewish heritage would fall in love with the law and make it a career.”

Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz told the Post that that heritage has been one she has worn proudly, as “she never tries to hide her Jewish background.”

Dershowitz, who worked with her for the dozen or so years that she headed the law school, said he frequently saw her when he went to Conservative services held at the Harvard Hillel, calling her someone who clearly “knows how to daven” and reads Hebrew.

Although he said that “she doesn’t see herself as a Jewish law professor or a Jewish justice,” at the same time she “clearly identified positively as a Jew.”

Though he noted that he had never held a lengthy conversation with her about Israel, he said that “I think she would be generally supportive” of the Jewish state and described her as “actively involved in moderate, liberal Judaism.”

He added, “With a name like Kagan, she’s probably a kohen too.”

Dershowitz lauded Kagan for working to create a more inclusive, less politically polarized climate at the law school and for bringing both sides toward each other in the center.

He pointed out that this ability would be helpful in the Supreme Court, and it seems to have been one of the key reasons she was selected.

Obama himself emphasized her record as “a consensus-builder,” particularly at Harvard, and her belief that “exposure to a broad array of perspectives is the foundation not just for a sound legal education, but of a successful life in the law.”

This could be particularly important on a sharply divided court – Kagan will replace a long-time liberal justice – where Justice Anthony Kennedy often is a swing vote. Legal observers suggested Obama wanted someone who could work with Kennedy and help sway him as some of Obama’s key legislative initiatives – such as health care – wend their way toward America’s top court.

As the solicitor-general, until now responsible for arguing the administration’s perspective before the court, Kagan would have to recuse herself from the cases she’s worked on. While that has already formed as a line of attack for some Republicans, as has her lack of experience as a judge, her academic and government background means that she doesn’t have a lengthy, controversial record of past decisions.

That is one reason political insiders expect that her nomination will go through without a full-court press of opposition by the GOP. The White House hopes the Senate will take up the nomination early enough to have it wrapped up by the August recess, so Kagan can take the bench for the fall session.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Jewish Film Fesival Event May 11
Tuesday, May 11, 2010, 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Laemmle's Music Hall
9036 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles

NEXT LA is proud to sponsor an evening at the Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival. Following a short film by Antwone Fischer ("ATL") called "My Summer Friend", we will be screening the Los Angeles premiere of "Holy Rollers"; a film written by Antonia Macia, directed by Kevin Asch, starring Jesse Eisenberg ("Zombieland","Adventureland"), Justin Bartha ("The Hangover","National Treasure"), Ari Graynor ("Mystic River", "Youth in Revolt"), and Q-Tip; about a youth from the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn who gets lured into becoming an Ecstasy dealer by his pal who has ties to an Israeli drug cartel. The evening will conclude with a Q&A with the screenwriters moderated by Naomi Pfefferman, Arts Editor of the Jewish Journal.
Buy tickets here

Socially Responsible Jewish Investing on Rise

Socially Responsible Jewish Investing on Rise

Posted using ShareThis

Report: Tycoon Donald Trump's daughter converting to Judaism - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

Report: Tycoon Donald Trump's daughter converting to Judaism - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

Friday, May 7, 2010

How do you incorporate Judaism in your life?

Do you observe Shabbat? Attend services? Keep Kosher? Get together with friends to celebrate the holidays? We'd love to learn what Judaism means to you. Share your thoughts here on this blog or by email at


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Celebrate Shabbat with your mom!

Bring mom and your entire family to Shabbat Dinner this Friday, May 7 at 7:45 pm.
Location: Temple Beth Am.

For more information and registration, click here:

Los Angeles Jewish Home Hosts the 16th Annual World's Largest Mother's Day Celebration

For the sixteenth year, the Los Angeles Jewish Home will host the "World's Largest Mother's Day Celebration."  The event includes brunch, music, jugglers, clowns and other activities for all to enjoy.  The cost is $20 for adults and $8 for children between the ages of 5 and 11.  There is no charge for children under 5 and Jewish Home residents.  

Approximately 1,000 participants are expected to join the Home in honoring mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and great-great-grandmothers everywhere.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

10:30 AM
Event begins

11:30 – 12:30

Los Angeles Jewish Home

18855 Victory Avenue

Reseda, CA 91335

Founded in 1912, the world-renowned Los Angeles Jewish Home is one of the foremost continuing senior-living facilities in the United States and is the largest single-source provider of senior housing in Los Angeles. Each year, more than 1,700 senior women and men are supported through in-residence housing on two village campuses totaling 16 acres and community programs.  The Home is a nonprofit organization that relies solely upon donations from individuals, corporations and foundations to continue its remarkable work. Further information regarding the Home can be found online at or by calling 818-757-4407. 

Jewish Funds for Justice collects money to help oil spill relief

Tax-deductible donations can be made by individuals and organizations to the JFSJ Gulf Coast Disaster Recovery Fund online at or, by phone at (212) 213-2113 x3, or mailed to JFSJ, 330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY.

May 4, 2010 – Jewish Funds for Justice (JFSJ) announced today that it is accepting donations to help affected communities in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. This is the first Jewish disaster fund to help residents and communities impacted by the oil spill. Building on JFSJ’s long-term commitment to and deep relationship in the region, the Gulf Coast Disaster Recovery Fund will provide an effective vehicle for distributing financial resources to community-based organizations on the front lines.
Already, more than 6,800 square miles of federal fishing areas have been shut down in the Gulf of Mexico, eleven Deepwater workers are presumed dead, and 210,000 gallons of crude oil are being spewed into the gulf each day. The Gulf Coast fishing industry, which is the largest seafood producer in the continental United States, may lose $2.5 billion because of the spill, according to early estimates.
“From the first report of the explosion, Jewish Funds for Justice has been in communication with our partners on the ground from New Orleans to Boothville, from Plaquemines Parish to the Houma Nation,” said Simon Greer, JFSJ CEO and President. “The message we’re hearing is clear: workers and families are at risk of losing their livelihoods permanently. Jewish Funds for Justice believes we have an obligation to help the most vulnerable among us and to ensure that families have the support they need, whether it’s helping to employ displaced workers in new jobs, making sure homes aren’t lost to foreclosure, or keeping families safe from environmental pollutants.”
Since 2005, JFSJ has led rebuilding efforts through its Hurricane Recovery and Redevelopment Fund. In partnership with a broad segment of the Jewish community, including the United Jewish Communities, UJA-Federation of New York, Union for Reform Judaism, Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, and the Andrea & Charles Bronfman Fund, the Fund helped channel the Jewish community’s outpouring of support in response to Hurricane Katrina. JFSJ works with grassroots organizations that have earned the trust of their communities and are well positioned to give voice to and address unmet needs of low-income residents.
Through this fund and its other Gulf Coast initiatives, JFSJ will work with its long-standing community partners to provide both immediate and long-term assistance.  Tax-deductible donations can be made by individuals and organizations to the JFSJ Gulf Coast Disaster Recovery Fund online at or, by phone at (212) 213-2113 x3, or mailed to JFSJ, 330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY, 10001.

Jewish Funds for Justice (JFSJ) is a national public foundation guided by Jewish history and tradition. JFSJ helps people in the United States achieve social and economic security and opportunity by investing in healthy neighborhoods, vibrant Jewish communities, and skillful leaders. Our holistic approach to social change includes grantmaking and community investing, service learning and leadership development, organizing and advocacy.
 - Jacob Berkman