5774 edition - Mishkon Tephilo
FAMED TENOR ALBERTO MIZRAHI TO SING AT MISHKON
SATURDAY MARCH 15,
SUNDAY MARCH 16,
$3 Beer! $3 Margaritas!
Kosher Lunch and
Soft Drinks for sale!
10:30 to 4:00
Give to save a life!
GREEK-BORN TENOR ALBERTO MIZRAHI, among the world’s leading interpreters of Jewish music, will appear at 3:00 pm on March 30, 2014, in the sanctuary, for one performance only, in a memorial concert for Mishkon’s late member,
pianist, musicologist and Herb Chatzky. It will also celebrate Mishkon’s centennial.
From Jerusalem to Main Street will include Ladino, Cantorial, Traditional
and Contemporary songs. This will be Mizrahi’s only appearance in Southern California this year. Hazzan of Chicago's historic Anshe Emet Synagogue, Mizrahi has
thrilled audiences worldwide with recitals, symphony concerts, and opera. Encompassing nine languages, his enormous repertoire makes for performances unique to
the genre. Group discounts are available. A Champagne reception follows the event.
TICKETS FROM $18 AT EVENTBRITE.COM OR WWW.MISHKON.ORG.
Galim March 2014/5774
Synagogue by the Sea
of Mishkon Tephilo
206 Main Street
Office: 201 Hampton
Venice, CA 90291
Fax (310) 392-0420
HAZZAN LAURIE RIMLAND-BONN
Director of the Religious School and Family Education
RELIGIOUS SCHOOL HAS BEEN AN ABSOLUTE JOY! Our students show so much enthusiasm in their
learning! Every child is working hard learning how to read, write and speak Hebrew. The children sing and
daven well, they work hard on class projects, and most importantly, they ask such wonderful questions. The
religious school children are eager and interested to see what they will learn next. They enjoy having Rabbi
Dan come and share Weekly Torah lessons. We couldn’t do what we do here at Mishkon Tephilo without our
wonderful teaching staff. We are blessed to have Shifra Raz and Aliza Wine, gifted and excellent teachers.
We have been getting ready for Purim and Pesach.. We’ll be making Hamentashen and Mishloach Manot
and working on Mitzvah projects. One of these was to help make signs for the “Purim Fiesta” which will take
place on Sunday March 16. There will be a Purim program in the Sanctuary from 10:30 -11:00 a.m. and then
the Carnival downstairs until 1:30pm. We hope that you will come see our art work as well as enjoy this festive occasion.
On March 21, 2014 the Second and Third Grade will be celebrating the “Chagiggat Ha-Siddur,” where
they will receive their own prayer book. Pesach/Spring break begins April 9; school resumes on Sunday, April
27. As you can see, we have a really busy month.
In April, we will begin open enrollment for the 2014-2015 school year.
Wishing all of you a “Feilach” Purim,
In February, Michelle Prince and Dr. William Cutter of USC’s Kalsman Institute spoke about her new
book, Judaism and Health. Carol Davis, T.S Eliot
Award poet, read Jewish poems from her books and other Jewish poets.
SPRING AND SUMMER ADULT ED EVENTS:
Dr. Jeff Fleck on Rashi and the Torah, Thursday nights
at 7:00 PM in the library.
Dr. Philip Belove speaks about Rabbis In Love, his new
book, Friday, March 7th, at 6:30 PM as part of Shabbat
Saturday, March 15th, after kiddush, Rabbi Dan Shevitz will speak about Purim.
Saturday, April 12th, Rabbi Dan Shevitz will speak
about Passover after kiddush lunch.
May 1 through 8, the LA Jewish Film Festival, at
Laemmle's Music Hall Theatre
Saturday, May 17th, Rabbinic Intern Esther Jonas Maertin, speaks on "Jews of East Germany."
Saturday, June 7th, Rabbi Dan, "Surprise Shiur"
after kiddush lunch
Sunday, June 8th, 10:00 am. Yiddish Collage,
with Sarah Moscowitz, "Yiddish Poetry," and
Saturday, June 21st, Rabbi
"Surprise Shiur" after kiddush.
Engaging Israel, an inter-congregational course
over 18 months on historical and contemporary
Israel, will be taught by Rabbi Dan Shevitz.
Class dates and times will be announced.
The Adult Education Committee looks forward
to seeing you at these classes. Volunteers are welcome; please contact Phil Bell if you are interested in planning an event or helping at one.
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I’VE BEEN ATTENDING SEMINARS and
webinars to gain new ideas about how to make
Mishkon a place where more of us want to be,
and where those who are already here love to
Aside from learning that Jews really, really
love to talk, I learned something interesting.
We’re not nearly as good at listening. For example, at a seminar on interfaith families, one
expert (Rabbi Adam Greenwald who runs the
Introduction to Judaism program) said that
synagogue boards and United Synagogue
leadership have spent an inordinate amount of
time discussing the issues, without, until recently, actually asking interfaith families
Whether you joined Mishkon for our prowhat they need or want from their synagramming, for services or for our preschool or
religious school, we can be more for you. I
I recently met with a group of preschool
want you to feel like you’re part of our sacred
parents and got some fabulous feedback
about what this group needs. We are now
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
planning to implement some of their ideas;
announcements will be forthcoming soon.
Once we start implementation, I’ll ask again
and listen carefully to the answers.
I’m also thinking that I need to meet with
more groups within our community to find
out what Mishkon is doing well, what we’re
not doing well, and what we’re missing completely. It may take some time to schedule
these meetings, so please feel free to contact
me in the meantime. I can always be reached
by email at [email protected] or by
calling my home at (310) 450-7180. I can’t
guarantee that every idea will be implemented–we do have limited numbers of volunteers
–but I will listen.We need to grow our membership, and to find ways of getting current
members more involved.
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THINGS YOU CAN DO WITH A SYNAGOGUE
SOME PEOPLE USE A SYNAGOGUE in an a la carte
manner, choosing a service, a program, or an event
now and then. As in most enterprises, however, the
more you put into it, the more you get out.
In Hebrew there are several designations for a synagogue: Bet Knesset (a place of gathering); Bet Tefilah (a place of worship) and Bet Midrash (a place of
learning). All of these are important to us at Mishkon Tephilo.
Mishkon Tephilo is part of the Conservative
movement, also known as Masorti. We are committed to certain normative practices that are central to
our understanding of Judaism. Though few people
join a synagogue for ideological reasons, it may be
useful to know some of the characteristics of our
movement’s commitments and ideas.
As Masorti Jews, we are committed both to Halacha (Jewish law and practice) and to engaged living
in this world. We strive to be loyal to our tradition
and its core beliefs and practices while recognizing
that the forms we use are constantly evolving and
have always been adapted to current understandings.
For example, our liturgy is quite traditional and
mainly Hebrew, yet we are a completely egalitarian
congregation in which men and women have equal
roles and responsibilities. We don’t use instrumental
music in our Shabbat and Holy Day services but we
are quite musical and put a high value on congregational singing and chanting. We often incorporate
practices from Hasidic and meditative traditions to
enhance our service. And we are fiercely participatory, which means we are led by our members, many
of whom have learned the requisite synagogue skills
to lead the congregation in prayer and Torah reading.
We are committed to the observance of Kashrut,
Shabbat, Festivals and Holy Day observances, and
the traditions of Derech Eretz and K’vod Habriyot,
which mean respecting all of God’s creatures in their
varieties. Though only Jews are formally members of
the synagogue, we encourage all who wish to participate and welcome non-Jewish partners and friends to
all our programs and services. We strive to be as inclusive as we can be and welcome all regardless of
marital or financial status or sexual orientation.
We are also committed to life-long spiritual and
intellectual growth and encourage our members to
RABBI DAN SHEVITZ
try out new observances and practices, Torah study
and engagement with our Venice, Los Angeles, and
world communities. The synagogue leadership and
staff are always available to discuss particulars.
Synagogues can also be a context for you to traverse the cycles of the year, and as well as life’s trajectories.
The cycle of our Jewish year begins in the Fall,
as we prepare for the High Holy Days. The month
of Elul, preceding Rosh Hashanah, is a chance to
do a cheshbon hanefesh–a spiritual inventory of the
past year and our hopes for growth in the coming
year. The liturgies of the High Holidays are familiar to many (and admittedly quite long). These
days are also an opportunity to reconnect with synagogue friends both in and out of shul. With so
many holidays and meals, consider the possibility
of inviting some synagogue buddies (or those who
might become buddies) to join you in holiday meal
in your home or theirs. Would you like to build
your own sukkah on Sukkot? We can help you do
that. Or visit other members’ sukkot, or our beautiful community sukkah at the Powerhouse. The intermediate Shabbat of Sukkot we usually have a
great lunch/Kiddush in our sukkah after services.
The end of Sukkot marks the end and beginning
of our liturgical year. We conclude our annual reading of the Torah and immediately begin again on
Chanukah, usually in December, brings parties,
celebrations, latkes and doughnuts. We always
have celebrations for children, families and adults.
Tu Bishvat is the first holiday in January, and we
mark it with a seder on Shabbat morning, celebrating the mitzvot of taking care of the Earth and savoring its blessings.
Purim is a chance for more parties, in shul and
each other’s homes, with masquerade, Megillah
reading, and carnivals. Pesach soon follows. There
is a community seder (usually the second night);
we try to match guests and hosts so that no one
need be alone. After Pesach, watch for Yom HaShoah (Holocaust remembrance) service and a community celebration of Israel Independence Day.
Watch for the Tikkun Leil Shavuot, a nocturnal
study marathon the night of that holiday. Summer
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we slow down a bit, and then start preparing again
for the coming year.
This is a small and feisty synagogue; we depend
on member participation to make things happen. Our
Shabbat and holiday services and Torah readings are
led by members. Can you help by taking your turn
chanting a service or reading Torah? Great. Want to
learn how? We can teach you. Do you want to become more familiar with Jewish liturgy and synagogue skills? We love to help our members with this.
We are always looking for social action projects so
that we can fulfill our duties as responsible members
of our Venice, Los Angeles, and human communities. Watch for our program offerings, or suggest
Study and personal growth goes on all the time,
but we often start new programs after the Fall holidays. Mishkon offers opportunities for adult and
family learning, as well as our religious school and
preschool. Since we are a small synagogue, we can
be flexible. Is there something you’d like to study?
We can help make it happen.
The business and programming work of the synagogue gets done in committees. Make sure you have
a list of our active committees and their chairs and
respond enthusiastically when you’re asked to be a
part of one or more. If you don’t want to wait to be
asked, volunteer! Eventually, almost all our members have a chance to serve on the Board of Directors. This is not an onerous task; it’s actually quite
rewarding and often fun. No heavy politics here (ok,
almost none); just friends helping each other guide
our community in its growth and responsibilities.
Mishkon is here to help members in the larger
cycles of our lives. If there is a new baby in the family, we will be here for naming ceremonies and/or brit
milah (remember to tell us!). As your children progress through school, there will be opportunities for
both formal and informal education. We especially
recommend Camp Ramah, the camping program of
the Conservative movement. Many of our children
made lifelong friends there. We also try to have some
family programs there during the year.
Our most active members find that the most important work of a synagogue doesn’t take place in the
synagogue. We want to make connections.
Allow us to help you make new friends here by
spending time in each other’s homes and lives.
Preparing to become a Bar/Bat mitzvah begins in
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the earliest grades, but takes off in two years preceding your child’s thirteenth birthday. Make sure you
discuss the particulars with our school director, rabbi, and administrator to schedule a date and make the
A synagogue is a place to grow in mitzvot. For
some people it is Kashrut, Shabbat and holiday observance. For others it is Hebrew language. For
many it is deepening our connection to the land and
people of Israel. Many seek synagogue resources to
help them with spiritual growth: learning how to be
quiet, how to listen, how to be patient and attentive.
Marriages are great times to turn to the synagogue
for help in planning weddings, couples’ counseling,
and sharing one’s blessings. We can also help our
members in need of a Jewish divorce (a GET).
Sharing simchas is important to us; so is being
with each other in times of loss. If you or someone
you know is in the hospital, please let the office
know so the rabbi and others can visit. Should there
be a death in the family or community, the Mishkon
staff and members will assist in funerals, shivas,
yahrtzeits and memorials. This is one of the most
valuable services we, or any community, can provide. You can expect us to be present for you in your
times of bereavement. Likewise, we ask that you respond affirmatively when asked to help make a minyan or visit a family during shiva.
Last (but not finally): a synagogue is a place to
explore your relationship to the Holy One of Blessing. This is our bottom line. When we learn how to
deal with each other with integrity, compassion and
joy, we learn how to see the Holy One reflected in
each other’s faces.
THE JOYFUL LAUGHTER and
shouts erupting from the Susan
Sims Bodenstein Preschool
playground may seem a bit
louder these days. Thanks to the
congregation, community, and
preschool families, we raised
nearly $20,000 for a complete
renovation of our outdoor play
area. From a new, safer, state-of
-the-art rubber ground covering
to beautiful new redwood beams
providing shade, we’ve made
our spot worthy of the amazing
kids who bring it to life each
day with their imagination, collaboration, and smiles. Next to
the new sinks and faucets is a
wonderful water and rock garden, a favorite spot for young
engineers and water enthusiasts.
Shaded by a new bamboo pagoda, the renovated sandbox is always crowded with young cooks
mixing cake batters, construction foremen moving earth, and
focused archeologists patiently
sifting for their next big discovery. Other new features include
a safer wooden railing, a roomier area by the snack table, and
beautiful, nature-inspired murals
on the back wall. The whole
space has been upgraded to
maximize use and promote the
children’s social, physical, and
Thanks to everyone who helped
make this happen.
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“It is a happy talent
to know how to play.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Pesach Stories From Mishkon Members
MY MOST MEMORABLE PASSOVER was in 1997,
shortly after my nephew had been rescued. Sam had
been abducted by his mentally ill father; my sister,
Abby, worked tirelessly with law enforcement
around the country for more than ten months while
Sam was missing. Locally, a handful of very special
officers had followed up on every lead and kept information flowing to my sister.
When I told Abby that I wanted to dedicate our
second Seder to celebrating Sam’s redemption, she
suggested that we invite some of the people who had
helped find him. So that year, among our guests
were two local police officers, a county law enforcement agent and two FBI agents. We spent the evening talking about the partnership between us and God
that can make miracles happen.
IN 1971, I WAS STATIONED IN KAISERSLAUTERN,
Germany. As Pesach approached, I asked Rabbi
Howard Kosovske, my cousin and the Jewish chaplain, to help find a Seder that I could attend.
Cousin Howie, who was based in Frankfurt, said
that he knew plenty of Jewish millionaires at whose
homes I would be welcome, but that he couldn't recommend them.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"After the war, '45, '46, Germany was in ruins," he
explained. "Terrible times. Nobody had any money
except the Occupation forces and a handful of Jews
who had survived the camps and got a monthly pension—government reparations.
"In Frankfurt, a few of these Jews recruited starving, desperate German girls and opened brothels. Got
their revenge, and got rich, too. They're in other businesses now, but do you really want to spend Pesach
with such people?" he asked.
"I guess not," I replied.
"Then I'll ask Louis Roth," he said. "He's probably
the poorest Jew in Frankfurt— but a very interesting
I found Roth’s four-room walkup in a stadt project, municipal housing in rows of grim concrete
apartments slumped around asphalt quadrangles.
In Louis' spotless home, a few sticks of severe
Nordic furniture tiptoed across bare floors; only a
calendar broke the monotony of whitewashed walls.
A compact man in his 60s, his face was deeply
lined and he moved with the stiff, painful tread of an
octogenarian. Louis effusively accepted the matzoh
and kosher-for-Pesach canned goods my cousin had
provided. In flawless English, he introduced Anna, a
Saxon wife less than half his age and at least twice
his size, and their flaxen-haired daughter, a giggling
9-year-old with Down syndrome.
Louis opened his Haggadah and we began in the
usual way: Moses, Pharaoh, plagues, the Angel of
Death, the Exodus, bread of affliction, bitter herbs,
wine. Seamlessly, he continued with his own tale: A
newspaperman critical of National Socialism, his career as a political columnist ended in 1933 with a
midnight warning from a police pal that he would be
arrested at dawn. Hegira took him to France, where
he wrote for a wire service until Paris fell and the
Gestapo hunted him down.
Lucky Louis avoided the extermination camps and
passed an agonizing captivity among political prisoners in a Belgian dungeon. In 1944, a tank flying the
French tricolore broke down the walls. Louis slept
three days and nights in a hotel, ate the most glorious
meal of his life—K rations—and went to work reporting the war. In 1945, he returned to Frankfurt.
His health broken, Louis survived on a tiny pension supplemented by selling tickets at the
Operaplatz. There he met Anna, a homely farm girl
who eked out a living scrubbing floors. After the
house lights dimmed, he often found her a free seat
where she could listen to the music she loved.
One night Anna was raped. Upon learning that she
was pregnant, she attempted suicide. Louis proposed
marriage, protecting Anna from disgrace and giving
the hapless child the only thing of value he owned:
I had swallowed a hundred questions, but now I
interrupted. "I don't understand," I said. "After all
that the Germans did to you, after the war, why didn't
you go to Israel, or to America?"
"There have been Roths in Germany for at least a
thousand years," he replied. "I couldn't let a few
gangsters drive me from my home."
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On the long drive back to my base, I decided that
cousin Howard was wrong. Tally up the things that
really count, and Louis Roth was the richest Jew in
Marvin J. Wolf
WHEN I WAS A TWEEN and my little sister was a
mischievous five, our living room was transformed
into a gigantic social hall to accommodate our family, friends and neighbors for the Seder of all Seders.
The ages of participants ranged from three to 63.
My father led the service, proceeding as usual with
the sharing of readings from the Maxwell House
Haggadah, cups of wine, salted water, Hillel sandwiches, matzoh balls in soup…the whole megillah.
When the time came to search for the Afikomen, I
remained with the adults, knowing that I was too mature to run ragged through the house like my sister
and her buddies in search of our dessert matzoh.
They found it, brought it to my dad, got their rewards and we continued with the Seder. At this point
I was restless, so I volunteered to open the door for
Elijah and to check how much wine was left in his
cup after he entered and left.
Just as I was about to open the door, the doorbell
rang. Lo and behold, the neighborhood patrol officer
stood there, wearing a badge and with his pistol
drawn. “What in the world” I thought to myself,
“was he doing there?”
After much discussion between the adults and the
officer, it was concluded that while searching for the
Afikomen my sister and her friends accidentally
tripped the Patrol’s emergency button.
Despite the logic to the contrary, I wasn’t too mature to allow myself the outrageous thought that
maybe this time, Elijah came to our Seder in the
guise of a flesh and blood person.
After years and many Seders later, I still hold my
breath when the door is opened for Elijah, waiting to
see who will enter!
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BARBARA’S BOOK CLUB
MISHKON’S BOOK CLUB was started several
years ago by member Barbara Wiesenfeld. After
her passing, it was renamed in her memory.
The club meets every four to six weeks in a
member’s home. We read books of Jewish interest,
including fiction and non-fiction. We have read
about Israel, the Holocaust, Spinoza, Jews in the
Diaspora–Egypt, Iraq, England, Argentina—and the
American Jewish experience.
Since 2012, we have devoted one meeting each
year to a book by a local author, and invited the author to speak and discuss it. Our first was Yona Sabar, Professor of Hebrew and Aramaic at UCLA.
Professor Sabar spoke about My Father’s Paradise:A Son’s Search for his Jewish Past in Kurdish
Iraq. This biography and memoir of Yona was
written by his son, Ariel. Last year, Marthe Cohn
spoke about Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story
of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany.
MARCH 11, 2014
This year our speaker is Jonathan Kirsch, attorney, author, and book editor of The Jewish Journal,
who will speak about his newest book, The Short,
Strange Life of Herschel Grynszpan: A Boy
Avenger, A Nazi Diplomat, and a Murder in Paris.
Discussions are always lively and interesting, because our members have such varied life experiences, professions and opinions. Apart from intellectual
stimulation, the Book Club provides members with
the priceless benefit of a family within the Mishkon
U.S. POSTAGE PAID
PERMIT NO. 613
Galim March 2014/ 5774