This coming week (Vayikra) will be my last week as the rabbi of Pacific Jewish Center | The Shul on the Beach. To send us off, the Shul is planning a community luncheon and we would love for you to join us.
When our landlord gave us 60 days notice, it gave us a chance to reevaluate our lives and we decided it was time to move on.
We part ways with the Shul on excellent terms. It’s been an incredibly life-changing 6.5 years and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to have been the rabbi of such a historic shul and special community. I have learned so much about myself and others, but above all, I have built memories, friendships, and relationships that will be a part of me forever. The time has come to move on and we are very excited about the bigger and better things ahead.
The Orthodox Jewish community really does not have anything like The Shul on the Beach. A traditional Orthodox service that is accessible and can appeal to people from all backgrounds and perspectives. A place without judgment and a place of warmth and comfort. A place of conscious living and personal growth. A place where everyone belongs. I have been asked about bringing “The Beach to Beverlywood“ – among other places – and I am eager and excited to accept this challenge.
Thank you to all of who I met at The Shul on the Beach or at our home in Santa Monica. To those of you who hoped to visit or meet at The Shul on the Beach, of course we would love for you to join us the Next Thing. Meanwhile, The Shul on the Internet lives on.
Fittingly, we just completed the Book of *Exodus* with these words:!חזק חזק ונתחזק
(As seen on Facebook)
One of the best advertised features of the Purim story, as told in Megilat Esther, is the absence of God’s name. In fact, the story is perfectly viable without God playing any role in the tale. Much like our lives, the presence or absence of God is impossible to prove or disprove. Some people are able to see God’s trademark in everything, while others are incapable of seeing God in any part of their lives.
In book in the Jewish Biblical canon, God’s conspicuous absence is particularly striking. These are the books of God, yet God is nowhere to be found.
Exodus: Gods and Kings was a terrible movie, but that won’t stop me from finding some redeeming value in its new interpretation of the Exodus story. I waited for the Torah readings about the Exodus story in our Torah reading cycle to tackle the most thought provoking aspect of the recent film.
The familiar version of the Exodus story includes a litany of harsh punishments levied by God against Pharaoh and the Egyptian people. Their suffering during these plagues is so immense that we have an ancient custom to spill some wine from our of goblets at the Pesach Seder as we recount each plague to demonstrate our sympathy for their pain. Nevertheless, the story is focused on our pain. We eat matzah to recall the bread of affliction that we ate in slavery. We eat maror to relive the bitterness of our servitude. We dip in salt-water to taste the tears of suffering we endured. In our version of the story, we are the good guys, the Egyptians and the Pharaoh are the bad guys, and God is our Secret Weapon.