The temple my kids grew up in is nicknamed “Temple Beth Showrunner” because the creators of so many television shows attend. But when you sit in the sanctuary year after year you see that loss is loss. That’s what interested me – that in LA where are lives are so disparate, the temple remained a destination of healing and connection.
There is a moment as an adult when you suddenly deeply understand Shehechianu. When you realize how extraordinary a blessing it is to arrive, sustained at this moment. You are keenly aware of the loved ones who did not arrive with you. You make this journey with your community – it would be unbearable without it.
Jewishly, Los Angeles has an incredibly dynamic scene right now there seems to be a real desire to connect and also a vigorous mission of social action. Sharon Brous an LA rabbi was named one of the most influential rabbis in the country. East Side Jews is an organization that creates gleefully irreverent but deeply spiritual gathering for young Jewish people outside of temple. It’s exciting to see how our Jewish lives inform our daily lives – how relevant and useful these rituals are – even now, even in LA.
Do you feel there is a distinct difference between Jews in say, Los Angeles, and Jews in New York City?
Well, I had Zabar’s flown in for my son’s briss. In LA on Simchat Torah they serve sushi to commemorate the scroll. But lox is lox! I think we are less different than we are the same. We are the same in the ways that most matter. Allegra Goodman’s collection Total Immersion is set in Hawaii, but I think that is the same delight of stepping into a temple in a different country or a different community. If you wait a few moments the Shma will be said and you’ll know who you are.