A Straw in the Open Temple Sky

by Louis Postel

ARCHICAD user David Hertz, FAIA of The Studio of Environmental Architecture uses innovative and unusual materials to create beautiful and environmentally conscious designs. In the post below you will read about how Hertz has integrated an air to water technology called ‘Skysource’ to produce up to 150 gallons of water per day.


For a miracle machine, capable of nudging humanity back from the rocky ledge of eco-suicide, it looks inauspicious—like a fridge with waffle-like filters finning the air. It’s the kind of thing Sears will gladly remove and replace.

But hold on!

There’s something going on with this machine: it makes water from air, lots of water, using solar and refrigeration technology to suck it down like a straw in the heavens. Prices range from $1,400 for the 14-gallon per day office model to $28,000 for the 300-gallon behemoth.

Nice to know, but what does this have to do with architecture?

Plenty, according to David Hertz FAIA of Venice, California, who owns Sky Source, manufacturer of the machines, which are shipped around the world from his factories in Hyderabad, India.

“For the past thirty-five years, I’ve been working to go beyond sustainability, toward a restorative and regenerative architecture,” he says. “While I don’t like how invasive buildings are on the environment, I love building.”

That’s the paradox Hertz has spent a year trying to resolve; the ultimate challenge of reversing the impact of his own profession—designing buildings beyond LEED certification, to a net positive relationship with the world.

Now with water from the sky, which contains more water than all the rivers on earth, cholera-plagued Haiti will not only have medical grade water, a project in partnership with screenwriter Scott Fifer’s celebrity-backed Go Campaign, but it will also have solar-powered buildings that feed the hungry, clad with well-irrigated vegetative surfaces, with all sewage treated and reused as fertilizer.

“Imagine an air-to-air heat pump whose main function is to transfer air into water rather than heat,” says Hertz. He first heard about the water-generating magic machine from a client who turned him on to its Miami-based inventor Richard Groden. Groden had taken his Sky Water company public just as the recession hit in 2008. The company quickly ran out of steam, and the entrepreneur retired to Miami.

This is already good news for Hertz’s residential clients in drought-stricken Santa Barbara, paying $5,000 per month in fines just to keep their trees alive. Good news too for the slum-dwellers of Hyderabad who now have free access to water stations at the base of the columns supporting Sky Source billboards, for the citizens out west whose new city office addition is well on its way to meeting the Living Building Challenge “efficient as a flower,” and for the members of the Open Temple in Venice, California, who draw water from Sky Source cistern to fill towers growing squash, cucumbers, butter lettuce, collard greens for the Sabbath.

“I am a water and tea person and when things taste yucky I’m the first to know it,” says Open Temple’s Rabbi Lori Shapiro about Sky Source water. “I first got a taste of it from a spigot Hertz had set up for all the homeless people living on the boardwalk here. It was the most delicious water I have ever tasted. It’s like putting a straw in the sky to drink. And for growing food for our Sabbaths, Sky Source water’s like manna from heaven. We have a music studio here in the temple and occasionally you hear one of the musicians call out ‘Hey, Dude, want to drink some sky?’ They also tell me it’s a great pick-up line.”

Hertz’s twelve-person studio may be beachy and barefoot, but it’s busy in the pursuit of the restorative and regenerative; a pursuit which in many ways calls for the reinvention of the practice of architecture itself. As opposed to design clients seeking out a specialist, Hertz holds that the complexity of the challenges they face will call increasingly for a systems thinker, one who sees and understands the organic connectedness of all things: community, environment, health, and happiness. “Applying Sky Source’s adiabatic distillation technology feels more like a purer form of architecture than non-architecture: there’s a structure, a social benefit, and space making,” he says. “After all, from a historical perspective, the well, the fountain, have always played a central role in towns and cities.”

The studio’s busy, but for all that business there’s no conference table for laying out blueprints. Working with Archicad, Hertz invites clients and staffers to walk around his many projects in virtual reality. There’s a trophy design for the World Surfing League, a hotel in Venice, a resort in the Grenadines (prefabricated from reclaimed wood from an old pier in Borneo, then flat-packed in Java), and a launch control facility Hertz is designing for SpaceX rockets. In addition, there’s competing for a $1.75 million Water Abundance XPRIZE for a device that extracts a minimum of 2,000 liters of fresh water per day from the atmosphere using 100 percent renewable energy, at a cost of no more than 2 cents per liter.

As a systems thinker, young David Hertz didn’t have to look far for inspiration. His father, Robert, a surgeon, wrote three science fiction novels. One, Penumbra, imagines sunspots knocking out all systems on Earth. He was also collecting and championing modern art with his wife, Joanne, who joined him in founding the Museum of Modern Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles, as well as the fabled Gemini Graphics, which teamed with Robert Rauschenberg in 1967 in producing what was then the largest art print ever made: Booster, a 72-inch-tall lithograph/silkscreen self-portrait.

As a kid, David recalls seeing outside the car window rows and rows of 747 aircraft “desiccating in the desert.” Years later, in 2011, he persuaded some adventurous clients to buy one of the 357 million-dollar planes for $35,000, in order to clip its wings and use them as their new roof. He had the wings brought to the remote site by helicopter, saving money on gas for a truck and labor, floating the giant wings on steel frames over the glass walls of what’s now known to Arch Daily readers as the 747 Wing House. At dusk, the wings appear poised to lift off into the aerodynamically shaped mountain ranges surrounding the new Malibu home. “Aluminum aircraft takes so much energy to produce, we were glad to find another use for it,” says Hertz. “Though it took a while to convince Homeland Security and the FAA we weren’t a terrorist cell, but simply mining the waste steam.”

As a miner of waste streams, as a maker of water from the sky, Hertz is helping to resolve the paradox that continues to drive him, as well as many of his colleagues in his profession. How to use systemic thinking to turn the architecture he loves into a resource-maker, rather than taker. As for the aesthetics of Sky Source machine itself—just make sure Sears doesn’t cart it off to the fridge burial grounds by mistake. The thing’s bound to precipitate and none too soon.

Thanksgiving at Israel Levin Center

Thanksgiving with your Bubbe. Not happening this year? We found our own! A group from Open Temple paired up with NuRoots and Jewish Federation at Israel Levin Center to make sure that all Bubbes got their Turkey love. We were smoking in our hairnets and plastic aprons, a call back to the hairnet that so many of these Bubbes remembered fondly, as we dished out pumpkin pie, turkey and cranberry sauce. Nom Nom, Eat, Eat!  

Volunteering at Israel Levin Center

Volunteering at Israel Levin Center

Express Yourself

On election night, it became clear to Rabbi Lori that Open Temple would provide a safe space for those confused or lost by results to let it out and express themselves. The word was quickly spread over email and social media, and the next evening, 25 souls sat in a circle in the darkness of the Electric Lodge theater.

The evening opened with a healing song and drum circle led by Music Director Brock Pollock, and was followed with words from anyone who wanted to contribute in the circle. Rabbi Laura Geller, Temple Emanuel Rabbi Emerita and adviser to Open Temple, shared some of her own words: “My hope and expectation was that we would be celebrating a different kind of broken glass, the breaking of a glass ceiling, and instead it evoked Kristallnacht.” Rabbi Lori noted connections to the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989.

Many people spoke in the darkness over the next two hours, and stayed after to embrace. “Express Yourself” was profiled in The Jewish Journal alongside other reactions to the election from Los Angeles Jews.

Dunking in an Ocean Mikveh for High Holidays

Venice Pier, October 10th, 2016

The night before Kol Nidre, fifteen Open Templers met at the Venice Pier for “The Dunk,” the 5th event in our sequence of the “High Holiday Venice Experience” this 5777. Participants of all ages followed Rabbi Lori down to the beach, circling up for their directions to disrobe (clothing optional) and immerse themselves into the Pacific Ocean as an alternative form of mikveh before Yom Kippur began.

Ryan Torok profiled the event in The Jewish Journal’s Moving and Shaking column:

“This is the original mikveh,” Open Temple Rabbi Lori Shapiro said while still wrapped in a towel after emerging from the ocean on Oct. 10. “The bathhouse is something that is an innovation of society. The mikveh, in its essence, is mayim hayim — living waters.”

After dunking for several minutes, the sound of the Shofar called everyone back to shore, rejuvenated, and cleansed from the icy waters.

 

Jewish Journal: A Bar Mitzvah with 1.2 million guests

David Suissa featured a very special Bar Mitzvah officiated by Rabbi Lori at the LA Museum of the Holocaust in the Journal this week. He writes:

I rarely pay attention to walls when I’m in a synagogue. I’m usually more focused on the people, the prayers and the rabbi’s sermon.

On a recent Shabbat, though, I couldn’t stop looking at the walls. I was at a bar mitzvah service for my friend Steve Kessler’s son, Benny, with about 80 other guests. The service, led by Rabbi Lori Shapiro of the Open Temple in Venice Beach, featured some beautiful rituals I had never seen before, because I usually pray in more traditional synagogues.

And yet, as meaningful and poetic as the service was, what really blew me away was what I saw on the walls: 1.2 million little holes, each one representing a Jewish child who perished in the Holocaust.

You can read the rest of David’s article here.

LAMOTH

Venice Freedom Seder

2015sedar2

WHAT:
Venice Freedom Seder

WHEN:
Saturday, April 4th 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

WHERE:
Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Avenue, Venice, CA 90291
Free Valet ParkingFeaturing the Music of the Open Temple Beit T’shuvah Band
and a Bedouin Tent
Wilderness Vibe
so
You Can Let Go.

Click Here For Tickets

$55* (before March 30)
$75* ( April 3)
$85 (at door)
$18* (for kids under 13)

Everyone is Welcome

Dinner will feature both Vegan/Vegetarian and Poultry Options
*plus Eventbrite ticket handling fee

JTA: Women rabbis at forefront of pioneering prayer communities

jta2

Innovative Women Rabbis

Clockwise from top left, Rabbi Lori Shapiro of Open Temple, Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum of The Kavana Cooperative, Rabbi Noa Kushner of The Kitchen, Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann of Mishkan Chicago, Rabbi Naomi Levy of Nashuva and Rabbi Sharon Brous of Ikar. (Courtesy of the congregations)

…Open Temple, founded to reach out to Jews with very little Jewish background, has focused on education, and on community-building through events celebrating major holidays and b’nai mitzvot. The community already has a Hebrew school and b’nai mitzvah program, and is preparing to introduce regular Shabbat services in the coming year.

a-open-temple-event1

Open Temple holding its family Rosh Hashanah service. (Jordan Teller)

Several of the communities are moving toward affiliating with one another in a more formal way.

In May, Brous, Kushner, Nussbaum and Heydemann — along with Romemu’s Ingber, Amichai Lau-Levie of Lab/Shul in Manhattan and Rabbi Scott Perlo (a former rabbinic intern at Ikar) from Sixth & I Historic Synagogue — met at the Leichtag Ranch north of San Diego to discuss ways to work together more closely and potentially articulate a common vision. The group’s participants, who jokingly call themselves the G7, said the discussions had not yet turned into anything concrete, but suggested that something more definite would be forthcoming in the coming weeks and months.

They all stressed that they were not looking to form any sort of movement.

The innovative communities and their rabbis are increasingly being cited as models for the Jewish future. Several were honored in the Slingshot Fund’s newly issued directory of innovative Jewish organizations, and Levy says she travels on a monthly basis to speak to synagogues about spiritual outreach and creativity.

How precisely these communities will evolve remains an open question. And in certain ways, they already have — adding new services as the congregations grow and as members’ needs and desires change. Kavana has created a Hebrew immersion preschool and religious school, and has added adult education programs as its cohort of older congregants grows. The Kitchen’s “Shabbatify” program organizes Shabbat dinners of 12 to 20 people in participants’ homes, and the community is in the process of opening a store to sell its self-designed prayer books and a Passover game.

But Myers, an Ikar member from its early days, says that as the communities grow and evolve, those that wish to survive in the long term will inevitably need to develop their institutional forms and find new ways to generate and harness energy.

Read Full Article >

The Jewish Daily Forward: Female Rabbis Lead Pioneering Prayer Communities

forward

A decade ago in Los Angeles, two organizations opened their doors with a call to prayer — or they would have if they had any doors to open.

Ikar, led by Rabbi Sharon Brous, and Nashuva, led by Rabbi Naomi Levy, were conceived separately. But when they launched in 2004, both offered a novel, and in many ways similar, approach to Jewish spirituality and community — regularly scheduled, rabbi-led services that were not affiliated with any movement or institution, that met in rented space, and that were avowedly not synagogues.

Clockwise from top left, Rabbi Lori Shapiro of Open Temple, Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum of The Kavana Cooperative, Rabbi Noa Kushner of The Kitchen, Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann of Mishkan Chicago, Rabbi Naomi Levy of Nashuva and Rabbi Sharon Brous of Ikar. (Courtesy of the congregations)  Read more: http://www.jta.org/2014/12/14/life-religion/female-rabbis-at-forefront-of-pioneering-prayer-communities

Clockwise from top left, Rabbi Lori Shapiro of Open Temple, Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum of The Kavana Cooperative, Rabbi Noa Kushner of The Kitchen, Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann of Mishkan Chicago, Rabbi Naomi Levy of Nashuva and Rabbi Sharon Brous of Ikar. (Courtesy of the congregations)

“We were trying to walk into the conversation about Jewish identity and community and ritual without preconceived ideas about where we would land,” Brous told JTA, describing the beginnings of Ikar. “What we were trying to do didn’t follow any model that already existed.”

Since then, however, the format pioneered by Nashuva and Ikar has become its own recognizable model, and similar spiritual communities with a noticeably common style have sprung up in a number of other cities across the country. Prayer is designed to be heartfelt and arouse the spirit. Often there is clapping, dancing and singing without words. Worshipers tend to skew young, informal and hip. The groups don’t own buildings; typically they meet in up-and-coming or already desirable neighborhoods. The communities are led by charismatic rabbis who stress innovation and outreach to Jews who feel alienated from existing Jewish institutions. They are nondenominational. They often don’t know exactly how to describe themselves.

And most, but not all, have one more common element: They were founded, and are still being led by, women rabbis.

In 2006, Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum launched The Kavana Cooperative in Seattle. In 2011, Rabbi Noa Kushner opened The Kitchen in San Francisco and Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann initiated Mishkan Chicago in the Windy City. In 2012, Rabbi Lori Shapiro started Open Temple in the West Los Angeles neighborhood of Venice.

Read more >

Jewish Journal: Women rabbis at forefront of pioneering prayer communities

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — A decade ago in Los Angeles, two organizations opened their doors with a call to prayer — or they would have if they had any doors to open.

Ikar, led by Rabbi Sharon Brous, and Nashuva, led by Rabbi Naomi Levy, were conceived separately. But when they launched in 2004, both offered a novel, and in many ways similar, approach to Jewish spirituality and community — regularly scheduled, rabbi-led services that were not affiliated with any movement or institution, that met in rented space, and that were avowedly not synagogues.

“We were trying to walk into the conversation about Jewish identity and community and ritual without preconceived ideas about where we would land,” Brous told JTA, describing the beginnings of Ikar. “What we were trying to do didn’t follow any model that already existed.”

Since then, however, the format pioneered by Nashuva and Ikar has become its own recognizable model, and similar spiritual communities with a noticeably common style have sprung up in a number of other cities across the country. Prayer is designed to be heartfelt and arouse the spirit. Often there is clapping, dancing and singing without words. Worshipers tend to skew young, informal and hip. The groups don’t own buildings; typically they meet in up-and-coming or already desirable neighborhoods. The communities are led by charismatic rabbis who stress innovation and outreach to Jews who feel alienated from existing Jewish institutions. They are nondenominational. They often don’t know exactly how to describe themselves.

And most, but not all, have one more common element: They were founded, and are still being led by, women rabbis.

In 2006, Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum launched The Kavana Cooperative in Seattle. In 2011, Rabbi Noa Kushner opened The Kitchen in San Francisco and Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann initiated Mishkan Chicago in the Windy City. In 2012, Rabbi Lori Shapiro started Open Temple in the West Los Angeles neighborhood of Venice.