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.
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.
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.