On Faith

And they were like fallen leaves, in their golden years. 
Through their memory, we re-dedicate our lives towards acts of loving kindness, faith and blessing.  We remember the 11.

The open grave of Rose Mallinger (z”l) whose life was taken at Tree of Life at the age of 97.

On Faith
By: Rabbi Lori Shapiro

What is faith?   Its meaning, derived from the Hebrew, “Emunah,” is from the same word as “Amen” as in “I believe!”.  But, what is faith?  And how does it present in today’s world? Is faith an expression of naivete, a Pollyannaish ostrich maneuver that lays our head in the sand as a windstorm blows about us?  What role does faith have in a country divided by ideology?  Does faith discriminate?  Can I be someone who says “I believe it is all going to work out for the good?” if in stating that am only considering the half of those surrounding me who possess the same beliefs that I, myself, have?

I think it’s time to dig deep into faith.  The Hebrew root begins with this sound “Om” – sounds familiar?  It’s a sound that is a universal call to peace, a sound that transcends the dizzying cubistlike perspectives of the collective and requires that we, you, me, all of us surrender to a Universal Presence.  Sometimes the Universal Presence is the need to work with what you have, no matter the political difference or moral incongruity of those who surround you.  Does it really mean taking to the streets and screaming our lungs out as a grandiose and public protest of injustice?  Or does it mean having enough presence of self to do something about it in every small moment of life?

After the shooting in Pittsburgh the President of the hospital, Dr. Jeffrey Cohen, was called upon to monitor the health of the shooter.  He went into his room and asked him if he was in any physical pain.  He spent some time with him, reviewing his chart, and monitoring his vitals.  After he was assured that his patient was cared for, he left the room.  As he was leaving, the FBI agent who was guarding the patient called out to him, “I don’t know that I could have done that.” Doctor’s Cohen’s response was succinct:

“We’re here to take care of sick people,” Cohen, who is a member of the Tree of Life congregation where the massacre happened, said. “We’re not here to judge you. We’re not here to ask ’Do you have insurance?’ or ’Do you not have insurance?’ We’re here to take care of people that need our help.”

Dr. Cohen’s actions resemble those of a man of humble faith.  Faith is about showing up when we are called upon.  With dignity. With humanity.  With discernment. Having faith is to transcend the ego and provide an elevation offering in the face of chaos that says “I see something greater here than myself; I see the workings of my Creator through My Hands, My Dignity, My Care.”  Faith is what makes this world turn in the face of insanity. Faith is what restores our human dignity in the throes of destruction. Faith is Dr. Cohen’s Act of Defiance through Decency before the face of an Anti-Semitic killer. Faith is not for the feeble hearted or ideologue.  It is not in heaven.  It is right here.  

Emunah.  Amen.  Om….

Bringing Home Early Detection

Yehudit Abrams: Brining Early Detection Home
By: Rabbi Lori Shapiro
Source: israelnationalnews.com

Israeli physician and engineer Yehudit Abrams speaks about the influence of Open Temple and Rabbi Lori’s impact on her life for Israel National News at 26 minutes into this interview.  Dr. Abrams award winning Monither empowers women to monitor changes in their own breast tissue and is a revolutionary innovation in breast cancer early detection.


Message from the CEO
By: Larry Yudelson
Source: jewishinsandiego.org

Michael Jeser, now CEO of Jewish Federation/San Diego, shared this thought piece featuring Rabbi Lori’s innovative work from when she was the rabbi at USC Hillel.  Ten years later, he reflects on her innovations…

Wall Street Journal: Reaction II

NYT, WaPo Champion Leftist High Holiday Jewish Services, Including Goat Yoga And Black Lives Matter Discussions
By: Ben Shapiro
Source: Daily Wire

Ben Shapiro 2020 cross referenced Open Temple Goat Yoga in the Daily Wire as well as the National Review. Ben, “for reals”, we invite you to experience Open Temple. We are NOT political and focus rather on the role of ritual life and Torah in the 21st Century.  #DailyWire #OpenTemple #SpiritualbutNotPolitical #VeniceLove

Wall Street Journal: Reaction

Goat Yoga is a Poor Substitute for Religious Observance
By: Ben Shapiro
Source: National Review

Conservative political commentator @BenShapiro responded to the WSJ article about outreach to a new generation (and Goat Yoga Avodah on Yom Kippur) in the National Review. A Los Angelean, he is officially invited to Open Temple’s “Shabbat Take Me Higher” to experience our love of Torah. Hey, Ben, stay in our guest house in Venice with your family for Shabbat, and I’ll invite David Suissa over as well and the three of us can daven at PJC for Shacharit together. B’Emet and with love, Rabbi Lori Shapiro

Wall Street Journal

Goat Yoga, Mosh Pits, Glow Sticks: Younger Jews Reinvent Yom Kippur
By: Shayndi Raice
Source: Wall Street Journal

For 2,000 years, Jews have spent Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, in a synagogue abstaining from food and drink, fervently praying and beseeching God to forgive their sins.
This year, some rabbis, eager to woo younger people to High Holiday services, are holding programs in a beer garden, replacing deep reverential bows with Goat Yoga…