Upstart Much?

Open Temple accelerates into the international spotlight! We have been invited to join Cohort 10 of the much celebrated UpStart Accelerator. UpStart partners with innovators to redesign the experience and expression of Jewish life. Rabbi Lori and members of the Open Temple staff will be working closely with UpStart and members of Cohort 10 (as well as past cohort participants) to take Open Temple to the next level.

We are particularly thrilled to share this journey with Sara Brandes, Zachary Lasker, Craig Reid Taubman and their organizations Or HaLev and Pico Union Project. Kudos to all of Cohort 10 Colleagues: JQ International, Eshel, Makom Community, Olive Tree Arts, Tikkun Ha-Ir, and No Shame on U, we look forward to getting to know you all!

Slingshot–We’re In!

The Slingshot Guide is the foremost comprehensive resource into today’s most groundbreaking and significant organizations, projects and programs of the North American Jewish community.


This year, for the first time, Slingshot released a Los Angeles edition, and Open Temple was one of only 26 organizations selected for inclusion. We are tremendously honored.


Inclusion in the Guide recognizes an organization as being among the best drivers of future Jewish life and engagement, and at Open Temple, we are committed to the re-enchantment of Jewish life through curiosity, creativity, and critical thought.


We have collaborated with many others included in the guide (hello Moishe House, NuRoots and Reboot!), been inspired by others, and look forward to many many collaborations in the future.


Good News : Venice History Can Be Saved


Good News!

The Cultural Commission has decided to consider the Tabor Residences for a Historic-Cultural Monument and will hold an “Under Consideration” hearing on May 18. At that time the Commission will decide whether to consider our nomination; if they do then there will be a site visit and a final hearing. There will be opportunity for Public Comment and you can also submit written statements. This is a multi-step process and if all goes well, the decision-making that starts on May 18 at the Cultural Heritage Commission will be decided on July 20.

If you are interested in getting involved, there are some actions you could take. Please also spread the word to others that may be interested.

Write to the city by May 10th so that your letter will be considered part of the public record in the Tabor Residences case to grant Historic status. The more support the City receives from the community, the better the chance we have of being considered.

Make it personal, tell what this property means to you, why you think it should be saved and honored. And especially why it is important that we honor Venice’s diverse heritage and in particular that of one of the founding families homes!

Be sure to include your name and address.

The Letters of Support should be sent to Copy Melissa Jones, OHR Planner,, and to me

Come to the Thursday May 18 meeting at City Hall and Speak! We need Venetians interested in their history. We need Oakwood neighbors who grew up knowing about the Tabors or not knowing and glad to be supporting this nomination. We need to tell them that there is more Venice History to be saved and you will be here again.

Tell everyone what is going on. Share this info with other concerned neighbors. Use Facebook to broadcast the importance of the history of the African-American community here in Venice.

Join our Facebook Group: Saving Venice History

As Jataun says we are doing this so “That future generations should know and learn about how it was.”

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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.

Membership. The Word Makes Me Cringe.

Membership. The word makes me cringe.

Growing up, I went to Hebrew school for one year. Third Grade. My mother went back to school to begin her studies for nursing, and Heather Stein’s mom picked me up from school on Wednesdays. Her carpool went to Temple Sinai in Cedarhurst, so I did, too, and I was enrolled in Hebrew School. I remember spending the year sitting in the back of the class with Heather and this cute boy LJ, and feeling really proud that I had 100% average in our Hebrew tests. The next year, my mom didn’t need the carpool, and I wanted to take more tap dance classes. I never was a bat mitzvah (

Years later, I wonder what belonging might have meant had my parents joined. I know that my life outside of ritual was a lonely one. Looking back, I vividly recall singing with the cantor, the Purim carnival, the lithe and bushy-haired rabbi introducing us to the prayer space, learning stories from the book of Genesis and a seedling of curiosity taking root for something I had no idea existed. I had ancestors? Something came before me? What did this mean?

Since then, I learned that my parents did not renew my Hebrew school because they didn’t want to pay membership. In creating Open Temple, our model is to be Open and Inclusive – no one will ever be turned away because of lack of funds. However, what we are providing for people needs to be supported in order to be sustainable.

What we are calling “Co-Creator”ship is akin to membership in that we are, in the words of Mordecai Kaplan, are creating a sacred space of “Belonging.” However, in general, synagogue membership has gone out of fashion. In fact, this eJewish Philanthropy article is a reminder of what works and what doesn’t:

Following this model of voluntary membership and transparent need, Open Temple will NEVER turn anyone away. We are just asking that our Co-Creators (that is you, the participant), become a part of supporting our future. And in that, we hope that you will offer your annual tax-deductible donation, as what we are building – in its unique, spirited, inclusive, fun and relevant re-enchanting way – is a part not only Venice’s future, but Judaism’s.

Join us.

Rabbi Lori Shapiro and the Open Temple Board of Directors

A History of Membership

The dollar bill is the most actively used ritual object in the US, imbued with hidden messages from founding US institutions (, and even its controversial “In God We Trust” statement, the dollar bill is the way that we, as individuals, record and quantify our values. On the Shabbat following Rosh HaShanah, dollar bills were distributed at Open Temple. The community was invited to write a statement of intention for what they want to manifest in the year ahead on them, and then were given a link to track that dollar bill’s journey in the world.

Open Temple’s core values of Love, Creativity and Truth lay a foundation for the fundamental tenants we build upon. As we continue to “build out” our vision for a lasting institution in Venice, we hold fast to the core values of not only our own community, but timeless Torah values as well. Membership originates in the Torah (see Exodus 30 and 35, Leviticus 19, and Deuteronomy 14, 24 and 26 on tithing), and continued as a part of the rabbinic conversation for millennia. As we enter the early mid-21st Century, membership is on the wan; yet, the need to commune with one another in real time has never been more desperate.

We will be inviting you, our community, to join Open Temple in a way that is sustainable for you, your family and your adopted community. By tithing to our community, you elevate your awareness of what “belonging” means and enter into an ancient and sacred covenant. Like your grandparents, or your great-great-great-great-great grandparents, you are saying “Judaism is a core value that needs a place in my life today as well as in the collective future of our people.” Open Temple is building a legacy institution for the 21st Century. With you. Our goal is to build a self-sustaining community that will be here for your children’s future.

In full transparency, here is where your dollars will go. Feel free to reach out to our Treasurer ( if you have any questions.


We Unplugged So Hard (Open Temple Style)

This year Open Temple collaborated again with Reboot to bring our community (and beyond) a magical night of Unplugging. The lineup in the theatre was amazing, featuring improv, music and spoken word, and there was also zine making, letter writing, typing (old school manual), face painting and more.

Big thanks to Zach Puchtel for his spoken word workshop, to Boise Thomas for hosting, to improv acts Deep Squeeze and The Murge, to Who Can Sleep for their songs, to Rachel Kann, Sarah Klegman and Cheryl Fidelman for their stories, and to Kent Jenkins and Friends for their wildly interactive music. And for the giant custom coloring project, thank you to artist  Christopher Noxon. And for the fabulous zine-making table, Eileen Levinson (and beau). 

And (of course) we couldn’t have done it without our stellar volunteers–Brandon Barney, Sarah Bonner, Rina Cohen, Dalia Golchan, Danielle Rose Kanizo, Natalia Pollock, Julia Thompson, Eric Well, and Brianna Ziegler.

All electronic devices were checked at the door, but we took some stealth photos for you to enjoy–

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