2013 Night of Unity Nov. 10 Honors Jaime and Yosef Esshaghian, Sabrina Merage

JConnect and Jewlicious annually celebrate and honor those people in the LA community that stand for Jewish Unity. Past honorees include Mayim Bialik, Barak Raviv, and David Suissa. This year’s honorees are very special people, Jaime and Yosef Esshaghian and Sabrina Merage, who have made it their duty to bring together our community and make it stronger in the process. Our honorees exemplify this value in all they do.

In addition to being a good cause, raising funds to support programs such as Jewlicious Festival, JConnectLA and Shabbat Tent, the NOU is also the most ELEGANT. PARTY. CELEBRATION of UNITY in LA. The NOU Gala features gourmet food, games, world-class entertainment, auction, dancing and more. This elegant evening brings together all segments of the Jewish community.

Please sav

e the date and plan on attending the NOY which supports the largest grassroots network in the country devoted to engaging young adult participation in Jewish life through music, festivals, holiday celebrations and social gatherings.

Would you like to thank one of the honorees or the organization for their hard work? Or advertise your business at the Night of Unity? email nightofunity @ gmail.com

!DEADLINE FOR AD SUBMISSION IS OCTOBER 25, 2013!

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Pico Shul: Our New Community

On Rosh Hashana Rachel and I founded Pico Shul together with a group of open-minded young adults with the common goal of creating a purposeful, welcoming Jewish community, committed to spiritual growth and living mindfully.
 We are located in the heart of LA’s Pico Robertson neighborhood, amid kosher restaurants, garages, and many other synagogues.

Our home is a converted warehouse run by Tomchei Shabbos which is used every Thursday to distribute food to hundreds of hungry Jewish families. It is also home to two lending organizations, one for wedding gowns and one with centerpieces for simchas. The karma of the place is palpable. It feels good to be amid the thousands of mitzvahs that are performed there every regularly.

World spread quickly about Pico Shul. While many factors contributed to this buzz, something about a new shul for young adults struck a chord. No longer relegated to Young Professional minyanim, young adults will populate and run Pico Shul. Hundreds attended our High Holiday, Days of Awesome services, far outnumbering the number of seats. It was cozy, inspiring, meaningful, musical, meaningful, and more.

When we launched Pico Shul it was, technically speaking, not my first shul. Once upon a time I ran the Nozyk Synagogue in Warsaw for a while between rabbis. The Chief rabbi fled Poland after pointing his finger at the Pope and the community began a worldwide search for a new Rabbi….who wanted to move to Poland and spoke Polish. Meanwhile, I carried the torch, ensuring minyanim, shchitah, mikvah, buriall and and other rabbinical duties were fulfilled with utmost care and respect. The average age at that time was 88. Sadly they are all gone, a group of men who practiced group grandparenting on me.

Pico Shul merges a passion for Judaism, Torah, social justice, music and community into one entity. We will be different in a lot of things that we do, and we will become, God willing, the spiritual and community home of many young adults. The community of people drawn to shul is already very diverse. Some have lost interest in the entire concept of synagogue. Some wander from shul to shul but have no place to call home. Some got the spirit, studied in yeshiva and have returned to LA and realized they are not Haredi. Some grew up “frum” and some grew up with minimal Jewish content in their lives. One cast off the Torah decades ago and is finding that he fits in here amid the young searching for community. Another loves the short divrei torah that we give between main sections of the service.

Nearly everything about the shul and its early beginnings are fulfillments of divine providence. That might sound outrageous, but its true. Finding a location. Finding funds to renovate the warehouse. Fixing the aging AC that everyone thought was dead. Donations of furniture and prayer books. The list goes on. We still need to get our own Torah, Aaron Ha Kodesh/Holy Ark, Bima/riser, Shulchan/Torah reading table, podiums.

More, much more, remains to be written about Pico Shul, and I will attempt to capture what I can on the pages of this blog.

We start our programming with Shabbat morning services. Starting at 9am with Torah learning about Noah and then at 9:45 with morning services / shacharit. All this is followed by a kiddush lunch made by my wife, the Rebbiztin Rachel 🙂 and a group of Shul volunteers. We hope that you can join us.

If you want to know support the community please email me at rabbi @ picoshul.org