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A Kabbalist’s Feast: Tu B’Shevat Seder at Pico Shul

tubishvat 034.1Tu B’shvat is Coming! Celebrate Nature’s Holy Gifts and Wisdom at our Kabbalists’ Feast. Last year this event sold out!

Year’s ago in the ancient city of Tzfat a group of Kabbalists uncovered the mystical secret’s of Tu B’shvat. They revealed these mystical secrets in a ceremony patterned after the Passover Seder and made a festival meal on the night of Tu B’shvat, the 15th of the month of Shvat. There are four cups of wine, a recited text, and ritual foods eaten. However in place of the story of the Exodus from Egypt the Tu B’Shvat seder uncovers the inner dimensions of reality as revealed in nature. In place of Matzah and chicken soup with Matzah balls, there are a dozen kinds of fruit to enjoy and to fuel spirited conversation.

Join Rabbi Yonah for a memorable and delicious excursion into the mystical realm of Tu B’Shevat with this unique Seder he has written for the event based on the ancient Seder recited by the kabbalists in Tzfat centuries ago.

The Tu B’Shevat Seder will take place Tuesday, February 3rd, at 8pm at Pico Shul. Reservations are recommended as space is limit. RSVP for $15 before January 26th. Tickets go up to $20 on January 26th.

Tickets will be online soon!

There will wine served at event, have a designated driver, or us Uber

There is a lot of food being served.

This is a sit down event.

You may be able to pay at door if we still have space.


Join me for a Shabbat Camping Spiritual Adventure

Shabbat Tent and Pico Shul are organizing the second annual Mountain High Shabbat Spiritual Adventure for young adults in their 20s and 30s, August 22-24, in the Angeles National Forest Jackson Flats Campground.

This awesome summer camping weekend will take place from August 22-24 at Jackson Flats Campground 7,500′ high in the Angeles National Forest. Grab your backpack and camping gear, and we’ll provide the food, l’chaims, and spirituality. Space is very limited, so we need everyone to apply. Fill out this application if you are interested in this adventurous spiritual retreat. We will do our best to include all who apply, but unfortunately we cannot promise a spot to everyone this time around.

I will be leading the teaching and Shabbat programs.

Upon acceptance to the program you will have 48 hours to submit your registration fee or potentially loose your spot. Registration prior to Aug. 11th costs $75, and afterwards cost $99. Price includes camping and kosher meals from Friday dinner through Sunday brunch.

Register at

Thank you to our generous sponsors:
Allen and Deanna Alevy and Family
Barak Raviv Foundation
French-Friedman Foundation

Will Anyone Fill Bronfman’s Chair?

As the Jewish world comes to grips with the passing of the legendary Jewish leader, activist, philanthropist and businessman Edgar Bronfman, who died this weekend at the age of 84, major questions arise. Is this the end of Jewish mega-philanthropists whose enormous gifts have propped up many of the leading Jewish institutions in the Jewish community? Will any already committed mega-philanthropists step up to take his place at the helm of broad-based Jewish giving? Can the Jewish world recruit younger mega-funders?

Statistics are hard to come by for outsiders. Jewish legacy organizations and Jewish Federations have been depending on large gifts from aging donors to make up for the steep decline in donations from younger donors. Attempts to recruit a new generation of Jewish mega-donors is not working.

Bronfman was at the top for years in Jewish giving, and his largess and generosity were at the top of the contemporary Jewish world. Bronfman’s support cut across political and ideological divides. For example, he supported the orthodox Yeshiva Chovavei Torah and the Reform movement’s Hebrew Union College. Bronfman, in his role as President of the Samuel Bronfman Foundation, also gave generously to Jewish causes. It is unlikely that anyone will ever support such a broad range of Jewish organizations and causes ever again.

Bronfman was the long time head of the World Jewish Congress who used this pulpit to advocate for Jewish rights and fought for many Jewish battles including securing restitution from Swiss banks. His deep concern for Jewish identity among young Jews made him one of the first supporters of Birthright Israel. He also advocated for Soviet Jewry, against the Nazi Kurt Waldheim, and for better ties between the Jewish community and the Vatican.

Unlike the Jewish Mega-donors who give primarily to secular institutions such as universities, museums, hospitals and family foundations — think of Leonard Lauder’s gift his year of 1 billion to the Met — Bronfman’s generosity extended overwhelmingly to Jewish causes.

The Jewish institutional world is scrambling to find more Bronfmans, but there will likely be no more. The current generation of Jewish mega-donors have adopted the central part of Hillel’s maxim, ‘if I am only for the Jewish people, what am I’. Bronfman’s commitment to the Jewish people came from another age entirely. He was a student of the first part of Hillel’s maxim; ‘if I am not for the Jewish people, who will be.’

As the Jewish community mourns the end of the Bronfman era, Jewish communities need to immediately act on Hillel’s ‘if not now, when’ maxim: ‘If we cannot capture the hearts, minds, and philanthropy of Jewish mega-donors today, will we ever have another chance?’

According to his Foundation website, some of the organization that he has funded include:

92nd St. Y Bronfman Center for Jewish Life
American Jewish World Service
Birthright Israel
BIMA: Berkshire Institute of Music and Arts
Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel
Congregation Beth Elohim
Edgar M. Bronfman Center at NYU
Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
Foundation for Jewish Camp
Hebrew Charter School
Hebrew College Rabbinical School
Hebrew Union College
Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life
Jewish Outreach Institute
Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
Limmud FSU
Mechon Hadar
Re’ut Institute
Save a Child’s Heart
Temple Har Shalom
The Curriculum Initiative
The Shalom Hartman Institute
UJA – Federation of New York
Yeshivat Chovevei Torah


Teavana: Chai Chai V’Kayam

From JTA:

Having conquered coffee, Starbucks is now moving into tea. The coffee giant’s newest venture, Teavana, launched with a tea bar on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says he doesn’t expect the new venture to be as big as the coffeehouse chain (“tea lacks the major caffeine count,” he explains). But he is hoping to draw in kashrut-keeping consumers.

“It will be [kosher]. It hasn’t been certified,” Schultz told Forbes. “No rabbi has come in to bless it yet!”

It looks like Schultz, who is Jewish, has fallen prey to the common misconception that kosher status is conveyed via a blessing. But if Teavana is to succeed by peddling its drinks at $4.95 a cup, it will need the blessing of luxury tea fans.

This very active Jewish leader has no idea what it means to be kosher. He awaits a “rabbi to bless” his tea. I mean I will be happy to bless his tea, but it won’t move the kosher needle. There is however already a good Jewish song for tea: “David melech Yisrael, chai chai v’kayam…”