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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!

FAQ:
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.

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President Carter, on The Daily Show, Links Parisian Massacres With Israeli Arab Conflict

President Jimmy Carter has done amazing work with building shelters for homeless people, and curing diseases in third-world countries. He is a humanitarian, and has helped millions.

Yet, his Carter’s assertion on the Daily Show (see video below) that the Israeli-Arab conflict played “a role” in the massacre of newspaper writers in Paris loudly calls attention to the fact that Carter is completely off-balanced on Islam, terrorism, and the Arab-Israel conflict. Charlie Hebdo was revenge for Mohammed cartoons and much more. But not the Arab Israeli conflict.

The Jewish supermarket massacre, however, was revenge on Jews and certainly connected to the Arab-Israel conflict. But Carter never distinguished between the two. (The Yemen based terrorists who took responsibility for Charlie Hebdo don’t even take responsibility for the massacre of the Jews.)

There has been no doubt since Carter published his book against Israel, Peace not Apartheid, that his legacy will be forever linked with his anti-Israel stance. He not only blames Israel for the conflict, he even blames Israel for things that Israel is not even doing: like apartheid and occupying Gaza.

I will never forget that when President Carter spoke at UC Irvine in May 2007, during my tenure as there as campus Rabbi, he told an arena full of students about Jewish control of congress which prevents peace in the middle east.

In this video below President Carter also reiterates the Israel should withdraw from East Jerusalem – which is saying to the Jews, “hey you don’t really want that Western Wall anyway.”

All President Carter’s work fighting disease in the third world has not rid him of the disease of antisemitism.

(Stewart’s line that these murderers in Paris use religions as a pretext is also simply wrong, but he is a TV show host, and not a world leader.)

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Countering This Darkness With Light: Responding to the Jerusalem Synagogue Massacre

I spent too long on Twitter trying to get CBC News to apologize over the “Jerusalem Police fatally shoot 2 after apparent synagogue attack” headline on their website. Looking back, that time could have been spent much more productively by being a first and foremost a Jewish first responder.

We all have a responsibility to be vigilant about media blunder, bias, and sensationalizing. However, I am afraid that I became so preoccupied on how this horrific tragedy was portrayed in the media that I neglected the Jewish response. I got into this “Honest Reporting Sheriff” mentality and forgot what God wants now that I am faced with his unbearable tragedy.

While my first response at that moment was to mourn — I let is pass by quickly as my emotions turned to anger and frustration. I “got up in the face” of CBC and CNN and who knows else on Twitter. I called them out for what they are.

When I realized that this anger was taking me nowhere fast, I returned to mourning. I cried over the loss of precious life, and to screamed out to God in frustration. I organized prayers for the dead and for the injured at our synagogue, and reached out to comfort students at USC who were in mourning. I hugged my children tightly to calm their sorrow.

Having helped to stem the bleeding of from our hearts, I turn my time to help bring light to the world that was filled with darkness and chaos. It’s time to make the world a more blessed place and tie myself to efforts around the world that are seeking healing.

So I joined a worldwide psalm recitation website to increase the time I am committing to prayer. I organized a new weekly Talmud study partner (chevruta) and a new Torah learning event, Leil Shishi, at Pico Shul. I committed myself to helping someone who can’t pay their rent this month and a young couple that need help making a wedding. I have added psalms to be said at Shul every week for peace in Israel.

Next time tragedy strikes I will only be checking twitter to get updates on what’s happening. I am done being a “Media Watchdog.” I’ll leave that to others.

I am going to be busy organizing a Jewish response to tragedy helping to repair the tear in the heart of the Jewish people and countering the darkness with light.

We mourn the loss of Rabbi Moshe Twerskis, Rabbi Calman Levine, Rabbi Aryeh Kopinsky, and Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg Zayig Sayif.

And we pray for the complete and speedy recovery of Eitan ben Sarah, Shmuel Yeruchem ben Baila, Yitzchok ben Chaya, Chaim Yechiel ben Malka And those who need healing.

May God comfort the mourners and bring healing to those injured, and may we see the redemption soon, quickly, in our days. Amen.

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How are we Doing as a Planet This Rosh Hashanah?

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, has profound meaning for the entire world and humanity. Most people familiar with the holiday think of apples, honey, shofar, and as one of the two days that every Jew goes to synagogue.

We understand that Rosh Hashanah is about being a better person, reflecting on the past year, and refining our own personal spiritual goals and aspirations for the year to come. All of that is true and important. What we often fail to approach is the deep connection between Rosh Hashanah and the world around us. For every year on Rosh Hashanah we have the opportunity to reflect upon the state of our planet, our environment, and look at our past actions and set goals for the next year of Life on Earth.

The ancient sages teach that on Rosh Hashanah all of humanity is judged for its actions, and that includes how we treat our world. How did we act as citizens of the planet? How much did we factor into our actions the impact that we are having on the environment? And as one of the Hasidic masters taught, “where did we succeed and how can we get better?” One of the areas that I am especially sensitive to this year is energy. Much of the darkness in this world is related to energy; the competition for resources and the environmental, justice and geopolitical consequences of energy extraction and management. If we want to change the world, to help conquer that darkness, we just have to look up.

The sun.

We have failed as a society to harness the great potential of solar energy to help alleviate the world’s energy problems. The sun can offer healing to a planet that is desperate for ways to maintain progress without damaging the environment. Yet, with all the ingenuity in the world which manages to put into the palm of our hands a computer more powerful that the ones which brought us to the moon, the average household relies only on solar energy to power calculators.

Don’t look to rabbis to solve the world’s energy problems. However, in my discussions with people whose business is energy, and research of reliable studies, I have learned that investments in solar energy — and renewable energy sources in general — are far below what experts recommend. While solar to energy conversion rates are improving, meaning that we can harness more energy of the sun per solar panel, we are not directing significant capital into R&D to improve solar energy technology. Imagine if the folks that created the smartphone were given 5 billions dollars to work on solar energy.

It’s almost Rosh Hashanah. The time has come for us to make some serious decisions about the future of our relationship with the planet this coming year. If we are truly to be a light unto the nations, then we can light the way towards cleaner sources of energy.