My wife Barbara and I both grew up in the Valley. My first understanding of how important a synagogue can be in the spiritual, cultural, and social life of a suburban Jewish community came as a youngster, watching my parents help start a small Jewish congregation in Van Nuys with a few other families, meeting in a small house on Van Nuys Boulevard.
Community News's blog
The Gift of Life
Traditional Learning Through The Academies
A Community of Good: Mitzvah Day is Coming - Please Join Us!
Shalom chaverim! Molly Mills here. I am the VBS ECC Infant-Toddler & Family Center Coordinator. Let me begin by offering a huge THANK YOU to the VBS community. As the newest member of the staff, my family and I have been welcomed with arms wide open, and the result is that I feel instantly part of this amazing extended family. Kehilah (Family and Community) is where it all starts. The Infant-Toddler & Family Center (ITFC) is often the gateway into our Early Childhood Center, Day School, Youth Center, and the greater temple community. From the beginning, we want our families to enter our doors with a sense of connection to something bigger.
On a sunny Los Angeles day, a few years ago, I was walking with my oldest son in our neighborhood. He is contemplative and thoughtful and there was a brief period of time, where it seemed like there was only one word in his vocabulary… ”why?”! I remember that it was sunny, because on this particular day, he noticed his shadow. When he saw it, he quickly twisted his body around to see it closer up. When that didn’t work, even quicker than before, he twisted his body in the other direction. He said to me, “I can see it!” and in a disappointed tone “but I can’t catch it”. He continued to stare down the shadow, point his finger at it and try with tiny but exuberant might, to capture the shadow.
I appreciate the opportunity to use this Community Corner space to update the Valley Beth Shalom community about the general progress of our Building Project, in particular the construction of the Howard and Irene Levine Community Center.
There are exciting developments almost every week now, as the construction of the Levine Center is going very quickly at this stage. At the same time, it is interesting to realize that it really has taken more than 15 years to reach this point. In the early 2000’s, then-President (and now Building Fund co-chair) Jeff Levine, architecture committee member Bobbie Weiser Blau, Ben Reznik and many others began working hard with an architectural firm from Boston on Master Plan entitlements and building designs. I first got involved as a lay person – as the Day School Board’s liaison to the Building Committee -- when our oldest son Alex was in fourth grade; to put things in perspective, he is now 25 years old.
I had always heard people at VBS speak about how important it is to go to Israel and teach our children the value of our country. Last month, my husband David and I decided to take our commitment to Judaism one step further and we, along with 11 members of our family went to Israel for our second son Ben’s Bar Mitzvah.
It is not what we don’t do; rather it is what we do! This is how I see Valley Beth Shalom and my volunteer work on behalf of VBS.
For nearly 30 years, I have given of myself to make our community a "better" place; our Schools, our Sisterhood and our Synagogue. I came to VBS as a nursery school parent and immediately became immersed in what would be my home away from home.
Why does Valley Beth Shalom exist? Great question. If you ask members this question most will give you a blank stare. No one has asked them this question. What is your answer? To me, Valley Beth Shalom is more than a place to send our children and grandchildren to school to get a strong foundation in Judaism. There are other schools available. It is more than a place of worship. There are other places to worship. VBS is more than a place to meet other Jews. Many wonderful organizations do that. So why should VBS exist?
Grandma and Grandpa, Bubbe and Zayde, Savta and Saba, Mamani and Babayi…whatever we call them, grandparents are special people in our lives. They can connect us to the sacred traditions of our family and of our people. It has been said that one of the most beautiful blessings in Psalms is And may you see children [born] to your children, [and see] peace upon Israel.
February is officially known as Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM). 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of JDAIM, which makes it an ideal opportunity to check the progress we have made in building our communities and creating spaces for and bridges between a wide diversity of people.
Telling stories is part of our Jewish tradition. As a people, we are connected one-to-the-other by our shared experiences and the telling and re-telling of them. Of course there is interpretation, personal bias, and creative license that takes place when story telling, but this is all part of the art. Just ask Talmudic Rabbinic duo Hillel and Shamai who never understand anything in quite the same way and spent a lifetime argue about it!
In last week’s parsha Noach, we ended with the listing of the 10 generations from Noach to Abram. When we begin this week’s parsha, Lech L'cha, Abram is 75 and God says to him “Lech L'cha.”
It’s a New World
“It’s a new world, Tevye, it’s a new world." I always thought those words only pertained to the times in Fiddler on the Roof. Over the years, I continually am surprised to see once again, It’s a new world.
IT ONLY TAKES A MOMENT
A funny thing happened on the way to writing a serious article on the history of Jewish Music…
Installation Speech as President of Valley Beth Shalom
By Scott Howard
September 8, 2016