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Posted by Member Spotlight on June 18, 2019

On Shavuot, we invite people who have converted to Judaism to share their story -- how they came to Judaism, why it touched them, how they celebrate being Jewish.

Good morning. When invited to speak today, I started about five different documents on my computer with various tangents discussing different aspects of my journey here today. I had so many thoughts and ways to tell this story, but only having an hour to talk (just kidding), I wanted to get to the core of what I believe, so will be starting with what I know...

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Posted by Rabbi Ed Feinstein on June 12, 2019

A rabbi I know once brought a nursery school class into the synagogue sanctuary for a tour. He showed them the bima, the ner tamid, the cantor"s and rabbi's lecterns. Finally, the tiny kids stood before the huge doors of the Holy Ark.

"What do you suppose is in there?" he asked them.
"Nothing!" one child answered, "It's empty. There’s nothing in there."
"It’s a new car!" another shouted.
"An old, old Torah!" responded another.
"I know! I know" one child insisted, "It's a mirror!"

Each of the kids was right.

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Posted by Rabbi Noah Farkas on June 5, 2019

This past weekend I performed a wedding at the most amazing mansion I’ve ever seen.  From the very top of Malibu I saw the mountains and rolling hills and the mists upon the sea.  The wedding ceremony itself was on the house’s helipad - because Malibu. This being Los Angeles, I heard that movies had been filmed there. I’m not going to lie, it was stunning.

The wedding couple was so much fun to be with, and their family and friends were just lovely.  But this wasn’t their house. They were renting the place for the wedding and the owners were nowhere to be seen... 

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Posted by Member Spotlight on May 29, 2019

Sometimes, personal interaction and establishing a relationship can make a tremendous difference for new members. That’s exactly what happened when Stephanie and Allan Walsh attended synagogue and school events and got to spend time speaking with Rabbis Feinstein and Hoffman, shortly after they joined VBS about 13 years ago.

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Posted by Rabbi Joshua Hoffman on May 29, 2019

B.D.S., warring factions in the Knesset, the Nation-State Bill, Gaza, Muslims in Congress, antisemitism in Europe and America, hate speech on US college campuses, and on and on.  It’s difficult to hear anything else beyond the shouts and murmurs about the State of Israel and the fate of Jews in the world. These past months there have also been an abundance of celebration in Israel, from talented musical expression in the Eurovision awards, to examples of religious tolerance and pluralism, to attempts to land on the moon, and on and on too...

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Posted by Rabbi Avi Taff on May 22, 2019


Last Shabbat in Parashat Emor we read about the command to create a shabbaton (a day of complete rest, a sacred occasion) and that is exactly what we did. 26 families from our day school community descended upon Camp Ramah for our 5th annual Youdai Family Camp.  Children and families celebrating Shabbat, singing and dancing, appreciating nature, overcoming fears, bonding as a community, putting away all that distracts us (yes, that means our cell phones and other screens!) from what is most important and just being present; giving us the opportunity to experience and think about how we create sacred time.  Shabbat is a precious gift; a blueprint for connection to that which is most important and recognition of life’s greatest blessings...

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Posted by Rabbi Ed Feinstein on May 15, 2019

This week, Israel hosts “Eurovision,” the international song competition. Performers from across the globe are gathering in Tel Aviv to present the best of contemporary music. For Israel, Eurovision eclipses everything. Domestic political struggles, the conflict with hostile neighbors, international affairs, all recede in the presence of the music. In fact, Israel has always had a special relationship with music. The history of Zionism, Israel’s birth, its flourishing, its anguish and its victories, are represented by its songs. Here is a brief glimpse at the history of Israel through its songs...

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Posted by Rabbi Noah Farkas on May 8, 2019

Hate is like a drug. It makes those who hate feel good because it gives them an escape from their own problems for a little while. You can get high on hate.  Hating another person gives you power. You can take back what you thought you’ve lost.
You can own someone because you feel owned.
You can troll so you don’t feel out of control.
It is a drug. You can get high on hate...

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Posted by Community News on May 1, 2019

I’m often asked to define the value of a VBS membership. Certainly the answers can be long and full of intangibles, but for me there is no clearer answer than community. Three weeks ago, my father passed away suddenly after a brief illness. The immediate response and care my family and I felt from clergy, staff, parents in the schools and members of the community was truly overwhelming. While it was among the saddest moments I experienced in my life, it also affirmed my decision to be part of this outstanding community and it offered me moments of joy and strength at such a difficult time...

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Posted by Member Spotlight on April 30, 2019

It should come as no surprise that two people raised in families that surrounded them with Yiddishkeit would choose Valley Beth Shalom as their synagogue.  So a little over five years ago, when Amanda and Brett Marz moved to Encino, that’s exactly what they did.

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