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Valley Beth Shalom Welcomes New Senior Rabbi

Rabbi Nolan Lebovitz to follow in the footsteps of Rabbis Harold Schulweis and Ed Feinstein; Rabbi Ed Feinstein to remain as a VBS Rabbi for many years to come

ENCINO, CaliforniaThursday, April 7, 2022

Valley Beth Shalom Synagogue, one of the largest Conservative Jewish spiritual communities in the country, is excited to welcome Rabbi Nolan Lebovitz as its new senior Rabbi, effective mid-July 2022.

Rabbi Lebovitz joins VBS after 7 years as Senior Rabbi of Adat Shalom, a Conservative Synagogue in Los Angeles. Rabbi Lebovitz received his rabbinical ordination from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University. Prior to the rabbinate, he completed his undergraduate work at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema-Television and enjoyed a successful 10-year career in the film industry as a writer, producer and director.

“We are delighted to welcome Rabbi Lebovitz, his wife Blair, and his children Shelby, Simon, and Maddy to this very special community,” said Jeff Goss, President of Valley Beth Shalom. “After a thorough rabbinic search process, we are confident that we found the very best rabbi to lead our shul into the future.”

This change in congregational leadership is a result of succession and strategic planning.

Rabbi Ed Feinstein has been at VBS since 1993 and succeeded Rabbi Harold Schulweis as the congregation’s Senior Rabbi in 2005. Last year, Feinstein informed the VBS community of his plan to step back from the role of Senior Rabbi while remaining part of the congregation’s rabbinic leadership for many years to come. Rabbi Feinstein commented: “Rabbi Lebovitz was my student at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University and over the years we have collaborated on several projects and initiatives. I cherish his creativity and his vision and very much look forward to working closely with him.”

“We strongly believe that Rabbi Lebovitz brings the right mix of warmth, intellect, inspiration, innovation and business savvy to help VBS thrive in the years to come,” said Matthew Weintraub, Executive Director of Valley Beth Shalom. “The VBS community is so fortunate to be the continued beneficiary of Rabbi Ed Feinstein’s wisdom, teachings, humor and care for years ahead. Together, Rabbi Lebovitz and Rabbi Feinstein, in addition to the rest of our clergy team and staff, will accomplish wonderful things.”

“It is an incredible honor to be named as the next Senior Rabbi at VBS, and also humbling to follow in the footsteps of Rabbi Schulweis (z”l) and Rabbi Feinstein and build upon their inspiring accomplishments,” said incoming Senior Rabbi, Nolan Lebovitz. “I enthusiastically await July, when I will join an all-star team of clergy and staff, and create a partnership with outstanding lay leadership as we build Valley Beth Shalom’s future together.”

About Valley Beth Shalom

Valley Beth Shalom Synagogue has been a part of the Los Angeles community since 1950. VBS is an expansive yet close-knit community of more than 1,300 households. Situated at the corner of Ventura and Densmore, VBS is home to a nationally-renowned synagogue and three award-winning schools -- The VBS Early Childhood Center for infant, toddler, preschool and transitional kindergarten programs; the Harold M. Schulweis VBS Day School, educating children in grades K-6; and the VBS Etz Chaim Learning Center, an after-school learning program for grades K-6.  VBS members engage in-person and online, locally, nationally and internationally through daily and weekly worship and a myriad of learning, social and community programs. VBS can be found at www.vbs.org. If you’d like to learn more, please reach out anytime to Maya Aharon, our Membership and Engagement Director, at (818) 530-4008 or maharon@vbs.org.

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March 2022

We introduce Rabbi Nolan Lebovitz, candidate for the Senior Rabbinic Search. 

We have planned a number of in-person and online opportunities for interaction throughout his visit. Please see the schedule below, and join us for one (or more) of these programs to engage with Rabbi Lebovitz. This is your opportunity to be a part of this important process. We look forward to your participation and feedback.

Sunday, March 20

Open House: Meet Rabbi Nolan Lebovitz

6:30pm: Rabbi Lebovitz will speak on the Value of Synagogue Life (On site and live streaming online)

7:00pm: Discussion with VBS President, Jeff Goss (On site and live streaming online)

7:30pm: Dessert and Schmooze

Registration is required to attend this event on site. Proof of vaccination and masks are required. For more details on our Health & Safety Policy visit vbs.org/covid19.

Monday, March 21

7:30am: Worship and Schmooze with Rabbi Lebovitz at Morning Minyan (On site in the Schulweis Chapel and live streaming online)

8:30-10:00am: VBS Schools Parent Meet and Greet (ECC, Day School, ECLC)
*This event adheres to our March 5th Health & Safety Policy Update "Amendment to Vaccination Policy as it relates to schools on campus" allowing for School Families to "test in" to enter VBS. More information here >

12:00pm: Lunch & Learn (Online Only) Torah Study led by Rabbi Lebovitz

About Rabbi Nolan Lebovitz

Rabbi Nolan Lebovitz is the Senior Rabbi of Adat Shalom in Los Angeles. Since his arrival in 2015, Adat Shalom has flourished. He worked with the community developing innovative children’s activities and adult programs, providing meaningful services, and re-establishing the religious school.

Rabbi Lebovitz completed his undergraduate work at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema-Television, received his rabbinical ordination from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University, and is pursuing his PhD at Claremont Graduate University in Religion with a concentration in Critical Comparative Scripture. Prior to the rabbinate, Rabbi Lebovitz enjoyed a 10-year career in the film industry as a writer, producer and director. Most notably, he wrote and directed the 2008 suspense-thriller “Tortured.”

Merging his two passions of Torah and filmmaking, Lebovitz has produced two documentary films: "Roadmap Genesis" (2015) and “Roadmap Jerusalem” (2018). Rabbi Lebovitz regularly contributes thought pieces and Torah commentary to The Jewish Journal and other publications. He also enjoys teaching, and for the last six years, has taught a cohort of the Miller Introduction to Judaism course at AJU.

Rabbi Lebovitz is a national board member of MERCAZ, a member of the Masorti Rabbinic Cabinet, and served as a delegate at the World Zionist Conference in Jerusalem. He volunteers as the Rabbi in Residence for Café Europa, a Los Angeles Community of Shoah Survivors. Rabbi Lebovitz is a volunteer chaplain for the Santa Monica Police Department.

Before moving to LA for college, he grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and is a lifelong Cubs fan. Rabbi Lebovitz is married to Blair, and together they raise three wonderful children, Shelby, Simon, and Maddy -- all Dodgers fans. So, they named their dog Wrigley.


 

Rabbinic Search Update

November 10, 2021
 

Dear VBS Community,

In September, our Rabbinic Search Chairs shared information with our community about an exciting next chapter for VBS: the formation of our Rabbinic Search Committee and the launch of a nationwide search for a new Senior Rabbi. In October, Rabbi Feinstein followed with a letter to the community explaining his decision to take a step back from his Senior Rabbinic duties while remaining an active member of our rabbinic team. While it’s hard to imagine anyone but Rabbi Feinstein as our Senior Rabbi, we understand that, as he says, it’s time.

I’m sure many of you have questions and I think it’s important to communicate as much as possible about this transition. Most importantly, we are fortunate that Rabbi Feinstein has made it clear he intends to remain on our rabbinic team for many years to come.

Passing on the duties and title of Senior Rabbi to the new rabbi will allow Rabbi Feinstein to spend more time with his family. We are fortunate – and I am deeply grateful – for his leadership as he works closely with our Rabbinic Search Committee, Executive Director Matt Weintraub, and our lay leaders to help identify a new Senior Rabbi. Our goal is that this new rabbi will build on the foundation that Rabbi Feinstein and Rabbi Schulweis have created for this very special and deeply engaged Community.

As we work together to find and welcome the next Senior Rabbi of VBS, we are optimistic that we will identify a thought leader who will teach and engage our community and share a vision for the growth and evolution of VBS for generations to come. 

As we herald this exciting transition, I want to invite you to continue asking questions and sharing your thoughts. With that in mind, as promised, Rabbi Feinstein and I will be hosting a Town Hall in December about the Senior Rabbi search and the rabbinical transition. Please mark your calendars and plan to join us in person or remotely the evening of Tuesday, December 14. An email with RSVP and details for attending the town hall will be sent to the community.

Thank you all for your commitment to and care for VBS.


Jeffrey Goss
President


Message from Rabbi Ed Feinstein

October 27, 2021
 

Dear VBS Friends,

In 1993, Rabbi Schulweis invited me to join him as a rabbi at VBS. I grew up here in the Valley and have revered Rabbi Schulweis since I was a teenager. It was an honor to accept his offer and a joy to work closely with him. Rabbi Schulweis surprised me one morning in 2005, when he came into my office and announced that we were switching jobs. He invited me to become the congregation’s Senior Rabbi while he would continue to serve the community as a teacher, pastor, and visionary leader. “It’s time,” he announced. 

Today, I find myself in the same position. I have informed the synagogue’s leadership that “It’s time” — time for someone else to step into the role of VBS’s Senior Rabbi, to shape the future of this congregation. I plan to continue to serve as a Rabbi at VBS — teaching adults and children, sharing comfort and care, celebrating sacred moments, and offering my visions for our future together. But it’s time for a new Senior Rabbi.

To make this transition happen, the VBS leadership has established a Rabbinic Search Committee, chaired by two very capable leaders — Nurit Robin and Roslyn Grinberg. The Search Committee is made up of dedicated members from every part of our VBS community. I will certainly share my insights with the Search Committee, but this process belongs to the Committee, and beyond them, to the entire VBS community.

The Search Committee has begun working with the Rabbinical Assembly, the national organization of Conservative rabbis, to solicit applications and begin our search. Over the course of the next months, we anticipate that the Search Committee will be talking with many potential candidates — interviewing, vetting, and eventually inviting a select few to visit VBS. At that point, the congregation will be invited to meet and evaluate our final candidates.

This is the first time in more than fifty years that Valley Beth Shalom has engaged in a national search for a new Senior Rabbi. This certainly brings a level of anxiety, but VBS is a strong synagogue with a uniquely powerful culture. I have every confidence that new rabbinic leadership will bring new inspiration and new energy to our community. I have great faith in our future together.

Over the months ahead, our Search Chairs, Nurit and Roslyn, will be reporting to you on the progress of our search. I am sure they would welcome your suggestions, comments, and recommendations. And of course, during this time I am here to share all the depth and joy of Jewish life that we so cherish at VBS.

With my blessings,

Rabbi Ed Feinstein


Senior Rabbinic Search

In September 2021, the Valley Beth Shalom Community announced our embarkment on a nationwide rabbinic search, at a level that has not been conducted in over fifty years.

Identifying a rabbi who will meet the spiritual needs of our large, diverse and growing community is of foremost importance. In consultation with the Rabbinic Assembly and adhering to best practices for a search of this scope, VBS has appointed a Senior Rabbinic Search Committee lead by co-chairs Roslyn Grinberg and Nurit Robin. We are fortunate to have the support of Rabbi Feinstein, Executive Director Matthew Weintraub, and our Boards of Directors and Trustees in conducting this search. 


Mon, September 26 2022 1 Tishrei 5783