Rosh Hashanah Observations

No, this isn’t a theatre review. That comes tomorrow.

Last night and this morning, we attended services at Temple Beth Hillel for the first day of Rosh Hashanah. The evening services were led by Rabbi Sarah. She was using a new prayerbook adapted from Mishkon Tefilah, and the service incorporated a lot more music (and featured the “Members of the Tribe” band). The sermon’s theme was “tradition”, and how important tradition is in our lives to preserving Judaism. To that end, they handed out a notebook to all families present to capture their family traditions, be it meals, recipes, games, service attendance, or whatever, in order to preserve the traditions for the future (and hopefully encourage the creation and preservation of new traditions). As is this temple’s tradition, they started exactly on time, and ran over… by 2 minutes… from the published end time.

This morning’s service used the slightly more traditional prayerbook editied by Rabbi Jim, who led the service. Thus, it was the normal morning Rosh Hashanah service, highlighted by three things:

  1. The Israeli Bonds appeal, which was a bit more emotional than usual, as Israel is in a bit more need, given the current war. Related to this, preceeding Sim Shalom (the prayer for peace), the Rabbi related how most of the world supported 1947 partition that created the state of Israel and space for the Palestinians… except for the Palestinians. Since then, they have never accepted the existance of Israel. This was highlighted by the most recent actions of Hamas, who is continuing to refuse to acknowledge the right of Israel to even exist, although it wants a cease-fire from the non-existant country. I do wish for peace in that region: the continued fighting helps no one.
  2. The Birthday Sermon, which celebrated 60 years of Temple Beth Hillel. I found this fascinating, as I love history. Back when we were with Temple Beth Torah, I wrote up quite a bit of history of congregations in the San Fernando Valley, including the following table:

    Year Congregation Notes

    1946 Temple Beth Hillel  
    1951 Temple Beth Torah Formed at suggestion of Temple Beth Hillel
    1952 Temple Judea Established by group from Temple Beth Hillel
    1959 Temple Solael Established by group from Temple Judea
    1960 Temple Beth Solomon of the Deaf

    1962 North Valley Reform Congregation  
    1965 Temple Ahavat Shalom Merger of North Valley Reform and Temple Beth Torah
    1968 Temple Beth Torah Reestablished by group from Temple Ahavat Shalom

    1968 Temple Emet Established by group from Temple Solael
    1970s Shir Chadash Established by group from Temple Judea

    1986 Valley Outreach

    1993 Kol Tikvah Merger of Shir Chadash and Temple Emet

    2000 Temple Judea: Lindley & West Campus Merger of Temple Judea and Temple Solael

    As this table shows, Temple Beth Hillel was really the seminal Reform congregation in the San Fernando Valley, and I find it fascinating to learn its history. We also learned during the sermon that the congregation has purchased a parcel of land immediately behind the facility for additional parking, and will begin a remodeling of the facility soon. I’ll have to look at some of the oldest buildings before they do; the ECE building was evidently the original school and sanctuary, and dates back to 1955 (before then they were in a house). Really interesting sermon.

  3. Hundreds of Massed Shofars, for as this congregation does, they have lots of Shofar blowers for the shofar service. Yes, it was loud.

In short, it was a good service. Tomorrow they are doing their first 2nd day service at Zuma Beach… it sounds fun, but we probably won’t be going.

Next up: mailing a package to jumbach, working out at the Y, cleaning up the house, with the day culminating at the Pasadena Playhouse where we will be seeing Fences.