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November 30, 2009 | By Nicole Santa Cruz
Barbara Mendes believes her life has been a series of miracles. Certain events have led her to embrace Judaism and paint vividly colored biblical narratives based on Genesis, Exodus and now Leviticus, the third book of the Torah. "Vayikra Mural," her newest work, is a 6-by-16-foot mural depicting the book's 859 verses in tiny, intricately detailed pictures. Mendes, an Orthodox Jew, said she names her murals in Hebrew to emphasize the language's use in the Bible. The latest mural, on display in her Pico-Robertson gallery, took her more than three years to complete, with the illustrations of each verse numbered so viewers can find it in the Bible.
April 19, 2014 | By Kurt Streeter
A votive in a glass holder, etched with the Star of David and the words "In memory," sits on the granite table. "We will remember the terrible tragedy," Ron Wolfson says, referring to the previous day's shootings at two Jewish facilities in Kansas. The three deaths seem particularly painful on this Monday night Seder, which marks the start of Passover, the eight-day Jewish celebration of the Israelites' flight from bondage in Egypt. Wolfson and his wife are gathered in their Encino home with four generations - 16 people in all, family and friends from as far as New York.
December 15, 2001 | From Associated Press
Reform Judaism's synagogue union praised President Bush's leadership since Sept. 11, while urging him to preserve civil liberties during the war on terror. The Union of American Hebrew Congregations, representing more than 900 liberal synagogues, issued the resolution at its biennial conference. The union praised Bush as a model of service and tolerance for trying to protect civilians in U.S. airstrikes and for condemning "our home-grown fundamentalists."
December 12, 2013 | By Gary Goldstein
Now here's something you don't see every day: A circle of African men chanting Hebrew prayers while wearing tallitot (prayer shawls) and yarmulkes (skull caps) along with their dashikis - not to mention scenes of African women lighting Sabbath candles and diligently preparing a kosher meal using such native crops as yam and cassava. But for the estimated 3,000 Igbo people of Nigeria who practice Judaism, these are common sightings, all part of a unique way of life portrayed with joy and grace in the captivating documentary "Re-Emerging: The Jews of Nigeria.
May 11, 1991
After several frustrating years of trying to break the male-only barrier, 14 women were inducted into Conservative Judaism's Cantors Assembly during the international body's annual convention this week in Los Angeles. Conservative Judaism, which has often taken middle positions between liberal Reform Jews and the strictly conservative Orthodox, ordained its first woman rabbi in 1985. Reform Judaism already had women cantors and rabbis; Orthodoxy has remained solidly against any change.
For many local retailers, holiday business is still gathering steam. But for Lauree Feigenbaum, a busy season has just about wrapped up. Feigenbaum owns Judaica, a mail order business featuring Jewish crafts and gifts. She began taking Hanukkah orders back in August for items such as her confetti shaped like mini menorahs, her menorah T-shirt with battery-operated flickering candles, and her Hanukkah cross-stitch kits.
December 21, 1991 | From Religious News Service
Ordination of practicing homosexuals--an issue that has been divisive and emotional for virtually every religious group that has tackled it--is being examined by leaders of the Conservative branch of Judaism from radically different perspectives. Members of the movement's law committee heard two papers from rabbis at a recent meeting at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.
Smiling and shaking hands, the Rev. J. David Davis looks and sounds like your typical Baptist preacher as he greets members of his congregation. "Gary, Martha, good to see you. You doin' all right?" he drawls to one couple, his Georgia twang a casual counterpoint to his conservative blue blazer and imposing salt-and-pepper mane. Then Davis steps back to the pulpit and, instead of speaking of sin and redemption, begins discussing passages from the Bible as they relate to Judaism.
May 9, 1992 | From Religious News Service
Historically, sacrifice has been to religion what yeast is to a rising bread: the ingredient that guarantees the integrity of the end product. But for many American Jews, the financial sacrifice needed to ensure a full Jewish life is unreachable, according to a report issued here this week by the American Jewish Committee.
In 1985, Nan Fink knew exactly what she wanted: She had undergone a profound religious awakening and was ready to convert to Judaism. But Judaism was less than ready to accept her. Fink, a Bay Area teacher, psychotherapist and ex-wife of a Protestant minister, knew that Jewish tradition called for a rabbi to turn away potential converts three times to test their resolve.
September 17, 2013 | Harriet Ryan
On a trip to Israel in 1964, Philip Berg, a high-flying insurance salesman from Brooklyn, crossed paths with an aging rabbi renowned for his grasp of kabbalah, an esoteric strain of Jewish mysticism. Neither Berg nor kabbalah would ever be the same. The organization he founded after returning to the United States, now known as the Kabbalah Centre, transformed a field once reserved for the most elite of Orthodox yeshiva scholars into a lucrative pop culture phenomenon. His new-age repackaging of the ancient wisdom of the Torah was embraced by many gentiles and celebrities, including Berg's most famous student, Madonna, but his approach was derided by mainstream Judaism as superficial and inauthentic.
August 16, 2013 | By Matt Hamilton
When Joseph Harounian came out of the closet to his Persian Jewish family, relatives told him to march right back in. Some worried he'd turn his cousins gay. Others feared for the family's reputation. They began excluding him from family events. It was only after his grandmother intervened that he was gradually welcomed back into the fold. Now, years later, Harounian says his family has come to terms with who he is. But he knows that the fear of ostracism still keeps other gay Persian Jews from coming out. Support for gay rights and same-sex unions has never been higher, according to numerous polls.
April 9, 2013 | By Karin Klein
The newer, smaller and more centrally organized a religion is, the less prone it is to reformed versions breaking away. It also helps if the religion's followers form an insular group, to one extent or another, away from the tug of societal trends. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has typically had a very strong form of this identity. It's a highly centralized organization, with a clear set of rituals and behaviors that are expected, with clear outcomes for those who follow suit -- and those who don't.
April 17, 2011 | Stanley Meisler, Special to the Los Angeles Times
Jerusalem, Jerusalem How the Ancient City Ignited Our Modern World James Carroll Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: 418 pp., $28 James Carroll's latest book is very ambitious. Invoking history, anthropology, social psychology, geography and theology, the author, a former Catholic priest, delves into the stories of the violence unleashed by the organized religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam throughout their existence. He anchors the book by describing how each has used the city of Jerusalem, holy to all three, as a symbol or metaphor or touchstone.
April 12, 2011 | By Mitchell Landsberg, Los Angeles Times
Three hundred rabbis walk into a Las Vegas martini lounge. Bartenders scramble to handle the crowd — the rabbis are thirsty. Suddenly, an Elvis impersonator takes the stage. We are faced with two possibilities. One, this is the beginning of a joke. Two, they don't make rabbis the way they used to. The Rabbinical Assembly, the clerical arm of Conservative Judaism, would have you believe the second message, or something like it. That's why it launched its 2011 convention with a martini reception at a Las Vegas synagogue.
January 29, 2011 | By Nomi Morris, Special to the Los Angeles Times
On a recent weekday evening in Santa Monica, seven Muslim and five Jewish women gathered around a dining room table laden with homemade foods prepared in accordance with the dietary laws of both faiths. One by one, the women lighted candles, each saying a few words to mark the eighth anniversary of the West Los Angeles Cousins Club, a grassroots discussion group that explores spirituality and mutual understanding. "Before we started the Cousins Club, I never even knew a Muslim person," said Shayna Lester, who hosted the anniversary meeting.
July 18, 1992 | JOHN DART
Judaism's Conservative branch, which tries to adhere to religious tradition without ignoring modern knowledge, has decided to take a new look at homosexuality, with an influential push from a Los Angeles rabbi-scholar. Until recently, it seemed unlikely that Conservative Judaism would even consider modifying its approach to sexually active gays and lesbians in light of Jewish law's classification of homosexual behavior as "an abomination."
March 14, 1998 | JOHN DART
He has enjoyed the longest stretch by any rabbi at a major synagogue in the San Fernando Valley--nearly 38 years. Yet, for more than a month after suffering a heart attack in November 1996, Rabbi Elijah "Eli" Schochet said that one synagogue member after another told him what they never told him before--how something the rabbi said or did had really helped them.
September 4, 2010 | By Vita Bekker, Los Angeles Times
Gilad Kariv has been indefatigable in his battle against the dominance of Israel's Orthodox community. The 36-year-old rabbi, and lawyer by training, had fought court battles seeking state recognition and funding for the more liberal Jewish movements for four years before being tapped last year to head the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, which represents the less strict Reform stream in Israel. The position thrusts Kariv into the sometimes heated relationship between the liberal Reform movement, which ordains women and openly gay individuals as rabbis and permits Jews to drive to synagogue on the Sabbath, and the Orthodox movement, which prohibits such actions and follows a strict interpretation of Jewish law. He recently spoke with the Los Angeles Times: Why does the Reform movement remain fairly insignificant in Israelis' religious life?
March 22, 2010 | By Teresa Watanabe
Why is this day unlike any other day? As Jews worldwide prepare to celebrate next week their liberation from slavery, a group of Los Angeles Jews went to Boyle Heights on Sunday to ask that variation of their traditional Passover Seder question. The answer, however, did not recount Jewish oppression in Egypt as is customary. Activists from major Jewish organizations instead focused on what they see as a modern injustice afflicting their fellow Angelenos, marking the day with a new push to bring quality grocery markets and healthful food to underserved neighborhoods such as East Los Angeles.
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