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Love in the Time of Corona

03/13/2020 09:47:34 AM


Rabbanit Alissa Thomas-Newborn


My handwashing affects you. And yours affects me. 

The reality of how interconnected we are is at the forefront of our minds as we face the global pandemic of the coronavirus. It’s natural to focus on the fear and palpable anxiety, which have hit us hard this past week. But I want to encourage us to take a much needed break from that and push ourselves to think as people of faith---to...Read more...

Health Notice: Response to Coronavirus COVID-19

03/06/2020 11:26:31 AM


B'nai David-Judea

Dear members:


We know these are anxious times. We want to take a measured response to the coronavirus while we strive to protect the health and safety of our shul community.

It is important for all of us to follow the best advice being dispensed by government health authorities. As such, we are writing to...Read more...

Rabbanit Alissa's Speech at the 2020 Gala

02/27/2020 09:57:53 AM


Rabbanit Alissa Thomas-Newborn

I am grateful to Hashem to stand before you tonight, celebrating the last five and a half years of our Torah, friendship, and holy work together at B’nai David-Judea. I have so much love and gratitude for each of you and am truly humbled by your support, touching words, and simcha in celebrating this moment.



How We Did It 

02/21/2020 09:43:42 AM


Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky

A Model for Drafting, Debating, and Adopting  a Gay and Lesbian Inclusion Policy in an Orthodox Shul 

Over a period of 15 months, our shul, B’nai David-Judea Congregation in Los Angeles, conducted a process of communal thinking...Read more...

At the end of a difficult and frightening week...

01/03/2020 08:24:11 AM


Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky

As we head toward this first Shabbat of 2020 I, like you, am struggling to adjust to our new reality of violent anti-Semitism within the United States. Like you, I have been reading, thinking, worrying, and reflecting. And while I am deeply thankful to our president Duke Helfand and to our security committee that never rests and never stops working, I think we'd agree that the questions in the air go beyond "how do we secure our...Read more...

Memory & Imagination: My Visit with Mom

12/09/2019 10:11:54 AM


Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky

The man who would later be known as St. Augustine was enthralled by the power of memory, a power which enabled the human mind to transcend time and space. “Even when I dwell in darkness and silence”, he wrote, “in my memory I can produce colors…  I [can] discern the breath of lilies from [that of] violets, though smelling nothing…”

Indeed, who has not had the experience of being transported by a memory to an earlier...Read more...

The Laws of Fasting on Yom Kippur: Halachic Options for Those who are Ill

10/07/2019 12:23:33 PM


Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky

Fasting on Yom Kippur is an essential part of our experience of the day. it contributes emotionally and spiritually to the day’s sense of uniqueness, and to our capacity to imagine the process of cleansing and expiation.

At the same time though, fasting can present a major challenge to people who are not physically well, turning a day of religious exultation into a day of dread, or possibly even a day of risk. The Halacha of course...Read more...


07/12/2019 08:24:48 AM


Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky

Friday night, two weeks ago, we davened in Rome’s Great Synagogue. And although we found the Great Synagogue to be a little too, well, “great” for our usual davening taste, I actually experienced something so moving that evening in the Great Synagogue,  that it literally and unexpectedly brought me to tears.

The Great Synagogue, as you know if you have visited, is situated in the corner of what from 1555 until 1870 had...Read more...

Shavuot Youth Appeal

06/12/2019 04:26:15 PM


Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky

A few weeks ago, I found myself researching the life of Lawrence Fogelberg. I discovered that he was a band leader, who conducted the bands and taught music at Woodruff High School in Peoria, Ill. in the 40’s and 50’s, and then at Pekin Community High School until his retirement in 1976. He also directed the Pekin Municipal Band, which played “Sunday in the Park” concerts every summer near the Mineral Springs Park Pavilion. He died in...Read more...

Youth Department Updates 

05/02/2019 04:19:54 PM


Dear Members:

We are excited to share important news regarding our Youth Department. As of July 1, we are creating the new position of Youth Department Director, which will oversee both the administration and the content of all of B'nai David-Judea's youth activities, including Rechov Yeladim, Junior Congregation and Cocoa Club, Tween Minyan, Holiday programming, Minyan for Minions, Teen Minyan and Coffee Club. By having one person...Read more...

Our Day in Arizona

01/18/2019 09:45:53 AM


Rav Yosef Kanefsky

Dear Friends:

Please join me in thanking our friends who represented us so well in Phoenix on Wednesday (their names are below). Together we greeted dozens of families who had just been released from up to 3 weeks of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) detention. In detention, they slept on cold concrete floors while awaiting word of what would happen to them next, after trekking for weeks through Central America and Mexico. We...Read more...

Intimate Partner Violence in a Jewish Context: A Personal Story

01/16/2019 10:32:46 AM


Miriam Yudelson Katz


Parshat Bo begins with Hashem telling Moshe: בֹּ֖א אֶל־פַּרְעֹ֑ה ,כִּֽי־אֲנִ֞י הִכְבַּ֤דְתִּי אֶת־לִבּוֹ֙ “Go to Paro. For I have hardened his heart…” A few psukim later, Paro tells Moshe to take Bnai Yisrael out of Egypt, only to revoke that permission soon after. Sforno says that Hashem “stiffened Paro’s heart so that ordinary rules of...Read more...

Solidarity Shabbat After Pittsburgh Shootings, Part II

11/05/2018 09:15:00 AM


Jenny Medina, Proud BDJ Member & New York Times Writer

The tragedy was still sinking in when I did what I often do after mass shootings: I got to work. I figured that between my husband’s family in Pittsburgh and the small Jewish world, I may be able to offer some connections that would help the reporting.

I did not have a direct line to any of the 11 victims, each of them old enough to be my parent or grandparent. But as I started to talk with their friends and families Sunday morning,...Read more...

Solidarity Shabbat After Pittsburgh Shootings, Part I

11/05/2018 09:12:03 AM


Rav Yosef Kanefsky

Rabb Yochanan ben Zakai lived through the greatest trauma the Jewish people had even know to that point in history. Over a million dead inside Jerusalem – from famine during the siege, and from the violence that followed it. The Temple was a charred ruin, the city laid waste. The furious hostility of the Roman Empire had been unleashed, and Roman soldiers now warily patrolled every village and town for any hint of remaining Jewish...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah Sermon

09/13/2018 08:03:03 PM


Rav Yosef

Twice in the last 4 months, I was surprised at my own happiness. This sounds a little crazy, but it is honest.  As the last boxes from Pesach were being stored away, Sari and I began our countdown toward the wedding of a child, and the arrival of a grandchild. And it was around then that I began struggling – really struggling - with feelings of dread which were completely tangled up with the more normal feelings of excitement and...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah Sermon

09/13/2018 07:59:04 PM


Rabbanit Alissa

A teaching of the Piaseczno Rebbe:
ב׳ בחינות באמונה ישנן באיש , “There are two types of faith in a person” כשהוא
בהתחזקות ומכל שכן גם בשמחה, אז גם מרגיש את האמונה בודאות , “When you are strong and
especially when you are joyful, you feel faith with certainty”. כשהוא בעצבות ומכל שכן כשחס
וחלילה כולו נשבר, יש...

President Shana Fishman's Remarks at the BDJ 2018 Banquet

01/16/2018 11:37:50 AM



Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said - “Life’s most persistent and nagging question is, what are you doing for others?”

I find it auspiciously fitting that we are gathered here today, on MLK Day, for our annual dinner.  Many of the values represented by the life and legacy of Dr. King - moral courage; boundless compassion; dignity for all; and selfless service - are values that our...Read more...

What is the most important day in a person’s life? 

01/07/2018 09:26:07 AM


Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky

What is the most important day in a person’s life? The day she is born? The day he graduates? Gets her first job? Falls in love with his future spouse? What is the most important day in a person’s life?

I’d like to argue that the most important day in a person’s life is a day that, by its nature, is sometimes only recognized in retrospect. It is the day on which he or she summons the will to not break.

There are a lot...

We're in this together: thoughts about this extraordinary week

11/14/2016 11:45:22 AM


By Rav Yosef Kanefsky

I’ve never been particularly good at threading a needle, in the actual physical sense. I’m not sure how much better I am at it in the figurative sense, but I am obligated this morning to try my best. To offer words and ideas, that we ALL find meaningful, applicable and true; Thoughts that comfort and encourage all of us who are in need of comfort and encouragement; and thoughts that challenge each and every...Read more...

Orlando, God and Iftar

06/16/2016 12:13:20 PM


Dearest friends,

Although the timing was obviously not planned, sharing Iftar with our friends at the Islamic center just two days after the massacre in Orlando was enormously poignant.

The attack in Orlando blended two of the most intense and emotional issues within our society.  One, is the visceral hatred of gay and lesbian people that still bubbles in too many quarters. To me, it is clearer than ever that none of us...Read more...

Sat, September 23 2023 8 Tishrei 5784