News / Arts & Entertainment

    Jewish Temple Encourages Worship Through The Arts

    Most Jews in the United States belong to either the Conservative or the Reform branches of the faith. But in Los Angeles, music, drama and dance are the focus of one Jewish synagogue that has decided to go outside tradition. The Beverly Hills Temple of the Arts at the Saban Theater is the largest arts synagogue in the country, and it's celebrating its 20th anniversary.  But not everyone approves of its methods.  
     
    Located in the Beverly Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, one synagogue is also a theater where people come for an experience unlike traditional Jewish services.  David Baron is the founding rabbi of the Beverly Hills Temple of the Arts. “We operate within a theatrical space with lighting and sound that relates to a theater. Our prayer books are all Biblical works of art," he said. 
     
    Baron says his synagogue does not belong to any mainstream Jewish movement.  He tries to create a religious experience by fusing religion with art - drawing , in large part, from Hollywood's talent pool.  “Our cantors who sing the service are Broadway stars. Our choir is LA opera and Master Choral," he said. 
     
    Even the African American community and a gospel choir take part in the service before the Jewish holiday of Passover, which celebrates the ancient Exodus from Egypt and bondage. 
     
    “We try to reach out to cross borders that historically have, that has kept our communities separated and bring them together to celebrate," said Baron. 
     
    Baron says Orthodox Jews would not approve of services that mix the traditional with the contemporary.  “I think they'd approve conceptually of bringing people back to faith. I think the means used would not be acceptable because they don’t follow the very strict guidelines of orthodoxy," he said. 
     
    For many traditionalists, the use of instruments could violate Sabbath laws.  But instruments are used in monthly services at the Temple of the Arts because, Baron says, they were used in ancient Jewish worship. 
     
    The rabbi is no stranger to Orthodox Judaism.  He was ordained by an Orthodox rabbi in Jerusalem.  He spent the first part of his career working in Conservative synagogues. But he says he wasn’t reaching enough people.   Twenty years ago, he founded this temple and created a new style of worship. 
     
    “And people started coming in greater and greater numbers and began to engage in worship. The vast majority who are unaffiliated and have no connection but know they have a Jewish identity can reconnect in a way that is comprehensible," he said. 
     
    They reconnect, he says, through works of art in prayer books and music during a service - like this one, at the start of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jews. 
     
    Blind mezzo-soprano Laurie Rubin participated in the service. 
     
    Inspirational stories are also incorporated into the services. Eighty-two-year-old Holocaust survivor Ela Weissberger tells about singing in a children’s opera when she was held in a Nazi concentration camp. “The Nazis wanted to show the world that they're not harming children.  And they put this little opera on Nazi propaganda film. We were 15,000 children in the camp; they were sent little by little to the gas chambers to die.  So we were left only a hundred," she said. 
     
    Baron says he tries to reach out to people of all backgrounds to share values that transcend religious and cultural boundaries.  
     

    You May Like

    US Watching as North Korea Opens Biggest Political Meeting in Decades

    As Workers' Party Congress opens, Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Hebrew Teacher
    October 10, 2012 4:54 PM
    Messiah will come soon...

    by: phroimi from: uk
    October 10, 2012 1:45 PM
    anything that keeps Jews staying Jewish is a good thing,too many people think that the only way to do so is to follow traditional services which the majority only attend three times a year leaving them bored,perplexed and unfulfilled.The only reservation I have is the degree that one moves away from traditional values of the Torah and how this is interpreted.The aim should be to unite all Jews regardless of their level of observance and give them a sense on a daily basis that they are following the Torah with joy.

    by: Anthony from: Canada
    October 10, 2012 9:58 AM
    I just wanted to say... that the more i learn of Jewish wisdom the more i am ashamed of my Catholicism... i am old enough to remember sermons that will make you cringe... today, i have a Jewish daughter in law that i love so much... may God forgive us

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    New in Music Alley

    Border Crossings: Bannersi
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    May 04, 2016 1:07 PM
    Singer and Songwriter, Michael Nelson better known as "Banners" sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London in Studio 4 to talk and perform songs from his debut self titled EP.

    Singer and Songwriter, Michael Nelson better known as "Banners" sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London in Studio 4 to talk and perform songs from his debut self titled EP.