I grew up in Los Angeles and went to a very large conservative synagogue. The Rabbi was (probably) well-meaning but did not or would not connect with the membership at large, or children in particular, and although the Cantor was very well liked by his Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah students, there was nothing warm or very personal about the place as a whole. My father was involved as a board member at one point, but I don’t remember my parents going to events or feeling like they were part of a community.
I didn’t think about joining a synagogue myself as an adult until after I was married and my son had turned four. Even then it wasn’t pressing – it just seemed like the right thing to do.
A good friend who was doing research for a book she was writing was referred to Rabbi Marx as a possible source of information and that contact led my friend and her husband to ask us to join them for a children’s Friday night service at the Santa Monica Synagogue. The service was eye-opening for me – I watched a rabbi sitting on the bimah, telling a story to 10-15 kids around him with a twist to make them laugh and a message for the adults. This was literally an unimaginable event based on my experience. To add to it, I watched a cantor walking around with a guitar encouraging congregants to join in and participate in the service. I saw a building that was not designed to impress, but which felt like an extension of a home.
After the service, the president of the synagogue introduced himself. Members welcomed us as visitors. Within a few weeks, our oldest was trying out the Bagels and Blocks program and shortly after, my wife and I formally joined the Temple as an interfaith couple.
Over the years, my wife and I realized that we had joined more than a Synagogue – we had joined a community. Our children – two boys and a girl – grew up with a rabbi who was not a distant and unapproachable figure – he was someone who actually taught classes and knew their names and their interests. Their director of education became their personal friend and a mentor. My children – now young adults – have a comfort level at our Synagogue that I didn’t have a their age.
The Synagogue turned into a full family affair. My wife has served on the Board of Trustees, the Executive Board and more general committees and event planning groups than I can count. And although I used to be a notorious “non-volunteer”, I also matured and served on the Board and the Executive Board before becoming the president in July.
Outside of the synagogue, I work as an attorney in downtown Los Angeles. I live in West Los Angeles with my wife, Lisa, my daughter, Emma, and depending on work situations and the time of the college year, my sons, Eric and Daniel.”
Board of Trustees
Advisor — Leslie Frischer