A joyous community of Jewish women e ngaged in
prayer, study and spiritual growth  

October 2016
The Sweetness of Rosh Hashanah
We continue our new chapter at Beth Shir Shalom. Change takes time and the new adventure can bring "sweetness" to our lives.  Rosh Hashanah is about embracing the things we cannot control, like finding a new venue for Lev Eisha, and enjoying the things that we can control and don't have to change. The word "Shanah" means both making changes and keeping things the same. We have to accept both and it is a delicate balance - what to change, what to keep the same. How to embrace change and how to enliven the status quo and make our lives one of joy and fulfillment this New Year.

Join us at Lev Eisha on Saturday, Oct. 1. We will begin at 8:15 am with a light breakfast and teaching by Rabbi August.  
The topic for Rabbi's breakfast teaching is "Divine Contradictions: Is God Full of Loving Kindness & Forgiveness or Is God Repaying Each Person According to Their Deeds - Seeking Justice?"  How do we understand our relationship to God? Are there consequences to our deeds or are we forgiven if we just ask?  Join the breakfast conversation and open your soul to receiving inspiration for Rosh Hashanah.   Our breakfast is sponsored by Lynda Malerstein, in honor of her birthday.  

Services immediately follow the breakfast teaching, beginning at 9:30 am, led by Rabbi August and Cantorial Soloist Cindy Paley. Readings are from the book of Deuteronomy. Our kiddush luncheon is sponsored by Edith Ballonoff, in honor of the birthday of her two grandsons, Lani Ballonoff and Hanan Beliak.

Now is the time to get your reservations in for kiddish sponsorships for the new year. Check your calendars and plan to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and yarzheits with your Lev community.  Contact Lynn Beliak at catering@leveisha.org

To accommodate guests with allergies, please refrain from wearing scents at Lev Eisha services. 

L'Shanah Tovah!
Wishing the entire Lev family a sweet
and happy new year.

Lev Board of Directors

In This Issue
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New Year Starting Off Strong!

We are blessed with so many members who have renewed their memberships  this month:

Sharon Alexander, Barbara Axelband, Lynn Beliak, Judy Blake, Fran Bogotch, Holly Factor, Lorraine Factor, Dana Fein, Leslie Geffen, Jackie Goldfield, Carol Kaufman, Myrna Kayton, Julie Klee, Beth Koonan, Lillian Laskin, Shayna Lester, Janet Madden, Donna Malamud, Lynda Malerstein, Margot Morrison, Geri Mund, Rachelle Neshkes, Andrea Nitz, Cathy Novak, Gerry Owen, Linda Owen, Kate Rosloff, Elaine Craig Segal, Arielle Singer, Craig Singer, Joan Spiegel, Amy Strickland, Sandy Terranova, Shoshi Wilchfort, Susie Yuré.

Haven't renewed yet?  Click HERE to go straight to our membership page. You can do it all online - it's easy!
Our 75th Member!

Congratulations to Jackie Goldfield, who was the 75th person to renew her Lev membership. Jackie will receive an honor at a Lev service, and a special gift.

Who will be our 100th member?
Donors Make it Happen

Thank you to the following donors:
  • Lynn Beliak, "sending wishes of healing and love" to Linda Zweig
  • Amy Strickland
  • Jo Beth Cohen
  • Shirley Belinfante
The Shofar Blasts: Alerting Us To Danger?

Alerting us to Compassion! 
by Rabbi August

There's a story going around about a man trying to cross the street. However, when he steps off the curb a car comes screaming around the corner and heads straight for him.

The man walks faster, trying to hurry across the street, but the car changes lanes and is still coming at him. So the guy turns around to run back, but the car changes lanes again and is still coming at him.
By now, the car is so close and the man so scared that he just freezes in the middle of the road.  

The car races right up to him, then swerves at the last possible moment and stops next to the man. The driver rolls down the window. Lo and behold, it's a squirrel driving the car. And the squirrel says to the man, "See, it's not as easy as it looks, is it?"

Nothing seems particularly easy these days.  We are all feeling it. It seems like the world has gone mad.

Two weeks ago, a young man planted bombs in New York and New Jersey. The LA Times had the background story of his life - his personal story resembles the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story.  People from different backgrounds and cultures are unable to accept or tolerate their children falling in love.

Reading his story reminded me about two aspects of why we blow the shofar during Rosh Hashanah services. In ancient times, the shofar was blown when there was danger. It was a call to arms when the city was being attacked. The shrill urgent sound provoked the response to imminent peril and was a call to action.

The story of Ahmad Khan Rahami is like this aspect of blowing the shofar - alerting us to danger. Warning us that immigrants can become radicalized and plant bombs in our own backyards.  Initially assimilated and growing up in a melting pot neighborhood in New Jersey, there was no reason to fear this immigrant family.  Originally there was no call to danger.  It was only after Rahami fell in love with Maria, his high school girlfriend. She was Dominican and a Catholic, and Rahami's Muslim father disapproved. They had a baby and Ahmad used his earnings from working at his family's restaurant to get an apartment and provide for his young family. However, his father stridently disapproved and cut off all funding and support. Maria took the baby and left.

Depressed and adrift, Ahmad was taken by his father to Afghanistan, and told to learn how to take his religion seriously. After two years he came back radicalized, with a Pakistani wife and a new baby. Although he looked different, neighbors were still shocked at how this popular young man could be responsible for a series of bombs planted in New York and New Jersey. They were all immigrants and most thought they agreed that America was a place to find a better life.

Now, like the call of the shofar, there was a sense of danger: whom can you trust? If it happened here once, it can happen again. There is reason to be afraid.

However, this is not the only side of the story. Another understanding of why we blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah is a call for tolerance and compassion, as opposed to the call for danger.  In one of our oldest Biblical texts, the ancient Israelites were oppressed for years by the Canaanites, who stole their livestock, kidnapped their children and imposed onerous levies on their communities.  Deborah was a prophet and judge of Israel at that time. She took her people into battle against the Canaanite army and its general, Sisera. The Israelites defeated their enemy and Sisera was killed.

In the aftermath of this great victory, and finally freed from their enemies, the Bible story relates this strange observation. "Sisera's mother peered out her window - she gazed through the lattice. Crying she asked, Why is his chariot so long in coming?"

Why was the Bible concerned about the mother of our enemy?
Tradition teaches that Sisera's mother cried 100 times, and this is why we blow 100 blasts on the Shofar.  The word used for Sisera's mother's crying is the same word used to describe the wailing sound of the Shofar.

The Shofar is not just used as a call to danger, but on Rosh Hashanah, the rabbis want us to listen to the wailing, crying Shofar sounds, and be reminded of the story of Sisera's mother. We are told to feel and understand the humanity and despair of all people, even our fiercest enemies!

We must develop tolerance and compassion for the plight and pain of our enemies, lest we too become like them and lose our own humanity.  We find empathy and caring, while at the same time we must be aware that there is danger and people who want to harm us.

The shofar blasts convey both messages simultaneously.

Be aware of the danger of radicalized extremists full of hate and fury, who want to kill innocent people indiscriminately, and be aware of the humanity of each individual, knowing that often it is the fear of the other that causes such hate and ugliness.

The bomber Ahmed Rahami became radicalized after his father refused to accept his non-Muslim girlfriend and their child. This intolerance and adamant indifference to his son's needs led Rahmani down his violent path.

The Shofar's blast asks us to feel compassion for a broken young man, who was pushed too far by his father and lost his way, while at the same time recognizing that this man was dangerous and a threat to others.

The spiritual power of the shofar can open our hearts, allowing us to be more compassionate and humane while keeping the larger perspective of the dangers present in our crazy world.  The story of the mother's tears asks us to consider other options besides war and violence. Though necessary sometimes, it can be prevented by more tolerance and compassion for people who are different than we are.  

Sunnis could tolerate Shiites and so many lives would be saved.
Israelis and Palestinians could discover how much they could benefit from living together in mutuality and understanding, and so much destruction and fear could be eliminated.

We can continue to embrace and interact with immigrant families who are not radicals but only want to find a place to live in peace. Our hearts can be uplifted and our souls opened as we help and care for others.
The optimistic, stirring words at the end of the Song of Deborah, proclaiming the victory over Sisera and the Canaanites is instructive:

Ken Yovdu Oy'Vecha Hashem
V'ohavav KehTzeit Hashemesh Big'vurato!
So may all your enemies perish, O Lord!
But may those who love You be as the sun rising in might.
May we find courage and hope that this New Year can be a beginning for more tolerance and compassion, leading to more peace and security in our troubled world, and we say AMEN.
Sarah Barash, Our Resident Poet
loif nisht
do not rush
if I have the wherewithal to wait
what I need will come to pass
catch up to me as I pause
allow for stillness to overcome
all expectations of what might be
for God knows that as I rush through my days
mired in mindless narrative
I miss the moment
there must be time for reflection for introspection for    
             dreams as hope is the mainspring of faith and love
but authentic life if it is to be momentous is not lived in
the past
or the future
to be present is to allow for awe for wonder for God
for remembering that transcendent moments
the magical and the mystical are lost when I stride 
blindly forward focused on that
which lies always just beyond
so I say to myself
don't rush
don't rush
slow down
life is now
in this moment
* * * * *
for robert barash, mentor extraordinaire
Los Angeles, May, 2008


OUR ANNUAL LEV EISHA RETREAT WEEKEND is approaching.  Please mark your calendar for 3 perfect days, January 20-22, 2017.  We will renew and unite with an extraordinary spiritual and nurturing experience. Our Lev community comes together with relatives and friends from the Bay Area, South Bay, Las Vegas, as far away as Texas, and those just around the block.  Our retreat is the perfect environment to share with those close to us and allows us the opportunity to meet others who wish to enjoy this glorious weekend at the Brandeis Bardin Institute in Simi Valley.  Join us as we take this meaningful weekend journey together.  See the flyer in the foyer for more info.


to Susie Yuré on the birth of her grandson, Colin James Ericson on August 2
to Donna Malamud on her daughter's starting Los Angeles College of Music

HAPPY BIRTHDAY  to the following October birthdays: 
Susan Batel, Bernice Brown, Judy Fishman, Jackie Goldfield, Debbie Heisman, Lynda Malerstein, Laurie Samson, & Amy Strickland

I f you have a milestone to share please send it to Rose Ziff at
editor@leveisha.org.  Birthdays, weddings, graduations, Bat or Bar Mitzvot, births, special awards/honors, and exotic vacations are some of the simchas that are fun to share with our community. 

This is also the place to ask our community to join you in prayers of healing for those who are ill or in memory of those who have passed away. 
Parking at Beth Shir Shalom
As a reminder, we have arranged a parking lot for services at 20th and Wilshire.  The lot is located behind the V Lounge @ 2020 Wilshire Blvd. (across the street from the Veggie Grill).  See directions below. The lot is approximately a 6 minutes walk to the synagogue. Look for the purple balloons at the lot.

There are a few unrestricted parking places directly in front of the synagogue.   Please be sure to read street signs.  If you have a handicap plaque, you may park at the meters or in the 2-hour parking which is located on California Ave. 

Spaces in the small parking lot adjacent to the synagogue are reserved for our clergy, musicians, and catering committee.
Map & Directions
Lev Eisha Shabbat Services are held at Beth Shir Shalom,
1827 California Ave. Santa Monica, 90403


To Beth Shir Shalom
Take the 405 Fwy North or South to the 10 Fwy Westbound.  
Exit the 10 Fwy at Cloverfield/26th Street 
Turn right onto Cloverfield.  
Turn left at Colorado. 
Turn right onto 20th Street.  Continue straight, past Wilshire, one bloc, to California. 
Turn left onto California Avenue.  Go 1- 1/2 blocks. Beth Shir Shalom will be on the right.

To parking lot
Follow above directions to get to 20th Street and turn right.
Turn right at Wilshire. 
Parking lot will be on the right behind the V Lounge.  (See map below)
Look for the purple balloons.


Welcome to Lev Eisha, a spiritual prayer service by and for women.  B'ruchot Ha'baot - we invite you to join us with great blessing.  We provide a joyous environment with opportunities for soulful prayer, energetic song and dance, deep Jewish study, and meditation.  Each person, in their own way, finds what they need for their personal and spiritual growth at Lev Eisha.


What makes our community so unique? The answer is reflected in our name. "Lev" means heart, and "Eisha" means woman.  When women come together with open hearts, we figuratively hold each others' hearts in profound acceptance, understanding and love.


Join us and support Lev Eisha. By attending you are giving yourself the greatest gift; time for yourself, a "spiritual fix" to keep you balanced and centered for the month. Lev Eisha will transform your Jewish  soul.