July 10, 2014
12 Tamuz 5774

Reflections on the Situation in Israel Today

While up at Camp Newman, we were horrified and shocked at the murder of the three Israeli Jewish teens, Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Fraenkel. Our entire Jewish community continues to grieve with their families, as well as with the family of murdered Palestinian teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir, whose killing is also an anathema to our Jewish values. 

Recently, I remain shocked as my cell phone buzzes too many times each day as Hamas and other Gaza terrorists launch rockets at Israel (more than 500 rockets according to recent reports). The Red Alert app (for iPhone and Android), which everyone should download, sounds an alarm every time a rocket (or group of rockets) is fired at Israel. 


The Red Alerts are undermining my peace of mind, as it should. Each Red Alert reminds me of my 4 nieces and my many friends who have to endure this injustice. Men, women and children seeking to go about their daily routines have been rushed into bomb shelters at the startling sound of rocket sirens-with merely seconds to find safety. Simultaneously, people go about their days in larger cities, meeting friends, touring the country, eating ice cream.  


Rockets and mortars have hit the cities of Hadera, Rishon Lezion, Beer Sheva, Ashdod and others. They have reached as far as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Thankfully, the rockets launched at heavily populated areas have been shot down by the Iron Dome missile defense system-saving thousands of innocent lives. This incredible technology is a direct result of our hard work to secure U.S. funding for Israel's vital missile defense programs. 


We do not know what will happen in the days ahead. So let me suggest three things we all can do:

  1. Download the Red Alert app (for iPhone and Android), keep the sound on (except perhaps at night) and whenever it goes off, explain to your friends or coworkers what has happened. Thus we teach others about the reality of Israeli life.
  2. Keep informed about what is happening. I prefer the online news Times of Israel (which offers opinions from both the left and right). Others choose Haaretz (Israel's "New York Times") or the Jerusalem Post (leans right).
  3. Read this background memo, and contact your Senators and Congressperson. Soon, people will tire of the story and conveniently forget that Israel is only responding to the onslaught of rockets shot from Gaza. We want to ensure that America continues its strong support for Israel's defensive actions.


Finally, sha'alu shalom lirushalayim - we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, Israel and the entire region. 

Presbyterian Church's Actions Vis-a-vie Israel: 

Sad and Condemnable


Rabbi Kipnes shares the statement of the Central Conference of American Rabbis condemning the vote of the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly to Engage in Divestment. He too condemns the action and shares this statement with you.


With sadness and dismay, we condemn the action of the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly, by a vote of 310-303, to "selectively divest" from three companies that it claims "further the Israeli occupation in Palestine." Notwithstanding its claim to the contrary, the Church has now taken sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and joined the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a contemptible effort to delegitimize the State of Israel and deny the Jewish People's right to statehood.

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Lily Gottlieb - New LoMPTY Youth Advisor!


We are delighted to welcome Lily Gottlieb, our new LoMPTY Youth Group Advisor, to the Or Ami family. LoMPTY is Or Ami's 9th-12th grade youth group.


Lily Gottlieb grew up in North Hollywood and attended the California Institute of the Arts, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography. She has been an active member of the Los Angeles area Jewish community, having worked with regional NFTY SoCal as well as teaching in Or Ami's Mishpacha program this past year. She has also worked at Camp Newman, developing a variety of youth and arts education programs. During summer 2014, Lily is serving as a Madricha for NFTY's Israel Adventure teen tour.


Lily is eager to begin her work with "the great young people in LoMPTY," and has lots of innovative ideas to share for the coming year's events. Her photographic skills will assuredly inspire many budding shutterbugs, and her enthusiasm and commitment to Jewish youth will surely make her a new favorite face around Congregation Or Ami.


LoMPTY Header

We welcome Lily in person in mid-August. Until then, please address any questions about our youth programs to Rabbi Julia, or her assistant Laurel Murray

Men's Night Out!

August 28, 7:30 - 9:30 pm 


Men's Night Out is where Rabbi Paul gathers a diverse group of Or Ami men for a light dinner and drinks and to talk about being men and being Jewish. The dress is relaxed; atmosphere is warm and friendly. Conversations range from current events, ethics and business, and being part of a Jewish family.  Open to all Or Ami men 25 and older. Invite an Or Ami male friend to join you. $10/person to defray the costs of the dinner. RSVP. At the home of Jonathan Wolfson (Woodland Hills). Thursday, August 28, 7:30-9:30 pm


Women's Night Out!

September  9, 7:30 - 9:30 pm


Women's Night Out brings together all Or Ami women, age 25 and older. We shmooze (socialize) over dinner, and have conversations about being women and being part of a family and community. Conversations might range from love to success to children to music to being part of a Jewish family.  Each Women's Night Out will be different as we create relationships together. The dress is relaxed (jeans are appropriate); the atmosphere is warm and friendly. Invite an Or Ami female friend to join you. $10/person to defray the costs of the dinner. RSVP. At the home of Wendy Kirchick (Calabasas). Tuesday, September 9, 7:30-9:30 pm

Meanwhile at Camp Newman...
Or Ami camper hang out with Rabbi Paul and Rabbi Julia!

Rabbi Paul Kipnes with Camp Newman Kids
Rabbi Julia Weisz with Camp Newman Kids

Why Do You Love Congregation Or Ami?!?

Connecting with Israel


Or Ami college student Sydney Epstein writes:


On May 22, I jetted off for what turned out to be the most incredible experience. Birthright allows you to reconnect with your Jewish heritage in the Holy Land itself. After a long 12-hour plane ride along with 40 other peers, I finally landed in Israel. Immediately following, we began ascending the fortress of Masada and floating in the Dead Sea! Not a bad start!


Throughout the trip, we explored every inch of the country. We traveled all through the desert and northern Israel. For me, the trip was not only about the sights we saw and the places we visited. It was about making new Jewish friends and connecting with my peers on a new level. They truly made this trip an unforgettable experience. When people would ask me, "What has been your favorite part of Birthright," I would give the same answer: the people I got to experience Israel with.


Throughout the trip, I realized that 10 days was way too short! In the end, I extended my stay in Tel Aviv. I could not bear the thought of leaving Israel so soon! Although this was my second time in Israel, Birthright gave me a whole new perspective about the country. These past 10 days really opened my eyes up to the beauty and history Israel has to offer. I highly encourage anyone to take advantage of this incredible opportunity!!


Thank you Rabbi Paul Kipnes for helping me get on the trip of my choice!


Did your Or Ami child go on a birthright trip? We'd love to feature his/her experience here. Send me an email and we will reach out to him/her.

What's your story? Why do you (and your family) love being part of Congregation Or Ami? Email your story to Rabbi Paul Kipnes.

Shabbat Schedule 

Fri., July 11 - Celebration Shabbat Service - 6:00 pm
Join Rabbi Weisz, Cantorial Intern Lori Reisman, and Pianist Aaron Meyer for an inspiring Shabbat service. Come for services and follow it with dinner at home or at a restaurant.
NOTE: 6:00 pm start time.
[Torah portion: Pinchas Numbers 25:10-30:1]

Fri., July 18 - Celebration Shabbat Service - 7:30 pm
Join Rabbi Weisz, Cantorial Intern Lori Reisman, Pianist Aaron Meyer and Guitarist Darryl Lieberstein as we celebrate Shabbat through song and prayer. Pre-Bar Mitzvah honoring of Daniel Gordon.
[Torah portion: Mattot Numbers 30:2-32:42]

Fri., July 25 - Meditational Shabbat Service - 6:00 pm
Join Rabbi Kipnes, Soloist Sheryl Braunstein, and Pianist Aaron Meyer for an early Service. Rabbi Kipnes leads us in meditation for insight and inspiration. Come for services and follow it with dinner at home or at a restaurant. NOTE: 6:00 pm start time.
[Torah portion: Massei Numbers 33:1-36:13]

Fri., Aug. 1 - Celebration Shabbat Service - 7:30 pm
Join Rabbi Julia Weisz, Soloist Sheryl Braunstein, Pianist Aaron Meyer, and Guitarist Darryl Lieberstein as they explore the beautiful music and teachings of our Jewish tradition.
Pre-B'nai Mitzvah honoring Rebecca Beerstein and Joey Kaz.
[Torah portion: Devarim Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22]

Fri., Aug. 8 - Early Energetic Shabbat Service - 6:00 pm
Join Rabbi Kipnes and Cantor Cotler for an early Shabbat Service. Rabbi Kipnes will reflect on life lessons from summertime. Pre-B'nai Mitzvah honoring Amanda Cohen, Matthew Greenberg, Julia and Sam Gubner, Rachel Kraut, Dani Pattiz, and Eddie Wolfson.
[Torah portion: Va'etchanan Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11]

 God Talk at Camp?


Ever have one of those moments when your child reaches out to you and all you really want to do is collapse from exhaustion? It happens at home and it happens at camp. So what do you do?


I am up here at URJ Camp Newman, the Reform movement camp in Santa Rosa, CA, leading our delegation of 42 people from Congregation Or Ami (Calabasas, CA) for Jewish summer fun. After a full fantastic day of spiritual hikes, meditation teaching, service planning and camper counseling, I was hot, tired and worn out.

Rabbi, Want to Talk about God?

Yet, no sooner did I sit down for a little quiet time when I heard someone call out, "We're having a conversation here about God. Rabbi, do you want to join us?" So I thought to myself...

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Israel Trip 2016


Or Ami's Multigenerational Israel trip travels in July 2016 (around July 13-23)

 Many people have already contacted Rabbi Paul Kipnes and Cantor Doug Cotler to share their interest in this trip. We will celebrate B'nai Mitzvah in Jerusalem. Older couples without children and single parent families are also attending. One set of grandparents is considering bringing their children and grandchildren


Join us for Shabbat in Jerusalem and oceanside in Tel Aviv. Enjoy mystical Tzfat, climb Masada, and river raft down the Jordan River. Wine Taste in the Golan, get to know Ethiopian Jewish families, and break bread with Bedouins in their tent in the desert. Interested? Let Rabbi Paul know now. A trip planning meeting will be held in August. 

Summer Camp...Session 2
Nothing but Smiles!



Upcoming at Or Ami
View our Calendar 
Wed., July 2, 9 & 30 - Adult B'nai Class
8:00p m

Thurs., July 10  - Or Ami Business Roundtable
At our monthly networking group, Robert Grossman will speak on the topic: Executive Leadership. Enjoy a light nosh and networking. Open to all. Questions? Contact Dianne Gubin  or 818-222-0300. Thursday, July 10, 7:30-9:00 am

Fri., July 11 - $100 late fee when registering for school programs AFTER this date

Mon., July 14 - Fishing Trip Chaperoning New Directions for Youth
Or Ami adult volunteers will take foster kids on a fishing expedition. Anyone with fishing experience is needed to chaperone a child in what likely will be their first time fishing. To chaperone, contact Patti Wolfson  or 818-652-2083. Location TBA. Monday, July 14 6:00 am - 3:00 pm

Tues., July 22 - General Board Meeting
8:00 pm

Sun., July 27 - Conejo Food & Shelter Program
Come feed the hungry in our community. Participate in this sacred act of tzedakah with Or Ami. Become involved: sponsor a meal, prepare or serve the meals, use this as your Bar/Bat Mitzvah Project or come with a group of your friends. To volunteer, contact chair Lenore Alexander or 818-674-9619. At St Patrick's Church in Thousand Oaks. Sunday, July 27, 6:00-7:30 pm

Rave Reviews for Orami.org Website Upgrade  


We have been busy at work updating our website. Take a look at the new homepage streamlined design, and the rotating picture links. Click on any picture to learn about how warm and welcoming Or Ami is. Also, our Membership (partnership) pages now include all the forms and brochures you and your friends will need to renew or join. Our youth, Israel, Interfaith, LGBTQ, Multicultural/multiethnic, special needs pages also have a new look.


Encourage Your Friends to Check Out Or Ami 
Gore Family at Torah


You love being part of our warm, welcoming, innovative, musical Jewish community. So share the best kept Jewish secret in the West San Fernando and Conejo Valleys. Tell your friends why this is the place to reengage with your Judaism. 


Then point them to our new Partnership webpage. Inspire them with Or Ami's welcoming of Jewish individuals, couples and families who are:


  • Of all shapes and sizes
  • Interfaith
  • Multi-cultural/multiethnic 
  • With Special Needs
  • Recovering from illness or addiction
  • New to Judaism
  • Veteran synagogue participants
  • With young, medium or teen children
  • With no children 
  • Athletic or couch potatoes
  • Fishermen, businesspeople, musicians, mathematicians, seniors and more...


Then please reaffirm your partnership with Congregation Or Ami by walking into the synagogue in the month of June to update your information and, where appropriate, registering your child(ren) for our learning programs.  We expect it will take 10-15 minutes.  Or update and complete the forms you received (or these online forms) and return them to our synagogue office.  



Please renew now (our office staff will thank you). The $25 school enrollment incentive discounts end on June 15th. 


Cook Just One Day and You Nourish Someone for a Lifetime 
feeding the hungry
 Would you volunteer to help prepare and serve a meal for the homeless and hungry just one time this coming year? Feed the Hungry: Judaism's highest mitzvah is to care for the vulnerable. Every month, Or Ami prepares and serves dinner to the hungry as part of a coalition of synagogues and churches. Our Feed the Hungry Committee seeks individuals and families to help prepare one meal, once during the year. To volunteer (for a date TBD), please contact project chair Lenore Alexander

LimmudLA connects Jews in SoCal


LimmudLA connects Southern California Jews of all backgrounds and all ages through cross-communal learning and meaningful volunteer experiences. Fest 2014 is our marquee annual, weekend-long event that is 100% volunteer-run. Located in the beautiful, natural setting of Brandeis-Bardin, 200 attendees of all ages and affiliations will gather to teach, learn, eat (kosher food), sing, and celebrate Judaism in all its forms. It's part conference, part festival, part summer camp for adults, kids, and the whole family. Join the Jewish community there on August 15-17, 2014.  Rabbi Julia Weisz will present a session there. Registration Info is available now. 

Rabbi Paul Kipnes * Cantor Doug Cotler * Rabbi Julia Weisz
Congregation Or Ami

(818) 880-4880
Facebook: Congregation Or Ami
Twitter: @CongOrAmi

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