Featuring esteemed speakers and utilizing OU member synagogues throughout the Los Angeles area as venues, the West Coast Region of the Orthodox Union will present its annual West Coast Torah Convention from Thursday, December 20 to Sunday, December 23. The theme for this year’s event will be “The Quest for Spirituality.”
“Whether it is due to an overabundance of technology or a general societal sense of apathy, far too much of our religious lives end up being dry and rote filled, devoid of the excitement and passion that comes with recognizing the spiritual component of what we do and what we believe as religious Jews,” declared Rabbi Alan Kalinsky, Director of the West Coast Region. “What this convention seeks to address, is how do we recapture that focus on spirituality without losing our commitment to the day-to-day observance of Jewish ritual -- how do we see the spiritual in our daily routine?”
To seek answers, the Convention has assembled a distinguished faculty of Scholars-in-Residence, including (in alphabetical order):
• Rabbi Simon Benzaquen of Seattle, Rabbi Emeritus, Sefardic Bikur Cholim Congregation;
• Rabbi Shmuel Goldin of Englewood, NJ, President of the Rabbinical Council of America and Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Torah;
• Rabbi Shaye Guttenberg of San Franciso, Rabbi of Adath Israel Congregation and Director, Jewish Study Network;
• Rabbi Hershel Schachter of New York; an annual participant in the Torah Convention, he is Rosh Yeshiva at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University, Professor in Talmud, YU, and Posek, OU Kosher;
• Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter of New York, Professor, Jewish History and Jewish Thought, Senior Scholar, Center for the Jewish Future, Yeshiva University;
• Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky, Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshiva University, Posek, NCSY, and Rabbi, Congregation Ohr HaTorah, NJ
• Rabbi Joel and Aviva Tessler, Rabbi and Rebbetzin, Ohev Shalom Congregation, Potomac, Md; and
• Rabbi Steven Weil, Executive Vice President, OU, and Rebbetzin Yael Weil.
The Convention will open on Thursday evening, December 20 at the Young Israel of North Beverly Hills with dinner. Rabbi Dr. Schacter will deliver the Keynote address, The Quest for Spirituality – Timeless Challenge, Contemporary Solutions,” which will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Rabbi Mayer May, Executive Director, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Museum of Tolerance; and David Suissa, President, Tribe Media Corp./The Jewish Journal and Founder, Olam Magazine.
For dinner reservations, contact the OU office at 310-229-9000, ext. 200. The keynote will be open to the entire community.
Friday morning the Convention shifts to community education. Rabbi Weil will be speaking to the YULA Boys High School; Rabbi Hershel Schachter will be speaking at Mesivta Birchas Yitzchak and the LINK Kollel; and Rabbi Sobolofsky will be delivering a rabbinic enrichment session at OU West Coast headquarters to community rabbis.
Friday night onegs on December 21 will be held in Beverly Hills, Beverlywood, Los Angeles, Valley Village and Westwood. On Shabbat morning, December 22, the Scholars-in-Residence will fan out to various OU member synagogues, to be followed by a Shabbat luncheon at the famed Pat’s Restaurant.
Saturday afternoon shiurim and evening Melave Malkas will be held in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Valley Village and Westwood.
Sunday, December 23, which is the fast of Asara B’Tevet, will have a program at the Young Israel of Century City with the Dr. Beth Samuels A”H” Memorial Lectures. Featured speakers are Rebbetzin Yael Weil and Rebbetzin Aviva Tessler. Concurrently, Rav Schachter will be conducting a Bet Midrash session, followed by a faculty panel, How Do We Include Spirituality in Our Daily Lives? which will feature Rabbis Goldin, Tessler, and Sobolofsky.
Besides the Young Israel of North Beverly Hills and the Young Israel of Century City, synagogues hosting sessions will include Beth Jacob/Beverly Hills, Adas Torah, Bnai David-Judea, Shaarey Zedek-Valley Village, Mogen David, and Westwood Kehilla.
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