OU West Coast Torah Convention: Bringing Light to a Darkened World, December 11-14 in Los Angeles

03 Dec 2014

How do we bring joy back into our Jewish lives? How do we make Orthodox Judaism more than a social phenomenon? How do we maintain Jewish values in the workplace and find inspiration in dark times while balancing realism and optimism? These timely issues will be discussed at the 24th Annual Orthodox Union West Coast Torah Convention in Los Angeles from Thursday, December 11 to Sunday, December 14. The theme of the program is “Bringing Light to a Darkened World.” It will take place at OU member synagogues throughout the area with the Sunday closing sessions being held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Rabbi Alan Kalinsky, director of OU West Coast and Rabbi Adir Posy, Convention program director, declared,  “As our community is stricken with tragedy and existential threats to our social, economic and spiritual well-being, it becomes increasingly difficult to focus on the big picture and remain positive. Our theme this year is meant to foster a communal conversation that is less about specific solutions to the difficult challenges facing our community and more about how we approach them with a values-based and positive attitude.”

Rabbi Moshe Weinberger, Mashpia (spiritual mentor) at Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) and founding rabbi of Congregation Aish Kodesh in Woodmere, NY,  will deliver the convention’s keynote address on Thursday, December 11 at 7:45 p.m. at the Young Israel of North Beverly Hills. He will speak on the topic “Illuminating the Darkness.”

On Friday morning, December 12,  the Rabbinic Enrichment shiur (lecture) for Community and OU Synagogue Rabbis at YULA Boys School will be led by Rabbi Hershel Schachter, posek (Halachic Decisor) of OU Kosher and Rosh Yeshiva at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS).  OU Senior Managing Director Rabbi Steven Weil will also stop by the YULA Boys School while Rebbetzin Yael Weil will visit the YULA Girls School.

Shalhevet High School will host Rabbi Ronald Schwarzberg, director of Jewish Career Guidance and Placement at YU’s Center for the Jewish Future; together with Rabbi Dr. Hillel Goldberg, executive editor of the Denver’s Intermountain Jewish News and contributing editor of the OU’s quarterly magazine Jewish Action.

A Friday night tisch – a gathering in a private home with words of Torah, Chassidic songs and refreshments – will be led by Rabbi Moshe Weinberger on December 12 at 8:15 p.m. That evening there will be two onegs, one led by Rabbi Hershel Schachter, in Hancock Park; and the other by Rabbi Steven Weil in Valley Village.

On Saturday morning, December 13, Scholars in Residence will fan out to OU shuls in the area, including:

There will be a Shabbat “Lunch and Learn” at Pat’s Kosher Restaurant at 9233 West Pico Boulevard, for registered guests. Rabbi Weinberger will speak at 4:30 p.m. at the Young Israel of Century City on “Keeping Torah Values in a Challenging World.” On Motza’ei Shabbat, he will lead a community-wide event at Yeshivat Yavneh at 8 p.m.

The Sunday sessions at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, beginning at 9:30 a.m., include The Dr. Beth Sharon Samuels z”l Memorial Women’s Beit Midrash, at which Rebbetzin Yael Weil will speak on the topic, “A Female Eliyahu: One Woman’s Journey Across the Generations.” She will be followed by OU Womens Torah Network’s Mrs. Geri Wiener on “Ma’ayanei Hayeshuah: Life-Giving Waters & a Paradigm Shift.” There will be a Yom Iyun (Day of Learning) led by Rabbis Schachter and Feldman. A Rebbetzins Seminar will be coordinated by Rebbetzin Judi Steinig, Associate Director of Community Services in the OU’s Department of Community Engagement, for an invited audience.

The Sunday program will  include Legal Ethics sessions given by Rabbi Dr. Goldfeder on “Religion in the Courtroom: American and Jewish Law Perspectives on How Religion Affects Trials” and Mrs. Leonora “Lenny” Schloss, Esq. on “What Employers, Employees & Lawyers Need to Know About Religious Discrimination.”A two-hour MCLE credit is available.

The closing plenary session on “Is Social Orthodox the New Reality?” will be discussed by Rabbis Weil and Schwarzberg and moderated by Mr. Fagin.

Rabbis Kalinsky and Posy explained, “This session is directly in response to an article written in Commentary magazine. In the article, a thesis called ‘social orthodoxy’ is presented, claiming that  there are more and more members of Orthodox synagogue who don’t believe in God per se and for whom halacha (Jewish law) is negotiable. They connect to the Orthodox community because they see a social benefit in doing so. Our panel is meant to discuss the prevalence of this phenomenon and our reaction to it.”

For more information contact 310-229-9000 x 200 or westcoast@ou.org.