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Everything you need to know about TBI.

The Central Address for Judaism in North East Los Angeles

Today, TBI is one of the oldest synagogues in Los Angeles still operating in its original location. Highland Park is the heart of a thriving Jewish community that loves the scenic hillsides, craftsman houses, flora, and foods of our region. We operate in a neighborhood traditionally known for its artists and independent shops, and much of our membership lives locally but many drive from as far away as Santa Monica and the East San Gabriel Valley.

TBI was founded in 1923 by a group of mighty women who wanted a Hebrew school for their children in their growing Jewish neighborhood. We moved into our current building in 1930.

What denomination is it? 

We are a proud member of BOTH the Conservative and Reform movements. Our Senior Rabbi was ordained by Hebrew Union College (Reform) and has extensive experience within the Conservative Movement and Orthodoxy. Our Torah School Director was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary (Conservative) and also has experience across the movements. Our Cantor is invested by the Jewish Theological Seminary (Conservative).

Okay, but what does that mean?
If you've ever been to a Conservative, Reform, or Reconstructionist service before, you'll recognize some elements of TBI- our services include prayers in both Hebrew and English and a traditional Torah service (conducted in Hebrew with English guidance and explanations). People of all genders participate equally.

We encourage congregational participation- reading, singing, offering commentary on the weekly Torah portion, and even running portions of the service- but we make sure that everything is accessible to newcomers with transliterations of important prayers and blessings and our clergy offering a steady hand and guidance to anyone who wants to volunteer for the first time. 

Some members dress casually and some dress more formally, though we encourage the wearing of a Kippah (Yiddish: Yarmulke). If you are Jewish, you are welcome to bring or borrow a Tallit (prayer shawl). 

Shabbat is a day of rest for us and for our devices too! Please turn your devices all the way off before entering the grounds on Shabbat, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the first and last days of Sukkot / Passover/ Shavuot.

Why become a Member?

Temple Beth Israel is like PBS, everything we do is possible thanks to the support and generosity of our membership. If you believe in our mission, if what we do brings you joy, a sense of spirituality, or enhances your sense of connection with other human beings, become a member! 

Our Rabbinic and Cantoral staff support members with life cycle events (b'nai mitzvah, baby naming, yahrtzeits, hospital visits, funerals, shiva, wedding and anniversary celebrations, etc.) and pastoral care, while our community rallies to support members in times of need. Membership includes tickets to High Holiday services (we're a shul after all!) 

Members also participate in the direction and election of TBI leadership. After one year of membership, all members are eligible to run for the Board of Directors, and all members are able to vote in the election of their Board leadership. 

TBI advocates for its members within the Jewish community, and is always able to help connecting members to other Jewish organizations in LA, Glendale, Pasadena, South Pasadena, Altadena, and the San Gabriel Valley. 

My family is interfaith- are we welcome?

Yes!

Interfaith families comprise a significant part of our membership. Interfaith families have been part of Jewish life continuously, from the beginning of our history, and we strive to make all members of any family feel at home at our services and events. All our prayer books have full English translations and we do our best to offer transliterations of important prayers and blessings,  while the Rabbi and Cantors offer context and explanation throughout.

Certain rituals are reserved for people who identify as Jewish. These rituals are: wearing a prayer shawl (tallit), reciting the blessing over the Torah, reading the Torah, and leading prayers in Hebrew or prayers that are English translations of traditional Jewish prayers. Interfaith partners are welcome to join their Jewish partner on the bima for the recitation of these prayers.

Everyone is welcome to join in a communal recitation of Jewish prayers or to respond with “amen.” Several parts of the service are open to everyone to lead: the prayer for peace, the prayer for the government, certain psalms, and poetry readings.

Are children welcome at all services?

Absolutely!

Children are welcome at all services. Children are welcome to run around and have a good time, we believe the synagogue should be like an extension of our living rooms. Naturally, if they get a little to loud, we encourage their parents to bring them into the hall or outside to calm down. We definitely do not want to make them feel unwelcome (ask our Rabbi about his experience feeling unwelcome in his childhood synagogue, he never wants anyone else to feel that way!).

We welcome children at TBI because we know how important it is to grow up feeling accepted in a synagogue space.

I'm not Jewish and I might be interested in conversion. What should I do?

You’re definitely welcome at TBI! We have a large community of Jews By Choice (some prefer "Jews On Purpose"), and they will be happy to talk to you about their experiences.

You should attend some services and other events at TBI and get comfortable with the community. If you have questions about anything that’s happening, please ask - our members are always happy to help. When you feel ready, talk to the Rabbi and he can point you toward conversion programs in the area, or when our next in-house course will begin. You have our community's support throughout the process!

I'm not Jewish and I'm not interested in conversion. Am I still welcome?

Yes!

Judaism is a non-proselytizing religion, and you are welcome to participate in all events at TBI. However, certain rituals are reserved for people who identify as Jewish. These rituals are: wearing a prayer shawl, reciting the blessing over the Torah, reading the Torah, and leading prayers in Hebrew or prayers that are English translations of traditional Jewish prayers.

If your partner is Jewish and has a ritual to perform on the bima, you are more than welcome to join them. If you are offered a ritual by someone in the congregation and you do not identify as Jewish, it is customary to politely decline.

That said, we absolutely want you to join in our celebrations. We do our very best to have translations and transliterations of Hebrew prayers on hand, and we are always willing and able to explain the elements of the services and holidays.

What is a B Mitzvah? 

As our community seeks to be inclusive of all genders, we favor the neutral “B Mitzvah” to refer to this process. If your child self-identifies as male or female, we will be happy to use the appropriate terminology as fits your family’s comfort level.

B Mitzvah is a status that attaches to a Jewish individual above the age of 13 (traditionally 12 for girls). At TBI, we try to avoid phrases like “I was bat mitzvahed” since these imply a passivity that is not befitting the occasion. A B Mitzvah is a person who is now eligible to participate in elements of Jewish ritual previously unavailable to them (like counting in a minyan, taking an aliyah to the Torah, and leading certain parts of the service). We favor active language like “I became a bar mitzvah” and “I B mitzvahed”.

How do I get involved? 

Glad you asked!

Read our newsletters and social media to find out about events, programs, and volunteer opportunities. When you find something you’re excited about, email admin@tbila.org. Tell us your area of interest and we will connect you to the person or committee where you can join in.

Wed, June 19 2024 13 Sivan 5784