Shabbat with a sense of humor

first_imgSHERMAN OAKS – The observance of Shabbat, the Fourth Commandment in Judaism, is a holy day but not a day of dour faces and solemnity. Shabbat, Hebrew for Sabbath, is a festive holiday from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday that observant Jews look forward to with eagerness every week. The Creative Arts Temple, based at Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles, is bringing its humor-laced but tradition-rooted Shabbat service to the San Fernando Valley on the second Friday of every month. “The way we should relate to Judaism and Shabbat should be joyous. Open up your heart to it,” said Rabbi Jerry Cutler, who established Creative Arts Temple’s Shabbat service, meeting this month at Temple B’nai Hayim in Sherman Oaks. Cutler continues to lead the 8 p.m. Shabbat service the first Friday of the month at Temple Beth Am on La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles. “My idea then, and now, was to make a Shabbat service once a month, but make it special so people looked forward to it and they would actually come. Our services have been packed.” Great music is a staple at Creative Arts Temple. The cantor is former Broadway and television actress Lorna (Patterson) Lembeck. Besides her wonderful voice, said Cutler, she has a magnificent sense of humor. “My background is comedy. We kibbitz a lot,” Cutler said. “People come to pray but there has to be humor. We have a lot of joyous singing. We do Israeli dancing at the Oneg Shabbat. We want people to feel the spirit of Shabbat.” The Creative Arts Temple still attracts entertainment industry personalities but it’s definitely not, said Cutler, an exclusive A-list congregation. “The service is very upbeat. It’s very much in the spirit of reaching out to people who may have abandoned their Jewish roots,” said Joann Roth-Oseary, founder of the Tarzana-based catering company Someone’s in the Kitchen. “Our rabbi is extraordinarily available to both the congregation and people in need. He’s not someone who turns people away.” Cutler is hoping the Sherman Oaks service will attract singles and young families to discover the joys of Shabbat observance. But the key for sustaining temple membership is to have a school. Temple B’nai Hayim has a school, and the goal is for the Creative Arts Temple’s congregation to help build up the school. The two congregations plan to hold joint fundraising programs and outreach to the needy. “I promote Jewish pride. I want people to know what Jews have accomplished,” said Cutler. “You should be a practicing Jew as best you can. Read books about every field that Jews have participated in. Find your Jewish love somewhere and feel proud.” Shabbat service led by Rabbi Jerry Cutler, 7:30 p.m. April 13, Creative Arts Temple, meeting at Temple B’nai Hayim, 4302 Van Nuys Blvd., Sherman Oaks. Call (323) 965-1818 or see [email protected] (818) 713-3708160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “The services are fun. There’s a lot of laughter. You will sing your heart out and clap your hands,” Cutler said. “You never know what to expect at one of our services. It’s the enjoyment of Judaism through the creative arts.” The Creative Arts Temple has a substantial member base living or working in the San Fernando Valley. Cutler decided it made sense to establish a second Shabbat service for his congregation on this side of the hill. The “Un-Orthodox” rabbi – yes, that’s printed on his business cards – has a background in writing and performing comedy. But he grew up in the Orthodox Judaism tradition in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, as the son of the late Rabbi Abraham Cutler. Cutler was the founder in 1972 of the Synagogue for the Performing Arts, a Los Angeles temple attracting Jews in the entertainment field due to Cutler’s dual career. But after some ups and downs with the former synagogue and in his personal life, the rabbi left the pulpit for a time before he started the Creative Arts Temple in the early 1980s. last_img read more