The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles featured an inspiring cover-story about Shabbat Lounge, featuring profiles and interviews with Rabbi Yonah and Rebbitzen Rachel:
People of all backgrounds — Jewish and non-Jewish — showed up to celebrate Shabbat and Havdallah, enjoy free food and an open bar, dance to Jewish music and find temporary respite from the intensity of the festival.
Rabbi Yonah Bookstein served as the welcoming face of the operation. Bookstein is the spiritual leader of L.A.’s Pico Shul and the organizer of Shabbat Tent, a program that holds Shabbat gatherings at music festivals and other events. On Friday evening, he led a Shabbat dinner for 85 attendees, with a kosher menu that included pesto salmon, beef ribs, challah, hummus, Israeli salad, Moscato wine and more.
“Sundance sameach,” Bookstein said, greeting the eclectic array of people seated at two long tables in the brewery. He had to shout to be heard over the cacophony of chatter from patrons on the bar’s first floor. “Enjoy yourselves. Make friends. Mingle. Go to the bar. Have a beer.”
The message of Shabbat is we need to take time during the week to focus on something higher than ourselves,” he said in an interview. “In the fast and furious world we live in, Shabbat resonates with people.”
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The special connection between the Sundance Film Festival and Los Angeles is no mystery. Large companies such as William Morris and ASCAP rent out their own private events, while millionaire businessmen come to their Deer Valley homes with hopes of partying at $20,000 tables at the Post Malone concert in their once-a-year fur coats.
But it’s not all about the sold-out shows and celebrity parties. Yonah Bookstein, rabbi at the Pico Shul synagogue in Los Angeles, and his organization Shabbat Tent set up dinner dates for the film industry, sharing challah, wine and brisket at the Sundance Shabbat Lounge at the Wasatch Brew Pub.
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He needs a miracle. Let that miracle be you. Nov. 3 while Marcus was walking home from synagogue, he was hit by a car and rushed to Cedars Sinai hospital for emergency brain surgery. His parents flew in from London on a one-way ticket and began praying by his side. Miraculously Marcus came out of the surgery successfully, but his brain continued to bleed and Tue Nov 7 he returned to the ICU and had a second brain surgery. He miraculously survived and finally had the tubes removed from his brain, but is still recovering in the hospital. Please pray for a full recovery; his Hebrew name is Harav Matisyahu Joel Baruch Ben Gitel.
TRAGICALLY we do not have the identity of the driver who hit him. Thus no one’s insurance is going to cover Marcus’ medical costs. As an artist, Marcus does not have private insurance or disability coverage to cover his bills and keep him afloat while he recovers. There is no safety net when you are an artist.
Marcus J Freed has dedicated his life to being a Jewish teacher, actor, and author. He has taught Torah values and life lessons globally through his writing, one-man plays, books, bibliyoga, and the hundreds of dynamic, creative Shabbat services he’s led throughout the world. He’s made us laugh, stretched our bodies and souls. He’s given so much to so many of us, now it’s time for us to give back to him.
But Marcus only has basic public health insurance, which covers very little. Thank G-d he survived. The doctors are amazed at his resilience and are hopeful he will make a full recovery, but beyond medical bills insurance doesn’t cover, Marcus will not be able to work for awhile. He has no sick leave, no disability coverage. I started this campaign with a goal to raise $100,000 to help cover medical costs, post-care and living expenses while he recovers, but because he had a second brain surgery and we don’t know how long it will take him to be back to 100%, so I increased it to $250,000.
This is an impossible number for Marcus alone, but if everyone whose lives he’s touched and who are inspired by his life, gives we can reach this goal, enabling him to continue to enlighten our world.
NEW: 11/8 the Jewish Journalwrote an articleon this inspiring story and campaign.
If you’ve seen Marcus perform one of his one man shows on the biblical kings, read one of his Kosher Sutra books, listened to one of his lectures, ate Shabbat dinner at his home, taken one of his biliyoga classes, attended one of his Sabbath services, was inspired at one of his Soul Revival sessions, prayed with him at a JConnect festival tent, heard him blow the shofar or give a dvar Torah at Pico Shul, is lucky enough to be his friend or received the kindness he shows everyone, please give today and share this campaign.
His parents, standing watch at his bedside day and night, are concerned the lack of support for US citizens and are terrified of this financial burden. They were planning to sell their home. They reluctantly and graciously said yes when I asked to create this campaign. They are deeply grateful for everyone’s generosity.
Together we can surpass $250,000 and give him enough funds to pay his bills, take time to recover, regain his strength and continue to feed our souls. If we’re able to reduce the medical bills or find other sources of support, we will donate any additional funds to Jewish charities.
We are proud this campaign is under the Rabbinic supervision of Rabbi Yonah of Pico Shul. Obviously, he knows Marcus, he knows me well and knows the CEO of Jewcer that is hosting this fundraiser and donating their fees.
Give now, give generously and share this with everyone who has had the honor to have met Marcus OR is inspired by his life. Now is your chance to uplift an artist, teacher, and actor who’s uplifted so many of us! Thank and G-d bless you!
Jewcer is generously waiving its fees so more money goes to help Marcus (credit card transaction fees still apply).
THANK YOU HASHEM for making this video happen. We can obviously see how you sent the right people my way.
I just needed to start the engine. A big thank you to Yakov Citron for being a sick film man. You ROCK!!!
Thank You Yosef Chaim for being the star
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Zach Anner, a self-proclaimed “climate change idiot” is here to find out what the hell climate change is and what people across America are doing (or not doing) about it! In “Earth Your While,” join Zach as he talks with climate change experts who have a variety of opinions on climate change, what causes it, and whether we actually need to be thinking about it. In this Earth Your While adventure, Zach talks with a Rabbi, an Imam, and a Reverend about their religion’s perspective on caring for the environment.
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Nazis threatened a synagogue in Charlottesville…while the people were there praying…in 2017.
The day after this photo was taken, Jews gathered for Shabbat services. They did not stand down, but came out in large numbers and were joined by non-Jews for support. The entire harrowing account of those who went to pray that scary Shabbat morning in Charlottesville is linked below. (Did you know, for example, the police refused to help protect the synagogue, though they knew hundreds or thousands on white supremacists were converging on the town?)
The synagogue president told Newsweek:
“For half an hour, three men dressed in fatigues and armed with semi-automatic rifles stood across the street from the temple,” he wrote. “Had they tried to enter, I don’t know what I could have done to stop them, but I couldn’t take my eyes off them, either.”
Not only did armed protesters stand across from the synagogue, but neo-Nazis paraded past the building, shouting anti-Semitic slogans, a horrible reminder of Nazi Germany’s persecution and mass slaughter of European Jews.
“Several times, parades of Nazis passed our building, shouting, ‘There’s the synagogue!’ followed by chants of ‘Sieg Heil’ and other anti-Semitic language. Some carried flags with swastikas and other Nazi symbols,” Zimmerman wrote.
I’ll post a link below of the whole story.
We live in remarkable times.
We live in remarkable times, because even while we spent many years studying the Holocaust and living, working and helping the Jewish communities of Poland and Eastern Europe — never did we see such a brazen display of hatred as was seen in America this past weekend. Never.
We live in remarkable times, because instead of fanning the flames of hate, leaders across America – Republican, Democrat, liberal, conservative, celebrities, TV anchors and religious groups denounced and condemned the rally and the open display of hatred and antisemitism.
We live in remarkable times, because many politicians and wide array of groups like the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Republican & Democratic Jewish Coalitions, the ADL and others had to criticize the President for his response to a white supremacists’ rally and violence.
We live in remarkable times because days later, tens of thousands more people gathered at the same spot as the hate-rally, to preach tolerance.
We live in remarkable times because while acts of antisemitism are on the rise nationwide, powerful companies like Google, Apple, GoDaddy, and are taking a stand, donating money for anti-hate education and refusing to host websites for Nazis.
We live in remarkable times because it is now totally unacceptable to be an elected official in America and show support for the Klan or white supremacy groups.
We live in remarkable times.
Historically, when there is a rise in antisemitism, we have also looked inward and asked ourselves, how can we be doing better as a Jewish people?
How can we care for one another more?
How can we up-our-game in our service of God?
And the answer is that if we are honest with ourselves and our community is that we can be doing better.
Antisemitism is a wake-up call
Antisemitism is a wake-up call that we are still in exile.
Antisemitism is a wake-up call that we can do more to live up to our mission.
Antisemitism is a wake-up call that we must pray to God for protection, sustenance, and blessing every single day.
Antisemitism is a wake-up call that we must increase our Tefillah- connecting with God, Teshuva – returning to our better selves, and Tzedakah – helping people in need and Jewish institutions in need.
We live in remarkable times.
May God bless and preserve the United States, a country that has done for Jews than any other in History.
I hope you will join me in extra prayers for our COUNTRY and PEACE and SAFETY this Shabbat.
You can read the entire account of the synagogue in Charlottesville here.
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