Once upon a time, people used to sit at home and wait for Ed Sullivan or Oprah Winfrey to decide what was inspiring and worth viewing. But now with so many diverse choices and so little time to waste, many people have become more selective as to what they find inspiring and what they want to spend time viewing.

One of the benefits of being involved in a community of intelligent and creative adults in West Los Angeles in 2010 is that you get to learn about new and interesting ways of being inspired. For example, at Ahavat Torah Congregation in Brentwood/Westwood, a diverse community founded in 2003 and based on the idea of "One People, One Torah, Many Teachers," there are numerous choices each month that can connect you with artistic, spiritual, intellectual, and joyful moments of celebrating life in all its diversity.


If you just look at the two months of October and November 2010, you will find that there are an amazing number of ways to nourish your soul, your mind, and your health by the offerings of this small but very active congregation.

On October 10th there was a salon discussion with two remarkable poets. One is Jean Katz, the former President of Ahavat Torah Congregation, who for many years has been writing and publishing well-crafted poems that sort out the chaotic feelings of being a wise and vulnerable woman and she turns these emotions into thought-provoking word portraits that capture what all of us go through during the ups and downs of life. The second poet at that sold-out salon on October 10th was Florence Weinberger, the aunt of Ahavat Torah member Judith Weinberger, and the author of numerous highly-praised books of poetry.

On Tuesday night October 5th and Tuesday night October 12th from 7-9 pm, there is a prayer-meditation-movement workshop with Ahavat Torah member Paulette Rochelle-Levy, entitled "Dancing with the Divine." In the Fireside Room of the Temple at 343 Church Lane in Brentwood, she explores how to combine breathing, movement, prayer and meditation to draw closer to the One who connects us all. RSVP to Paulette at 310 453-4053 or

On Tuesday nights October 26th, November 9th, November 16th, November 23rd, and November 30th from 7-9 pm in the Fireside Room of 343 Church Lane, there will be a class and discussion about Martin Buber, the author of "I and Thou" on how to find ourselves and deepen our aliveness and purpose through our relationship with the Eternal One. It will be led by Ahavat Torah member Sophia Avants, currently a graduate student at American Jewish University. The first class is open to all and Sophia will begin with a biographical introduction to Buber and the Chassidic influences on his theories. RSVP to Sophia at 323 934-4757 or

On Sunday, October 31st from 2-5 pm at the Fireside Room of 343 Church Lane, there will be a viewing of the Israeli film "Sweet Mud" (Adama Meshuga'at with sub-titles) and then a discussion of how it compares and contrasts to the film "Never Let Me Go," which participants should go see prior to October 31st at a local theatre. RSVP to Aharon at 310 827-4902 or

On Sunday, November 7th at 2pm at the Electric Lodge in Venice, the play "The Survivor" will be performed. Written by Ahavat Torah Rabbinic Intern Susan Nanus, who has written numerous produced scripts for live theatre and for TV and film, it is based on the memoirs of holocaust survivor Jack Eisner and it is the true story of a gang of teenage smugglers in the Warsaw Ghetto. To reserve seats, send a check for $28 per person to Shoshi Wilchfort at 2354 Roscomare Road, Los Angeles 90077. There will be a wine and cheese reception and discussion after the play with some of the actors, Rabbi Miriam and the playwright Susan Nanus.

If all those creative choices make you feel like taking a relaxing break, then you'll definitely want to sign up for the Ahavat Torah Retreat Weekend which will be from Friday night November 19th until Sunday afternoon November 21st at the beautiful Holy Spirit Retreat Center in Encino. Imagine yourself unwinding and being nourished by good food, inspiring services, great discussions, quiet moments, and fun arts and music activities with a welcoming community that weekend in a tranquil setting where there are ducks, trees, strolling walking trails, and a sense of holiness away from the city streets.

Please see the weekly newsletter for details on the Retreat and all the other events listed above.


Ahavat Torah Congregation meets each Saturday morning at 343 Church Lane in Brentwood for a Mussar (ethics) class at 9 am prior to the lively participatory Shabbat services at 10 am followed by a pot luck dairy lunch. All are welcome.

For more information, please log onto or call 310 362-1111.