Young Israel of Santa Monica Crew Rejoins Pacific Jewish Center

I understand that the half-dozen stalwarts of Young Israel of Santa Monica, a breakaway from the Pacific Jewish Center about 18 years ago, have rejoined the mother shul.

When Rabbi Daniel Lapin was in his prime, he kicked out a few people from PJC who went on to form Young Israel of Santa Monica.

It was long felt by some at PJC that it was a badge of honor that there had been two breakaway minyans — Young Israel of Santa Monica and Young Israel of Venice aka the Torah Learning Center, run out of Rabbi Hollander’s garage. It looks to go on forever. He often gets a minyan.

This breakaway was for the sake of Heaven. The founder of the school Ohr Eliyahu, Rabbi Goldberg, the former rabbi of PJC who succeeded Rabbi Daniel Lapin and tried to make it more religious, told some people that PJC without him was not religious enough.

Young Israel of Santa Monica was at the vortex of a cosmic accident. You go there and they speak about stuff that makes kaballah look like My Little Pet Goat.

It used to meet in the Levin Center, the Jewish Federation’s Venice center. I assume that when the Federation found out they were davening there, they said, no, no, no, this is a cultural center. There can’t be any praying here. Not even Reinhard Heydrich could get that to happen. He was the most merciless of the Gestapo who was killed by partisans in Czechoslavakia in 1942. If Rheinhard had lived much longer, there would not have been a single Jew left in Europe. He was brilliant. The rest were just pikers.

So they kicked them out. They went to the lobby of a retirement home. They got kicked out.

They rented a room at the Doubletree Inn. They got kicked out.

Who were these mystery Jews? About a dozen frum Jews who hated Daniel Lapin and PJC.

Eventually they decided it was better to bury the hatchet and return to PJC, where they were welcomed home.

You may well say: What’s wrong with Young Israel of Santa Monica?

YML: I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it, my lad. ‘E’s dead, that’s what’s wrong with it!

You: No, no, ‘e’s uh,…he’s resting.

YML: Look, matey, I know a dead shul when I see one, and I’m looking at one right now.

You: No no he’s not dead, he’s, he’s restin’! Remarkable shul, the Young Israel of Santa Monica, idn’it, ay? Beautiful plumage!

YML: The plumage don’t enter into it. It’s stone dead.

You: Nononono, no, no! ‘E’s resting!

YML: All right then, if he’s restin’, I’ll wake him up! (shouting at the shul) ‘Ello, Mister YISM! I’ve got a lovely fresh cuttle fish for you if you show…

You hit the shul.

You: There, he moved!

YML: No, he didn’t, that was you hitting the cage!

You: I never!!

YML: Yes, you did!

You: I never, never did anything…

YML: (yelling and hitting the shul repeatedly) ‘ELLO YISM!!!!! Testing! Testing! Testing! Testing! This is your six o’clock alarm call! It’s time for Shacharit.

YML: Now that’s what I call a dead shul.

You: No, no…..No, ‘e’s stunned!


You: Yeah! You stunned him, just as he was wakin’ up! Young Israels stun easily, major.

YML: Um…now look…now look, mate, I’ve definitely ‘ad enough of this. That shul is definitely deceased, and when I purchased it not ‘alf an hour ago, you assured me that its total lack of movement was due to it bein’ tired and shagged out following a prolonged squawk.

You: Well, he’s…he’s, ah…probably pining for the fjords.

YML: PININ’ for the FJORDS?!?!?!? What kind of talk is that?, look, why did he fall flat on his back the moment I got ‘im home?

You: The shul prefers keepin’ on it’s back! Remarkable shul, id’nit, squire? Lovely plumage!

YML: Look, I took the liberty of examining that shul when I got it home, and I discovered the only reason that it had been sitting on its perch in the first place was that it had been NAILED there.

You: Well, o’course it was nailed there! If I hadn’t nailed that shul down, it would have nuzzled up to those bars, bent ’em apart with its beak, and VOOM! Feeweeweewee! Kiruv!

YML: “VOOM”?!? Mate, this shul wouldn’t “voom” if you put four million volts through it! ‘E’s bleedin’ demised!

You: No no! ‘E’s pining!

YML: ‘E’s not pinin’! ‘E’s passed on! This shul is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the perch ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-SHUL!!

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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