Studio City’s Congregation Beth Meier

From the Los Angeles Daily News:

STUDIO CITY – The "house of light" – Congregation Beth Meier in Studio City – will consider the dark when it observes the Jewish holiday of Tisha b’Av next week.

At Beth Meier, the ark (which holds the congregation’s Torah) and the reader’s desk is covered with black crepe," said Rabbi Aaron D. Benson from Congregation Beth Meier.

"The room is dimly lit and people may sit on the floor. Adult Jews fast from sundown to sundown. Tisha b’Av is a reminder for Jews of the destruction of the first temple in 586 BCE (Before Common Era) and the second one, in 70 CE (Common Era), by the Romans.

Jews also recall these sad days on Tisha b’Av. The Book of Lamentations, said to have been written by the Prophet Jeremiah, is read at synagogue services. The overall themes of the book have to do with expressing moral shortcomings that destroy a relationship with God.

"The important thing to remember is that Jews have suffered but endured. Selma Schimmel has attended many Tisha b’Av services at the synagogue that her father, the late Rabbi Meier Schimmel, founded in 1958.

"Judaism is unique because we do revisit grief. We honor their passing," said Schimmel.

"Tisha b’Av is very relevant today. We have a solemn and saddened feeling in our hearts on Tisha b’Av but then there’s peace."

Helping Jews find peace and enlightenment from God is the synagogue’s goal all year. Rabbi Schimmel, who died in 2005, would joke that people thought he named the synagogue after himself. The name comes from a revered rabbi, a mystic, whose name Meier means "light."

Congregation Beth Meier is described as a traditional Conservative synagogue. An example of its Conservative tradition is it does not use musical instruments or electronics, like a microphone, during services.

Also, the Saturday morning Shabbat service is mainly in Hebrew but there are transliterations of prayers for that service as well as the Friday night service.

"We like the intimacy at the Friday service. It’s warm and comforting. "I feel a great sense of community at Beth Meier. Children are welcome – her father always said that the purist voice comes from the children.

The congregation continues the tradition of reciting Rabbi Schimmel’s "Brotherhood Prayer," that states everyone is important to God, and holding hands for a few minutes at every Friday Shabbat service.

Tisha b’Av service, 9-10 p.m. Aug. 9, Congregation Beth Meier, 11725 Moorpark St., Studio City. Shabbat services, 8 p.m. Fridays, except 7:30 p.m. second Friday of the month; 10 a.m. Saturdays. 818-769-0515. www.bethmeier.org.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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