On Dec. 19, at a closed-door meeting in Congregation Shaarei Tefila’s social hall, about 60 of the Modern Orthodox synagogue’s current members voted to hire Rabbi Moshe Kesselman to lead the shul.
Kesselman has been serving as Shaarei Tefila’s rabbi on a month-to-month basis since summer, and the final tally of votes was 52-1 in favor of hiring him, according to board member Sholom Feigelstock. The near unanimity of the vote notwithstanding, anybody who came into the building through the La Brea Avenue entrance could easily see that what was going on inside wasn’t simply a synagogue conducting business as usual.
Allan Lowy, a former president of Shaarei Tefila, had filed a lawsuit against the synagogue and its current leadership just a few days earlier. On the night of the vote, two bodyguards prevented him from entering the building, so he stood at the entryway informing all those who could vote about what was going on.
“I am being barred from coming in,” Lowy told a young man with a close-cropped beard as a bodyguard checked his name against the list in his hand. “I am a member of the shul.”