What’s Going On At Pacific Jewish Center?

For the past 15 years, it has been but a shell of its former self (it had a magnificent run under Rabbi Daniel Lapin and macher Michael Medved).

It had a brief revival under Rabbi David Lapin (circa 1997-2001).

A friend calls. "PJC is a failed Orthodox shul. To succeed, a shul needs affordable housing. Venice has no affordable housing. The real estate is so expensive because it is by the beach and most Orthodox Jews could care less. For them, it is a negative because of the way people dress. It doesn’t make any sense to spend a few hundred dollars extra a month to live by the beach when you could be in Beverlywood with 20 shuls around. Venice can never be like La Brea or Pico/Robertson.

"If you want to get a three bedroom, two bath house and build out, there might be two such available houses in Venice, while in Beverlywood there will be 15. Apartments in Venice are not as nice and are more expensive. There are no condos. There’s no middle gound. It’s not a destination place for Torah Jews."

PJC does not have a rabbi. Rabbi Geiger was there for three years. "He was a disaster," says a source. "He didn’t grow the shul. He was just a caretaker but he took a relatively high salary, $125,000 per annum. He wasted time that the shul didn’t have. As he was going, people were moving out. The shul has about 50 member families. They can’t afford to lose people."

"The wealthy people at the shul feel that they deserve a star rabbi. They are not willing to settle. They’re needy congregants."

Pacific Jewish Center needs a dynamic rabbi who comes in and announces, "I’m not going to give one shiur on Mishna Brura. If you want that, go to La Brea. I’m going to rebuild the shul from the start and attract fresh blood, people who would not ordinarily be Orthodox.

Many of the frum people in the shul are afraid of that approach.

The old people there should step aside from making demands and instead fund a new rabbi start a new direction.

About Luke Ford

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