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Dear Friends,

We hope this finds you and your loved ones well.

We have some exciting news to share, signaling a new chapter in the history of our congregation.  On Monday night, the  board of directors unanimously endorsed a proposed merger with Wilshire Boulevard Temple that will allow us to remain in our building, eliminate our debt, make long overdue renovations, and continue to worship and celebrate together as a synagogue family for generations to come. 

For their part, Wilshire Boulevard Temple is eager to embrace our members and welcome a generous number of our lay leaders onto a combined board of directors and is thrilled at the prospect of sharing our beautiful facilities to meet growing needs.   Our building has been underutilized for years.  Their Olympic Boulevard campus has been overcrowded.  Together, we expect to create a vibrant, historic center of Reform Judaism on the Westside. 

This news may come as a surprise to some of you, but the fact is that our synagogue has suffered a serious decline in revenues and membership for more than a decade, losing 40 percent of our congregation in the last five years alone, which has resulted in projections of a substantial net loss in the coming year.  The COVID-19 pandemic is not responsible for our plight, but it did accelerate the need to act quickly.   

The proposed merger not only provides gravely needed financial security, but will enrich our congregants’ lives in ways we simply could not achieve on our own. The combination provides for a long-term future with talented rabbis and cantors, engaged lay leaders, a thriving school system, and employment for our clergy, faculty and staff.  

In the coming weeks, you will have opportunities to learn more about the proposal and its many benefits through informational meetings and written material. Look for invitations to these gatherings, as well as announcements regarding a congregational vote.

We didn’t anticipate pursuing a merger when we took office, but we are truly gratified to have found such a fortunate solution to our pressing needs.  Not only will our cherished community endure, it will thrive.   When the time comes to vote,  please join us and the board in honoring our past by providing for our future. 

Fern Topas Salka and Jennifer Haarmann

Co-Presidents


Supporters of the merger include:

Clergy

Rabbi Barry Lutz

Cantor Kerith Spencer-Shapiro

Rabbi Joel Simonds

Rabbi Emeritus Morley Feinstein

Cantor Emeritus Jay Frailich

Rabbi Emeritus Allen Freehling

Rabbi Stanley Davids, Scholar in Residence

 

Past Presidents

Allan Golad

Jeffrey Melvoin

Steve Miller

Harold Reichwald

Donna Shapiro

Michael Tuchin

Howard Weg

Roy Weinstein

 

Lay Leadership

Unanimous vote by the Board of Trustees

Read the Jewish Journal's Article.

UniSyn 101

 

University Synagogue is a warm and welcoming Reform Jewish community nestled in Brentwood on historic Sunset Boulevard, neighboring Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades and Westwood. Where families and friends connect with each other, engage in meaningful prayer, and discover new ways to celebrate our traditions and culture.

Celebrating 75 years and serving over 300 member families, University Synagogue is proud of its longstanding commitment to the Jewish people and the wider community. Led by a friendly, welcoming, and committed clergy and professional staff, University Synagogue is a place to connect, engage, and discover Judaism!

Our Mission

To worship God in accordance with the faith of Judaism;

To cultivate a love and understanding of the Jewish heritage;

To stimulate a sense of kinship within the Jewish community;

To strengthen the bonds of loyalty among Jewish people everywhere;

To help the world acknowledge God's rule by performing acts of righteousness and loving kindness.

 

The Vision

Building upon the foundations laid by our dedicated clergy, staff, and lay leaders since 1943, University Synagogue in the twenty-first century will be:

A beacon of Torah, a spiritual home, and a loving community, infusing the presence of God into our congregants' daily lives.

 

A Reform synagogue where ritual rings true - where learning runs deep - where members matter - where compassion counts - and where love and care are real.

 

A summit of the highest aspects of human life, where from every side we see promise, hope, and meaning.

 

An oasis of spirituality and healing in the complex world of greater Los Angeles; a sacred site for celebrating Shabbat and Holy Days; and for observing the cycles of life. It will be a sanctuary of the soul that makes Judaism relevant, where the evolving nature of Torah comes alive.

The Road to Spirituality

Realizing University Synagogue’s vision calls for creative collaboration among congregants, rabbis, cantors, faculty and staff - a sacred partnership. This road to synagogue transformation will encompass the following four areas:

We will be a (beit t’filah) - House of Prayer - where worship will be engaging, empowering, innovative and participatory. We will celebrate the wholeness and mission of our synagogue community, the caring links among its members, and the potential of every individual to make a difference in the world. We will continue to be a national leader in the creation of new synagogue music as a cherished way of achieving these goals.

We will be a (beit midrash) - House of Study - where learning for people of all ages will foster positive Jewish identities, thereby building a foundation for lifelong Jewish living. There will be empowerment through learning to make Jewish life our own.

We will learn that through prayer we speak to God and through study God speaks to us. University Synagogue's teaching of Torah in its full meaning will be expressed through its teaching, worship, mitzvot, programming, and commitment to the wider Jewish community, the State of Israel, and the secular community.

We will be a (beit k’neset) - House of Assembly - dedicated to being a place of welcome, wholeness, and inclusiveness for a variety of lifestyles and life situations. In our spiritual home we will provide a sense of belonging and communal support where no one feels alone. In this healing environment, we will come together to share our lives and tell our stories; to celebrate success and lament loss; to know, in sum, our connectedness to others; to glimpse the reality of God and the profundity of spiritual renewal.

Committed to (tikkun olam) - repairing the world, University Synagogue will endeavor to inspire in each and every member a personal responsibility to ameliorate human suffering. Each member will be expected to make an ongoing commitment to one or more aspects of the succession of causes that make us matter in the world beyond ourselves.

Tachis - What We Need

The spiritual renaissance of Jewish life at University Synagogue must be complemented by our environment. Those who come to our facility must feel safe and secure as they take pride in their spiritual home. Just as a mezuzah has an attractive covering for the holy words contained within, our sacred space must have an engaging aesthetic framework designed to bring friends, families and strangers together to perform acts of holiness within.

 

Our administration must be compassionate, professional and ‘state of the art,’ to allow us to keep in touch with our membership personally.

 

Our congregation must be large enough to provide comprehensive programs and intimate enough to become the home where we care and are cared for.

"How will we know when we have succeeded? When any Jew, anywhere in the community, can walk into our synagogue and feel at home."

Thu, June 24 2021 14 Tammuz 5781