|No One is More Welcome at Or Ami Than You!|
|Get Involved in Our Community|
|No One is More Welcome at Or Ami Than You!|
|Get Involved in Our Community|
Recognizing that we are all created b'tzelem Elohim, in the image of God, we welcome the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals, couples and families in our community. Congregation Or Ami welcomes all Jews, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, as full participants in all religious practices and in the entire community life of the congregation. We also welcome non-Jewish partners of members to fully participate in the life of the community (see our interfaith families webpage).
Congregation Or Ami, our Rabbis Paul Kipnes and Julia Weisz, Cantor Doug Cotler, and our Reform Jewish movement welcome you. Congregation Or Ami is proud to be a home congregation for many LGBT individuals, couples and families. We hope you will share in the warmth of our community and contribute your own gifts by joining us. We invite you to begin a conversation with Rabbi Kipnes to share your hopes or questions about being an LGBT individual, couple or family at Or Ami.
Congregation Or Ami offers individuals and couples the opportunity to explore their Judaism in a warm, welcoming environment. We work to empower people to make Jewish choices for themselves and their families and we strive to provide resources to inform educated decisions. From our Jewish traditions, we know what it is like to have been a stranger in Egypt and in other places, so in our community, we strive to open our doors for people of diverse religious backgrounds, ability status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and ethnic, racial and cultural backgrounds. Don’t take our word for it. Come to a program or service, talk with Rabbi Paul Kipnes, and you will feel our inclusive welcome.
We invite lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members, whether single or as a couple, with or without children, to join our community, using the same membership categories applicable to all other members. We also welcome LGBT families (including children with LGBT parents, and grandparents with LGBT family members). While you should spend time first getting to know our congregation, we want you to know that same-gender couples, including interfaith couples, with or without minor children, are encouraged to join as a household with a family membership. Single parent memberships are available for parents without partners. Associate memberships are available for those who concurrently maintain primary membership in another Jewish congregation. For more details, please see our membership page.
We support our LGBT members who choose to sanctify their unions with a wedding ceremony. Prior to these ceremonies, couples are encouraged to celebrate an aufruf with the community at Shabbat services. All members and their children are entitled to the services of Congregation Or Ami's rabbi and cantor on an equal basis for the purpose of sanctifying the holiness of their relationship with a religious ceremony. In determining whether to perform a ceremony, our clergy utilize the same criteria for same-gender or opposite gender weddings. Without the legal protections of civil marriage, same gender couples need to take extra steps to protect their relationship and family. Rabbi Kipnes and Cantor Cotler understand this and can help you address these issues. Begin a conversation with Rabbi Kipnes or with Cantor Cotler about your questions around your plans to get married.
LGBT members are encouraged to celebrate milestones in their lives, including anniversaries and birthdays, during our monthly anniversary/birthday blessings services. Congregation Or Ami also supports its members during times of sickness and death. We celebrate and support all members, lesbian or gay or bisexual or transgender or heterosexual, as their life cycle events and transitions are shared with the congregation. All LGBT members who adopt or give birth to children are encouraged to bring their children into the Jewish covenant through public rites of Brit Milah for boys and Brit Bat for girls. Our clergy officiate at such ceremonies for both boys and girls.Begin a conversation with Rabbi Kipnes about your questions celebrating your milestones.
For those with children: Because you have decided to raise your child as a Jew, we at Or Ami strive to ensure that the Bar/Bat Mitzvah experience is welcoming to all members of your family. We invite all parents and partners to participate fully in the service, from the ceremony of passing Torah down through the generations to standing up at the Torah during the aliyah (Torah blessing) to the opportunity to bless your child. Our creativity allows family members of other faiths to help celebrate your simcha (joyous moment) as well. Begin a conversation with Rabbi Kipnes about your family’s questions about Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
Or Ami is committed to making the Mishpacha, Kesher and Triple T (Tracks for Temple Teens) learning programs welcoming and comfortable environments for children of non-traditional families. We commit ourselves to educating the children in a way that fosters acceptance of diversity. All programming in the Mishpacha, Kesher and Triple T programs, for both children and families carry the same expectations and privileges for participation and involvement for families of every constellation: single parent, two parent, divorced, blended, multi-faith, LGBT, and others.
Going back to 1965, the Reform Movement has a history of supporting LGBT issues including religious inclusion, admission of gay and lesbian students to seminary, and equal marriage.
We thought that these were a few interesting books, films and articles on being Jewish and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender. See quite a few more at the Jeff Herman Virtual Resource Center which is always adding new descriptions of books. If you have one that you would like to recommend, let firstname.lastname@example.org know.
Congregation Or Ami, like all Reform Jewish congregations, holds the mitzvah (religious responsibility) of ahavat ger (welcoming the stranger) among the most important tenets of our faith. We actively welcome interfaith families into our community and encourage their participation in our synagogues. We work to empower people to make Jewish choices for themselves and their families and strive to provide resources to inform educated decisions. We strive to be welcoming places for people of diverse religious backgrounds, sexual orientations and ethnic backgrounds.
Many couples that begin with two individuals from different backgrounds need to integrate separate lives into one family. And for interfaith couples and their families, that integration also includes differing religious traditions and cultures. Remember: you are not alone. Congregation Or Ami, Rabbis Paul Kipnes and Julia Weisz, Cantor Doug Cotler and our Reform Jewish movement, welcome you. Congregation Or Ami is already proud to be a home congregation for many interfaith couples and families, and we welcome you to share in the warmth of our community. We invite you to begin a conversation with Rabbi Paul Kipnes to share your hopes or questions about being an interfaith family at Or Ami.
Because you have decided to raise your child as a Jew, we at Or Ami strive to ensure that the Bar/Bat Mitzvah experience is welcoming to all members of your family. We invite both parents to participate fully in the service, from the ceremony of passing Torah down through the generations to standing up at the Torah during the aliyah (Torah blessing) to the opportunity to bless your child. Our creativity allows family members of other faiths to help celebrate your simcha (joyous moment) as well. You may begin a conversation with Rabbi Kipnes about your family’s questions about Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
Being a welcoming community is central to who we are. From the moment you are greeted at the door with a smile (and often a hug), we strive to make you feel that Or Ami is your spiritual home. Our love of music ensures that everyone can enjoy inspirational moments in our services. Original English songs and mixed Hebrew/English singing allow maximal participation. Page numbers are frequently announced. All Hebrew prayers are also transliterated (Hebrew written in English letters); and translations and commentaries of all prayers are featured in our siddur (prayerbook). Of course, our Rabbis and Cantor are more than happy to offer a quick tutorial on “tip-toeing through the tefillah (worship service).” We invite you to read about our services or to email Rabbi Paul Kipnes or Cantor Doug Cotler.
Learning More about Judaism: Without pressure, we invite you (whether you are Jewish or not) to enjoy our programs and classes. Adult learning activities occur throughout the year and include weekly study sessions, monthly brunches or book groups, evening programs and Shabbat seminars. We invite you to learn more about upcoming Adult Learning Opportunities or to email our Educator, Rabbi Julia Weisz, who coordinates our Adult Learning.
You may be especially interested in our Mishpacha Family Alternative Learning Program. (Mishpacha means "family" in Hebrew.) An alternative to our wonderful Monday-Wednesday drop-off Kesher program (formerly "Religious School"), our Mishpacha program allows parents and children to study together twice monthly on Sunday mornings. Often adults spend time alone with Rabbi Kipnes while children learn in multi-grade groupings with our fine faculty. Everyone learns the same material at age-appropriate levels. Then parents and children interact through projects, games, trials and round robin activities to explore the beauty of Judaism. This program is especially helpful for interfaith families as they seek to learn more about being Jewish and figure out how to support their Jewish child(ren)’s spiritual education. We invite you to learn more about Mishpacha program or email our Mishpacha Coordinator. You may also want to learn about our Kesher program ("Religious School") and/or our Temple Teen Program and/or email our Educator, Rabbi Julia Weisz.
Our Experience as an Interfaith Family by Irene Faust
Here at Or Ami, interfaith families are full members of our community. We welcome but do not pressure non-Jewish family members to participate in whatever aspect of congregational life you enjoy and find meaningful. Rabbi Kipnes and Cantor Cotler welcome everyone in your interfaith family as part of our community. When joy brightens your life, whether in the Jewish or non-Jewish member’s extended family, our rabbi and cantor will help celebrate. When illness touches your life, whether in the Jewish or the non-Jewish member’s extended family, our rabbi and cantor will reach out to offer support. We invite you to find out more about membership and/or to begin a conversation with Susie Stark in our synagogue office who can answer many of your questions.
Sure, some (but not all) non-Jewish partners in a Jewish family consider conversion. We welcome it, but do not pressure you to consider it. Rabbi Kipnes talks with, studies with, and helps people struggling with these issues in a non-threatening, open way. Rest assured that Rabbi Kipnes will be there for your family no matter what you decide. The choice is yours. We invite you to begin a conversation with Rabbi Kipnes.
Congregation Or Ami, like many other Reform Jewish congregations, celebrates that Judaism has always been mosaic, a beautiful collection of different colored and shaped pieces. We are also "Mosaic" in that we connect back to Moses, a Hebrew child, raised by Egyptians, who married a non-Jewish woman of color and became the leader of his people.
We rejoice that at least 25% of the Jewish population is racially and ethnically diverse, including African, African American, Latino (Hispanic), Asian, Native American, Sephardic, Mizrahi and mixed-race Jews by heritage and marriage. Also, cross-cultural and cross-racial adoptions have been a part of our history from biblical times. We welcome you to bring color, flavor and fullness to our Congregation. Recognizing that we are all created b'tzelem Elohim (in the image of God), we are pleased to welcome the multicultural/multiracial/multiethnic Jewish individuals and families in our community. Rabbi Paul Kipnes is open and ready to welcome and speak with you.
Some couples that begin with two individuals from different backgrounds need to integrate separate lives into one family. Some families adopting a child from a different culture look to celebrate all parts of the child’s mosaic. Individual Jews, raised in multicultural homes, strive to be accepted as Jews, no questions asked. Remember: you are not alone. Congregation Or Ami, our Rabbis Paul Kipnes and Julia Weisz, and Cantor Doug Cotler and our Reform Jewish movement, welcome you.
Congregation Or Ami is already proud to be a home congregation for many multiethnic, multiracial and multicultural individuals, couples and families, and we welcome you to share in the warmth of our community. . We empower people to make Jewish choices for themselves and their families and we strive to provide resources to inform educated decisions. We invite you to begin a conversation with Rabbi Paul Kipnes to share your hopes or questions about your or your family's Jewish life.
How do we talk about ourselves when the language we have is too narrow and confining, like outdated racial categories on a census form? How do we describe a group for which there is no group label?
We must use what is admittedly inadequate language: “Jews of color,” “diverse Jews,” “racially and ethnically diverse Jews.” All of these terms refer to those who are in currently distinct subcultures from the majority Jewish community in the United States. Many people who fall into this category may not define themselves as “people of color” or as “Chinese, Vietnamese or Indian Jews,” yet many in the mainstream view them as being “other.” At Congregation Or Ami, we celebrate you as a Jew, no matter whatever name you call yourself by these people, whatever your origins and culture, whatever your skin tone or eye-shape, whatever your path to Judaism. You (and sometimes your family) are Jews, and we welcome you!
Without pressure, we invite you (whether you are Jewish or not) to enjoy our programs and classes. Adult learning activities occur throughout the year and include weekly study sessions, monthly brunches or book groups, evening programs and Shabbat seminars. We invite you to learn more about upcoming Adult learning opportunities or to contact Rabbi Julia Weisz who coordinates our Adult Learning.
You may be especially interested in our Mishpacha Family Alternative Learning Program. (Mishpacha means "family" in Hebrew.) An alternative to our wonderful Monday-Wednesday drop-off Religious School, our Mishpacha program allows parents and children to study together twice monthly on Sunday mornings. Often adults spend time alone with Rabbi Kipnes while children learn in multi-grade groupings with our fine faculty. Everyone learns the same material at age-appropriate levels. Then parents and children interact through projects, games, trials and round robin activities to explore the beauty of Judaism. This program is especially helpful for multicultural/multiethnic/multiracial families as you seek to learn more about being Jewish and figure out how to support your Jewish child(ren)’s spiritual education.
Being Together - Creating Friendships
At Or Ami we find joy in being together. Many different groups encourage us to move deeply to build relationships.
Our Men’s Night Out and Women’s Night Out brings together separate groups of men and women every 6 weeks to different congregant homes for a socializing and schmoozing (conversation). Over a light dinner and drinks, new friendships are created, family connections are created, and sometimes business relationships even develop. Our rabbis guide us to explore what it means to be a man or woman today, and to be part of a Jewish family. Each attendee is assigned a troika, a group of 3 people, who will get together before the next gathering over coffee or a meal to get to know each other better. Friendships blossom quickly.
Our Business Roundtable is a community of professionals who serve their clients as trusted advisors and share the highest standards of integrity, performance and accountability. Meeting monthly over breakfast, we promote and enable relationship building, information sharing and collaboration among our members for the benefit of clients and one another. We enjoy a Jewish take on our work so that Judaism can keep us grounded and our integrity intact.
We cherish our relationship with Chaverim, a program of Jewish Family Service, which provides classes, programs and religious activities for developmentally disabled adults (age 18 to 80). Or Ami is Chaverim’s Conejo Valley synagogue, offering full participation so that they can truly feel part of a Jewish community.
LoMPTY (Light of My People Temple Youth) is our 9th through 12 grade Temple Youth Group. Ever wonder how we can ensure that our teenagers continue to connect to Jewish living? How post-B’nai Mitzvah youth retain their love of Judaism, Or Ami and our values? LoMPTY, our social and cultural Jewish youth group led by teens for teens, is the answer! Whether enjoying a ballgame, or late-night broomball, participating in social action projects, or leading music for Havdalah services, our teenagers experience the delights of being Jewish, as they develop leadership skills, social consciousness and Jewish joyfulness. LoMPTYites also engage in social action projects and meaningful discussions about peer pressure, sex, the world at war, human rights and more.
SoMPTY (Sparks of My People Temple Youth) is our 6th through 8th grade youth group. Led by youth advisors and guided by our senior youth group board, SoMPTY is designed for socializing and relationship building within our community. Whether engaging in fun activities or social action projects, the teens develop an appreciation for Jewish community and their own worthiness as pre-teens.
Our Affinity Groups fosters relationships between members who are spread out all over the Conejo and West San Fernando Valleys. Recent Affinity Groups include the Or Ami Chorale, the Voice of Or Ami concerts, Book Clubs, Cooking Group, 10 Plagues Softball Team, Photography, Hiking Group, Avon 2-Day Walk Team, and Mountain Biking, with others in formation for Runners, Bowlers, Museum Mavens, Mah Jongg players and more.
How Can I Discover Upcoming Events?
Read the latest issue of Illuminating News eNewsletter
Our RSVP page lists upcoming events
Check out our Calendar
We are excited that you will be joining us for an upcoming activity.
Many of the events/services/programs requiring an RSVP are listed below.
If you do not see the event you are looking for, please contact Arlene Mayo at the synagogue.
Concerts with the Cantor: Sun, April 28; Sun, May 5; and Sat, May 11
Seder in the Wilderness: Fri, Mar 29 and Sat, Mar 30
Walk to End Genocide: Sunday, April 14 (Sign up for the LA Walk, with Congregation Or Ami as your team)