Welcome to Or Ami

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Welcome to Or Ami

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Community

No One is More Welcome at Or Ami Than You!  
Get Involved in Our Community  

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Or Ami has many affinity groups - join one of them - click here!

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Read more: Community

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning

 

No one is more welcome at Congregation Or Ami than you!

Sarah Kirchick_and_her_moms

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.

Become Part of Or Ami: We Invite Your Participation

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.

You may be wondering about…

Mike Resnick_and_Alex_WernerWeddings:

 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.

Cia and_Elizabeth_JacobsCelebrating Other Milestones: 

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.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Services:

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.

Educating Children:

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.

 

In Case You were Interested in More…

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.

  • The Jeff Herman Virtual Resource Center (JHVRC) is a web-based educational environment that contains over 500 resources for all those interested in learning about Judaism, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.  The LGBT Personal (Individual) and Family Resources section of the JHVRC offers individuals as well as families information from a variety of LGBT organizations to support LGBT lifecycle issues such as coming out as teens or adults, finding support as parents or siblings, parenting, aging and more.
  • Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) has mission to achieve complete inclusion, integration and welcoming of LGBT Jews into congregations and communities. They develop curriculum and programs in the community as well as train HUC-JIR students on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, on how to challenge and eliminate homophobia and heterosexism and to learn tools to be able to transform the communities they encounter into ones that are inclusive and welcoming of LGBT Jews.
  • The World Congress of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Jews: Keshet Ga'avah – A coalition of over 65 member organizations from 12 countries representing the interests of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Jews. Sign up for their free e-newsletter with LGBT news from all over the world.
  • Torah Queeries, a joint project of Jewish Mosaic and the World Congress of GLBT Jews is a weekly creative and incisive LGBT take on the Torah portion or Jewish holiday, brought to you by some of the Jewish world’s most dynamic scholars, rabbis, activists and lay leaders.

A few interesting books:

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 rabbipaul@orami.org know.   

  • The Wedding: A Family's Coming Out Story by Douglas Wythe/Andrew Merling & Roslyn Merling/Sheldon Merling (AvonBooks 2000).  This true story of a wedding is told from four different viewpoints: the two halves of the gay couple, Douglas Wythe and Andrew Merling, and Andrew's parents, Roslyn and Sheldon Merling. While the family is Conservative Jewish, it is completely applicable to Reform Judaism as the family experiences the upcoming wedding of their Jewish son, living in New York, with an initial degree of shock, then settles in to go through the steps necessary to come to terms with all involved in accepting a gay marriage. In a close-knit community, each phase of the wedding presents a unique set of compromises and lessons learned.
  • Queer Jews, edited by David Shneer and Caryn Aviv, explores "the conflict between the desire to integrate into established Jewish communities…and creating and maintaining 'separate' spaces for queer Jews."
  • Mentsh: On Being Jewish & Queer, by Angela Brown/Editor (Alyson Publications 2004). "Tossed between sometimes contradictory cultural imperatives, queer Jews often find themselves in a soul-searching struggle to integrate their religious beliefs with their gayness. Over 30 contributors from around the world (including Israel, Serbia, and Australia) reveal their surprising, poignant, sometimes hilarious experiences in ways that offer a staggering perspective on issues of identity, institutions and culture from the viewpoint of the queer outsider struggling to belong."

Interfaith Families

 No one is more welcome at Congregation Or Ami than you!

Stone Family

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.

 

 

You may be wondering about…

Melinda Zommick_and_MackenzieBar/Bat Mitzvah Services:

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.

Joeli and_Greg_Gutfleisch_and_family

Shabbat and Holy Day Services:

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.

Educating Children:

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

"As an interfaith couple, it was no great leap to decide to also become an inter-racial family. My husband, although he does not participate in the religion, agreed that our daughter would be raised as a Jew. Shortly after our return home from China in January, 1998, I took our daughter, Melina, to the mikvah at the University of Judaism for her conversion.

We then started to look for a place in the Jewish community where we could feel at home and be recognized as ourselves rather than just as a blended family. We tried a few different places, but it wasn't until we came as guests to the Seder in the Wilderness that Melina and I both knew we'd finally found what we were looking for. Melina was off with newly made friends by the time that I returned from the adult hike. After attending our first Shabbat service, Melina turned to me and said "I like our new temple, everyone is so happy here."

          

Membership:

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.

 

Conversion:

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.

 

In case you were interested in more...

Multi-Cultural/Racial/Ethnic Jews

 

No one is more welcome at Congregation Or Ami than you!

Sarah Kirchick_and_her_momsCongregation 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.

Naming Ourselves: Challenges and Celebrations

Katz FamilyHow 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!

Learning More about Judaism

Stone FamilyWithout 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.

Educating Children

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.

We invite you to learn more about Mishpacha, Kesher or Triple T (Tracks for Temple Teens) learning programs or contact Rabbi Julia Weisz.

creating-friendships

Being Together - Creating Friendships

Womens Night Out 1At 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.

lomptyLoMPTY (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

 

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Subcategories

RSVP

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.

Thanks.

 

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)

Upcoming Events

16Dec
12.16.2017 - 01.07.2018
LAUSD winter break
16Dec
12.16.2017 - 01.01.2018
LVUSD winter break
19Dec
19Dec
12.19.2017 7:30 pm - 9:15 pm
Adult B'nai Mitzvah Class
20Dec
Livestream High Holy Day Services
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Watch Services Online

Worship with us from the comfort of your home. Find strength in prayer while in your hospital room or convalescent home. Connect spiritually while away. Services live streamed twice monthly. Our calendar lists times of live streamed services.


gallery

Photo Gallery

Take a look at different events, occasions, and ‘happenings’ here at our synagogue. Our Mitzvah Day celebrations, Tikkun Olam, simchas and special occasions!


Social_Action

Social Justice

Our community is actively involved with social action, fulfilling the mitzvah of tikkun olam, repairing the world.


lompty

Youth Groups

Combined social, educational, religious and social action programs to create opportunities for the synagogue’s children to create lasting friendships.


OurBlog

Rabbi Kipnes' Blog

Our Rabbi explores Jewish spirituality on the journey through life. Delve into refreshing perspectives on Judaism, contemporary issues and Congregation Or Ami. Interactive commentary that lets you read and be part of a discussion.


Newsletter

Or Ami News

Read more about what's going on in our synagogue and community this week and this month. 


tree new big

Tree of Life, Yahrzeit Memorial and Noah's Ark

Honor and remember your loved ones. Our Tree of Life celebrates simchas (joyous times). Our Yahrzeit Memorial Plaques remember loved ones. Our Noah's Ark honors or remembers beloved pets.

Upcoming Events

16Dec
12.16.2017 - 01.07.2018
LAUSD winter break
16Dec
12.16.2017 - 01.01.2018
LVUSD winter break
19Dec
19Dec
12.19.2017 7:30 pm - 9:15 pm
Adult B'nai Mitzvah Class
20Dec