Interior Sanctuary

Special Service Comforts with Sense of Community

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One of the largest non–High Holy Days crowds in memory filled Wilshire Boulevard Temple’s Sanctuary November 2 for an interfaith #StandUpForShabbat service to honor love, compassion, shared humanity, and the eleven Jews murdered the week before in Pittsburgh. Reflecting the theme of “community,” the full contingent of Temple clergy shared the bimah with representatives of neighboring religious organizations, including Dr. R. Scott Colglazier, Senior Minister of the First Congressional Church of Los Angeles; Aziza Hasan, Executive Director of NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change; and singers from Faithful Central Bible Church. 

One of the largest non–High Holy Days crowds in memory filled Wilshire Boulevard Temple’s Sanctuary November 2 for an interfaith #StandUpForShabbat service to honor love, compassion, shared humanity, and the eleven Jews murdered the week before in Pittsburgh. Reflecting the theme of “community,” the full contingent of Temple clergy shared the bimah with representatives of neighboring religious organizations, including Dr. R. Scott Colglazier, Senior Minister of the First Congressional Church of Los Angeles; Aziza Hasan, Executive Director of NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change; and singers from Faithful Central Bible Church. 

In his remarks, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, a Temple camp Alum, stressed the need for spiritual strength in the face of tragedy and urged all of us to stay connected to our friends, family, and communities beyond. “I ask you, my fellow Jews, to stay engaged and connected,” he said. “At this moment, do not retreat. Be brave and bold to be out in this city, in this nation, and in this world.” 

The service drew a near standing-room-only audience of more than 1,000, a rare crowd that Senior Rabbi Leder noticed immediately. “It’s amazing how quickly time flies; it’s hard to believe Rosh HaShanah is here again already!” he said, eliciting waves of laughter. 

However, the crowd differed from the customary High Holy Days congregants—throughout the Sanctuary were visitors from around the city, many of them members of other religious congregations. Men wearing turbans sat beside men wearing kippahs. Nor did the service resemble a typical Friday night Shabbat service in its musical form. The Temple’s choir and Nefesh Band were joined by the Central Bible Church singers and accompanists playing organ, cello, saxophone, flute, and drums. 

Throughout the service, Temple clergy and their guest speakers delivered comforting words in mini-sermons, all of which reflected the need to stem the rising tide of racism, anti- Semitism, and hatred through acts of kindness, civility, and humility. The collective, unifying theme was “love conquers hate.” 

As a stirring conclusion, speakers took turns at the podium, naming each of the Jews killed in Pittsburgh and the two African-Americans murdered in Kentucky, and offering a few words about their lives. Then, a rousing and moving encore from the Church singers, a song insisting “I Need You, You Need Me,” brought the audience to its feet. People locked arms in a shared gesture of unity, community, and love. It was a night to remember—on so many levels. 

You can revisit the entire service online at wbtla.org/showupforshabbat

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