Home Stay at Leo Baeck Temple

The other week I joined a Reform family for Shabbat and Yom Limmud at Leo Baeck Temple. As always, it was very nice to learn about the various Jewish traditions. We drove to a modern house on the top of a hill overlooking Santa Monica and the Pacific Ocean. Our kind hosts, Toni, Marc, and their son Ezra, made me feel surprisingly at home, with their kindness and familiar religious practices. Gary cooked a fabulous Shabbat meal of salmon, chicken, crispy sweet potatoes, and grapefruit endive salad that we dined on with dinner guests. The customs this family practiced on Shabbat reminded me of my family.

The next morning I was made a scrumptious breakfast before heading to Leo Baeck Temple. Yom Limmud had many sessions to choose from ranging from more secular topics to text and scripture discussions. I chose Muslim, Christian, and Jewish relations during the Trump presidency. It was very interesting to hear from a highly qualified panel on their personal experiences and visions of what would happen in the next few years. Since I can’t get enough politics, I chose Trump and Jewish Vote for my next session. I learned so much about what the Trump presidency would mean for the Jewish community and how the Jewish community was involved in the election process. Trump was not successful in getting the Jewish vote. In fact he was one of the least successful candidates in getting the Jewish vote. Lunch was then served in the main hall. For my third session, I learned about Judaism and BRCA gene mutations. I found it very fascinating and informative. It turns out Ashkenazi Jews are at a higher risk of carrying certain carcinogenic mutations of the BRCA gene. Less than three percent of Ashkenazi Jews carry it, but that is a high percentage relatively speaking. I also learned about the religious issues of removing healthy organs and scientific advancements made in the testing and treatment, and avoidance of BRCA gene mutations. For the last session, I went to an engaging multimedia presentation by a world renowned advertisement designer about how ads are designed and made for a world that hates them. It was very humorous and well thought out.

As we performed havdallah, I was reminded of what an amazing experience I had that day and the generosity of my hosts and Leo Baeck. I had such a great time learning and exploring. It was certainly a Shabbat I will be sure not to forget. I would like to thank Toni, Marc, and Ezra, as well as the Leo Baeck community for a fun, educational, and relaxing Shabbat experience.

Ben Libeskind


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