How Are You: A Casual Greeting or a Serious Question?

How are you? Really, how are you doing these days?

In so many circumstances throughout our daily lives those questions are directed at us, often to start a conversation.  They are a big part of the culture we live in, yet it often seems to me as if the very personal inquiry – “How are you?” – has become a ritual greeting, rather than a genuine question. The common answer, “Good, how are you?” seems like an automatic response, rather than an honest sharing of the state of our wellbeing.

The exchange reminds me of a pattern in our worship culture, where once innovative inserts into our prayer book become so fixed and permanent that they lose their connection to the spontaneity of our hearts.

Surrendering to the automatism of the “How are you?” ritual was a big contributor to my feelings of disconnection and loneliness when I arrived in LOS Angeles nine years ago — and even today. In a city like Los Angeles, with its de-emphasis on the human body in favor of cars and its lack of urban centers, it gets very easy to feel lost and alienated. The search for community becomes critical for one’s well being.

I remember saying, in my early years upon arrival in the USA (well, I kind of still say it to this day), that LA should be the city referred to when singing “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere” and not New York City. In NYC, you can at least make eye contact with a person on the street or on the subway. In LA, the sidewalks can feel like a ghost town.

The recent suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, who kept their interior lives and struggles to themselves while letting an external facade suggest that everything was fine, made me think about the ways and reasons we go through life – in this city and in this culture – without being given the genuine opportunity to express how we truly feel.

So. How are you? I truly want to know.

And I want to share the answer to that question more openl6 myself. I will begin by letting you know how fortunate I am to have BCC and to be able to share the gift of music.

For me, it is music that melts away all distinctions of separateness. Music speaks and resonates and deepens and connects my human experience. Music transports and it exposes our inner feelings. It allows us to find joy and also cry, if we need to.

I’m grateful for music for it provides moments where I can appreciate the fullness of life and share that appreciation with others. I’m grateful for music’s power to heal and strengthen the spirit and the body.

When my inner chaos is in need of balancing, when I’m in need of being reminded of my essential humanity, I seek to be connected with my internal life forces, it’s been music where I’ve found the healing I need.

It is my sincere wish that Beth Chayim Chadashim is a place for you to meet your needs for connection, meaning and healing through music, community and shared wisdom.

One way to build that connection is to join the BCC choir for the High Holidays. You can find all rehearsal dates by clicking HERE.

Another way is to participate in our upcoming Tish’a B’Av service, which marks the slow “climbing” process toward the healing of t’shuvah in general and Yom Kippur in particular – the “low” dip in the Jewish calendar between the “highs” of Shavuot and YK.

Rabbi Lisa, Guest Cantor Rebekah Mirsky and I very much look forward to observing Tish’a B’Av with you on Saturday evening, July 21. This will be our second Saturday night healing service, based on the positive feedback I’ve received from the first one in June. We plan on integrating more healing services into our calendar, with the hope that you will find them enriching.

And for all who struggle with feelings of disconnection or sadness, we are here for you. I welcome you to reach out to me, to Rabbi Lisa or to fellow members of our community. Our Caring Community group can be found at

There is also BCC’s Life Transitions Group, which meets weekly.

May we find ways to connect in all that makes us human. Hope to see you soon as Tisha B’Av, Great Chefs/Great Homes and at the Congregational Meeting on July 29th.


 Cantor Juval Porat has recently returned from the American Conference of Cantors convention in Dallas.  Watch his performance of the song “Here’s to Us” at the convention:

#herestous #accgtm2018 #dallasstreetchoir

A post shared by Juval Porat (@juvaljuval) on

Great Chefs, Great Homes Summer Edition

For those of you yet unfamiliar with the concept, Great Chefs, Great Homes is an opportunity for BCC members to get to know each other in a purely social setting. BCC members open their homes to other members for an evening (or day) of fun and great food. The hosts prepare or provide the food, and all proceeds from these events go to BCC.

Your presence would be a pleasure at any of these events and we hope you find an event (or more) that catches your eye and palate.

You can help build our community and make our gatherings even better by adding an additional donation to your ticket price, to provide a free or reduced-cost ticket to a student, a young person, a person living on disability, one of our members who would otherwise be unable to attend, and BCC in general. See how good it feels to simultaneously support BCC and to share delicious food with someone who you’ve helped bring to the table!

Coming up on July 14 is a romantically inspired evening featuring a Japanese style menu at Hanna and Kenna’s teahouse in the valley with entertainment by Grammy winning guitarist Laurence Juber.

Please check out the full list of events and register to attend your most preferred event. Bon Appetit and בתאבון!

Cantor Juval Porat

Need a Morale Boost? Try BCC’s Life Transitions Support Group

If you could use some help dealing with the stress of relationships, careers, economics, social life, family life, health or bereavement, you might want to give the BCC Life Transitions Group a try. The goal of the BCC Life Transitions Group is to enhance participants’ spiritual and emotional growth.

Participants have the opportunity to share their experiences, give and receive mutual support, and exchange coping skills with one another in a confidential atmosphere. Everyone is welcome – members and non-members alike. The group meets twice a month on the first and third Wednesdays from 7:00 – 9:00 pm.

This support group is facilitated by Shirley Hirschberg, Social Worker. Shirley is also available for individual sessions. For more information, please call the BCC office at (323) 931-7023, ext. 205.

Cantors Release New Albums in Concert at BCC

On Sunday afternoon, May 13, Cantors Juval Porat and Rebekah Mirsky teamed up to present their new albums, entitled “Theology” and “The In-between” respectively. Accompanied by a live band, they shared several songs from their albums with a very appreciative audience of BCC members and friends.

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