Into Action

Elissa Barrett, Interim Executive Director

As a queer, Jewish, progressive, cisgender woman who values truth, equity and justice, I worry.

I am a trained attorney and an experienced social justice activist. I believe in the rule of law and strive to help bring about what James Baldwin called the “potential of American democracy.” I am horrified as I watch our democracy’s institutions and norms torn down and discarded daily.

Yet, I would be lying if I did not admit that I sometimes want to retreat into the luxury of pleasantness that my economic class, education and skin color afford me. It is tempting to sit at home and stream “Queer Eye” on Netflix, chanting to myself like Dorothy clicking her red sequined heels, “It’ll all be ok. It’ll all be ok. It’ll all be ok.”

But “woke” I am, and “woke” I intend to stay. That then leaves me with a craving – a yearning for comfort and community, for a place where I can be inspired and nourished, emotionally and spiritually.

BCC is one of the places I go when I crave that solace.

At its finest moments, our synagogue creates a sukkah shelomecha– a canopy of peace. It envelops me in love, in friendships old and new, in transformative prayer that opens the gateway to a deeper connection between me and that connective energy of the Universe I choose to call God. It inspires me to plant the seeds of justice and to weave myself into that gorgeous tapestry of socially engaged Judaism.

In those moments, I feel the full “potential of the BCC community.” I also know that, like a democracy, a synagogue does not sustain or perpetuate itself. A fully realized spiritual community requires participation and creativity. It requires us constantly to shape and reaffirm its values and its value.

Like our country, BCC is in the midst of a seismic shift. Next summer, Rabbi Lisa Edwards and our wonderful lezbit’zn Tracy Moore will retire. As a couple, they have shaped my life in so many ways that I’ve lost count. While I have begun to mourn that passing of their BCC era, I also find myself excited and energized by what will come next. That future is ours to shape.

So I entreat you to “lean in” and build the community you want to be a part of.

I know what my vision for BCC is – it is intergenerational, progressive, multiracial and deeply grounded in Jewish learning. It transports and nourishes us through prayer. It is a place where we are transformed through social justice, where we are compassionate and caring, where we deepen our connection with God and with each other. It is queer as hell and proactively inclusive, warmly embracing our beloved straight allies.

I’m excited to hear your vision for BCC and to build that beloved community with you. Here are some great ways for you to “lean in” with BCC this summer and fall:

July 29 – Annual Congregational Meeting

I’ll be honest and confess that I only went to my first Congregational Meeting last year, and I’ve been a member since 2002. What I learned was how important this meeting is.

This year, we’ll be reporting on the results of the Listening Tour and doing our own listening session with an emphasis on exploring how BCC can nourish and uplift us spiritually during these troubled times.

We’ll also explore ways to volunteer and get involved, in addition to voting on the annual budget and on who will join the BCC board of directors for its new two-year term starting in September.

Materials for the Annual Congregational Meeting will go out two weeks in advance.

To RSVP and fill out our super short pre-meeting survey, click HERE.

July 14 and August 4, 11 and 17 – Great Chefs / Great Homes: Summer Edition

Great Chefs/Great Homes is back for a three-part summer series. We’d love to see you at one of these events. It’s a great way to get to know your fellow congregants new and old and to raise funds for BCC. Hosts open their homes, cook delectable meals and provide amazing entertainment – musicians, magicians and more! Reduced price tickets are available.

To RSVP, click HERE.

Dates, food themes, locations and hosts are:

  • July 14 – Japanese – Sherman Oaks – Hannah Theile & Kenna Love
  • August 4 – Indian – Burbank – Michelle Madrigal & Cantor Juval Porat
  • August 11 – Vegan – Santa Monica – Mark Miller & Brett Trueman
  • August 17 – American – Sherman Oaks – Ginger Jacobs

August 3, 10 and 17 – Shabbat on the Town

Think the carpets in the lobby of BCC are looking a little worse for wear and could stand to be replaced? So do we! Thanks to the support of a generous donor, BCC will be replacing much of our lobby carpeting with tiles like the ones in the Social Hall.

Construction will start on July 30th(Mon) and end on August 22nd(Wed).

During construction, we will not be able to use any of the parking lot entrances to the building, the kitchen, the lobby bathrooms and the library. Sanctuary access will be restricted as well, except for use by the BCC Choir on Monday evenings.

So … We’re taking Shabbat on the Town!

August 3 – Shabbat @ LACMA

We’ll gather in the central grassy courtyard at LACMA to enjoy a brief Shabbat service at 5:15 pm, followed by a FREE Friday Night Jazz @ LACMA Concert at 6:00 pm, featuring the Tom Rizzo Quarter.

Click HERE for more details.

August 10 – Shabbat @ Pan Pacific Park

Time TBD. We’ll gather in an easily accessible section of Pan Pacific Park for a service emphasizing meditation, music and togetherness. Connect with nature and each other. Children warmly welcome. Picnic baskets encouraged. Parking is FREE.

Click HERE for more details.

August 17 – Shabbat @ Home – 7:30 pm

We’ll gather in BCC member homes here in Southern California (and possibly beyond) to eat, converse and study Torah on this first Shabbat of the month of Elul. Elul is our time to prepare for the spiritual renewal of the High Holy Days.

We would love for you to join us. It will be a fun change of pace, a great way to get to know your fellow congregants and a chance to share a unique BCC experience with non-members looking for a community for the High Holy Days.

To sign up to host or RSVP, click HERE.

Month of Elul Torah Study

Stand by for more details on scintillating Torah study plans from Rabbi Lisa Edwards.

Sept 9 – Oct 2: High Holy Days

The High Holy Days are a special at BCC and one of my favorite times of the year. We hope that you will join us for as many of these dates as possible. This year will be extra special as it is Rabbi Lisa’s final year leading our HHD services. I know I don’t want to miss a single moment.

Holidays, dates, times and locations are:

  • Selichot – Saturday, September 1 at 7:00 pm at BCC
  • Erev Rosh Hashanah – Sunday, September 9 at 7:15 pm at Temple Isaiah
  • Rosh Hashanah Service and Lunch – Monday, September 10 at 9:30 am at Temple Isaiah
  • Rosh Hashanah Second Day Service – Tuesday, September 11 at 10:00 am at BCC
  • Tashlich Service – Tuesday, September 11 at 4:30 pm at Santa Monica Beach
  • Shabbat Shuvah Service – Friday, September 14 at 8:00 pm at BCC
  • Kol Nidre – Tuesday, September 18 at 7:15 pm at Temple Isaiah
  • Yom Kippur – Wednesday, September 19 at 9:30 am at Temple Isaiah
  • Erev Sukkot Potluck Party – Sunday, September 23 at 6:00 pm at BCC
  • Simchat Torah – Tuesday, October 2 at 6:00 pm at BCC

Thank you for being a part of our BCC community.

If you have questions, concerns or thoughts about anything I have shared here, I welcome your emails and phone calls. You can reach me at or call me at (323) 931-7023 ext. 203, and I will do my best to get back to you as soon as I can.

With gratitude,

Elissa Barrett

BCC Interim Executive Director


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