For those who asked if I ever lead services:

I will be leading services at the Synagogue for the Performing Arts on Friday Oct. 4, 2013 @ 8:00pm.  There is an “ask the rabbi” session @ 7:30.  This all takes place at the American Jewish University, Gindi Auditorium (405 Freeway at Mulholland).  For more info:  www.sftpa.com

Is is winter or is summer almost here?

Yes i know, it is the week of the New Year which means we are in the winter and just barely.  But those of you who are getting married know that June is only six months away and May is five months away.  Venues get booked, wedding planners get busy and rabbis get taken.  So if you are looking at a late spring or summer wedding and haven’t gotten your planning into gear, now is definitely the time.  I have been meeting couples regularly this month and May is already closed out.  I wish you all a very happy and healthy new year and if you are getting married this year, a special blessing to you.  RA

Not How It Should Be…

Recently I had a call from an interfaith couple who wanted me to perform a wedding but not use blessings or prayers.  The couple was having difficulty finding a rabbi to officiate who oblige them. When I asked why they wanted a rabbi, considering their desire to remove religion from the ceremony, I was told it was the demand of one set of parents and those parents were paying for the wedding. Can you see the conflict already?

I spoke with the bride. I  inquired “why do you not want blessings or prayers?”  The response, fair enough, was that they are not connected to a faith group and feel it would be hypocritical to stand before a group and appear to be espousing things they did not believe. Now they did not object to the wine blessing and breaking the glass.  I asked why they would be okay with the wine  being blessed, but not allow me to bless them?   I also asked why it was not hypocritical to have some customs present but not others based upon the wishes of parents.  And when I why it was not equally hypocritical to have a rabbi to do some parts of a ceremony (but not the critical parts) in order to justify accepting money for a party…that became the end of the conversation.

Why do I share this story with you?  When a power struggle and selfish desire enter the picture we can no longer feel a sense of goodness and oneness and isn’t that what a wedding is about?  It is my considered opinion that human beings like to be blessed and have good thoughts verbalized about them.  I see this every day.  One may call blessings “happy thoughts” or “good wishes.”  But it amounts to the same thing.  Yes it is wrong for parents to dangle the cost of a wedding in order to have everything their way. A gift should be joyful and from the heart.  But it is equally wrong for a couple to sell out what they believe in order to get the party of their dreams..  Getting married means becoming mature enough to leave your parents’ home and find a mate of your own. It is becoming mature enough to make decisions based upon reason and not a sense of entitlement.  Anger and disappointment over not getting your way is not the mature way to begin carving out your future.

This incident has given me a lot to think about.  I hope you get something out of it as well.

Rabbi AR

A NEW YEAR, 5773

This time of year is very important in the Jewish calendar.  It begins with the New Year, Rosh Hashanah and continues with the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur.  Those are followed by Sukkot and then Simchas Torah.  The sweep of these holidays all have to do, one way or the other, with forgiveness, atonement, reconnecting to the good in life and rededication by all of us to our true purpose in living: to love and be loved.

Whether or not you are Jewish, the principals I mentioned apply to you as well as me.  We all want to live in a world of goodness amid people who bring their talents to the table of life.

I hope that we can all find a measure of peace and goodwill yet in our time.  And I especially hope that those of you who might be looking at my website have chosen your desired mate wisely.  I hope you have found a partner for your soul; someone who can be a lifelong partner for you.  And if I can be of help to you, feel free to contact me.

My Article on Pre Marital Counseling

The wedding website Gathering Guide has published an article I wrote about the issues couples face before their big day.  Let me know what you think!  R.A.


Just as the title says, Passover is just a few weeks away.  This is the most observed of all the Jewish holidays.  Perhaps because this holiday is all about freedom and freedom is what we all cherish so deeply.  I hope you will have a chance to attend a seder either with family or friends or in a community.  Many churches and some mosques these days have interfaith seders.

And the wedding season seems to have begun early!  I will be at Shutters in Santa Monica this weekend and by April and will be busy through September.  If you are interested in contacting me, please do it early if at all possible.  And as always I wish you all good things.   R.A.

The Wedding Season Begins!

Usually after the first of the year the majority of couples who have not planned a year ahead, enter into the wedding market.  And yes, there are those couples who wait until a month or so before the wedding to get their choices in line.  Of course the longer one waits, the less likely one is to get their first choices of officiants, flowers, venues etc.  So I urge you, if you are one of the more casual couples, to being thinking and acting now if you have a wedding between June and September of 2012.  I already have inquiries for ceremonies in 2013!  Please feel free to contact me if I can be of any help to you in talking about your big day.

I will be teaching a class on The Book of Esther, will be speaking at an interfaith group of clergy in the Valley and will also be speaking at the Hospital Association of Southern California.  I am honored to be involved in so many communities.

The Image of Light

The world’s major religions all use the symbol of light.  Light is a powerful symbol which most often represents the presence of holiness in our lives.  In Judaism we not only light candles every Shabbat, we light them to recall the light of those who have left this life.  We light candles at weddings to evoke the idea that your light is being joined with mine.  And now, in a week or so, we will kindle the lights of Chanuka to remind us of freedom, the light of freedom.  But we also know that there are Christmas lights and Advent candles this time of year.  In Islam during Ramadan a Fanoos which can be a candle or a lantern is lit and during Kwanzaa seven candles called Mishumaa are lit in a holder called a  Kinara.  Light is a powerful symbol.  And if you are considering planning your wedding at this time of year you are adding to the light of the world!

Another Name for Thanksgiving is Thursday

Many of us will be gathered with our families for Thanksgiving this week.  And we will celebrate all those things, even in a hard economy, for which we are thankful.  I will be happily dining with my family including my grandson, Matthew.  I will also be speaking at the Thanksgiving assembly at Bishop Alemany High School here in Los Angeles because Thanksgiving is not a religious holiday but it belongs to all of us.  Another name for Thanksgiving is Thursday….we should be thankful and mindful of our blessings every day, not just once during the year.  I hope your blessings are many and that you are able to find a few minutes this week to verbalize what you are thankful for!  Happy holiday!

Moving Right Along

Well, here we are in Sukkot with the High Holy Days behind us.  And yes the wedding season is getting longer each year.  Due to the high cost of weddings and the problems the economy is facing, many couples are choosing to get married outside of the June to August traditional window.  I am seeing weddings in October and November, February and March, April and May.  My congratulations to Jana and Eric, Ethan and Lily, Melissa and , Kristen and Spencer, Anjeanette and Brent, Lindsay and Jon.  This weekend I will be at Pt. Vincente in Palos Verdes and next weekend back at Shutters in Santa Monica.  Please feel free to contact me if I can be of any help.