MoTAS Weekly for 11/15/17: Thursday Night Football / November – January Events / Sephardic LA

MoTAS Weekly NewsletterIn This Issue:



MoTAS invites you to join us for Thursday Night Football — Titans vs. the Steelers — on the TAS Big Screen. This is an informal NFL fan event starting at 5:00 PM. It’s casual…show up whenever, leave whenever. MoTAS will be providing beverages, either soft drinks or “red cup” beverages. Depending on the size of the crowd, we may order pizza to bring in/have delivered to eat at halftime or later.

There is no upfront cost, although (of course) donations are always welcome.

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On Sunday, November 19, Sisterhood will be having their annual Holiday Boutique, and as usual, MoTAS will be providing the food service. If you will be able to volunteer to sell lunch items this day (10am to 2pm), please RSVP at

Note in particular that Frank will not be available that day, so if you will be able to help with the shopping and setup in additional to the service, please let Daniel know at and he’ll get the information to the right people.

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The following is a summary of the November Membership meeting, based on the minutes prepared by our Secretary, Hal Bass:

D’var Torah: Frank Soronow gave the D’var Torah. He based his comments on Ellen Lowe’s lay-led Torah study of November 10, 2017, in which Ellen discussed Sarah’s life and its implications for our own lives and the eulogies all of us are writing.

Jerry Hilecher’s Presentation: TAS President Jerry Hilecher reviewed recent developments at TAS. He explained, as he did at a special congregational meeting last month, that ongoing membership loss, a lack of innovative programming, and declining rabbinic support over the past 2.5 years necessitated a change in rabbinic leadership. Jerry said he had received input and unanimous consent from former TAS presidents of the past 36 years and an overwhelming endorsement from the Executive Committee and Board of Trustees. We have rebranded, there is a burst of energy and enthusiasm on the part of Cantor Ken Cohen and members of the congregation, and a new confirmation program has been developed. Committees have been formed to select a temporary rabbi followed by an interim rabbi to begin on July 1, 2018. Although our property has been appraised at $9.7 million, negative cash flow precludes a conventional mortgage. We have received commitment for a 5-year, interest-only loan of $1.6 million that would permit TAS to retire its $600,000 line of credit and spend $100,000 on badly needed repairs. Terms of the loan are a fixed interest rate of 8.5% plus 3 points. Meanwhile, a group headed by Barry Krowne is hoping to establish a limited liability corporation consisting of TAS members to fund a 5-year, interest-only loan of $1.6 million at 6.5% annual interest with no points.

Treasurer’s Report: Cash balance as of 11/11/17 $29,891, which includes revenue from the golf tournament of $8,600, $2,654 from last year’s sports squares, and $3,000 from this year’s sale of football squares. $5,654 has been set aside for grants and $900 for football squares winners ($6,554 in total), leaving a balance of $23,337.

Thursday Night Football, November 16: Will be on the big screen in the social hall. Volunteers are needed. Sign-up sheets were passed around.

Membership Referral Gift Cards: A pilot program of $50 gift cards for up to 10 member or ECEC referrals (total of $500) passed 11 to 5.

MoTAS Project Support: Howard Miller reviewed several projects, which he presented last month and for which a separate line item, Minor Facility Improvements, has been added to the MoTAS budget:

  • ECEC request for a power washer for the playground, sidewalks and large toys – $300
  • Install canvas for displaying student art work – $250
  • Professionally repair south side of sanctuary building ceiling plus fascia on north side. Paint and materials – $300
  • Strengthen hand rail attachments and paint the hand rails – $100
  • Clean inside of windows and paint walls on interior of school buildings – $300
  • Paint metal cap over top of wall on 2nd story of school buildings – $300
  • Power-wash stains on school buildings and activity center exterior walls
  • Additional decorative rock at west side of temple – $600
  • Larry Pfeffer to evaluate the integrity of two outdoor electric wall sockets behind the social hall

Note that, for a number of these, MoTAS may be providing the labor on meeting Sundays.

Budget: Treasurer Roger Lowe presented the MoTAS budget for 2017-18 (available here). Highlights include our ongoing temple commitment of $5,000, Gala ad book $1,000, Camperships $1,500, L’Taken DC trip $500, Cantor’s Concert $500, MoTAS Avodah share $1,500. The budget passed unanimously, 25-0.

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There are a number of activities in the planning stages for December and January. If you have thoughts on any of these, please drop a note to Daniel at or call him at 818/438-5781, and he’ll get the information to the right people. As the details firm up, RSVP or Ticketing eventbees will be set up for online registration:

  • MoTAS Chanuakah Party. Sunday, December 17. This would be an afternoon or evening Chanukah party for members (please let me know if you think this should be open to spouses). We may see if the Temple is available; alternatively, we’re looking for someone to volunteer a house. We’ll have laktes made by members, we’ll order in fried and greasy food (i.e., pizza, fried chicken, wings, or something like that), and have sufganiot for desert. The price point will depend on what we order. Just a fun afternoon to hang together.
  • MoTAS Jewish Xmas. Monday, December 25. This is the traditional “movie and Chinese Food” on Christmas day. This will be open to the family. We’ll pick a few movies and times to coordinate MoTAS families meeting up, but people will be responsible for their own tickets. We’ll develop a fixed-price menu with Mandarin King in Northridge and pre-order and collect funds. We meet at the restaurant at a designated time — with no wait because we’ll have a reservation. We’ll then have traditional Chinese food and enjoy each other’s company.
  • MoTAS Shabbat. Pending confirmation of Friday, January 12. Our traditional evening to recognize all the MoTAS does for the congregation, and announce our Man of the Year. Bob Levine will be coordinating this, as usual.
  • Tu B’Shevat Seder. Sunday, January 28. TAS has traditionally not done much for Tu B’Shevat, and MoTAS would like to change that. A Tu B’Shevat Seder is a kabbalistic tradition that follows the structure of the seder to celebrate all that we get from trees. It is a service with wine, fruit, nuts, and other tree products. There will be a small charge to cover the food. This will be open to the TAS community.

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Mike Thornhill, a past president of MoTAS and long time coordinator of our MoTAS Seder, has passed along the following request from his daughter, Jenna:

I am currently a senior undergraduate studying History at UCLA. I am working on a final project in Jewish history, and I have taken as my focus Los Angeles Sephardim. As you may know, very little of U.S. history is focused on Los Angeles, and very little of Jewish history of the Untied States is focused on Sephardic communities. Accordingly, this subject is majorly understudied, and I hope to add just a little bit more work to this field, hopefully with your help. Currently, my professor and a small team are working on different aspects about Sephardic L.A. history. One of this team was instrumental in “Mapping Jewish L.A.” project, which you can see at Unfortunately, largely because of how the existing data skews, I believe that project focuses a lot more on Eastern European descended Ashekenazi people. Part of my project involves helping add to a new map of places associated with Sephardim, including where they lived, their businesses, and community spaces, particularly between 1920 and the 1970s. Any information you can provide would be so incredibly helpful, and with your permission, could be used in research far beyond what I am doing here now.

Thank you, Jenna Thornhill deWitt

Fill out whatever you know and feel comfortable sharing.

  1. Your full name
  2. Any other names you have used (maiden name, legal name change, etc.)
  3. What are your parents’ names, including maiden names or otherwise legally changed names?
  4. Were your parents born in Southern California? If not, when did they move here and from where? Approximate date is okay.
  5. Were your grandparents born in Southern California? If not, when did they move here and from where? Approximate date is okay.
  6. Did your family speak in a language other than English at home? Which one(s)?
  7. Do you know any addresses, cross streets, or simply general areas where your family members lived?
  8. If they owned any businesses, what were they and where?
  9. What do you remember your parents and/or grandparents telling you about the reasons for their move to the Los Angeles area, or certain neighborhoods in particular?
  10. What about their reasons for leaving those neighborhoods for others, if they did?
  11. How would you describe you and your family’s position to the Sephardic community at large?
  12. Would you be interested in answering more questions if needed?
  13. What is the best way to contact you?

Your Weekly Editor Here — Probably the best way to do this is start a message to Jenna and cut and paste the questions and your answers into it.

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As always, remember that the Men of Temple Ahavat Shalom is *your* organization. Keep up to date on our activities at and participate. Sign up for our action alert list at We want to serve all the men of Temple Ahavat Shalom and welcome new participants from the TAS membership. Join our Facebook group and “follow” our website. Come be part of the Men of Temple Ahavat Shalom!

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