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Note from the Rabbi

Dear Friends,

ברוכים הבאים! Welcome! Welcome to Beth Jacob. Welcome to the family.

Our fervent hope and tfilah/prayer is that you (and your family) will gain Jewish inspiration, knowledge, friendship, camaraderie and community. We are a very special and unique synagogue and community. Our widely diverse members are warmly embraced with a sense of respect and appreciation that is extended to each and every individual. 

The great Sage, Hillel, taught: If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, then when?

We are living in turbulent and precarious times. If I am not for myself, who will be for me? This applies on a personal, on a communal and on a national level. In our hectic frenzied world, if we don’t carve out time for ourselves and our growth, if I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I don’t take my rightful place in my community, and in my nation, standing strong for Israel and as a vibrant link in the odyssey of the Jewish people, who will do that for me?

If I am only for myself, then what am I? We cannot minimize ourselves by only thinking of ourselves and our immediate families. There are so many that we can touch, that we can help, that we can inspire through our participation. We can extend and expand so far beyond our simple selves. When we give beyond ourselves, we ignite that inner spark of G-dliness, the Ultimate Giver, and we transform ourselves through touching others. If I am only for myself, then what am I?

And if not now, then when? The power of today can never be retrieved. I’m amazed how the days, weeks, months and years fly by… Today is the casualty of the allure of tomorrow but each day, with its unique opportunities, can never be reclaimed once it has passed. If it’s worth doing then do it now. If not now, then when?

There is so much for you to involve yourself, to gain and to give—today! We offer the only threetimes-daily minyan in Orange County, full Shabbat services, joyous T’filah, relevant drashot, Kiddush Luncheons, the elegant Irvine Community Mikveh, the Beth Jacob Irvine Eruv, full youth programming including Junior and Senior NCSY, Bar/Bat Mitzvah training, Parent/Child Tefillah, Olam Jewish Montessori of Beth Jacob infant room and preschool, an array of classes ranging from Daf Yomi and Beginners Talmud to Judaism 101, Lunch & Learn and classes in Basic Judaism, women’s Seudah Shlishit and Middot workshop, classes in writing and speaking Hebrew, and, of course, full pastoral services. Is there something else that you’d like? Let us know—let’s make it happen!

Join the community! Join the family! There’s something here for everyone. Bring your energy, bring your passion. Help enrich others and you will find yourself enriched.

We are a community that faithfully and respectfully draws from and builds upon our past as we energetically and eagerly catapult into the future. We welcome you as an active and integral partner in our journey!

On a personal level, I look forward to getting to know you even better. Please be in touch—let’s set up a time that we can meet and talk. I look forward to it.

With warmest regards,

Yisroel Ciner

Rabbi Yisroel Ciner

Note from the President

Dear Friends,

I hope you and your entire family had a wonderful summer! Summers always make me miss my childhood and teenage years. Those sweet summers when there was no school or work, just memorable times building new friendships in Jewish summer camps, some of which lasted a lifetime. What exactly is the secret of a summer camp that creates such strong and long-lasting friendships, and can we replicate it within the confines of our shul? I’m a big believer that the key to the success, growth and sustainability of our community is rooted in and is very much dependent on strong interpersonal connections and friendships between our members.

In 1950, psychologists Leon Festinger, Stanley Schachler and Kurt Back of MIT theorized that simple regular exposure to the same individuals highly increased one’s chances of developing a friendship. They called this the “Propinquity Effect.” Of course, one does not need an MIT degree to understand that simply coming to shul on a regular basis and sharing our holy space with others will greatly increase your chances of creating and maintaining close friendships with other members. But is propinquity alone enough? Psychologists Jeffery Parker and John Seal of University of Michigan published a study in 1996 where they tracked 216 kids ages 8-15 in summer camps in order to find out what factors contributed to various friendship groups that formed throughout the summer. Research showed that people were naturally drawn to other people who resembled themselves. Again, the idea that people with similar values, beliefs, attitudes, culture and traditions tend to form closer friendships seems self-explanatory, and of course, Beth Jacob is a perfect breeding ground for finding and retaining close friends simply through this “Similarity Effect.”

But here is the most important study! In 2017, computer programmer Allen Berezovsky, via this letter, published his personal study based on a 17-year membership at Beth Jacob of Irvine which concludes, with 100% certainty, that a community that laughs together, cries together, eats together, dances together, learns together, prays together, volunteers together and deeply cares for one another the way Beth Jacob members do, is a place where life-long friendships are formed and maintained, and for that reason alone, the membership that you are about to renew or enter into is absolutely priceless!

In chapter 1:6 of Pirkei Avot, Joshua ben Perahya taught: for acquire, teacher/rabbi a yourself for Select (עֲשֵׂ ה לְָך רַ ב, ּוקְ נֵׂה לְָך חָבֵׂר, וֶהֱוֵׂי דָ ן אֶ ת כָל הָאָ דָ ם לְכַף זְכּות: yourself a friend/study partner, and judge everyone favorably). On all three fronts, Beth Jacob of Irvine has got you covered! Our Rabbi Ciner is one of the world’s best teachers and study partners. Our members make the world’s best friends and companions. And we always look for the good in one another.

I’m so excited to have you join us for another year of friendship, personal and spiritual growth, and of course delicious cholent (available most Shabbos mornings for no additional fee!). From myself, my wife Susan and our boys, Roni and Jordan, we wish you a happy, healthy and blessed new year!

L’Shana Tova!

Allen Berezovsky

Beth Jacob President

Tue, July 23 2019 20 Tammuz 5779