Rabbi

Sharon Brous is reinventing what it means to be Jewish, starting with the guilt trip

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Photograph by Christina Gandolfo

➻ “When I was 20, I was part of a seminar in Jerusalem where they were trying to convince wayward Jews to become religious. During a slide presentation, I realized that I didn’t believe what they were saying, but I did believe in God and that I was being called to do this work. When the lights went on, I was crying hysterically. The guys came over and said, ‘What did you think?’ and I said, ‘I’m going to be a rabbi.’”

➻ Instead of forming an affiliation with a specific temple, Rabbi Brous founded IKAR, a progressive Jewish spiritual community that’s been attracting young, unaffiliated Jews since 2004.

➻ “There’s a device that DJs use called a crossfader, which takes two songs that feel seemingly incongruous and moves people from one experience to the other. That’s what we’re trying to do with Judaism: take these ancient, powerful rituals and introduce them so seamlessly that people might not even notice they’re in the midst of a powerful conversation about an ancient practice.”

➻ Newsweek named Brous one of the “50 Most Influential Rabbis in America” five years in a row. She was in the top five in 2012, the first time for a female rabbi.

➻On June 3, 1972, Sally Priesand became the first woman in America to be ordained as a rabbi. Since then, more than 350 women in the United States have become reform, reconstructionist,and conservative rabbis.

➻“At any given Shabbat there will be a few hundred people at each service. On the High Holy Days we have around 1,800 people.”

➻ Los Angeles is home to the nation’s second-largest Jewish population (New York has the biggest), with more than half a million followers.

➻ “The driving force behind Jewish life in the previous century was guilt. People went to synagogue because they felt a sense of obligation to go in the aftermath of the Holocaust, because Israel was so fragile and because of anti-Semitism. That’s no longer a driving force, particularly for young people.”

➻ In 1931, the Canter brothers opened the landmark Canter’s deli in Los Angeles, which has sold more than 7 million pounds of pastrami and more than 10 million matzo balls.

➻ “My favorite kosher place to eat in L.A. is my kitchen. My husband’s an amazing cook!”

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Comments

  1. Jesica

    April 3, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    I heard Rabbi Sharon Brous a couple years ago my last year at UCLA and I was MEZMORIZED. She later officiated my cousin’s wedding and again was deeply moved by her words. This woman is powerful in her emotions and her teaching but so incredibly gentle. It’s hard to describe how amazing she is and I hope I can make it to services to IKAR one day soon with my mom. Yasher Koach Rabbi Brous- thank you for everything you do in the Jewish community and the world community.