Bringing Back The Love To Pico-Robertson

When Steven Weil came to town in 2000 to take over Beth Jacob, his sociable side got the best of him and he started socializing with members of competing shuls in Pico/Robertson. He invited them to his home, he became interested in their lives, he learned their names and the names of their family and friends. He was a hail fellow well met type of rabbi and he made a lot of important friends fast.

Unfortunately, these new friends did not include the other rabbis in Pico/Robertson.

Rabbi Muskin at Young Israel of Century City (YICC) felt like Rabbi Weil did not give him sufficient kovod (honor) as the senior Modern Orthodox rabbi of the neighborhood.

Rabbi Weil began referring to Rabbi Muskin in uncomplimentary terms, words that I can’t use on a family-friendly blog such as this one.

This absence of a loving relationship particularly gnawed on Rabbi Muskin who often confided to his congregants how much it hurt him that Rabbi Weil didn’t seek him out.

Rabbi Weil didn’t give a flip.

At a meeting with Christian Zionists a couple of months ago, Rabbi Weil said something that caused a fellow rabbi in the ‘hood to walk out.

Rabbi Weil does not have warm relations with any other synagogue rabbi in Pico/Robertson.

Rabbi Muskin is an intense man who likes to run things. His shul does not need an executive director. Rabbi Muskin does that job. Rabbi Muskin runs his shul, not the shul’s board of directors. Rabbi Muskin runs the simchas (celebrations) of his congregants. They get in big trouble if they try to hold a simcha outside the shul. Rabbi Muskin has a particular vision for his community — a community that I loved during my year there — and he enforces it.

YICC and Bnai David-Judea have excellent relations. Even though Bnai David is too liberal for Rabbi Muskin’s tastes, his criticisms are muted at best.

Members of the three Modern Orthodox shuls in Pico/Robertson often hang out with each other, as do members of the two chareidi non-Hasidic shuls — Aish HaTorah and Anshe Emet.

Rabbi Daniel Korobkin, the likely next rabbi of Beth Jacob (which has about 800 member families, many on paper only, and a budget twice that of the other Modern Orthodox shuls in the hood), has excellent relations with the rabbis at Bnai David and YICC.

Meanwhile, Rabbi Weil will run the Orthodox Union. I predict he’ll do a great job. He’s the CEO type more than the pastoral care type. He delegated the visiting the sick type stuff to Rabbi Marc Mandel.

Rabbi Weil has an MBA. He loves to run things by delegating. He prefers to concentrate on the big picture and the big donors.

Beth Jacob now has four minyans on Shabbat. A year ago, Young Israel of Century City added a young professionals minyan and a few months later Beth Jacob followed suit. For a while it had an age limit (35 or something), but that’s been dropped. Beth Jacob is going to hire an assistant rabbi to cater to this minyan.

Most of the young single women go to the Happy Minyan or Bnai David (and a few at Aish, almost none to Beth Jacob and YICC).

About Luke Ford

Raised a Seventh-Day Adventist at Avondale College in Australia, Luke Ford moved to California in 1977. He graduated from Placer High School in 1984, reported the news at KAHI/KHYL radio for three years, attended Sierra College and UCLA, was largely bedridden by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for six years, and converted to Judaism in 1993. From 1997-2007, Luke made his living from blogging. Living by Beverly Hills (, he now teaches the Alexander Technique (moving the way the body likes to move). Lessons cost $100 each and last about 45 minutes. In 2011, Luke completed a three-year teaching course at the Alexander Training Institute of Los Angeles. His personal Alexander Technique website is Luke is the author of five books, including: » The Producers: Profiles in Frustration » Yesterday’s News Tomorrow: Inside American Jewish Journalism
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