Read and watch Luke Ford’s complete interview with Rabbi Rabbs.
6 p.m. We walk towards Pico Blvd and head west. He’s lived in this hood since 1987. “No other place has so many kosher restaurants in one place,” he says. “People get along better here than anywhere else I’ve ever been. The other side of town [Fairfax/La Brea] is more icky, sticky, stuffy.
“I go surfing. I put my surfboard on my car and I’m off. Nobody cares. I’m not sure I could get away with that on the other side of town. I’d get a speech from some yenta. ‘What are you doing? Rabbis don’t go surfing.’
“In New York, I don’t know what people would say about me. Ashkenazi Jews can’t handle people who are different.”
Luke: “This is a tolerant Orthodox community.”
Rabbi: “Oh yeah. Pico-Robertson is a magnet for misfits so naturally they don’t have a problem with me. They couldn’t stand the poison and the venom of New York and New Jersey… They tend to be more laid back and open-minded and understanding of people who are different. Plus, there are a lot of Sephardim and Persians and they don’t give a crap.”
“The older I get, the more young chicks dig me.”
“For the life of me, I don’t understand why anyone would want to be Jewish. But you can’t talk to these people. They feel that Torah is truth, they were born with a Jewish soul.”
“If I woke up one day and somebody told me, ‘Rabbs, we discovered that your grandmother is not a Jew.’ I’d say, ‘Thank God, I’m out.’ I don’t want to be part of this. I hate this. Non-Jews think it is the greatest thing ever. They all want to be Jewish. I don’t understand it.”
“I get the BT (baal teshuva) thing. I’m born Jewish, I’m stuck. I better do what I am supposed to do.”