An idiosyncratic community rooted in the Venice, CA culture popularized by Hendricks, Oingo Boingo and Ray Bradbury, Open Temple re-enchants Judaism for the “Jew-ishly curious and those who love us.” We celebrate a Torah that may or may not be a divinely inspired text and is definitively literary, ponderous and complex. Our music is total rock and roll and our Open Temple Band the heartbeat of our services. Founded four years ago at Open Temple House, on the campus of a Performing Arts Center steps away from one of “the hippest streets in America” (thus quoth GQ Magazine), our community is firmly rooted in our core values: Creativity, Love and Truth. We believe that hipsters, their children and their parents are merely seeking meaning in their lives, and we are here, with an open door for all to step through, to begin their Jewish Soul Journey.
Open Temple celebrates disrupting Jewish Ritual as usual and cracks it open, like a geode, revealing the hidden light inside. Over the years, Open Temple has garnered attention from the Wall Street Journal (Yom Kippur Avodah Service Goat Yoga), PBS NewsHour (Sound Bath Havdallah), and other national news sources covering our unique programming that re-enchants Judaism for the 21st Century. Our Yom Kippur services have been disrupted by Neo-Nazis asking for forgiveness, Muslim women prostrating their prayers, and a homeless man disrupting Rosh HaShanah. These disruptions weave into our Torah portion and elevate the attention and awareness of our participants, opening our hearts to “see and experience the other in real time.” But what we pride ourselves in more than anything else, is that our value proposition is uniquely and securely suited to the times we are living in through pandemic, political upheaval and social unrest.
To state it plainly: we are founded on the concept that “Judaism is the most highly adaptive religion in the world.” And Open Temple reflects this in our radical reinvention and innovation.
This year, Open Temple High Holidays go LIVE from our parking lot, where we “pave the parking lot to put up a paradise.” Umbrellas, astroturf, poofs and plexiglass will create social distanced services and shield our musicians from one another. As America has been siloed out for half a year, the service aims to cultivate community through this time. And with the best practices of social distancing in place, we believe that we can safely and thoughtfully model and begin to live amongst one another, again.
Our High Holiday theme “American Wanderer,” borrows from the traditions of Thoreau and his recollection that the definition of “Saunter” is from the Middle Ages where pilgrims were regarded as “Sainte-Terrer: a saunterer, a Holy-Lander.” Our Holy Land of America is under crucible, and as the Mussar great Rabbi Israel Salanter reminds us, “we are free in fantasy, but limited in reality.” The high holidays are a time not to look at what we aspire to become, but what we actually are, and through this reckoning, we are transformed.
Our High Holiday ritual lab is a nine week journey beginning with the 9th of Av and extends throughout Elul. With daily prompts to become, turn and return, we aspire to reclaim the holy sparks using the greatest technology of spiritual transformation: The Jewish Holiday cycle.
We invite everyone in, reaching into the periphery and beyond. Our blessing is that all of us find our way to a new covenant and heal our country through healing ourselves. Indeed, there is much holy work to be done. Our High Holiday Ritual Lab 5781 amplifies the voice of an American Icon, and re-assignS her voice to reflect the wisdom of our matriarchs:
“The New New Colossus: Open Temple’s New Bubbe-osus”:
Not like the Brazen Giant of Greek fame,
but the Glowing Jewess of Biblical (and Matzoball) Power;
who washed ashore this land, sunset in her eyes,
a Mighty Young Woman, yet unknowing of her progeny,
as she was only 20 at the time.
BUBBE, we were to call her. From her thrifty hand
(she was to work at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory,
and escape the famed fire for a wedding fitting),
“I have no need for the finieries I fix,” she claimed
with silent lips. “Give me your pooped, your 'po',
Your BIPOC yearning to breathe free,"
one hundred plus years later, she summoned unto me,
From the grave, she spoke, like Fruma Sarah in a Dream:
"See these, the Homeless, that set up tents on your Street,
See these, the First Responders with blisters on their Feet,
See these, the Mourners who could not say goodbye,
and See these, the Masses, fearing that they will die;
for all that are before me, the courageous and less so,
time is indeed turning, and I implore you all to Go.
Go to Open Temple; a new dawn breaks through the sky
and asks for us to shatter the chimera of the “I”
A Soul Journey Awaits for Holy Wanderers to Journey within,
And Open Temple re-enchants Jewiness for these Seekers to Begin.
Open Temple High Holiday Ritual Lab 5781: Weaving a New Covenant
May we all harken to the call to Begin Again.
For more information on how to end 2020 early: