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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Eastside Jews put a new spin on old traditions

Eastside Jews celebrate Hanukkah at "Light up the Night" event.

There are several signs of a revival in Jewish life across the Eastside, from the ongoing renovation of the Breed Street Shul in Boyle Heights to a growing temple in Highland Park.   On Sunday, in another example of that revival, a new group called Eastside Jews will celebrate the Jewish holiday Lag BaOmer in Echo Park with a traditional bonfire and  an untraditional combination of comedians, music and “hair-removal” in a party named Massive B’Omber. The celebration reflects what the group’s website calls an “irreverent, upstart, non-denominational collective.” Up to 150 people have attended previous Eastside Jews events and the mailing list has quickly grown to about 500 strong, said Jill Soloway. Eastside Jews was founded last November after a group of  friends in Silver Lake and Echo Park “wanted to create new,  DIY ways of reinventing ritual and exploring culture,” Soloway said by email. “Even though LA has a large Jewish population, there’s very little organized Jewish life on the East Side.”

Events have included an alternative High Holidays ceremony along the Los Angeles River, a teaching on the rooftop of the Wi Spa in Koreatown and a Havdallah, a weekly ceremony marking the end of shabbat, at The Spice Station in Silver Lake.  All events are open to the public, Soloway said. “A fair amount of non-Jewish people come to our events as well as the vibe is pretty open.”



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  1. I am disappointed that this group wants to have a “traditional bonfire”. Personally I choke every time my neighbors have a barbecue and I’m sure this is bad for our already polluted environment. Why can’t you do it symbolically? Be creative. Draw flames on paper. But don’t pollute.

  2. Joan Kramer,

    Are you serious? Are you right in the head even, what?

    I need to assume you bring sarcasm to this table. Joan Kramer, you are cutting edge comedy!

  3. That comment reminds me of one Fourth of July holiday when my parents got overly scared and banned us from having sparklers, my favorite. Instead, we walked around the neighborhood with lighted incense. What a disappointment!

  4. How can I get in touch with you?

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