Spending Shabbat in Beverly Hills
When traveling, it’s enjoyable to encounter different Jewish communities and synagogues. I spent this past Shabbat in Beverly Hills, California, and it was no different.
A client put me up at the famed Beverly Hills Hotel, which has been the target of a quasi-boycott from Hollywood because its owner, the sultan of Brunei, implemented anti-gay Sharia law in his country. Cleary, the Beverly Hills Jewish Community Synagogue — which maintains a shul on the premises — didn’t get the “do not visit” memo.
This Orthodox synagogue is a warm, nice and welcoming community. In the Sunset Ballroom, which is just off the hotel’s main lobby and has a panoramic view of the city and the sunset on Friday night, one heard a joyous “Lecha Dodi” being sung. On Saturday morning, one couldn’t miss Jewish kids running through the lobby, strollers all over the place, and more than 100 people davening in the heart of one of the most luxurious hotels in the world.
Of course, being Beverly Hills, it is inevitable that there are moguls. We saw Mitch Julis, one of the most successful hedge-fund managers in the world, give a spirited presentation on Brexit and its impact on the economy, and on the Jewish community.
The congregation is a mix of Ashkenazi and Sephardic, young and old. The Kiddush had a requisite mix of pastrami, sushi, and vegetables for the fashionable, upscale crowd; the hotel has an expensive private kosher kitchen.
Rabbi Yossi Cunin leads the synagogue, and it’s clear — despite the fact that the owner of the hotel doesn’t recognize the state of Israel — that this shul is very comfortable and very welcome. The many longtime Beverly Hills residents who attend services there are proof positive that at one of the world’s most iconic and best known hotels, Am Israel Chai (the Jewish people live).
Special thanks to my good friends of 25 years, Tammy and Roey Urman, who made me very welcome at their home and the shul. The Beverly Hills Jewish Community Synagogue deserves even more success.