Yesterday’s episode of “Church Rescue” brought the Church Hoppers; Rev. Kev, Gladamere and Doc to wild and crazy Venice Beach, Calif. to help out a synagogue called the Pacific Jewish Center, better known as Shul on the Beach, that is in ill repair and lacks a future because of its elderly congregation. Although the reverends are Christian, they have the ultimate respect for the Jewish faith, which is the basis of Christianity.
The Orthodox Jewish community does not worship on Sunday, but starting Friday afternoon, at sundown the Jewish community goes into a time of rest and they are prohibited from using any kind of modern technology. Rabbi Eliyahu Fink is the young rabbi of this aging congregation. Inside a synagogue, men must wear a head covering to symbolize that God is always above you, so the three men wear yarmulkes as do all the rest of the men, who are separated by a wall from the women to protect the modesty of the women and to eliminate any impure thoughts during the service.
What Gladamere noticed most was the respect they had for the written word of God. Their Torah is an ancient scroll containing the first five books of the Old Testament. As the young rabbi preached his sermon, he stood out as so much younger than the rest of the congregation. He called upon the Church Hoppers to help him revitalize his congregation with younger blood. After the service, they hang around and drink wine and enjoy each other’s company, the guys like the idea and Rabbi Fink tells them if they want to steal the idea, they have his blessing.
He offers to give a tour of the place to Rev. Kev and Gladamere, while Doc meets with the people to get their opinions. He is proud of the exterior with modern colors, as they enter the building, they find Rabbi Fink’s two children playing in the large kids’ room. It is a mess, with a closet that is practically useless with toys all over the place as they learn that this is what it always looks like.
While Doc spoke with the congregants, he found out that they all know the Shul needs younger blood, and they look to the rabbi to do something about it. Inside the place is in ill repair and valued books have been ruined because of leaky ceilings.
When they asked him what he was doing to entice young Jews to his congregation; he answered not enough because the Shul is only open five hours a week and a bit more during Jewish holidays.
The rabbi confessed that because the congregation was elderly, he hesitates to ask those who helped twenty years ago to restore the place, to donate again. The guys notice that it is a lack of confidence to lead his congregation on the rabbi’s part. Now the rabbi feels that it may have been a mistake bringing church people there.
When the guys met at lunch, they compared notes and found that the young rabbi was brought there specifically to appeal to younger Jews. They decided to take the three most important things to focus on; fixing the interior to make it look more appealing, including the children’s room, then Rabbi Fink has to connect with the culture of Venice Beach and lastly, the rabbi has to gain confidence to let people know who he is.
When they sat with the rabbi to offer their help, he told them that they did not understand the Jewish way of thinking about bringing new people into the congregation, and it was a bad idea to get Christians involved. When they explained their way of thinking, he started to get it, and understood where they were coming from. Once they got the keys from him, he was sent out to meet the people. Doc took him to meet with professional surfer, Izzy Paskowitz down on the beach and let the rabbi take his first ever dip in the Pacific Ocean, and Izzy gave him a surfing lesson.
While out on the boardwalk, Rabbi Fink got to meet, Naomi and Amir, who are the co-founders of Jewcer.com, a young professional networking website. They will be sponsoring an event at the Shul on Sunday and will provide the people. As they went along the boardwalk, they met more people who never even knew about the Shul.
When the rabbi saw the inside of the Shul, he was astounded. Now it is a home, not a disaster. The playroom was beautiful, and the boys loved it. The main event was minutes away, and the rabbi was frightened that if it was a failure, the onus would be on him. Then he found out that the guys brought in international recording artist, Matisyahu, who brought the house down. Now the rabbi has no doubt that he did the right thing. Thanks to the Church Hoppers; Rev. Kev, Gladamere and Doc, his congregation is growing and not destined to die off.
Three months later, the Shul on the Beach has continued its outreach to the community by holding monthly events and younger families have joined the congregation. Rabbi Fink is also now a surfer-dude and hits the waves whenever he can.
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