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Barack Mandela
Former Attorney, Military Veteran, and Philosopher

Tribute to Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills

I first converted to Judaism at Temple Beth Israel-Judea in San Francisco with Rabbi Herbert Morris during my second year of law school. I then converted to Orthodox Judaism at the Rabbinical Court of Los Angeles with Rabbi Abner Weiss.

When I joined the Jewish faith, I experienced a powerful inspiration in Jewish prayers such as the “Aleinu”, “Kaddish”, “Shmoneh Esreh”, and “Shma”. My innocent heart was filled with grace during the “Shabbat” (Sabbath) when I felt a strong connection to the God of Israel.

My heart soared like a hawk. My spirit danced with heavenly angels. My Jewish soul was born of a pure and timeless connection to the divine Creator of everything. I was drenched in a symbolic waterfall of spirituality and holy energy.

However, in early 2020, during the early days of COVID-19, I began to feel isolated, alone, and spiritually stagnant. Due to fears of the virus, I remained isolated at home rather than engaging with the larger community. I literally felt ‘cut off’ from the rest of humanity.

Then, one day while I was on YouTube, I watched a Shabbat broadcast of Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills in Beverly Hills, California.

Cantor Lizzie Weiss, who has a powerful voice like Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland, Beyonce, and Adele, was chanting the “Aleinu” prayer.

At that moment, I felt as though a divine choir of holy spirits were singing prayers and blessings that uplift my soul and fortify my spirit. Cantor Weiss’ voice caused my inner self to awaken from the loneliness and isolation of social distancing.

While viewing on YouTube, I watched the senior rabbi of Temple Emanuel, Rabbi Jonathan Aaron, deliver a powerful sermon about Jewish unity and the unity of all humanity. Rabbi Aaron’s message was clear: We are all connected as a human family.

For over two years, I have been viewing Shabbat services at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills on YouTube. Although I have never visited the synagogue in-person, I feel like a “spiritual member” of this compassionate, caring congregation of friendly souls.

My experiences viewing Temple Emanuel inspired this poem titled: “The Spirit of Temple Emanuel”:

As we journey with God
Like a boat we sail
Inspired by the Spirit of Temple Emanuel

Cantor Lizzie Weiss sings our holy song
Reminding us all that we belong

Rabbi Aaron’s message sets us free
As we come together as one, united humanity

God is true
God is real
Blessings to Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills

The End

About the Author
Licensed Attorney. I earned a Doctor of Law at the University of California, College of the Law, San Francisco (Hastings) (1997). I earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Riverside (1994). I was an international student at the University of Costa Rica Faculty of Law (1991-1992) and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Law (Summer 1996). I am a military veteran of the United States Air Force, United States Army, and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). I am a laureate of the National Defense Service Medal from the Pentagon (2006). I am a financial donor to following: Harvard Law, Yale Law, Stanford Law, Berkeley Law, UC Hastings College of the Law, UC Davis Law, Columbine High School, Choate Rosemary Hall, Phillips Exeter Academy, Sidwell Friends School, Viewpoint School, Beverly Hills High School, Eton College in the United Kingdom, Special Olympics, Children's Defense Fund, Obama Foundation, Clinton Foundation, Barbra Streisand Foundation, Princeton University, Florida A&M, Howard University, Spelman College, Morehouse College, and the British Red Cross. I am former special assistant and staff attorney to Governor Pete Wilson of California. I was public affairs assistant to US Senator Barbara Boxer and Mayor Ehud Olmert of Jerusalem and Jerusalem spokesperson Haggai Elias. I am a member of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, and I am a member of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
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