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