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First Update

07/26/2023 12:46:44 PM


by Rebecca Shurz and Leonard Slutsky

As we wrap up our first month as co-presidents, we are pleased to share our first monthly update with the Kol Ami community. These emails are part of our commitment to open communication and participation. In that spirit, we welcome your feedback and suggestions to our Kol Ami email addresses: or
Board Retreat and First Meeting: We visited Kol Ami at the beginning of July for a half-day meeting with Rabbi Lutz and the temple staff to discuss transition and learn about needs for the upcoming year. We also hosted a board retreat to help onboard the new board members and conducted our first board meeting. Topics included planning for the high holidays, discussing membership retention and engagement, and establishing a set of committees. 
Congregational Meeting Follow-Up: Based on your feedback, Friday night Shabbat services during the month of August will take place at 7:05 pm for a one-month pilot. We hope to see you at Shabbat and are eager for your feedback. We are also developing a members-only login web page where you can access board meeting minutes and budget summary, and hope to share the link next month.
Get Involved with a Committee: The future of Kol Ami relies on members volunteering and helping in all aspects of the community. We are currently seeking volunteers, who are members in good standing, for several synagogue committees. This is a great way to get to know more Kol Ami people. If you are interested, please reach out to the associated contact: 
  • Programming Committee - Matt Adler (​​, Bill Weinberger (, or Yaffa Hughes (
    • Plan non-ritual programming throughout the year, such as social, community-building, and educational programs
  • Membership Committee - Dan Blatt (
    • Develop and implement strategies to recruit new members and retain existing ones
  • Tzedek Council - Alan Weisbart (
    • Plan tzedek programming through the year including social action and RAC-CA engagement
  • Ritual Committee - Marilyn Ader (
    • Collaborate with Interim Rabbi Lutz providing logistical support as he plans ritual observances such as Shabbat, High Holy Days, Chanukah, Passover, and other ritual observances throughout the year
  • Transition Committee - Neil Spears (
    • Support and engage the community through the transition year and develop plans to welcome new settled rabbi
Settled Rabbi Search Committee: A board priority is moving forward on the settled rabbi search. We have formed a search committee that represents a mix of perspectives and experiences within the congregation, including board and non-board members. It will soon engage with the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) placement services team and process. Fortunately, our congregation has experience with using this process for hiring Rabbi Levy and Interim Rabbi Lutz. Richard Bernard will chair the committee. We plan to share updates and opportunities for feedback and engagement throughout the search process. 
Thank you for reading our first update and we look forward to seeing you at shul!
Rebecca Shurz and Leonard Slutsky
About Us:
Rebecca Shurz (she/her): I arrived in Los Angeles, from London, in late 2015. In summer 2016 I realized I needed somewhere for Rosh Hashana and I came to Kol Ami after I saw the focus on social justice on the website and because I’d seen Kol Ami represented at Pride. I enjoyed the sermons and everyone I met was genuine and non-judgemental of me, as an outsider and someone in a mixed faith relationship; it felt like a special community. I started attending services, got involved in Tzedek Council and RAC-CA through that, then the Board. I’m honored to now be serving as co-president with Leonard. Outside Kol Ami, I’m a Tech Consultant, when I’m not doing that I walk the dogs, get to the farmer’s market and appreciate the So-Cal weather. 
Leonard Slutsky (he/him): After moving to Los Angeles from Connecticut in 2015, my boyfriend Evin Rolens and I had shul shopped for three years before learning about Kol Ami. We were so lucky to learn about this community that welcomes and celebrates the intersectionality of Jewish life, LGBTQ+ identities, and social justice. As a member, I have been an active participant and leader in The Open Yad Project (our 20s and 30s group). Before becoming co-president, I served one year on the board and one year on the executive committee. Outside of Kol Ami, you can find me catching a show at the Hollywood Bowl or Pantages, volunteering for The Trevor Project, or playing with my dog Chompers. I recently graduated with my Master of Public Administration from USC--Fight On!
Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyar 5784