2017 Thanksgiving Message from Rabbi Mel

I want to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving and hope that you, your families and loved ones are well and flourishing.  I have always viewed Thanksgiving as a very Jewish holiday since the theme of gratitude is such an integral part of our tradition. The very first thing that we do in the morning is recite the Modeh Ani prayer acknowledging the gift of life to our Creator, and then begin reciting blessings thanking G-d for all the gifts bestowed upon us that we often take for granted.
The simple act of walking, having clothes to put on, the ability to go to the bathroom and have our bodily functions working are all acknowledged and connect us to a soulful way of living, creating a connection to the awesome universe and all that we are connected to. Indeed, our tradition exhorts us to recite 100 blessings every day.
It is through the  mitzvoth that our consciousness grows, alerting us to the fact that we are more than our bodies, more than isolated human beings, but that we are souls within our bodies, and connected to the entire universe. Thus we express gratitude to our Creator for the gift of life, and our hearts become filled with kindness that we bestow upon others. SO indeed, in the Jewish way of life, everyday is a Thanksgiving, and this is an attitude that bring joy, and an expanded way of living, that enables us to have meaning and bestow kindness upon others.
At AJRCA this year we have much to be grateful for! In addition to our wonderful staff, alumni, Board Members, faculty and students who make everyday a celebration of joy, we have had an abundance of visitors passing through our corridors who want to attend our school. Our offering of online courses has appealed to a broader spectrum of the population and this bodes well for our future growth, and contribution to our society. We have been blessed with exciting ‘Lunch and Learns’ and other programs as well: including author Maggie Anton, Very Special Syrian Refugees, and a full day of a wonderful Chaplaincy Conference.  In the next few months we will be having a conference on Aging, a forum on Anti-Semitism, and a program celebrating the contributions of Sephardic Culture.
There is so much to be grateful for.
So I wish you a wonderful day of gratitude tomorrow, and may that spirit continue for all of us throughout the year, so that our positive energy makes a loving impact upon all those whom we encounter and thereby elevates our world to reach the level of beauty, justice and peace that we all hope and pray for.
Happy Thanksgiving,
Rabbi Mel

Return and Renew – A Message for Rosh Hashanah

A High Holy Day Message from AJRCA

Though this has been a very challenging year for many of us, we as Jews never give up the faith that the potential for renewal and bringing forth Light from the darkness is built into the creation. On Rosh Hashana there is always the stirring of a new illumination as the Sound of the Shofar awakens us from slumber and despair to the power innate in our souls to return to G-d, to rekindle the Great Light and to reignite the treasure of new life. (more…)


By: Rabbi Mel Gottlieb

Welcome to our new website!

As we begin our new year, returning to our home at UCLA Hillel, we have much to be grateful for. As I sit here the first day, I ponder the two contradictory maxims that keeps popping through my head, “You Can’t Go Home Again,” and the other, “All Life is a Return Home.” Yes, it is complicated, I am complicated, life is complicated; so what does all this mean to me, especially at this our season of Return and Renewal!