Important message about Or Ami Clergy and Staff – December 10, 2020

Dear Or Ami Community,

As the lights of Chanukah bring warmth and hope into a darkened world, we pause to care for our synagogue, clergy and staff.

Having guided and supported our congregation through the unimaginably challenging nine months of quarantine, our clergy and staff will be taking much deserved and needed time off, to refresh and rejuvenate. To effectuate this, beginning December 14th through January 4th, we will be slowing down our synagogue operations. Our clergy will either fulfill or reschedule previously planned meetings and events.

We also wanted you to know that Rabbi Paul’s mother Linda Kipnes is receiving hospice palliative care on the East Coast. As she has begun her journey from this life, we are giving Rabbi Paul the space to just be in this moment. When Linda dies, we will share with you the information on the expected Zoom memorial service, and other ways we can be supportive of the Kipnes/November family.

Rabbi Shawna Brynjegard-Bialik will provide pastoral and lifecycle support, as she has done so compassionately for Or Ami at other times in the past years. In case of need or emergency, Rabbi Shawna can be reached at 818-398-7270 and

During this time off we have instructed our clergy not to be checking email or answering texts or phones. Andrew Fromer will also be off, so there will be a reduction in our congregant e-blasts. Our office staff has created a schedule to ensure that the office is covered but that they each receive needed away time.

We all agree that our clergy and staff have been an inspiration. Through beautiful High Holy Day services, four fabulous holiday drive thru experiences, engaging online youth programs, inspiring Shabbat services, continued social justice work, and personalized pastoral care, our amazing synagogue Dream Team has exhibited our highest values of Henaynu (being there) for us. It is now time for us to give them the space to focus on their families and themselves.

Of course, with Rabbi Shawna’s help, Or Ami will continue to be there for you.

Please don’t hesitate to call either of us, or Rabbi Shawna, if you have questions or we can be helpful.

Chag Chanukah Sameiach – Happy Chanukah! Wishing you a Chanukah filled with light and love, health and hope, warmth and wonder.


Lesli Kraut, President (
Susie Gruber, Henaynu Caring Chair (