Devorah Talia Gordon
Over the past thirty years, the Torah community in the West Valley has blossomed steadily. It now can boast everything other communities have, including schools, shuls, kosher bakeries, butchers, and mikva’os. Although the community has experienced tremendous growth, up until two or three months ago, it lacked an eruv.
For the past seven years, Makor HaChaim, under the leadership of Rabbi and Mrs. Dovid Horowitz, has been progressively growing to fit the needs of the burgeoning community. “Now that the eruv is up, we are suddenly ‘on the map’ in ways that we weren’t before,” Rabbi Horowitz says.
Rabbi Horowitz, a native of L.A. who learned in kollel at Ner Yisroel in Baltimore for many years, founded the shul when he felt there was a need for a place for those growing in their yiddishkeit. “People were looking for a place to elevate their learning, and baruch Hashem, we took off in that area. We have been aware that we need to build up a foundation of younger families, and we are now an option for younger families.”
Now families from as far as New York and Virginia, looking to move to L.A., are seriously considering the West Valley. In addition to the eruv, the West Valley has affordable housing, with condos and homes in nice neighborhoods. Young families that haven’t been able to get out of their apartments in the city have been moving in more regularly. “People are not missing out on anything to move to Tarzana,” Horowitz explains, “in fact, there is a lot to gain. There is achdus and chessed, with people going out of their way for each other. We have something unique to offer. You can become a pillar and contributor to the community, and give in many ways.”
To show this to people who might be interested in joining their community, Makor HaChaim held a shabbaton on Shabbas Parashas Vayakhel, March 4-5. The shul hosted a large Shabbos day meal in a private backyard setting for 130 people. More than 10 families from outside the West Valley joined current synagogue members. Over Shabbos, Rebbee Hill spoke to children, men, and women. He was “dynamite,” according to attendees.
The shul was also well-received by the newcomers. “They were extremely impressed by the sincerity and warmth of the kehilla,” says Rabbi Horowitz, who emphasizes that one draw is Makor HaChaim’s diverse membership, from non-religious to modern to yeshivish, all coexisting under one roof. “There’s a lot of respect [and] understanding of one another that allows this group that seemingly is not homogeneous to exist together as one. We wanted to invite people into what we feel is a warm, open, and sincere community.”
The growing kehilla, with about fifty men, plus women, davening on Shabbos, is bursting at the seams and looks forward to expanding. There is learning every night of the week, and Sunday during the day, at various levels, including shiurim on Chumash, special classes for women on shalom bayis, learning and activities for younger kids. “We are trying to cover the spectrum of the community, and offer different classes that will speak to them, give them a deeper connection to Torah,” Rabbi Horowitz says.