Category Archives: News

No Room for Natives

jessicaMy husband and I were both born and raised in Venice, and we can no longer afford to live here. It breaks my heart when I tell this to people, but we’re not alone. The people we say this to all know someone — a daughter, a friend or coworker — priced out of Venice just like us.

Forty years ago, Venice was considered undesirable. Before GQ called it “the coolest block in America,” Abbot Kinney was known as West Washington Boulevard, with only one restaurant and a string of vacant storefronts.

Venice was riddled with drugs and gang violence. As a kid I used to think people were yelling “quack” at us as we drove down Brooks Avenue. I witnessed a drive-by shooting when I was a senior at Venice High School.

My dad and stepmom handed down a love of Venice to me. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

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Creative Judaism

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Rabbi Lori. Photo by Edizen Stowell/venicepaparazzi.com

Disco dancing down Abbot Kinney Boulevard with headphones for Simchat Torah. Reading text from rabbis about human sexuality as essential herbal essences waft in the air at Scent-ual Havdalah. Biking through 100 Years of Jewish Venice on an Electric Light Bike Shabbat.

This is Open Temple.

“I always say the core values of Open Temple are truth, creativity and love,” says Rabbi Lori Shapiro, who created Open Temple four years ago. “People that stick with us are on that journey. They are people seeking love, creativity and truth. It creates a strong core. I see that happening. It’s beautiful and fascinating.”

Open Temple is having a breakout year, according to Shapiro. It now has a home — Open Temple House on Electric Avenue — and is receiving national attention: a three-year commitment from The UpStart Accelerator and recognition in the current Los Angeles edition of the Slingshot Guide, which highlights the most innovative Jewish organizations in America.

“What began as one woman standing at the Abbot Kinney Fest collecting names is now a powerful dynamic reverberating throughout the Jewish world, locally, nationally and internationally,” says Shapiro. “It’s its own thing — bigger than me.”

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Mar Vista’s Christmas House

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Photos by Mia Duncans

Sitting comfortably one Saturday afternoon in mid-December in his Mar Vista home, David Gusman doesn’t look like Santa Claus. But in a few hours, that’s exactly who he’ll be representin’ — as he told one nine-year-old boy who questioned his authenticity.

That was obviously the right thing to say, because the tough kid revealed to “Santa” what he wanted for Christmas, and his mom, who was standing to his side, gave Gusman a big thumbs up.

Each December for the past four years, hundreds of kids have marched through Gusman’s front gate on Federal Avenue to sit on his lap, tell Santa what they want for Christmas (some even hand him a letter) and receive a gift: a candy cane, pencil and eraser. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.