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Turning 50: My Community Honors Me

I turned 50 today. 5-0. The big half century.

In honor of this simcha, my Congregation Or Ami (Calabasas, CA)  sent out this letter to invite people to help celebrate my big birthday in a particularly meaningful way:

December 2013 | Kislev 5774  

Our beloved Rabbi Paul Kipnes turns the big 5-0 (yes, fifty) on December 23rd. Help us celebrate it in a way that will be inspiring and meaningful to him. Help us sustain the sacred work that he has made the center of his rabbinic life.

Rabbi Paul has not talked much about his birthday, so we asked his wife, Michelle, about how our Rabbi is planning to celebrate this milestone. Michelle noted that he has been surprisingly mellow about turning 50, saying that he feels happy and fulfilled in his life.

We wondered what we could do to help Rabbi Paul celebrate his half-century achievement. We know that next to his family (and his iPhone), it is Congregation Or Ami that truly brings him joy. The Jewish goodness that our synagogue brings into this world – deep Torah teaching, warm communal caring, meaningful social action work, and inspiring Jewish spirituality – goes a long way toward fulfilling the hopes and dreams that Rabbi Paul has made his life’s work.

Putting our heads together, we realized that no present would make Rabbi Paul feel more blessed on his 50th birthday than to know that we, the people whose lives he touches and guides spiritually, continue to partner with him to sustain the synagogue that he holds so dear.

Last June, Rabbi Paul and Michelle donated Or Ami $5,000 as their way of supporting the synagogue’s financial security.

Now, in honor of his 50th birthday, we are inviting the entire congregation to join together to donate $50,000 ($1,000 each for the 50 years) to support Congregation Or Ami. All the tzedakah will support Or Ami’s important work and groundbreaking programs.

Please think about all the incredibly meaningful ways that our Rabbi has touched our lives, guided our community, and ensured the continuation of our Jewish values.

Then join us in making a significant leadership gift, so that on December 23rd, we can present Rabbi Paul with the funds that will be an integral part of the synagogue’s future. You may donate online (www.orami.org/donate) or call Barbara Gordon at the synagogue (818-880-4880).

Rabbi Paul doesn’t want a car, vacation, or even a new iPhone for his birthday. But we know he will be thrilled that his congregation has stepped forward at year-end to preserve the financial security of our synagogue. 

We look forward to hearing from you soon. Wishing you a bright Chanukah and a healthy, joyful (secular) New Year.


President Hedi Gross
VP Heidi Friedman
Cantor Doug Cotler
Rabbi Julia Weisz

I think I’m going to have a whole bunch of thank you notes to write. I cannot wait!

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