Our Renewal


In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, support from individuals and organizations poured in from all over the world, helping to sustain our congregation during its recovery and eventual rebirth. In particular, a relatively unorthodox partnership with the Reform Congregation Gates of Prayer energized our renewal and shaped a heartwarming story that serves as a model for how communities come together in the face of disaster. Read the full story here.

Below is a timeline that outlines Beth Israel’s renewal since Katrina, as well as further details on the relatively unorthodox partnership that has shaped our present story.

August 27, 2006 – Inspired by the Bat Mitzvah project of young Haley Fields, the Los Angeles Jewish community gifts a Torah to Beth Israel on the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. We would receive four more Torahs within a year. Click here to learn more about our Torahs.

September 26, 2006 – Beth Israel conducts first High Holiday services in the Bart Community Room of Congregation Gates of Prayer. Beth Israel is now meeting weekly in this space.

July 15, 2007 – Rabbi Uri and Dahlia Topolosky, and their children, arrive as the new Rabbinic Family for Beth Israel. Rabbi Uri is formally installed on October 28, 2007.

November 2007 – Beth Israel opens its first office since Katrina – inside Gates of Prayer, formally changing its business address to 4000 West Esplanade Ave.

April 6, 2008 – The Orthodox Union presents a final gift of $235,000 at their Annual Gala Dinner to Beth Israel as part of funds raised by the Rabbinical Council of America, Yeshiva University, and the OU in a joint online fundraising campaign in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Beth Israel received more than $400,000 dollars from this campaign, in addition to other support from these organizations.

June 1, 2008 – Beth Israel hires Rabbi David Posternock as its administrator.

August 31, 2008 – Dedication planned to unveil headstones for buried Torahs and books. Ironically, the dedication was postponed due to a mandatory evacuation for Hurricane Gustav.

August 30, 2009 – Beth Israel and Gates of Prayer celebrate their unique partnership with speeches from representatives of the Orthodox Union and the Union of Reform Judaism. Beth Israel reveals its “FUTURE HOME” sign.

December 20, 2009 – Gala Brunch honoring Jackie Gothard and announcing Capital Campaign for the new synagogue.

December 30, 2009 – Beth Israel signs formal agreement to purchase land from Congregation Gates of Prayer for the site of its new synagogue.

April 18, 2010 – Groundbreaking ceremony for Beth Israel’s new synagogue alongside Congregation Gates of Prayer, signaling the next step forward in a remarkable relationship between our two synagogues – one Reform and the other Orthodox, and more importantly, setting the stage for Beth Israel’s future home.