Discovering the Temple Bat Yam |

Discovering the Temple Bat Yam

Amy Snelson
Amy Snelson
Contributed photo |

Moving from the land of no sky, Los Angeles, to Tahoe was a shock to the senses. A good shock, but a jolt nonetheless. I never could have imagined a place so gorgeous. And the cloud show-magnificent. But my husband, Gary and I felt something was missing — – friends. That is until we attended a service here at Temple Bat Yam. I couldn’t believe that here in South Lake Tahoe there was such a vibrant Jewish community.

Immediately I felt at home and knew I was about to meet my new best friends. For me to actually want to stay for service was a first. Even though I grew up in a Jewish family I never went to temple. But the openness and enthusiasm was contagious. The informality was particularly refreshing since I came from an urban culture where fashion rules. But at Temple Bat Yam, I met people from every walk of life. Some came in jeans, others wore sandals or a baseball cap.

I was even more impressed with the Rabbi and how service was conducted. After a friendly nosh (which I do very well by the way), the rabbi lured us in with his guitar and singing. At first I felt awkward with songs sung in Hebrew. But with the prayer books written in Hebrew and English and the rabbi’s guidance, I could actually follow along while learning what the lyrics meant. Plus there was no pressure to join in which I appreciated. The best part of the service was in that the theme of Tahoe – this awe inspiring environment, was central to his sermon. I learned that many of the Temple services are conducted outside. Maybe you’ve met our Rabbi, Evon Yakar, on the slopes, by the lake, or on one of the trails.

It’s been three years now and I’ve learned more about Judaism then I ever did in Los Angeles. I am especially excited about this holiday season, because now when I celebrate Chanukah and all the other upcoming celebrations, I know in greater detail the history and rich tradition of the Jewish faith.

I look forward each month in sharing my personal stories as I delve deeper into the Temple Bat Yam community and as I hope to make apparent, always with a smidgen of humor. So I leave you with this Jewish joke:

“A terrible thing just happened” says Jacob to a friend. “My daughter is getting married tomorrow and I promised a dowry of 5,000 rubles. Now half the dowry is missing.”

“So what?” replies his friend.” One usually pays half of the promised dowry.”

“That’s the half missing.”

Amy Snelson is a Temple Bat Yam congregant and a South Lake Tahoe resident.She can be reached at

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