Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Forward 50 2012

Sharon Brous

In 2004, when Rabbi Sharon Brous launched IKAR as a unique spiritual community within the sprawling landscape of conventional Los Angeles Jewry, she was hailed as a bold and charismatic leader who maybe had figured out how to attract and hold younger, unaffiliated Jews. But there was no telling whether her experiment, like so many others, would crumble under the weight of its lofty intentions.

Now, eight years later, IKAR is thriving so profoundly that its leaders are planning to build what they call “a living laboratory for 21st-century Jewish life” — a center that will include sacred space, an art studio, a music lab, a library and a café with kosher, organic food. Brous, 38, is in demand as a speaker across the country, and IKAR’s equally charismatic hazzan, Hillel Tigay, has just released another album inspired by the unique weekly service he and Brous lead before hundreds of rapt congregants.

The nondenominational synagogue mixes traditional text study with a singular blend of spiritual preaching and a heightened awareness of broad political and social issues. As it planned its own nursery school, IKAR partnered with Jewish Heart for Africa to raise funds for

an Israeli-made solar power system for a school in a small Ugandan village. The lights went on in August. “Some of what we have learned over the past decade is that for new Jewish communal efforts to be successful, we have to be willing to go out — both physically and spiritually — to meet people where they are,” Brous wrote recently in Sh’ma. She is practicing what she preaches.

A message from our editor-in-chief Jodi Rudoren

We're building on 127 years of independent journalism to help you develop deeper connections to what it means to be Jewish today.

With so much at stake for the Jewish people right now — war, rising antisemitism, a high-stakes U.S. presidential election — American Jews depend on the Forward's perspective, integrity and courage.

—  Jodi Rudoren, Editor-in-Chief 

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.