WOODLAND HILLS – How you respect and act toward other people is at the core of the spiritual examination that Jews will tackle next month during the holy days of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs, from Temple Kol Tikvah, said he first realized the importance of respect when he was just 9, and heard an adult use a racial slur against one of his friends as they played together outside his grandparents’ home in Boston. “The man said, ‘Get out of my way, you …’ I had never heard that word. This child I was playing with was just like me, to me. I was upset and shaken,” said Jacobs, who plans to retire next June as the senior rabbi at the Reform congregation. “I ran inside and told my father, who took off after the guy. My father came back and patted our heads. I don’t know what he said to the guy but I knew something was wrong with the world at the age of 9.” Although he grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family, Jacobs gravitated to Reform Judaism because the movement emphasized social justice. Reform Judaism had also begun to place an emphasis on what the Torah prophets had to say about how to treat people and that especially appealed to Jacobs. “What I hope people have learned from me is, don’t fear the people who are different from you or that the stranger can’t add to your life,” Jacobs said. “We can all grow and we can change. We can be more caring and less selfish and self-centered. That’s the most important thing.” Jacobs was ordained in 1967 at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. He moved to the San Fernando Valley in 1970 and was the senior rabbi for 14 years at Temple Judea in Tarzana. He has been at Temple Kol Tikvah, “the Voice of Hope,” since 1984. “He is absolutely obsessed with social justice. He has reached out to the non-Jewish religious community in a way that few rabbis have,” said longtime friend Rabbi Harold Schulweis from Valley Beth Shalom in Encino. “He has deep loyalty to his tradition and he wants to see that tradition respond to the needs of the world.” Jacobs has traveled the world for decades for causes he feels passionate about, including seeking shelter for Vietnamese “boat people,” marching for civil rights and going with a 1999 delegation, co-led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, to help obtain the release of three American soldiers who had been captured by Serb forces in Yugoslavia. “I admire him as a friend who has been a part of the struggle for, and promotes, peace and justice,” said Dr. Nazir Khaja from the Islamic Information Service in Los Angeles. “I admire his sensitivity to the issues and seeing other people’s pain. He is an exceptional rabbi who has a particular gift to bridge the gap between people of different faiths.” After his retirement, Jacobs plans to stay involved in activities at Temple Kol Tikvah, collaborating on a book with Khaja and working more closely with Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca’s Muslim American Homeland Security Congress. “What I’ve learned from him about Judaism is that although ritual is very important, it’s important to ‘pray with your feet,’ said Linda Abrams, Jacobs’ wife, a nurse practitioner. “The idea of getting out there and doing for those who need a voice, that’s really how Steven prays.” Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs will lead the 7 p.m. Shabbat service Friday and a Selichot service at 10 p.m. Oct. 1 at Temple Kol Tikvah, 20400 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills. Call (818) 348-0670 or see www.KolTikvah.org. Holly Andres, (818) 713-3708 [email protected] AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!