Leadership and Leaders Can Take You Far Afield
About ten years ago, I was having my regular Indian lunch with Artie Isaac (WHP alum, Columbus 00), when he suggested that I come to a Torah study class being led by Danny Maseng, who was serving as artist-in-residence at Temple Israel in Columbus, Ohio. With the possible exception of some of my family members, no one before Danny and no one since has had such a meaningful impact on my appreciation for and study of Jewish history, Jewish texts and Jewish culture.
Ever since Danny moved to Los Angeles in 2009 to serve as a chazzan at a congregation, I have traveled from Columbus to California as often as I could to hear him and to study with him. Last year I worked with him to start a new type of Jewish community there and, in July 2015, Makom LA was created and has attracted many adherents in less than one year. This comes as no surprise to me, as Makom LA provides exactly what so many of us are looking for to connect with our Judaism and with others: its services and programs are filled with meaning, spirituality, beauty and sweetness. Makom LA has an extremely high rate of participation (this is not a community for twice-a-year worshipers), with a large portion of the membership regularly attending services and other events, each of us always finding a special experience through the words and music of Danny.
There are Los Angeles WHP alumni who know Danny from the many years he served as faculty for the Wexner Heritage Program. His musical compositions, some of which are sung in congregations worldwide, are so beautiful and moving that they go straight to one’s neshama.
Serving as president for this new community, even though I live far away, has added such special meaning to my life.
Jonathan Petuchowski, a Wexner Heritage alum (Columbus 11), currently serves as President of Makom LA, a post-denominational community in Los Angeles, focused on prayer, study, music, the arts and conversation. Although he lives in Columbus, Ohio, he helped to found Makom LA in 2015, and it serves as his primary Jewish community. Jonathan is also president of a 96-year-old family paint business and is married to Dr. Leslie Yenkin. Jonathan can be reached at email@example.com.