Rabbi Yonah and Rachel Bookstein have been working together building community for the past twenty years from Oxford to Jerusalem to Warsaw to Long Beach and now Los Angeles. In Pico Robertson since 2004, they serve as 21st century rabbi & rebbitzen: spiritual motivators, teachers, community organizers, career and relationship advisors, and Torah leaders to thousands of young adults.
Rebbitzen Rachel Bookstein, Co-Founder Pico Shul, is by all accounts one of the most inspiring Jewish female spiritual leaders in America. Her passion for Judaism is infectious, and she creates the ambiance, programming, and overseas the world-famous Shabbat hospitality at Pico Shul. Rachel is a graduate of UC Santa Cruz, and completed her MA in Jewish studies at Oxford University. She served as Director of Community Development in Poland, for The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation from 1998-2001. In Poland, Rachel inspired and educated a new generation of Polish Jewry. Together with her Rabbi Yonah, she founded the Warsaw Jewish Book Fair in 1998, now one of Poland’s largest cultural festivals, and a dozen other signature programs in Poland, England, and California. Rachel’s dedication to providing educational opportunities, and empowering women in former communist Eastern Europe, made her a leading Jewish figure in Polish Jewish rebirth. She is past Executive Director of Long Beach Hillel, considered one of the most innovative Hillel’s in America. In addition Pico Shul, Rebbitzen Rachel is program director for Shabbat Tent.
Rabbi Yonah Bookstein, the Deanna and Allen Alevy Rabbi at Pico Shul, is a unique 21st century spiritual motivator, teacher, community builder and activist, who inspires passion for Jewish life to Jews from all backgrounds, who will not let American Jewry wither away. A leading disciple of the late Chassidic leader Rabbi Chaskel Besser ZZ”L and a student of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach ZZ”L, Rabbi Yonah’s musical, joyful approach to prayer and Jewish life are legendary. He’s helped strengthen Jewish communities in more than a dozen countries. He served as Director of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation in Poland 1998-2001, which culminated ten years of dedication to the rebirth of Polish Jewry. He served as campus rabbi at Long Beach State and UC Irvine inspiring a renaissance for Jewish life on those campuses in the face of great anit-Israel hostility (2004-2009), and helped USC Hillel as a rabbinic fellow (2014-2016). Brought to LA by Cheston and Lara Mizel to work with Jewish young adults as rabbi for JConnectLA & Jewlicious, he organized hundreds of programs to inspire Jewish connections. The Forward called Rabbi Yonah one of the “game changers” in American Jewish Life. He was named a Jewish Community Hero by the Jewish Federations of North America, and one of the Top Ten Jews in Social Media by NJOP. Rabbi Yonah is the most followed congregational rabbi world-wide on Twitter and blogs regularly on HuffingtonPost and Jewish Journal. Rabbi Yonah is a graduate of Ohr Somayach Monsey, Darche Noam Shapells Yeshiva, Oxford University, Jagiellonian University, and The University of Oregon. In addition to his work with Pico Shul, Rabbi Yonah is director of Shabbat Tent.