Everyone knows it’s Jews for Jesus. And everyone knows it’s one of the best places to get a great cup of coffee in Westwood. It’s our newly renovated art gallery/coffee shop, just across the street from UCLA.
Isaac Brickner, who seems to love coffee almost as much as he loves Jesus, is part of our Los Angeles leadership team, as is Melissa Moskowitz, whose passion for art is well known throughout our ministry.
Our Los Angeles team has been headquartered in Westwood for decades, and has done various things to share our space and promote community. But the vision for the past several years has been to renovate and recreate the space with the intention of serving the neighborhood and building relationships within the community. With a whole lot of work, prayers, and help from friends like you, that dream has come true.
Isaac says, “What we’ve got here is a new point of connection with the community of Westwood. Since we opened the café on March 25, we’ve been written up in the LA Times, and we’ve also been featured in the UCLA school newspaper a couple of times. The articles are clear that it’s Jews for Jesus doing this café, which is great. A lot of people ask about us and we get to explain what our faith has to do with creating something really special in the neighborhood.
“So far, about 120 people come through on an average day. Some of our regulars are Jewish – one even offers new ideas for events every time he comes in. We change the art every month and have a reception for each new showing. So far we’ve seen an average attendance of 80 people at our receptions. These events are really sweet for the way they create a casual, nighttime environment to enjoy some snacks and have longer conversations. Several relationships that began with a conversation in the coffee shop have grown as we see the same people in the gallery.
“We’ve already had some holiday events; for Purim, we invited people right off the streets to join in improvisation games to act out the story of Esther. We also had a photo booth – and, of course, some snacks. For Shavuot (Pentecost) we invited students to study for their final exams and gave free coffee from 5 p.m. to midnight. We had a couple of hundred people come and we watched Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments. (Jewish tradition has it that Moses received the Law on Shavuot.) The students really appreciated it and one even wrote us a thank-you letter.
“The regulars are not limited to students. One Jewish woman has been coming in after her appointments at the medical center across the street. Her husband, also Jewish, became a Catholic and her brother is a Messianic Jew. We’ve had some gospel conversations with her, so please pray for her. And pray for many more good conversations as we love and serve the people of our community. We hope that people will come for the coffee and the art, and stay for the joy and purpose that comes from knowing Jesus.”
Where Faith and Art Meet by Melissa Moskowitz
Isaac is the coffee connoisseur, but when it comes to the gallery facet of our newly-renovated space, we wanted you to hear from Melissa.
Sometimes I sit in the café and look around at who’s doing what, especially who is looking at the art. This gallery is my passion, a space where conversations about life and faith can take place.
Recently, a fresh-looking face topped with long, curly hair greeted me as I was passing by her chair. I said, “You look like you’re finished with finals!” She replied, “Actually, I finished last semester and I’m just sitting here, enjoying the space.” I smiled, as I enjoy the space, too, every day.
Thankfully, the chair next to Michelle was free – a rarity! We began an easy dialogue about what she liked about the space, what her major was in school (art/art history), and how she felt about being in our space. It was such a pleasure to talk to Michelle! We set a time to continue our conversation.
The following week as we met over coffee (the best in Westwood), we discovered so many similarities between us that we both started laughing. Art history, food, Jewish family, photography, travel – we even have the same number of sisters. Sometimes you have such an immediate connection with someone that you just know it’s God.
Michelle made some helpful observations about the current gallery and also asked questions about Jews for Jesus and how I came to believe. I think that Michelle and I have only just begun to talk, and I look forward to developing the friendship.
This is what people can find when they walk through our doors – a place for beautiful art, very good coffee, and most important of all, meaningful conversations about Yeshua within an atmosphere of developing community.