Temple Adat Elohim
You are here:Home > About Us > Our History > The 2000s

Temple Adat Elohim History - The 2000s

2001 - 2004

As the year 2001 rolled around, Temple Adat Elohim hit its full stride. For years the temple had been held back by its lack of space, its lack of a fully functional sanctuary and social hall. With that need met the temple could begin to concentrate on internal matters.
Rabbi Greenbaum, "The most difficult role to fill was one that had not existed in earlier years: administrator. I think that because it was a new position, we did not know fully what to look for in the candidates. The result was tumultuous. We hired and fired so many people! Each had wonderful strengths but all failed to fully gain the confidence and secure the support of the board. When I look at the temple today, it seems that this cycle has ended and that the current executive director, Aliza Goland, has all the attributes to administratively carry the congregation into the future."
By the year end of the year 2001, temple membership reached 750 families. Our High Holiday services were so large that an early service and a late service were organized in order to accommodate the entire congregation. Both services were packed. By then however, the explosion of the real estate market started to slow that growth. The high price of the housing market in the Conejo Valley made it difficult for new families to move into the area. This resulted in a bit of a plateau in the membership of Temple Adat Elohim, which of course translated into, once again, tough economic times. As always though we got through it.
Temple members visit our ambulances in Israel One major highlight of this time period occurred in the year 2002. Rabbi Greenbaum used his High Holy Days Appeal to ask for funds to purchase one ambulance for the Israeli Mogen David. At that time, Israel was besieged by terrorist bombings so ambulances were in critical demand. The response of the congregation was incredible. So much money was raised that we were able to purchase two ambulances. These vehicles went into service emblazoned with the words” donated by the congregation of Temple Adat Elohim, Thousand Oaks, CA." It was a very proud moment for everyone involved. Later that winter, a contingent of temple members traveled to Israel with Rabbi Greenbaum and was able to visit the ambulances in Tel Aviv.
We walk for Darfur, we support Jewish World Watch And so the river flowed. We had our beautiful sanctuary. A large and active congregation that was involved not only with religious matters, but also played an active role in providing social services for those less fortunate in the Conejo Valley regardless of their religion. "Manna" food drives, Habitat for Humanity, walking for Darfur, a homeless shelter were just a few of the activities that temple members participated in. All was good, all was peaceful amidst an atmosphere of stability; so much so that this seems to be the best place to drop in a couple of interesting side bars.
There are many activities that have become an integral part of temple life. Would love to take moment in this history to digress from the main body of historical temple events to take a look at a couple of Temple Adat Elohim institutions.
I remember when I first heard the rumor that Rabbi Greenbaum was going to step down. It was a feeling of incredulity. No way, we all thought. We all expected Rabbi Greenbaum to be therefore our grandchildren’s bar/bat mitzvahs. Then the rumor was confirmed and I remember the shock and feeling of uncertainty. How will this change the temple’s dynamic?


Rabbi Greenbaum's official portraitThis occurred during the presidency of Gloria Meyerson. She had to face the difficult task of handling this great transition. Fortunately, she rose to the task and handled these events with grace and calm.
Rabbi Dubowe..."Of course I was saddened to hear of Rabbi Greenbaum's decision to leave the congregation however I fully respect and admire his decision. He was a wonderful mentor for me and I greatly appreciate the seven years that we had together at TAE."
And so for the first time in 21 years a search committee had to be formed. Led by Karen Persichetti and Larry Levine, résumés were received and interviews were conducted. It should be noted that Larry Levine, past president, was on the search committee that brought Rabbi Greenbaum to our temple. When all was said and done the decision was made to hire a young rabbi named Ted Riter, who had been serving the Jewish community of San Diego’s north county at Temple Solel in Encinitas.
the kippah is passed In the words of Rabbi Ted Riter, "When Rabbi Greenbaum announced his departure, the lay leadership recognized that after more than two decades of stable leadership, they held the responsibility of ensuring a smooth transition. With Rabbi Greenbaum’s encouragement, congregants and the congregation itself began a process of evaluating their own needs so that they could find the appropriate successor, knowing that they would never truly find a replacement for their rabbi and friend. After months of focus groups and institutional introspection, the synagogue called for a senior rabbi who would lead the community into the future. Specifically, the congregation sought to bring in a rabbi who would have the energy, foresight and ability to set a new common direction for the synagogue, inspire new programming, and help the synagogue adapt to the modern Reform Movement.
In 2005, I answered the call from TAE and accepted the position as senior rabbi. I recognized immediately that I had enormous shoes to fill both in terms of the space left by Rabbi Greenbaum and the many and varied interests of the congregants. My hope, upon beginning my tenure, was to move slowly and learn more about the community. In the first year, Corey and I had a calendar full of "meet-the-rabbi and rebbitzen" events. We visited with one to three havurot each weekend, met with all of the auxiliaries, and generally tried to be everywhere. However, we found that the common adage to "make haste slowly" was not achievable. On the one hand, there was a great excitement within the synagogue to see significant changes and we did not want to lose this momentum. Adding to this was the urgent need to bring cohesiveness to the various interests of the synagogue, structure to the ritual practices and a higher level of sophistication to the governance and administration of the synagogue. On the other hand, there were those still mourning the departure of Rabbi Greenbaum and the synagogue they once knew before the great growth of the 90s.
On June 25, 2005, the congregation gathered one last time to say good-bye to Rabbi Greenbaum. Our daughter Esther was getting married the Sunday of that same weekend and Rabbi Greenbaum was there to perform the ceremony. This was actually his last official act for Temple Adat Elohim. We said good-bye amidst the mazel tovs and appetizers, but you never really say good-bye to someone who has meant so much to you and your family. Rabbi Greenbaum will forever be in our family’s thoughts as well, I am sure, in the thoughts of all of us at Temple Adat Elohim whose lives he touched.

2007 - 2008

July of 2006, there was yet another major change as Cantor Peter Halpern left and was replaced by Cantor David Shukiar, who as I mentioned had served previously as choir director.
Cantor SchukiarKen Bock was congregation president at this time and recalls the events that led to Cantor David’s hiring. A little back-story ... "When it became clear that Cantor Halpern was not going to be staying, it occurred to me that yet another search committee would need to be formed. Timing was important and I did not know how everything was going to fall into place. I called Cantor Shukiar who I had not spoken to in five years and asked him to lunch. At Mimi’s Café in Thousand Oaks, we picked up where we had left off. The more we talked, the better I felt about asking him if he was happy at his current temple. David said he was and in fact was in negotiation for a long term contract there. I suggested that he put off making a decision as long as possible and we would be in touch. As it turned out, a search committee was needed and Cantor Shukiar threw his kippa in the ring with many other candidates from around the world. Who wouldn’t want to live in Thousand Oaks, CA! At the end of the day, the committee led by Neil Federman and Ken Elman with more than 20 volunteers decided that Cantor Shukiar was the best fit for our temple. They got it right.” Cantor Shukiar describes his return and has some interesting thoughts on the future... "In July 2006, I stepped into my role as cantor of Temple Adat Elohim. A dream come true for me, I walked into my new office flooded with the memories of my years here before. When I walked into the Sanctuary I was overwhelmed with memories of the warmth created during our services. I truly was at home again.” My goals were simple. I wanted to take the rich musical tradition of Temple Adat Elohim and help to create a sound and style that is uniquely ours. I wanted the music of Temple Adat Elohim to reflect the warmth of the community, to allow each person to experience a deeper, personal connection to our liturgy through our music. I wanted people to become active participants, singing and praying with me rather then listening to me pray for them. I believe the true strength of a community comes from doing things together. We had some work to do, as the Adult Choir had decreased in size down to about 8 singers and the junior choir was no longer active.
"During the past two years we have worked hard to strengthen our musical voice. We combined the Band of Milk and Honey and Adult Choir to facilitate one musical Shabbat service each month that truly has elevated our spiritual experience. We hired Dr. Raymond Egan as our newest choir director, and he has brought his selfless love of music and high level of expertise to our community. The choir has grown to more than 25 singers; more than tripling the number we started with 2 short years ago. The band has begun to play during our High Holy Days experiences, joining forces with our choir to bring a new and deeper meaning to the music of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We started Shirei Elohim, our junior choir and now enjoy 30children singing and helping our community to pray during our Family Shabbat Services. We have even started a teen band, which will one day be a monthly fixture a tour Family Shabbat Services. We have brought in Kirtan, ancient Indian chanting, to our worship experiences and have formed Kirtan Elohim, our musical ensemble that helps to facilitate chant and meditation. We have introduced more than 100 new pieces of music that are unique to Adat Elohim, each arranged and composed to suit our choir, band and community, each with the sound and style that has now begun to define our music.
Cantor Shukiar rocks out at camp"What will people be saying 40 years from now? I hope that we will continue to evolve as a community and that our music and worship will evolve to continue to serve the needs of our congregation. I hope that people will feel like they can safely pray for themselves, singing and dancing with the various choirs, bands and ensembles to help them find that deeper meaning in their worship. I hope that the Temple Adat Elohim sound continues to develop, sustaining our unique and special voice among the community. I hope that our choirs once again outgrow the "new choir areas" that we find for them. I hope that we continue to mix the traditional sounds of our history with the contemporary sounds that allow everyone to find music that speaks to him or her. It is an honor for me to be a part of this new and exciting voice. It is an honor for me to take my place among the rich musical tradition of Temple Adat Elohim. I look forward to creating the history of our future together."
This pretty much brings us up to date as of June 1, 2008. At this point I will turn our history over to Rabbi Ted Riter. With 40 years of history and tradition to draw upon, Rabbi Riter has a wonderful perspective on both where we came from and where we are going. My fondest wish is that future generations always treasure these wonderful memories.
Mitzvah Day is for everyoneIn the words of Rabbi Ted Riter, "Transformation, rather than change, has been the theme for these first three years. Our religious services are alive with song and celebration as we embrace new melodies and liturgy, styles of worship and a new prayer book (MishkanT’filah). Rituals are more in line with the modern Reform Movement and there is consistency in our practice.
"Clergy involvement has greatly increased with a strong presence in our ECC, Religious School, auxiliaries, committees and even administration. Our ECC and Mishpaha parents’ group are thriving. Our social action program has evolved to be a model for other synagogues.
Our bookkeeping and administration are running smoothly and efficiently. And, our professional staff is functioning as a unified team.
"In 2006, we began providing Synaplex Shabbat for the synagogue. Synaplex is a nation-wide initiative from STAR (Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal), which has helped us understand and present Shabbat in a whole new way. On Synaplex evenings we may conduct a traditional Friday night service, but we also provide a multitude of other worship, study and social opportunities. These Synaplex evenings, have been well received and draw in congregants and unaffiliated Jews by the hundreds.
"2007-2008 have also been important years for planning for our future. The synagogue has engaged a group of congregants under the banner of Kadima, a long range planning task force, to help us focus on our journey ahead. Through surveys, focus groups and intense study of our community, the Kadima task force is crafting a new mission and vision for the synagogue and guiding us in steps to reach our new goals.
"In 2007, we were chosen as one of seven congregations in the greater LA area to participate in the Re-Imagine program. Re-Imagine starts with the recognition that our educational system is based upon a model that is now 100 years old and may no longer serve our needs. A group of two-dozen TAE congregants and staff are "re-imagining" our educational program from the ground up. This 18 month guided exercise will transform how we educate our children, how we involve entire families in the educational process and how we see ourselves as a congregation of life-long learners.
"With all of our success in proceeding with our transformation, we cannot ignore the fact that in the years 2005-2007, our community painfully said goodbye to five past presidents of TAE :Lawrence Schulner, Marilyn Rosenthal, Bernard Benesch, Zelda Finestone, and Edwin Pauley. These were the first presidents in the history of TAE to pass away and their deaths are still felt in our synagogue.

2007 - 40th Anniversay

"As we celebrate our 40th year, we stand at a pivotal time for our congregation. We are no longer the nascent congregation that sprung from humble beginnings. We are no longer a small community in the suburban hinterland. Instead, today we are a major player in the Los Angeles Jewish community. Our acclaimed Early Childhood Center is the home to more award-winning teachers than any other in the greater LA area. Our Religious School is one of seven elite schools participating in a groundbreaking educational revolution. We are recognized for our social action activities and awarded for our outreach programs. We are lauded for our groundbreaking work with Kadima.
It is with great pride that I serve TAE as the Senior Rabbi at this important time in our community’s history. Together, we honor our past and those who paved the way for us. Together, we commit ourselves to meeting the challenges and needs of today and tomorrow. Together, we embrace our future."
This begins the effort to tell the story of Temple Adat-Elohim. Of course the river keeps on flowing on and on into the future. It is my hope that this document will not only preserved, but also added to from time to time.
My fondest wish is that future generations always treasure these wonderful memories.
My mother, Rose, of blessed memory would say....Happy 40th anniversary Temple Adat Elohim...You should live and be well!!!!!!
And let us all say Amen.
Robin Hirsch - Temple Historian
(Your shopping cart is empty)