To foster a welcoming Jewish environment where compassion and spirituality bring our members and guests together in prayer, learning, social interaction, and tikkun olam, all through halakhic guidance.
History of Congregation Beth Am
Over twenty five years ago a group of dedicated Jewish families wanted to see a Conservative presence in Coastal North County San Diego. The undertaking proved to be enormous. Rabbi Wayne Dosick, together with a small group of families formed Congregation Beth Am.
Settling in the facility, affectionately called the “Tire Store”, membership grew quickly with people coming from as far south as La Jolla and as far north as Oceanside. The very first year, Beth Am boasted a Hebrew School, the Jewish Learning Center. Congregation Beth Am also had one of the first Conservative ordained females, Rabbi Leslie Alexander, as an associate Rabbi and Judith Bender as cantor. During this time the synagogue was virtually run by volunteers.
During the first years the congregation focused on growth, learning and helping people get involved. It truly had become the “House of the People.”
In July, 1991, CBA hired a new spiritual leader, Rabbi Arthur Zuckerman, lovingly known as Rabbi Zucky. Membership quickly grew from 160 families to over 400 families. Rabbi Zucky instituted the 7 day a week minyan, programming for all ages, a preschool and youth movement.
By 1994, the board of Directors realized that the Tire Store could no longer hold the burgeoning congregation and schools. A Capital Campaign begun and the land for our permanent location in Carmel Valley was purchased. A temporary building was erected and the congregation joyfully walked and danced our Torah’s over from Solana Beach. It was a stunning night, in June of 1999 when we opened our doors to our new sanctuary and social hall. This time it was only a short walk to move our Torah’s, including the cherished Holocaust Torah donated by Hugh Friedman and Lynn Schenk, to their permanent home behind the beautiful stained glass arc. By 1994, the board of Directors realized that the Tire Store could no longer hold the burgeoning congregation and schools.
During the same year, the congregation hired Rabbi David Kornberg as Assistant Rabbi. Rabbi Kornberg instituted the center for Lifelong Jewish Learning among many other duties. In 2004, upon Rabbi Zuckerman’s retirement, Rabbi Kornberg was enthusiastically welcomed as senior Rabbi. With over 700 families to serve the Board of Directors decided to hire an assistant Rabbi and after a two year search Rabbi Matthew Earne was welcomed. Congregation Beth Am is blessed to have two young, vibrant and creative Rabbis who compliment each other.
In the early years, CBA had one full time employee and now maintains a full administrative, Preschool, Youth and JLC senior and support staff along with many part-time teachers. Our award winning Youth Movement, serves children 2nd through 12th grade, takes part in local and regional events and has recently won the Chapter of Excellence Award Far West Region. Under the guidance of Tammy Fischman and Denise Neifeld, our preschool now has two campuses and one of the most sought after in the area. It has expanded to serve infants all the way through pre-kindergarten classes. The JLC, serving students from pre-kindergarten through 7th grade, is headed by Jessi Fainsztein. The JLC is the first school in California to be named a “Framework for Excellence” School.
With two active and involved Rabbi’s and a caring and dedicated Board of Directors, led by president Robert Rauch, Congregation Beth Am offers something for everyone. With traditional Services, Family Services, Rock’n Shabbat, daily minyan and even a Sunrise Minyan the is a way to worship for all.
The Center for Lifelong Jewish Learning offers a wide variety of classes from cooking to arts, to spiritual and language. The very popular Beit Midrash class gives everyone a chance to learn.No matter what week or month, there is programing for everyone. Whether your interest is Social Action, Israel, celebrating holidays and festivals, social activities, family or adult retreats, fundraising and even wine-tasting.
The synagogue Board is now focused on continually finding ways for our membership to have meaningful religious, community, educational and social programming.
We are a congregation of varied and ages and backgrounds. We come together in celebration and times of grief as one Beth Am…House of the People.
In the near future we will embark on a new project to build the final phase of our campus…office, JLC and Preschool. As always we will strive to maintain that warm wonderful feeling of the Tire Store and continue to flourish to serve the needs of our diverse congregation.
Now in our 28th year, our spirit has never been higher as we strive to continue to meet the needs of our community. In words of Theodore Herzl, “Im tirtzu, ein so aggadah” - “if you will it, it is not a dream.”