Temple Judea has announced the opening of the Arthur Marsh Family Education Center. Classes are forming for fall with options for kindergarten through grade six, pre-Bar and Bat Mitzvah training, and family learning programs.
Founded in 1965, the congregation has been evolving with changing demographics, according to Rabbi Dennis Linson, who hopes to accelerate the change. “The building sits on a major thoroughfare, is not behind any gates, and serves people who live all over Orange County,” he said. While physically located on Moulton Parkway in Laguna Woods, Temple Judea has members from Anaheim, Irvine, Mission Viejo, Lake Forest, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, San Clemente, Coto de Caza, and Trabuco Canyon.
Initially conceived as an unaffiliated congregation with lay-led services for people in the Leisure World (now Laguna Woods) area, Temple Judea is now a full-service congregation with a full-time rabbi and a cantor, both ordained by the Conservative Movement. Although not formally affiliated with United Synagogue, the congregation utilizes Conservative prayer books and Chumash for all religious services which include regular Friday evening and Saturday morning services, Monday and Thursday morning Minyan, and all Jewish holidays.
In addition, Temple Judea now has congregants under 62, including families with teenagers, according to Rabbi Linson. The rabbi and the cantor (Cantor Josef Chazan) have engaged in Bar/Bat Mitzvah programs and
training. There has been an average of three Bar/Bat Mitzvahs a year of children during the past two years. Currently, there are several families with younger children.
“Temple Judea is actively seeking to diversify its membership to include younger families from neighboring communities,” Rabbi Linson explained. “It has space that can be utilized for a Hebrew school, and this will become a reality. For people who have not affiliated elsewhere, it’s a way to get the kids involved and focus on family education.”
Rabbi Linson added, “Families have always been part of a multigenerational community here, but only on occasion. This would provide an opportunity for a year-round, ongoing, caring multigenerational community.”
Temple Judea plans to hold a K-1 group that would meet on Shabbat. Other classes would meet twice per week, as well as on Shabbat. Rabbi Linson, Barbara Fleischer, and Neal Linson will be teaching the classes. Family membership will be offered at $800 per year, including school fees and High Holy Day tickets. Individual adult membership is $350, including High Holy Day tickets.
The congregation owns, free and clear, a facility that includes a sanctuary with auditorium style seating for 236, separate chapel, social hall, fully equipped dairy/parve kitchen areas, conference and office rooms, gift shop and lending library. The sanctuary can be “expanded” into the social hall area to seat as many as 750 people. Temple Judea has an active brotherhood and sisterhood that run many educational, cultural, social, and entertainment events. There is also an active chavurah program.
Commenting on the change, Rabbi Linson quipped, “We’re not your grandfather’s Oldsmobile.”