Background: Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’alot is a Reform Jewish community that provides a spiritual home guided by memory and mitzvah, committed to mentsch making and making meaning. Founded in 1968, Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’alot started in Newport Beach as Harbor Reform Temple Since 1994, Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’alot has been located at 3652 Michelson Dr., Irvine. Spiritual leaders are Rabbi Richard Steinberg, Senior Rabbi; Rabbi Bryan Zive; and Rabbi Sarah DePaolo. Presidents are Susan Taylor and Ken Perlman. There are 660 families. For more information, please visit www.shmtemple.org or call (949) 857-2226.
What are the most popular programs or services?
Shir Ha-Ma’a lot (SHM) is a congregation that provides programming for all ages. It has more than 500 spiritual, educational and entertaining programs throughout each year. The religious school and youth programs help children not only learn about their faith, but become rooted in their identity by participating in community.
What programs or services do you think capture the synagogue’s underlying philosophy?
Every program we do is based on the four M’s: memory, mitzvah, mentsch making, and making meaning. Our philosophy is embedded in all we do. Our CHESED and SHeMesh committees provide that opportunity to uphold the value of Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World). From reaching out in times of need to food drives for the vulnerable and much more, SHM can help you perform all the Mitzvot you desire and find meaning in your life.
What are some of the unique aspects of the congregation?
SHM believes that you should always feel better when you leave the campus than when you arrived. From celebrations to mourning, this is a place that will embrace each and every person who enters and will meet you where are you are on your spiritual journey. The SHM Shireinu Project is one of the most interactive, inspiring and inspirational Jewish music programs in the world. With weekly music education experiences for all ages, concerts and incredible worship experiences, and multiple participatory opportunities throughout the year, the Shireinu Project provides everything you need to reach your music vibe.
What would you say to encourage someone to join your congregation?
If you’re a child, try youth group and the vibrant religious school with programs from K through 12. If you’re an adult, come to services and be uplifted. If you are a mitzvah maker, come serve food to the needy. If you are a knowledge seeker, come to Torah study. When you do one or any of these, you will be embraced with love, joy, and friendship. When you come to this synagogue, you enter a sanctuary of support, friendship, learning and community. You also enter a place of enhanced spirituality and inspiration. The worship services, complete with incredible music, moving words, and approachable prayer, will fill your hearts with all that you need.
ILENE SCHNEIDER has been chronicling Jewish life in Orange County for five publications since 1978. She has served as a communications consultant for a number of Jewish organizations. She is a contributing writer to Jlife Magazine.