HomeOctober 2023A Shul for You -Temple Bat Yahm, Newport Beach, CA

A Shul for You -Temple Bat Yahm, Newport Beach, CA

Temple Bat Yahm Founders and Family at Anniversary

Background: For the last half century, Temple Bat Yahm (TBY) has been a center for Jewish Life and Education along the Orange County coast. Its membership spans four generations across more than 500 families. Through the leadership of its rabbis, cantors, and lay and professional staff, the congregation celebrates its diverse and inclusive synagogue family with a robust catalog of programs and events. The objective is not only to celebrate the last five decades, but also to continue connecting with each other to ensure another 50+ successful years at Temple Bat Yahm.
    Founded in 1973, Temple Bat Yahm’s mission is “Strength of Tradition. Warmth of Community. Senior Rabbi Gersh Zylberman is the congregation’s spiritual leader. Other members of the clergy are Associate Rabbi Rayna Gevurtz, Cantor Jonathan Grant, and Associate Cantor Elisa Waltzman. Rabbi Miriam Philips is the Director of Youth Education and Family Engagement (also known as the JCAL Director). The president is Adrienne Cohen. There are 550 families. For more information, call (949) 644-1999 x 123 or visit www.tby.org.
What are the most popular of your synagogue’s programs or services?
    The most popular programs focus on combining spirituality and community for all ages. The preschool, Sunday learning program, JCAL, musical theater productions and youth events as well as holiday celebrations like our annual Family Hannukah Candle Lighting and Purim Carnival. For adults there are regular educational opportunities including Torah Study, Coffee Talk, book discussions, the Foundations of Judaism course, outstanding annual programs, the Distinguished Speaker Series, and Cantors Concert.
What programs or services do you think capture the synagogue’s underlying philosophy?
   Last year Temple Bat Yahm welcomed the James Beard Foundation award-winning Chef Alon Shaya. With a focus on community building this tasting dinner epitomized the underlying philosophy of Temple Bat Yahm. With aspects of prayer, Israel, social connections, and, of course, food, the evening provided members and guests the “full plate” of what TBY has to offer.
What are some the unique aspects of the congregation?
    TBY’s consistency makes it unique, coupled with its love of Israel, welcoming embrace of intermarried families and couples, and everyone irrespective of background, gender, or orientation. A high level of achievement is expected from B’nai Mitzvah Students. The community is both multi-generational and openhearted to the new member families.  TBY’s consistency is appreciated by its members and within the greater Orange County Jewish Community. This consistency comes from the steady leadership from TBY’s clergy, Rabbis Zylberman and Philips and Cantors Grant and Waltzman, the vision of the lay leadership, and the devotion of the professional staff.
What would you say to encourage someone to join your congregation?
   According to Mark Gulner, executive director, “We are a center for Jewish life, a home away from home where you and your loved ones can share with us in the life-long Jewish journey of learning and discovery.  We celebrate life’s joys and rally around each other in times of challenge.  With Judaism at our core, we bring meaning to our members lives and contribute to building a better world through acts of kindness (gemillut chasadim) and righteous giving (tzedakah).”   

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.


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