In 1958, there were two synagogues in Orange County—Temple Beth Sholom, established in 1943, and the newcomer Temple Beth Emet, organized 13 years later in 1956. By 1957 they had hired Rabbi Aaron Tofield of Oklahoma and in 1958 they welcomed Cantor Philip Moddel, originally from Germany but most recently from Ireland.
This ticket is from the first High Holiday services the two conducted together, and they would go on to serve their shul together for 19 more years. The “dynamic duo” of an Oklahoman rabbi and an Irish cantor would become part of the foundation of the rapidly growing OC Jewish community and leave a mark that still resonates today.
These two spiritual leaders helped lay the groundwork for the 36 synagogues now in existence, creating a complete Jewish package that included Hebrew school, Sisterhood, Men’s Club, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, Confirmations, senior groups, choirs, a Boy Scout troop, USY, and more. Our community owes a huge debt to this pioneer synagogue and the committed Jewish Orange Countians it helped to create.
Dalia Taft, archivist of the Orange County Jewish Historical Society, highlights images from the archives every month. For more information, please visit www.jewishoc.org/history. You can also contact Dalia at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (949) 435-3400. The Orange County Jewish Historical Society is a program of the Merage Jewish Community Center and is fully funded by the Jewish Community Foundation Orange County.