Rabbi Richard Steinberg
Rabbi Richard Steinberg was chosen to lead the Congregation of Shir Ha-Ma'alot in July of 2001. At that time, the congregation consisted of 300 member families. Today, it is a thriving congregation of well over 600 families. Rabbi Steinberg has a varied and accomplished past. Graduating from the California State University system in 1990 with a Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice and minor in Sociology, Rabbi Steinberg thought he would pursue a career in law enforcement. After working for a police department for a year, he decided to focus on a different kind of law – the law of the soul.
For years as a child and young adult, Rabbi Steinberg was involved in Temple and Jewish community life. His love for children and teaching was developed as he served as the day camp director for five years at the local Jewish Community Center in the Bay Area. During rabbinical school at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion he attended the Jerusalem, Los Angeles and Cincinnati campuses for study. He distinguished himself as a first rate student and counselor. He received the Faculty Award for Academic Achievement and the Jewish War Veterans’ Award for Outstanding Scholarship.
His wide range of experience as a congregational rabbi, chaplain at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, UCLA Hillel, therapist at University of Cincinnati Walk-In Psychological Clinic and other internships, led him to a prime pulpit as an assistant rabbi in Cincinnati, Ohio at the Isaac M. Wise Temple – the place where Reform Judaism was founded. Rabbi Steinberg served that Temple for six years bringing new energy and wonderful programs from Healing Services to Senior Adult Programming to innovative Youth programs and a wide range of thought provoking classes. His reputation preceded him as he was called back to California to assume the spiritual leadership of Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’alot.
Since arriving in Irvine, Rabbi Steinberg has set his goals and made his priorities exceedingly clear. He believes that when one comes to Temple, they ought to feel better when they leave than when they walked in. He believes that temples ought to meet people where they are and then take them on the journey of the spirit. He believes that Judaism ought to be compelling and relevant in one’s life, otherwise there is no purpose in practicing.
Rabbi Steinberg works diligently at providing a warm, caring and educational environment for people to grow in all ways. Through creating an interactive partnership with the laity, Rabbi Steinberg is literally fashioning a place that people call home. It has been said of CSHM, “This is the place where children bring their parents.” Family orientation is number one to Rabbi Steinberg. Everyone is welcome at every service. He is very serious when he speaks of the Temple’s motto “A Lifetime of Belonging.” Temple is not a one stop shop to Rabbi Steinberg, but rather the place where one can come to feel rooted and part of something bigger than them selves.
Rabbi Steinberg has not only assumed the leadership of our Temple in Irvine, but has become a community leader in the Orange County Jewish and general community. He serves of the Boards of the Jewish Federation, American Jewish Congress and the Anti-Defamation League and is an office on the Orange County Board of Rabbis. He is extremely active at the Jewish Community Center, Tarbut v’Torah and Morasha Day Schools. He is key point person on the University of California, Irvine campus dealing with the issues of tolerance and diversity. Rabbi Steinberg has received several awards already since coming to Irvine. He is the recipient of the “Outstanding Devotion to the Jewish Community Center” award, the “Yachad Award for Outstanding Jewish Community Service” given to a local Jewish professional each year and he was honored by the Central Region of B’nai B’rith Youth Organization as well..
Rabbi Steinberg’s vision and sense of mission has brought spirit, depth and joy to Orange County Judaism and to Shir Ha-Ma’alot in particular.
Rabbi Leah Lewis
The Jaffe Family Associate Rabbinic Chair
Rabbi Lewis grew up in nearby Riverside. She developed a strong identification with Judaism at an early age, both from her family’s influence and from a longstanding involvement with Jewish summer camps and youth groups. She received her undergraduate degrees in Sociology and Religious Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara.
After graduating from UCSB, Rabbi Lewis spent a year as a Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington D.C., researching various public policy issues from a Jewish perspective and advocating for these issues on behalf of Reform Judaism.
After spending time in rabbinical school on the Jerusalem, Los Angeles and New York campuses of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and receiving Masters degrees in Jewish Communal Service and Hebrew Letters, Rabbi Lewis was ordained in the spring of 2002. Along the way, she held positions at the Valley Alliance office of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Union for Reform Judaism’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns. While at HUC, she also served congregations in Redding, CA, Las Vegas, NV and Scarsdale, NY. She has also worked at and spent many summers with Jewish youth at a variety of Reform Jewish camps. Following ordination, she served for seven years at Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles, first as the Director of Education and then as Assistant and Associate Rabbi. From 2009-2011, she served on the faculty at Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School as a teacher, Chair of the Department of Jewish Studies and Dean of Jewish Life. She is thrilled to be serving a congregation once again and even happier that SHM is that congregation!
Cantor Arië Manela Shikler
The Hollander Family Cantorial Chair
Arië Shikler has been the Cantor of Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’alot for over 30 years. A multi-talented artist, Arië is also an accomplished painter and designer with many products and exhibitions to his credit.
Cantor Shikler is a composer and arranger of music. He has released five CDs. He loves to give to the community through benefit concerts to various organizations. Arië is also an innovator. At the beginning of his career, he introduced the guitar as accompaniment during Shabbat Services, the first to do so in Orange County. Now, on a monthly basis, he engineered a Friday Night Live program that is designed to enrich Shabbat in a musical way. Each month features a different theme that gives us a deeper understanding of the rich musical heritage of the Jewish people as well as an appreciation of the many talents of Cantor Shikler.
Whether it is singing in one of many languages he either speaks or has researched, or playing an interesting instrument, he always puts his all into it.
Rabbi Bernard P. King z"l
For Rabbi Bernie King, spirituality equaled charity... During 32 years leading Harbor Reform/Congregation Shir Ha-Ma'alot in Orange County, Bernard P. King constantly looked for ways to extend the power of faith beyond the synagogue.
Helping followers recover their religious heritage, campaigning for racial equality, supporting low-income families – in these ways and others, the gentle-mannered leader of Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’alot in Irvine sought to extend religious and social horizons. It is a long list of achievements for one who amiably denies being a “holy man.”
In the late 1950s, King was 21, a junior-college student recently discharged from the U.S. Navy, when a young Rabbi befriended him and suggested that he, too, take up the rabbinate. At first, King protested, saying he was not a man touched by God, but his friend said King was qualified, in his deeds and causes, to be a spiritual leader. King arrived in 1969 at the house of worship then called Harbor Reform Temple and based in Newport Beach. The atmosphere of the synagogue, which included about 50 families, struck the newcomer as polite, sedate – and bled nearly dry of spiritual life.
He wasted little time in shaking up temple activities. An Israeli guitarist began performing at Friday night services. Hasidic songs joined the more traditional, organ-driven melodies. King revived a long-neglected tradition, the act of parents formally blessing their children. Warmth of spirit and manner became the Rabbi's watchwords, a way to present an open door to the Jews of Southern California. His congregation moved in the early 1990s into its own building in Irvine. The temple later was renamed Shir Ha-Ma’alot to honor Israeli children killed in a town of that name. To King, sharing is part and parcel with Judaism itself: examples of tzedakah, acts of Jewish charity.
In 2001 Rabbi King was named Rabbi Emeritus of Shir Ha-Ma'alot. He continued to share his spiritual message. He remained actively involved in the Jewish community and strived to make the world a better place. Over the past thirty plus years, the Rabbi nurtured close working ties with the Christian, African-American, Arab-Muslim, and Hispanic communities.