Amid a return to relative normalcy following two-and-a-half years of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congregation Adat Yeshurun of La Jolla is growing its community through what Rabbi Daniel Reich calls the “three Fs” — family, friends, and faith.
“People are not feeling connected on a spiritual level and to community — it’s leading to a lot of issues in the world,” reflects Rabbi Reich, leader of the “vibrant and welcoming Orthodox congregation, according to its mission statement. “People are on more edge, just trying to fend for themselves without thinking about others. The goal that we’re trying to accomplish at Adat Yeshurun is to create a community where people can grow honestly with themselves and with a congregation, to feel more fulfilled in life and more connected spiritually.”
Rabbi Reich says that the synagogue is striving “to serve not only our existing community, but also to branch ourselves out to cultivate personal growth and happiness for all Jews in San Diego.”
For a sampling of Adat Yeshurun’s programming and resources for all ages, Rabbi Reich notes a robust scholar-in-residence program, featuring renowned speakers from the U.S. and Israel; the Cojab Mikvah, which is used by individuals across the county; parent-child learning on Saturday nights; and special holiday programs such as a festive meal for Israeli Independence Day.
The congregation’s newest community resource is a youth program led by co-directors Netzach and Chana Sapir. The couple’s presence will enable parents to focus during prayer services while their children take part in special activities, or as Rabbi Reich puts it, “While your kids’ souls are being nourished, you’ll step inside and get your own nourishment.” The Sapirs, he adds, “don’t see this as babysitting. They see it as really nurturing the young souls of the community.”
Adat Yeshurun’s offerings, the rabbi continues, are “rooted in the guidance of a proven divine system called Torah Judaism that has been successful in this exact realm of community-building and spiritual fulfillment for thousands of years. It’s not about changing the recipe, it’s just a matter of making it accessible to as many people as possible.”
“It’s impossible to come to shul and not learn something,” he adds.
Yet since the onset of the pandemic, Adat Yeshurun has also embraced digital resources whose impact have been felt even after the widespread resumption of in-person gatherings. All of its Torah classes can be accessed via Zoom, including those of Rabbi Emeritus Jeff Wohlgelernter, who moved to Israel after leading the congregation for 33 years. A variety of WhatsApp groups, meanwhile, connect the community through real-time communication. In addition to a community-wide WhatsApp group, smaller customized groups exist for organizing daily prayer services, young families, and classes that take place outside the synagogue campus. Of particular note is Rabbi Reich’s group “Quick Torah From La Jolla,” which distributes three-minute recordings of his lectures that occur after services each morning as well as in between the afternoon and evening services.
Ultimately, Rabbi Reich explains, the Adat Yeshurun community is connected by its “cohesive diversity.”
“In spite of our differences, the Jewish people can come together through the common ground of respect and consideration for every single person, no matter what your cultural background may be,” he says. “Adat Yeshurun is a community that really is a model for the way that Jews should be interacting with each other around the globe — focused on unity and not uniformity, and truly a cohesive diversity.”
For more information about Congregation Adat Yeshurun, visit: https://www.adatyeshurun.org/