“Chai” means life and represents the number 18. “Chai” is for good luck and gifts are often given in multiples of 18, symbolic of offering the recipient with the gift of “life” or luck. This year marks 18 years for Temple Etz Rimon.
Rabbi Karen Sherman has been serving the congregation for nine years and shared how meaningful it has been, “I get excited about the whole spectrum of rabbinic service,” she said. “As the Rabbi of a small congregation, I know each and every congregant and I am aware of what is going on in their lives, that I have had the honor of officiating at b’nai mitzvah for kids I have known since they started religious school, and that I love working with a small, dedicated group of lay leaders who truly care about their congregation.”
“I love our Rosh Hashanah service and kiddush luncheon celebration. Everyone is welcome, including local military and college students. For Taschlich, the congregation comes together at Tamarack Beach in Carlsbad. Summer services on the patio are popular with a potluck oneg shabbat held monthly. One of our favorite holiday celebrations is Sukkot, when we enjoy “Pizza in the Hut.” Another popular event is Simchat Torah, when the congregation unrolls the entire Torah scroll around the sanctuary.”
The congregation celebrates Selichot with an ice cream social before the service. Tu B’shevat provides an opportunity to sing songs and hold activities as reminders of conservation and ecology. For Hanukkah, each family brings its own menorah and everyone lights the candles together. The entire sanctuary is ablaze with hundreds of kindled lights.
Shabbat services may include baby naming ceremonies, anniversary and birthday celebrations, and other life-cycle celebrations. An annual open house is held in August to showcase what the temple offers our community. Cantorial Soloist Mark Britowich provides a mix of traditional and contemporary Jewish music during services and holidays.
Rabbi Sherman and the religious school staff guide our religious school students in their Bar and Bat Mitzvah studies. In addition, just this year, six adults became B’nai Mitzvah.
Rabbi Sherman stressed the importance of inclusivity in the congregation, “Our community is open to people who were born Jewish and people who have chosen Judaism; partners and family members of people who are Jewish; people who are LGBTQ and straight; people of all gender identities and gender expressions; multi-racial families; and all people who enjoy the beauty of our tradition and want to participate and learn more.”
Rabbi Sherman has two daughters and lives in Irvine with her husband Harvey, who is a Public Defender. She teaches the URJ’s Introduction to Judiasm class and is involved with additional Jewish organizations in Orange and San Diego counties.
Julie Schwartz, Temple President, and Jen Arellano, Co-Chair of the November Chai Elegant Evening of Art event shared with L’CHAIM: “Temple Etz Rimon is more than just a synagogue. It’s a close-knit community where members come together in good times and in hard times, to celebrate and to support each other. The congregation embraced my family and me from the moment we joined, as they do for everyone. In the nine years since, it’s become like a second family to us.”
Arellano added, “I found Etz Rimon because I was looking for a Reform Temple to provide a religious foundation for my son, but I realize now how meaningful the friendships and how valuable the opportunities to contribute and learn have been for me. Etz Rimon is about the people; we are a diverse and fun group. It is a good feeling to be at Etz Rimon, it feels like family.”
Etz Rimon means Pomegranate Tree in Hebrew. One could almost think of the Pomegranate symbolic of the synagogue as a round circle of members, with the many seeds inside representing the diversity Etz Rimon encompasses.
The Temple Sisterhood is a vital part of Temple Etz Rimon, planning many events and holidays. Temple Etz Rimon shares a building with Pilgrim Church. Each year, both congregations participate in the countywide interfaith shelter program.
Commemorating 18 years of “Chai,” Temple Etz Rimon is holding “An Elegant Evening of Art,” Saturday November 3, from 5:00 to 8:00 PM at the synagogue. The event will feature music, light hors d’oevres, and a silent auction. It will conclude with a community Havdalah service. The event aims to raise funds for community outreach and congregational programing.
For more information, visit templeetzrimon.org or call (760) 929-9503. For information regarding “An Elegant Evening of Art”, please email: Art4etzrimon@gmail.com.