Shir Hadash History
- The Early Years
- Finding a Permanent Home
- Establishing Our Identity in Word and Bricks
- Where We Are Headed
The Early Years
Shir Hadash was founded in 1980 by individuals who saw Judaism and a Temple as central to their lives. The founders wanted to create a community that embodied the ideals of participation and involvement by members in the management of the congregation as well as in its activities. Their goal was to create a congregation that was less hierarchical and more participatory in structure.
Within a year of its founding, Shir Hadash had grown into a congregation with 207 members. Between 1980 and 1986 services and religious school was held in several different locations in Los Gatos.
Finding a Permanent Home
In 1985, with temple membership at 240, the congregation embarked on a journey to find a permanent home. Although the first effort failed, we were successful in obtaining a former Los Gatos school at 16555 Shannon Road. In a major milestone for the congregation, we moved into this site (which is now our current site) in August 1986.
By 1988, our continued growth was straining the existing facility. Therefore, the congregation gave the Long Range Planning committee the authority to contact various architectural firms to begin exploring design concepts for construction of a new building.
It is at the end of this period, in 1990, that Rabbi Melanie Aron becomes our Rabbi.
Establishing Our Identity in Words and Bricks
One of the key points of the Shir Hadash mission statement that was distributed in 1989 was the “creation of a sense of community for all its members”. Congregational meetings continue to be a key communications and management tool for Shir Hadash. With a membership of 320 people, new ideas were tried to help members connect with each other in a more personal way. One of these ideas, Havurot, was introduced in 1991 and has become quite popular.
During 1993–94, a new capital campaign was launched. With over $2 million in pledges by December 1, 1994, we prepared to raise a sanctuary building and to renovate the existing structure to better accommodate the religious school and temple administrative office.
Over 400 people attended the ground breaking ceremony in 1996 and we moved into the new structures in January 1997.
Where We Are Headed
As expected, the new facility attracted many more members and membership has grown to over 600 families. We are now finishing a major renovation of the structures that opened in 1997. Among the many benefits of the expansion of our existing facility are an enhanced ability to hold larger social functions and the addition of a Pre-school, which opened in fall 2009.
For almost 20 years, Congregation Shir Hadash has been led and inspired by Rabbi Melanie Aron. For the last 13 years, Cantor Devorah Felder-Levy has taken Shir Hadash’s name (a New Song) to heart and expanded the congregation’s musical participation. Rabbi Lisa Levenberg is the Temple’s educator and Rabbi Josh Lobel serves as Associate Rabbi.