CJC History

This history was initially compiled in 2013.  Quite a few people have been consulted, but many holes remain in our story, and there may be some errors.  There will certainly be differences of opinion!  If you have something to contribute, please email it to Laura.  Be sure to let me know how to get in touch with you if clarification is needed. 

  • 1989 – 1991
    • CJC Founder Lesli Sachs moved from Berkeley to the Coastside in 1989 with her young daughter Loryn.  Like many of us, Lesli wondered “Am I the only Jew on the Coast?”
    • Lesli reached out to as many Jewish folks as she could find….. buying Matzos, walking along the beach.  People began to gather.
    • An ad was placed in the HMB Review, and the first Coastside Chanukah Party took place.  It was attended by 80 families!  Opinions abound whether this was 1990 or 1991.
  • 1992
    • A Steering Committee was formed. According to Rachael Gershenson it was called a steering committee because, “A Board of Directors sounded too organized and we didn’t want to sound too organized and turn people off.”
    • CJC held a Purim party as well another Chanukah party, .
  • 1995
    • Lesli found a Hebrew teacher, Norman Katz, for a small group of young teenagers. Mr. Katz was a Jewish educator who traveled from Sacramento every other Sunday to prepare the group for B’Nai Mitzvah, first in Lesli’s home and then in a small donated office behind the Zaballa House.
  • 1996
    • CJC’s first Passover Seder was held in the spring.
    • Sukkot was celebrated in Rachel Hersey’s back yard – maybe our first
  • 1997
    • The first formal CJC Newsletter (it was actually the second newsletter) came out in February. With an apologetic tone, Lesli informs everyone that we cannot depend on Temple Beth El paying our copying and mailing costs forever, and that it was time to charge dues: $18.00 per family for the year
    • Formation of CJC’s first true Board of Directors.  Lesli was President.
    • It’s not certain when home based Shabbat Services began, but the first recorded CJC Shabbat Service was held at Philip Chapnick & Linda Bea Miller’s house, led by EJ Cohen.  Perhaps in June.
    • A Tashlich Service was held at Roosevelt Beach, led by Rabbi Evan Goodman from Temple Beth El.
    • Temple Beth El clergy began leading services for us about once a month.
    • The Hebrew School, then at Montara Gardens, continued. Five students went on to become Bar or Bat Mitzvah.
  • 1998:
    • Aryae Coopersmith led what may have been our last lay led Shabbat Service of that era in June.
    • During the summer, CJC hired a very part time Rabbi: Student Serena Eisenberg.
    • Monthly Friday night Shabbat began at Holy Family Episcopal Church.
    • To the best of our knowledge, for the first time ever, High Holy Day Services were held in Half Moon Bay.  We gathered in the old Methodist Church, using a borrowed Torah from Sinai Memorial Chapel in San Francisco.
    • We established a one-room schoolhouse Religious School at Holy Family. Parents and children attended together on Saturday mornings. Rabbi Serena was our teacher.
  • 1999:
    • Lesli stepped down from the Presidency and Marv Silverman took the helm.
    • A Shul in the Bronx, NY, reached the end of its days.  As active board members, Leonard & Thelma Rosen, Grandparents of CJC member Alan Haffner gifted CJC with $42,000.  There was some hope that we might be able to create a physical home for CJC, but real estate reality in the Bay Area made that dream beyond our reach.  The gift has given us freedom and stability however, in that we have been able to take some financial chances knowing that we had a strong safety net.
    • Suzan Katzir was contracted to provide Cantorial support for High Holy Days
  • 2000
    • When Rabbi Serena left to continue rabbinic studies in Israel, she referred us to Jhos Singer whom we contracted as our Rebe.
    • Suzan Katzir was again contracted to provide Cantorial support for High Holy Days.
  • 2001
    • Through a generous donation from Samuel Alster, father of board member Laura Alster-Martin, many smaller donations from the membership, and dedicated research by board member Grant Ross, CJC purchased a Torah. CJC’s Torah Celebration was held at Holy Family Episcopal Church on June 9, 2001.  See a copy of the program: TorahCelebration
    • Julie Batz was contracted for Cantorial support at High Holy Day services (September 17-27), and was later contracted to become our Sheliach Tzibbur (Service Leader).  Hiring both Jhos and Julie concurrently was one of those financial chances we were able to take thanks to the 1999 donation.
    • Religious School moved to Sea Crest school and started meeting on Sunday mornings.  The primary intent was to decrease Little League and Soccer scheduling conflicts.
    • In memory of her sister Carol, board member Debe Portman Bloom raised funds to purchase an Ark, and then commissioned our Ark to be designed and built by artist Peter Fehler.  We welcomed it into our community at Simchat Torah in October of 2001.  Holy Family Church created a loving home for the ark, and it remains there to this day.
  • 2002
    • Jhos was ordained as a Maggid by Rabbi Gershon Winkler in a with ceremony & a fun celebration on Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica
  • 2005
    • CJC conducted its first major survey to develop a better understanding of it’s members.
    • High Holy Day services were held at St. Edmund’s Episcopal Church in Pacifica
  • 2009
    • Shabbat services started being held once a month in Pacifica at St. Edmund’s
    • President Leslie Deman strengthens CJC’s ties with the Bay Area Jewish Community Federation, leading to several projects to help us understand who we are and how we can become stronger.
  • 2010
  • 2011
    • Jewish Community Federation sponsored our 2nd Membership survey.
    • CJC expanded to include the East Bay
    • We participated in a Jewish Federation project, “Welcoming Synagogues”
    • We hired an amazing new Religious School administrator (and teacher), Sigal Kletter.
  • 2012
    • CJC becomes a member of the Bay Area Coalition of Welcoming Congregations.
  • 2013
    • We conducted our 3rd survey to expand and clarify what was learned from the 2011 survey.
    • February 3, “CJC: 2014 And Beyond” provided a day for many members to come together to brainstorm and develop a vision of who we wanted to become, what we wanted to do.  Skylawn Memorial Park donated use of their beautiful facilities, as they have continued to do for many of our meetings.  Nancy Margulies facilitated, ensuring an amazing experience was available to all.
    • CJC Tapestry: A Day of Nourishment”, a Federation sponsored event was held on April 28 at Skylawn Memorial Park.  Organized by Leslie Deman and her team, CJC members enjoyed a full day of learning.
    • Our first (home based) Peninsula Shabbat Services in November.
    • Pacifica Shabbat Services moved to homes.
  • 2014
    • Our clergy of the past 10+ years, Jhos & Julie, tell us they are pursuing an opportunity to work in Berkeley, and we gather to discuss our reactions, and consider the future
    • November 15, we joyfully, lovingly, and tearfully say goodbye.
  • 2015
    • CJC hires Rabbi Jane Rachel Litman as our Interim Rabbi to help us transition to our future.
  • 2016
    • The search for a new permanent Rabbi begins.
  • 2017
    • We hire a new permanent Rabbi:  Rabbi Ted Riter, who began his tenure with us on July 1.