In the summer of 1976, a small group of Jews banded together to form a Reform congregation in the Fountain Valley – Huntington Beach community. They were firmly committed to the idea that a synagogue should not only preach justice, but should endeavor to make that principle its guide in every facet of its operation. Congregation B’nai Tzedek is a Reform Synagogue with a love for tradition.
At its first meeting in July 1976, the name “Congregation B’nai Tzedek” (A People Committed to Justice) was chosen, and the ringing command from Deuteronomy, “Tzedek, Tzedek Tirdof” (“Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue”) became the synagogue’s motto. After serving as an advisor during its formative weeks, Rabbi Stephen J. Einstein was called to be the Spiritual Leader of the new group. From the beginning, this synagogue was conceived to be a congregation of the people, rather than one directed by its Board members. The Board was to put into practice the goals set by the membership.
CBT’s first service was held on September 3, 1976. In March 1982, a groundbreaking ceremony took place which was attended by over 300 people. On November 4, 1983, the congregation walked in procession to its new (and current) home, carrying Torah scrolls and singing songs of joy.
From the outset, education has been a focus of B’nai Tzedek. Our Religious School has been a leader in education in Orange County for years. In addition, adult classes have been a hallmark of the synagogue since its first year, and educational programming for all ages continues to expand.
Thirty six years after Rabbi Einstein became the Founding Rabbi, CBT celebrated his retirement. After a year with an interim rabbi, the congregation chose Rabbi David N. Young to become only the second senior rabbi at B’nai Tzedek. As CBT looks to the future, we see a community growing as it did in 1976.