Stephen J. Einstein, Founding Rabbi of Congregation B’nai Tzedek in Fountain Valley, CA in 1976, retired June 30, 2012. He previously served synagogues in Parsippany, NJ and Westminster, CA.
Rabbi Einstein was born and reared in Southern California, and is a cum laude – Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UCLA. He was ordained at the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, where he also earned his doctorate. In recognition of his years of service to the Jewish community, the College-Institute awarded him an honorary doctorate as well. Mentor to numerous rabbinic students, Rabbi Einstein has served as a Lecturer of Rabbinic Practice at HUC-JIR.
Rabbi Einstein is past President of the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis, Orange County Board of Rabbis, the Orange County Bureau of Jewish Education and the Orange County Jewish Educators’ Association. He serves on the boards of the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League. He is a former member of the Boards of the Jewish Federation of Orange County, the Jewish Family Service of Orange County, and Heritage Pointe / Jewish Home for the Aging.
Formerly Chair of its Ethics Committee, Rabbi Einstein was Vice President of Member Services of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and is now on its Ethics Process Review Committee. He is on the governing Board of the Sandra Caplan Community Bet Din of Southern California, where he currently serves as S’gan Av Bet Din (Associate Director) and as Treasurer.
Since 1976, Rabbi Einstein has taught the community-wide Introduction to Judaism course. He is the co-editor of Introduction to Judaism: A Sourcebook (New York: URJ Press, 1999) which is used nationally for basic Judaism courses. He is co-author of Every Person’s Guide to Judaism (New York: URJ Press, 1989). A pioneer in outreach, he is now the co-chair of Reform Judaism’s Commission on Outreach, Membership and Sacred Community. Rabbi Einstein has taught at California State University, Fullerton, in the Department of Comparative Religion. Rabbi Einstein was honored by the Orange County Bureau of Jewish Education for Major Contributions to Jewish Learning and as Mensch of the Year. He is the recipient of the American Jewish Committee’s Micah Award for Interfaith Relations and Orange County Human Relations Council’s Legacy Award. He is listed in Who’s Who in America as well as several other Who’s Who volumes.
Passionately committed to education as the key to progress, Rabbi Einstein was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Fountain Valley School District from 1984 – 1990, and served twice as School Board President. Since 1990, he has been on the School District’s Personnel Commission.
As part of the rabbi’s concern for his community, he was Chairman of the Board of Fountain Valley Regional Hospital. He is also a Chaplain for the Fountain Valley Police Department. He was President of the Greater Huntington Beach Interfaith Council and Past Chairman of the Board of Retinoblastoma International. He is on the Board of Clue (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice) and a member of Clergy for Choice. He also serves on the Interfaith Outreach Committee of the Alzheimer’s Association of Orange County, and is a member of the Catholic-Jewish Dialogue.
Rabbi Einstein was an Executive Advisory Board Member of the Institute for Character Education (Orange County Department of Education) and serves on the PBS/SoCal Community Advisory Board.
Rabbi Einstein and his wife, Robin, continue to live in Fountain Valley. They are proud of their children – Rebecca and Warren, Jennifer, Heath and Diana, and Zachary and Jen; and dote on their grandchildren, Benjamin, Lilly, Jacob, Levyn, Adielle, Asher, and Ellery.