Reform Judaism

Throughout history, Jews have remained firmly rooted in Jewish tradition, even as we learned much from our encounters with other cultures. Nevertheless, since its earliest days, Reform Judaism has asserted that a Judaism frozen in time is an heirloom, not a living fountain. The great contribution of Reform Judaism is that it has enabled the Jewish people to introduce innovation while preserving tradition, to embrace diversity while asserting commonality, to affirm beliefs without rejecting those who doubt and to bring faith to sacred texts without sacrificing critical scholarship.

Reform Judaism affirms the central tenets of Judaism - God, Torah and Israel - even as it acknowledges the diversity of Reform Jewish beliefs and practices. We believe that all human beings are created in the image of God, and that we are God's partners in improving the world. Tikkun olam — repairing the world — is a hallmark of Reform Judaism as we strive to bring peace, freedom and justice to all people.

Reform Jews accept the Torah as the foundation of Jewish life containing God's ongoing revelation to our people and the record of our people's ongoing relationship with God. We see the Torah as God inspired, a living document that enables us to confront the timeless and timely challenges of our everyday lives.

In addition to our belief that Judaism must change and adapt to the needs of the day to survive and our firm commitment to Tikkun Olam, the following principles distinguish Reform Jews from other streams of Judaism in North America.

Reform Jews are committed to the principle of inclusion, not exclusion. Since 1978 the Reform Movement has been reaching out to Jews-by-choice and interfaith families, encouraging them to embrace Judaism. Reform Jews consider children to be Jewish if they are the child of a Jewish father or mother, so long as the child is raised as a Jew.

Reform Jews are committed to the absolute equality of women in all areas of Jewish life. We were the first movement to ordain women rabbis, invest women cantors and elect women presidents of our synagogues.

Reform Jews are also committed to the full participation of gays and lesbians in synagogue life as well as society at large.

JennaSagan web Jenna Sagan (Pinkham) has been an active member of the Orange County Jewish community for over 20 years, having spent her formative years at Temple Beth David in Westminster. She joined Congregation B'nai Tzedek on July 1, 2014. She was an active member of the TBD Junior and Senior Choir, and was a featured soloist at many High Holy Day services. Jenna grew up in Huntington Beach, where she attended the Academy of the Performing Arts at Huntington Beach High School. She graduated with a double major in Songwriting/Recording and Musical Theater. Her favorite roles included Dorothy in both The Wizard of Oz and The Wiz, Rapunzel in Into the Woods, Laurie in Brighton Beach Memoirs, and Edith in The Pirates of Penzance. Outside of school, she held leadership roles in Orange County’s L’chaim BBG, and the Bureau of Jewish Education’s Adat Noar and TALIT programs. Following High School, Jenna moved to Los Angeles, where she attended the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. Her areas of focus included acting and theatrical education. While at UCLA, she helped create and co-lead UCLA Hillel’s reform minyan. She was also a featured soloist in UCLA’s Jewish A Capella group Shir Bruin, where she traveled throughout Los Angeles and the United States performing at a variety of Jewish communities and special events. Post-graduation, Jenna focused her energy on her theatrical work, and developed a “One Woman Cabaret” featuring pop standards from the 30s, 40s, and 50s. She performs this show throughout greater Los Angeles. Following a stint as a Production Assistant on a reality television show, Jenna soon realized that there were many ways in which she could use her theatrical talents, and began her graduate education at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s DeLeT program. She received her Judaic Studies and General Studies teaching credential through the Rhea Hirsch School of Education, and, when not leading services or performing, she uses her theatrical talents as a fully credentialed K-8 teacher in the greater Orange County area. Most recently, Jenna has been seen as the guest Cantor at Temple Isaiah of Newport Beach and Surf City Synagogue. This past year, she was the resident Cantorial Soloist for Friends Exploring Judaism in Irvine, where she led High Holy Day services alongside Rabbi Robin Hoffman. She is an active member of the Orange County Jewish young professional community, spending much of her free time “schmoozing” with groups ranging from Merage JCC’s “JYA,” to the Youth Leadership Division of Orange County’s JFFS, where she is a featured soloist in Orange County’s premiere Jewish young professional chorale, Shir Energy. Jenna currently lives in South Coast Metro with her husband Sean, and their Pekingese mix, Hobbes. They are thrilled to be joining the Congregation B’nai Tzedek community! Contact Jenna at jsagan@cbtfv.org.  
RabbiY Sm
Rabbi David N. Young comes to Congregation B'nai Tzedek with a wealth of youth, teaching, camping, and pulpit experience. He has served congregations in New York City, Alaska, Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, and has taught middle-school, high school, and adults. In addition, Rabbi Young spent two summers at the Reform movement's Crane Lake Camp in West Stockbridge, Massachusetts. During his time at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Rabbi Young received several prestigious awards and served as the President of the rabbinic student body. Rabbi Young grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he was involved in Jewish youth organizations. He received a B.A. in Theatre from Bradley University. Pursuing his love for acting, he moved to Los Angeles, only to discover that his love for Judaism was stronger. Rabbi Young brings all of his passionate commitment to Jewish life to our youth, educational and spiritual programming, and he looks forward to a great many new and innovative programs at Congregation B'nai Tzedek over the coming years. Rabbi Young is married to Cantor Natalie Young and they are the proud parents of three children: Gabriel, Alexander, and Isabella.
april April Akiva is an Orange County native who strives to promote a living Judaism that is relatable, accessible, and enjoyable for Jewish families from all walks of life. For over 18 years April has worked in a number of Jewish settings including synagogues, day-camps, residential camps, and Jewish private schools. April spent 8 years serving as Temple Beth Sholom of Orange County’s Director of Congregational Learning. In this role she enjoyed working with congregants of all ages through administrating religious school, directing Camp Sholom, teaching adults, and designing engaging travel experiences for teens. One of her passions as the director included mentoring young teachers and serving as a clinical faculty member for the Rhea Hirsch School of Education. Prior to April’s work at Temple Beth Sholom, she taught middle and high school Judaic Studies at Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School in Irvine. She currently also directs Camp Jewish Roots in South Orange County. April has also been an involved leader with the Association of Reform Educators, the Jewish Educator’s Association of Orange County, and Jewish Women International.

April received her Master of Arts in Jewish Education from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2006 and her Bachelor’s from the University of Southern California (Go Trojans!). As an alum of Orange County High School of the Arts, April continues to partake in theatrical opportunities including dancing on a competitive hip-hop dance team. She resides in South Orange County with her husband, Daniel, and two children, Adina and Aaron.

Upcoming Events

11Dec
Monday, December 11, 2017 - Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Suppers-4-Shul: Olive Pit Fresh Mediterranean Grill
12Dec
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
1st candle
12Dec
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Erev Chanukah
13Dec
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
2nd Candle
12Dec
Tuesday, December 12, 2017 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Canon, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha with Dwight Borses
12Dec
Tuesday, December 12, 2017 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Talmud 101 with Rabbi Young