Mission & History
Temple Ramat Zion is a conservative congregation that was built on the belief that we must strive to be a kehillah kedoshah, a holy community, that serves both the spiritual needs of its members and the charitable needs of the community outside its temple walls.
Our mission is to inspire the Jewish community to search for meaning in our lives and the quest for a measure of sanctity in the midst of so much secularity.
…we strive to be a kehilat kedusha, a holy community, that serves both the spiritual needs of its members and the charitable needs of the community outside its temple walls.
Through our wide range of programming, we strive to fulfill this purpose. Temple Ramat Zion offers a full range of services and activities that fulfill the religious, spiritual, educational, and social needs of our warm family-oriented congregation. Through various enrichment programs, Temple Ramat Zion makes every effort to offer and support programs that can enrich every aspect of the Jewish life; from Preschool to Adult Education, while making time to help others through our Social Action (Tikkun Olam) programs.
Please join us for our services, featuring our highly respected and dynamic clergy, Rabbi Ahud Sela and Cantor Daniel Friedman.
Our services include Tot Shabbats and Family Services, as well as an award winning Saturday Morning Shabbat Program, KOLOT, designed with families in mind and featuring the voices of the Religious School students.
In the fall of 1959, a group of North Valley young Jewish families came together in a storefront on Parthenia Street to organize a Conservative synagogue. They came from all areas looking for affordable housing and a more rural community to raise their families.
In June of 1960, they received their charter as Temple Ramah, with Irving Weinberger elected as the 1st President and Rabbi Mathew Simon, their spiritual leader. Cantor Gerald Hanig began his 20-year career with us. They secured the current property that held an old house that had been previously used as the CSUN Hillel House. The caretaker, Orlando Campos lived in the house and maintained the grounds. In 1964, they build the school building. This was quite an accomplishment. Rooms 7-8-9 were the new sanctuary. Each year the synagogue grew with a few more families. High Holiday services were held at Devonshire Downs.
In 1967, talks were started with Temple Har Zion in Sepulveda. A decision was made to merge the two congregations as the Jewish population was moving west and north. In 1968, Temple Ramat Zion was a combination of the two Boards of Directors, including Sisterhood and Men’s Club. Rabbi Pincus Goodblatt was our spiritual leader, who had come over with Har Zion. Then the building campaign began. Many, many parlor meetings to raise funds were held in members’ homes. Although the money was not all there when building began, the vision was to build larger than the current congregation. The “Miracle on Devonshire Street” began. Members were there overseeing the progress early in the morning, and late into the night. At the time, banks did not want mortgages on religious institutions. Through the dedication of member, Hal Samith, we were able to get a Texas insurance company to lend us the funds. Guarantors were needed to back the loan. The members came forward.
We were lucky to have both the financial and moral support of many dedicated founding members, two of whom were Burt Sperber z’l and Joe Wolf, who were chairmen of the Building Committee. In September of 1970, just prior to the High Holidays, everyone came together to plant the grounds. Our dedication on September 27 was an historical moment in our synagogue’s history. The beautiful Aron Hakodesh is a gift of the Sperber family. The Tree of Life outside the office came a short time later.
Over the years we have had other dedications. On June 10, 1979, we had a siyyum for a new Torah. Everyone had the opportunity to scribe a letter. Our Bimah Sculpture was dedicated on September 18, 1987, a gift of the Lapides Family. The Til Hanig Honor Wall in the gallery was dedicated in 1986. The Moses sculpture leading the people through the desert was under the chairmanship of Elaine Lax and was a gift from Dr. Ruth Kaplan, a founding member. This was in March of 1987. We had a “Burn the Mortgage” dinner in 1988. Many of our founding members who had moved out of the area, returned for that special evening. Our Holocaust Torah dedication took place on December 9, 1990, under the leadership of Eric Kupfer z’l, with a gift from the Nathan Shapell family. We dedicated the front Sanctuary Memorial Walls on April 25, 1999, a gift of the Maller family, along with the renovation of the Memorial Garden, gifts from the Jacobs and Megdal families. The rear Sanctuary Memorial Wall was a gift from the Greenberg family. The Al Levy Beit Midrash was dedicated on October 15, 2000. And the Siyyum for the dedication of the New Sefer Torah in memory of our beloved friend, Manny Rubinfeld z’l, took place on June 12, 2005. A recent art project was our indoor Tree of Life, a loving donation from the Tabackman family z’l. Our community came together to help each other after both the 1971 and 1994 earthquakes. When the roof leaked (many times over the years), we raised the funds, when the pipes broke, we raised the funds. We are blessed with 53-year members as well as 1st year members and everyone in between.
Our latest and most important venture was the merger with long time synagogue Temple Ner Maarav and TRZ in July 2012. We were able to bring over many of the Ner Maarav art pieces and stain glass windows that were installed at TRZ. TNM had 18 memorial boards, four of which were installed inside the sanctuary and gallery area. The balance of their 1,000 memorial plaques were installed on the eastern wall of the amphitheater. We have named the sanctuary, the Ner Maarav Sanctuary. We have more than successfully integrated their members on our Board of Directors, most committees and in all aspects of synagogue life. The beautiful glass doors of the NM ark now grace the entrance of our chapel.
We have improved the look of our sanctuary gallery. We are a vibrant and active conservative synagogue serving the Northwest San Fernando Valley.
We weathered many storms over our history. We are the stronger for it. We look forward to our Diamond Jubilee.