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The Early Years (1980-1986)

Congregation Shir Hadash was founded in 1980 by individuals who saw Judaism and a Temple as central to their lives. The founders wanted to create a community that embodied the ideals of participation and involvement by members in the management of the congregation as well as in its activities, and a supportive environment for interfaith couples. The goal was to create a congregation that was less hierarchical and more participatory.

Within a year of its founding, Shir Hadash grew into a congregation with 207 members. Between 1980 and 1986 our services and religious school were held in several different locations in Los Gatos, California.

Finding a Permanent Home (1986-1990)

In 1985, with temple membership at 240 members, the congregation embarked on a journey to find a permanent home. Although the first effort failed, we were successful in obtaining a former Los Gatos school at 16555 Shannon Road. In a major milestone for the congregation, we moved into this site (which is now our current site) in August 1986.

By 1988, our continued growth was straining the existing facility. With future additional growth in mind, the congregation gave the Long Range Planning committee the authority to contact architectural firms and explore design concepts for construction of a new building.

It is at the end of this period, in 1990, that Rabbi Melanie Aron becomes our Rabbi.

Establishing Our Identity in Words and Bricks (1990-1997)

Historical photos of Rabbi Aron and Cantor Felder-Levy from the 1990'sOne of the key points of the Shir Hadash mission statement from 1989 was the “creation of a sense of community for all its members.” Congregational meetings continue to be a key communications and management tool for Shir Hadash. With a membership of 320 people, new ideas were tried to help members connect with each other in a more personal way. One of these ideas, Havurot, was introduced in 1991 and remains popular with members today. Learn more about our Havurot Program.

In 1992 we were honored to became a caretaker of a Czech Torah. During 1993–1994, a new capital campaign was launched and with a great success at raising over $2 million in pledges by December 1, 1994, we launched construction of our beautiful sanctuary building and renovated the existing structure to better accommodate the religious school and temple administrative office.

Over 400 people attended the ground-breaking ceremony in 1996 and we moved into the new buildings in January of 1997.

Reaching New Milestones (1998-2017)

We have an amazing fully-licensed pre-school program, the Shir Hadash Early Childhood Center, which opened in fall 2009. The childhood center includes a special natural playscape called Gan Liran - Liran's Garden. Among the many benefits of the expansion of our existing facility was an enhanced ability to hold larger social functions.

In 2016, Congregation Shir Hadash celebrated many milestones:

  • The 36th Anniversary of Congregation Shir Hadash! We celebrated with a special shabbat service and then a Gala Dinner a few weeks later. Part of the commemoration included a special tribute video created specifically for that 36th Anniversary event. 
  • The 25th anniversary milestone of being led and inspired by Rabbi Melanie Aron.
  • The 20th anniversary of Cantor Devorah Felder-Levy's inspiring leadership. Cantor has taken Shir Hadash’s name (a New Song) to heart and expanded the congregation’s musical participation in innovative ways. 

In July of 2017 Rabbi PJ Schwartz became our Rabbi Educator and he has brought new life into our Youth and Family Engagement programming.

40th Anniversary and Rabbi Retirement

In 2020 we celebrated the combined milestones of our 40th anniversary and the 30th year and retirement of Senior Rabbi Melanie Aron. Learn more and see videos from the special "Celebrating Rabbi Aron" events held in December 2020 to celebrate Rabbi Aron's deep impact on Congregation Shir Hadash, her retirement and transition to become Rabbi Emerita.

In honor of this amazing 2020 milestone and our deep appreciation of Rabbi Aron's immeasurable contribution to our community, this special tribute video was created:

2020 Campaign 36 - L'dor v'dor

"Campaign 36 - L'dor v'dor" has been a three-year effort to retire our mortgage. In 2020 we were proud to announce that our vibrant, forward-thinking community has achieved success in gathering pledges that will enable us to pay off the $1.8 million mortgage. We have pledges in hand of $1.8 million dollars! Learn more about Campaign 36.

From Yesterday into the Future 

Today we continue to grow and evolve into the future, working to expand and develop programs and community to bring togetherness and Reform Jewish meaning into the lives and hearts of our members and local community.

Whatever new challenges lie ahead for our committees to pursue, whatever innovative ideas come forward as our families and clergy work together to grow and enhance our youth programs, we move into the future with a deep appreciation of the importance of meeting the ever-evolving needs of our congregational family year after year.

Mon, July 22 2024 16 Tammuz 5784