Temple Ahavat Shalom was established in 1965, when the North Valley Reform Congregation merged with Temple Beth Torah of Arleta. The name chosen by the new congregation combined the Hebrew words for Love and Peace – Temple Ahavat Shalom. The sale of Temple Beth Torah’s land enabled the purchase of Temple Ahavat Shalom’s current property in Northridge at the corner of Chimineas Avenue and Rinaldi Place.
In 1973, a permanent building was constructed at the south end of the property. It was named the Martyrs’ Building, in memory of the 11 Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists during the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany.
That same year, Rabbi Solomon F. Kleinman became the rabbi at TAS. Having served for eight years as Regional Director of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, he brought enormous energy and experience in community affairs.
During the early 1970s, Temple Ahavat Shalom held High Holy Day services at the neighboring Church of the Latter Day Saints, located at White Oak Avenue and Rinaldi Street. The LDS leadership was always very cordial. However, it was imperative that a much larger permanent synagogue-social hall complex was needed.
Through Rabbi Kleinman’s inspired leadership, capital fundraising and architectural committees were established under the slogan, “The Possible Dream.” This dream was realized with the completion of a beautiful and functional new facility in time for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in the fall of 1978.
Several years later, the congregation embarked upon the successful “Pillar of Light Campaign,” to complete the sanctuary with stained glass, an eternal light, and ark, all of which were designed by artist Joseph Young. The ark houses a Torah that survived the Holocaust and was brought to Temple Ahavat Shalom following its restoration. Our original ark from Temple Beth Torah was designed and crafted by a founding member Irv Reizes and still resides in our chapel.
During Rabbi Kleinman’s tenure, TAS established a new preschool and, then as now, offered Sunday and Hebrew school for children from K through 12. He and the leadership worked closely with our architects to design a contemporary building which would provide a warm setting for the congregation. Under Rabbi Kleinman, TAS flourished with retreats, several scholar-in-residence weekends, and a deep commitment to social action. Most significantly, TAS sponsored a Vietnamese family in their resettlement in Los Angeles. The congregation also embraced Project Yachad to help free Soviet Jews from communist oppression. With the congregation’s assistance, several families were settled in the U.S. or in Israel. Rabbi Kleinman retired in 1986.
Rabbi Jerry Brown came to our pulpit in 1986. He brought youthful energy and his own unique vision to the congregation. Rabbi Brown inspired the membership and lay leadership to build of a beautiful, modern school complex, which today includes brightly lit, highly functional classrooms and an activity center. During his tenure, Rabbi Brown grew TAS to 700 families, oversaw the opening of the school building, changed our services to reflect modern thought, taught many classes with dynamic vigor, and interested the congregation in new topics, including interfaith activity. After 23 years, Rabbi Brown retired.
In 1986, Cantor Patti Linsky joined Rabbi Brown on the pulpit. A talented soprano with great musical gifts, her voice continues to enhance our services and deepens our religiosity. Cantor Linksy’s work supporting Reform Judaism both locally and nationally is widely respected.
Rabbi Lutz first came to Ahavat Shalom in 1984 as a graduate of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at HUC-JIR where he received a Master’s Degree in Jewish Education. He established an educational program for TAS which has been recognized as one of the most outstanding educational programs in the Reform movement. Today, the educational program at TAS includes a nationally recognized Confirmation program, community trips to Israel, and 11th grade social justice experiences in Washington D.C.
In 1999, Rabbi Lutz was ordained at H.U.C. and in 2007 was named Senior Rabbi of TAS. Under his leadership, Rabbi Lutz is leading TAS into the 21st century with programs, such as “Synaplex”, Shabbat experiences that include a variety of activities for every age group.
He also has renewed TAS’ commitment to social action by developing extensive, long-term relationships with organizations that are addressing important issues and human needs, such as, poverty and social services; housing and homelessness; hunger; the environment; international human rights; and Israel. Temple Ahavat Shalom has partnered with the SOVA Food Bank, MEND (Meeting Each Need with Dignity), LA Family Housing and Jewish World Watch (JWW).
In October 2009, TAS hosted a “Feeding the Hungry” project at the West Valley Jewish Community Center. This effort was the result of two years of planning and a $20,000 grant. The results speak for themselves: 400 volunteers from TAS and several other congregations packaged, sealed, and boxed 35,000 meals for distribution through SOVA to those in need within our community.
Temple Ahavat Shalom looks to our future in Northridge with great optimism, Rabbi Lutz, along with Temple President, Lisa Kantor and over 60 members of the TAS Long-range Planning Committee, are diligently working to provide a “2020” vision for a promising future here in Northridge.
During our 45-year history in Northridge, Temple Ahavat Shalom has retained our character as a caring, intergenerational congregation, welcoming all members of the community including families, singles, young adults, seniors, same-sex couples, and interfaith couples. Lasting friendships have been formed while celebrating Judaism in all its richness.