Irvine is increasingly becoming Orange County's Jewish capital, with the establishment of a sixth synagogue, Congregation Kol HaNeshamah, which in Hebrew means "voice of the soul." The new shul's rabbi is H. Rafael Goldstein, who also serves as chaplain for the San Diego Jewish Federation and its Jewish Healing Center, a program of San Diego's Jewish Family Service.
The new congregation's founding members and its rabbi are expatriates of Congregation Or Ami, another Irvine shul that has apparently disbanded. Or Ami fired Goldstein in December 2000, says Pat Goldman, Kol HaNeshamah's president. "They couldn't afford the rabbi and the building. We chose the rabbi," she says.
The splinter group, reformed in March 2001 as Kol HaNeshamah has applied to affiliate with the Reform movement, but has yet to be accepted. Goldman describes the shul's approach as Reform/Renewal, where spiritual services involve music and the congregation. Goldstein is unaffiliated with the Orange County Board of Rabbis, says the group's executive vice president, Rabbi Lawrence Goldmark.
Holiday services will be held in combination with Irvine's Congregation Kol Simcha, Orange County's gay, lesbian and bisexual Jewish congregation, which holds itinerant services. These are to take place at University Synagogue, 4915 Alton Parkway, Irvine. The congregation expects to add a second class of religious education, which starts Sept. 22 at Irvine's University Community Park.
For more information about Kol HaNeshamah, call (949) 551-2737 or visit www.voiceofthesoul.org .