In the summer of 1952, a group of Lakewood residents gathered informally to discuss the state of the local Jewish community. All agreed that it was time for an organization that could provide for the educational, religious, social and cultural needs of Lakewood Jewry.
The fifty-five charter member families paid annual dues of twelve dollars to be part of a new and exciting venture. The Sunday school was held in the homes of volunteer teachers who were trained to teach children Hebrew.
On Yom Kippur Eve, 1954, Louis H. Boyar, co-founder of Lakewood, and S. Mark Taper presented the community leadership with the deed to the property at our present site. By this time, the Jewish Lakewood Community Congregation, as it was then called, was growing quickly.
The synagogue officially changed its name to Congregation Ner Olam on March 20, 1961 when a merger was made with Woodruff Community Temple. .
The temple name was changed to Temple Beth Zion in 1962. At a formal presentation on June 13, 1965, at the Long Beach Jewish Community Center, the designs for the new temple building were unveiled. For four years the synagogue struggled to raise funds for this new enterprise. In the late spring of 1969, ground was broken and construction began. With the help of the LBJCC, , the entire congregation of Beth Zion was “exiled” for the duration.
The community observed with eager anticipation the progress of their new spiritual home. Up from the foundation arose the familiar trapezoidal dome. Vigorous efforts were underway to furnish the interior. By February 1970, the building was nearing completion. A Torah homecoming was joyfully celebrated on April 12. The cornerstone, quarried in Israel, was re-laid on September 20, and the formal dedication took place on October 18, 1970.
As the synagogue prospered, it gained even greater stature in the area. Temple Sinai, a traditional pillar of Judaism in Long Beach, began discussion with Temple Beth Zion about fusing the strength of these two institutions. In the spirit of kinship and communal service, we joined in 1974 to become Temple Beth Zion-Sinai.
In the late 80’s when the Huntington Park Temple closed its doors, Temple Beth Zion-Sinai offered to bring over their memorial boards that are on the wall of our chapel. After many years of discussing a possible merger, Temple Beth El of Long Beach joined our congregational family in August 1990.
Throughout our years, we have maintained a conservative mantel, but in 2006 we invited a progressive Rabbi to lead us and became an independent Synagogue. In keeping with this new adventure, our name was changed once more to Congregation Shir Chadash – “a New Song”. Congregation Shir Chadash is at once one of the oldest and newest synagogues serving the Greater Long Beach/West Orange County Jewish community.
We are a fully egalitarian, open, and inclusive congregation dedicated to serving the worship needs of all segments of the area’s Jewish community. People connect with God and Judaism in different ways, and our aim is to provide a welcoming home for all of them. As Jews, the things that bind us together are far more important – and far more enduring – than the things that distinguish us, and the goal of Congregation Shir Chadash is to create a community of Jews where our differences strengthen rather than divide us.