Rabbi Kenneth Milhander

     I am delighted to be Congregation Shalom Bayit’s rabbi and for the opportunity to serve the members of the temple and the greater Banning Pass community.  Please know that you are welcome to call upon me anytime if I can be of service to you or any family or community member. You are welcome to use my email address. I look forward to getting to know everyone in due time. Here is a little background on me: 

 

    I was born and raised in Los Angeles. When my mother remarried, we moved to the San Fernando Valley. I attended Los Angeles Valley Jr. College, then UCLA, then the University of Judaism (now called the American Jewish University) and finally, Hebrew Union College. I was ordained in 1995 and have served congregations in Steubenville, OH, Camarillo and Santa Maria, and for the past 13 years, here in Fullerton. After 19 years of full-time congregational employment, I have decided to take on some new and different challenges and to pursue a full-time career outside of the pulpit. However, my love of Judaism, Israel, and the Jewish people has never and will never waver, so I am again delighted to have the opportunity to serve CSB.

 

     I have been married to Laura for almost 22 years and we have four children: Leah – 17, Mara – 14, and our twin boys Adam and Jason – 10. For many years I was very involved in the interfaith community here in Orange County and I continue to serve as a police chaplain for the Placentia Police Department and the Fullerton Police Department. I am the current treasurer of the Southern California Chaplains’ Association, and the former president and secretary/treasurer of theFullerton Interfaith Ministerial Association.

 

     On the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on America, I wrote a “Kaddish for 9/11” which appears on the URJ (Union for Reform Judaism) website and continues to be used throughout the country at annual observances. In 2003, I wrote an article entitled “Getting in touch with my masculine side” which appeared in Men of Reform Judaism’s Achim magazine. On July 5th, let’s celebrate America! My Havdallah program will be a sing-along of patriotic songs and a presentation on “Jews in the Armed Forces” and their significant contribution to this great land of ours. I hope to see you there and of course at the July 18th Shabbat service. Again, in the meantime, please do not hesitate to call upon me if I can be of any service to you or your family.  

I look forward to a very fruitful, positive, productive and spiritual year ahead!

 

Lech   L’shalom – may you go in peace,

A Message from Our Spiritual Leader


Shalom Chaverim,

 

Former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill is famous for saying, "all politics is local." Another axiom that conveys the same idea is, "Where you sit is where you stand." In other words, our circumstances , experiences, perceptions, social position, finances, and so many other individual and personal factors influence our opinions, views, and perspectives on a variety of topics and issues. As Circumstances and experiences change, so do we. As society changes, so do we (sometimes whether to not we want to admit it or give in to the change).

 

Now religion at its core is something that is constant as God is constant. As the world changes around us we expect and sometimes even demand that one thing at the very least is maintained as recognizable and unchanging. Yet, religions too must change, even religions that claim to adhere to an orthodox standard. Until a few hundred years ago, the terms Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform were foreign and unknown in the Jewish Community. For sure, there were always differences between different Jewish communities, sometimes stark differences as between Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews. But for the most part, Judaism was much more monolithic than it is today.

 

A few hundred years ago, all that changed (or progressed, or developed... pick whichever word you prefer). Mirroring what was happening in the Christian world.. the Enlightenment, Reformation, and a move towards democracy.. much of the Jewish world underwent a similar process. One saying I often us is : "as goes the Christian world, so goes the Jewish world." The result of that major change and transformation is today what we call Reform Judaism.

 

Over the last 140 years since Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise brought together under the umbrella of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations the two dozen or so congregations then in existence in what was a much smaller United States, the Reform Movement itself has continued to change, evolve, and progress. To be sure, we have core principles to which we steadfastly adhere, but not only are we influenced by the world in which we live, we are on the forefront and front lines of influencing society and taking a leadership role fighting for the rights of others.

 

Reform Judaism is often accused of having no backbone, no principles, and that we are all things to all people, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, over the past almost century and a half, the Reform Movement has published serveral postion papers, known as platforms, to make known its priniciples to adherents, the wider Jewish community, and the non-Jewish community as well. Reading through and studing these platforms can give us keen insight into not just the history of the Reform Movement, but what was happening in society at large, and what specific factors influenced those who walked before us.

 

So for the next two Havadallah programs, on May 2nd and Juen 6th. I hope you will join me as we study the platforms of the Reform Movement. I guarantee you will be surprised by some things and most of all amazed at how circumstances, experiences, and realities have changed in the last 140 years.

 

So my own Mother doesn't yell at me, let me wish those who celebrate a very happy and enjoyable Mother's Day. Let me also express my thanks and gratitiude for all whom we honor and remember on Memorial Day.


Lech L’shalom – May you go in peace,
Rabbi Kenneth Milhander