Posted on September 1, 2011
Sure, Steve Jobs founded Apple and Bill Gates Microsoft, yet what really computes to a lifetime of joy and special memories is the temple that a tireless group of young families founded 50 years ago…Temple Beth David. We
hope you’ll enjoy monthly spotlights of these leaders – their hopes, sacrifices, joys, and loyalty. May their stories inspire all of us to appreciate and participate in, even more deeply, our Temple.
In 1960, Herb and Lois Abrams were a young married couple with one child and another on its way. They wanted a Jewish community to befriend and a place to celebrate life cycles. Yet being actively Jewish wasn’t always a slam dunk, especially for Herb, a first generation American whose parents were Russian and Romanian. Learning that his father was beaten for studying Yiddish in Europe surely didn’t motivate him to become more Jewish. However, the desperate journey to Canada Herb’s father made to flee to safety at age 14, with 8 year old sister in hand, surely did inspire Herb to fully understand the sacrifices needed to create a greater freedom and better life for family. Herb’s service in the US Army during the Korean conflict would further emphasize this lesson.
Marrying Lois 56 years ago also brought this message home. She was the perfect conduit to mobilize his cultural interest in Judaism. While Lois joined the first-ever Board at Temple Beth David, Herb became the first Chair of the temple’s religious school and also taught there. Lois was raised in a reform Jewish home in Indiana where she especially treasured the Jewish celebrations at temple. Coincidentally, she and Rabbi Front (TBD former Rabbi) grew up in the same synagogue.
Speaking of “sames,” Lois and Herb were school teachers, high school counselors, and ultimately Ph.D., psychotherapists. They taught at Pepperdine University, are published authors, and since 1970 have worked together in their Los Alamitos based psychotherapy practice. A career highlight was in 1979 when they conducted a first-of-its-kind workshop in Poland with renowned psychologist Dr. Carl Rogers. Among hobbies, the Abrams love to travel and enjoy an array of music – Herb especially likes jazz and Lois is currently learning to play the ukulele. They have two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels fondly referred to as their “babies.” Duke and Romeo are therapy “comfort” dogs who have impressive resumes – they help during wild fires, assist at shelters (Romeo is especially good with infants), and come to work with the Abrams daily. Duke was a featured keynote speaker at three counselor conventions. Yes, he speaks! Duke and Lois worked at Ground Zero during the 9/11 aftermath.
Now back to 1960. Herb’s brother-in-law and also a founder, Ben Cohn, helped the Abrams get involved. Though struggling financially at the time, the Abrams were among several families who signed their mortgage as collateral for the temple’s bank loan. Lois recalls how torn the visionary committee was between choosing land with a school building already on it near Carson Street or an empty parcel of land near the 405 freeway in Westminster surrounded by basically nothing. The Abrams’ social life revolved around temple and their daughter Floree and son Mark (who now have grown children of their own) celebrated many life cycle events there.
Though the Abrams have moved several times, currently residing in Huntington Beach, they say Temple Beth David is a home they’ve never moved from. “Temple gives us a sense of security and the more we participate, the more joy we receive.” They are especially overjoyed to see children fill the classrooms. Above all, the Abrams say the temple and congregants symbolize ‘the goodness of life.’ Thankfully, they dedicated much of their lives to TBD and because of it we all have much goodness to celebrate!