Posted on April 1, 2012
Known for their abundant energy and passion for volunteerism and activism for Jewish and interfaith causes, Charlie and Cathy Niederman began their association with Temple Beth David in 1967 well before the temple was built when services were held in a church in Los Alamitos. Ironically, this couple who has gone on to create such a strong vibrant Jewish life for themselves may not have done so looking at how their story began.
Cathy grew up Presbyterian and Charlie was raised in a non-religious home where the only sense of Jewishness came from his mother who was an ardent Zionist because as Charlie puts it, “She was a Zionist because Israel was a wonderful socialist country.”
Charlie and Cathy met when classmates (Charlie was teaching student naval engineers) of Cathy’s brother said to Charlie that he ought to ask her out on a date. He did, they went to dinner, saw a movie — Zorba the Greek, and they’ve been dancing together ever since.
It was important for both Charlie and Cathy that she convert before they got married and the rabbi they went through for the conversion said he would perform the conversion only on the condition that Charlie also attend the classes. Charlie quips, “I really came to Judaism through my wife!”
Charlie grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the Coast Guard Academy. He also earned a master’s degree in Naval Architecture Marine Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at the University of Michigan. He was an engineer in the Coast Guard for 28 years and then worked for the County of Orange in Landfill Management for another eleven before retiring. Cathy graduated from Washington State University with a degree in Chemistry and has used that degree over the years to work for food manufacturing companies in inspection and quality assurance. The couple has four children and three grandchildren. Their third daughter is a prominent educational specialist working for the URJ (Union of Reform Judaism) and is married to Rabbi Andrew Paley, senior Rabbi of Temple Shalom in Dallas, TX.
Here is just a partial list of the groups and organizations the Niederman’s have been or are currently proud members of. Cathy has been President of Sisterhood, sat on the Temple Board, been Social Action Chair, attended many conventions for Sisterhood and the URJ, has served on the WRJ (Women of Reform Judaism) Board, and sat on the Board of the Jewish Community Forum. She belongs to AAUW (Association of University Women), the American Chemical Society, and the Institute of Food Technology. You can also see her heading up the Blood Drive at Temple Beth David in association with the Red Cross.
Charlie has been President of the Temple, is on the National Board of Brotherhood, and has been a chancellor of the Jewish Chautauqua Society (the interfaith arm of the Men of Reform Judaism). He belongs to ARZA (Association of Reform Zionists of America) and writes articles about it for the Megillah. He is a member of the Greater Huntington Beach Interfaith Council and takes the lead in their July 4th float in the parade. He is also coordinator of the Orange County Chapter of a program called “Walking Together,” an interfaith program for 4th, 5th, and 6th grade Jewish, Christian, and Moslem children.
This June marks the couple’s 10th visit to Israel! In 2010 they were privileged to be part of the World Jewish Congress Convention that met in Jerusalem. “It was a real eye-opener,” says Charlie, alluding to how much power the religious parties exert.
Charlie and Cathy have been, and continue to be, prominent figures in Temple Beth David, their communities, local, national, and international, and we are delighted to have them as members.~~