Congregation Am HaYam was incorporated in 1997. Our first Rabbi was Gerald Hanig of blessed memory.
We went from members homes, to a temporary space in a member's warehouse, to a community hall in Oxnard, and finally to our own beautiful Temple on Market Street in Ventura.
Our goal has always been to provide a home for Conservative Jewish life and a place where you can come as a stranger and leave as a friend. A place to meet new friends in a Hamish atmosphere.
Rabbi J.B. Sacks has led the congregation since 2012.
On behalf of our Board, and our entire community, let me welcome you to the Congregation Am HaYam website. My husband, Arnie and I moved to Oxnard in 1996 and joined Congregation Am HaYam in 1997. We were thrilled to find a Conservative Synagogue to belong to and have not been disappointed with our decision.
PRESIDENT: BRENDA RICH
RABBI: J.B. SACKS
SECRETARY: DONNA GUSTAFSON
CORRESPONDING SECRETARY: RUTH RESNICK
TREASURER: LOIS LEBMAN
MEMBERSHIP VP: MIRIAM MACK
EDUCATION VP: FRAN LANDE
WAYS & MEANS VP: ANDREA MASSION
HOUSING VP: NEAL ABRAMSON
RITUAL VP: ROZ RESNICK
RITUAL VP EMERITUS: MILT ROTHSCHILD
Rabbi Dr. J.B. Sacks has been serving Congregation Am HaYam since January, 2012. He stepped in after the death of beloved rabbi Gerald Hanig, Am HaYam’s founding rabbi. Rabbi Sacks has re-energized our community with new ideas, new programs, and new music.
Rabbi Sacks also teaches at New Community Jewish High School and serves as Co-Director of Jewish Life and as Librarian. There he mentors the Tanakh Club and the C.A.K.E. (Creating a Kehillah of Equality) Club. He also appears in most of the school’s theater productions. Rabbi Sacks also serves as Professor of Jewish Thought at the Academy for the Jewish Religion California (AJRCA) as a Faculty member for the Florence Melton Adult Mini School, West Valley. He has also been a Visiting Professor at area universities.
Rabbi Sacks has long been involved in promoting discussions of gender and sexual orientation, especially within the Conservative Movement. Today gender equality is a given, while GLBT acceptance has made tremendous gains, with the Movement’s acceptance of gay and lesbian rabbis (2006) and same-sex marriage (2012). Rabbi Sacks edited Journey to Freedom, a Passover seder centered on personal journeys of GLBT Jews and Ka’afikim Ba-Negev: a Sourcebook for Rabbis in Engaging Their Communities Regarding Concerns of Lesbians and Gays and Their Loved Ones.
A social justice advocate, Rabbi Sacks has especially been active on HIV/AIDS issues. He founded the AIDS Interfaith Network of New Jersey and helped establish the World AIDS Day commemoration at the Jewish Museum in New York City. At New Jew, he served as consultant on their acclaimed (and multi-award winning) production of Rent and started an annual World AIDS Day commemoration.
Rabbi Sacks has served congregations previously (Jersey City, NJ and Arcadia, CA). He has also served as Jewish chaplain (Jersey City Medical Center), Hillel Director (Claremont Colleges) and youth work (Camp Ramah, Los Angeles Hebrew High School).
Rabbi Sacks received his Doctor of Ministry degree at the Claremont School of Theology. His dissertation was entitled, “I Have Something to Tell You”: The Importance of Articulation of Acknowledgment and Admission and the Life Journey. A Meditation and Commentary on Psalm 32.”
Rabbi Sacks was ordained from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1986, where he received the Master of Arts degree. His undergraduate degree (1978) hails from Ohio University (Athens), in Spanish (Latin American Studies specialization, Teachers Certification, State of Ohio), graduating summa cum laude. Studying in Israel for several years, he graduated from the University of Judaism (1982), receiving the Isadore Familian Award in Talmudic Studies. Rabbi Sacks has also received special Rav Ha-Machshir certification from the Conservative Movement.
Rabbi Sacks hails from Monroe, Michigan and descends from 17 generations of rabbis on his mother’s side. Growing up his family belonged to three congregations—one Orthodox, one Conservative and one Reform, Temple B’nai Israel, which his parents founded. Rabbi Sacks lives in Woodland Hills with Steven Karash: They are the proud fathers of Evan.