Rabbi Richard Steinberg was chosen to lead the Congregation of Shir Ha-Ma'alot in July of 2001. At that time, the congregation consisted of 300 member families. Today, it is a thriving congregation of well over 600 families. Rabbi Steinberg has a varied and accomplished past. Graduating from the California State University system in 1990 with a Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice and minor in Sociology, Rabbi Steinberg thought he would pursue a career in law enforcement. After working for a police department for a year, he decided to focus on a different kind of law – the law of the soul.
Rabbi Steinberg's wide range of experience as a congregational rabbi, chaplain at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, UCLA Hillel, therapist at University of Cincinnati Walk-In Psychological Clinic and other internships, led him to a prime pulpit as an assistant rabbi in Cincinnati, Ohio at the Isaac M. Wise Temple – the place where Reform Judaism was founded. Rabbi Steinberg served that Temple for six years bringing new energy and wonderful programs from Healing Services to Senior Adult Programming to innovative Youth programs and a wide range of thought provoking classes. His reputation preceded him as he was called back to California to assume the spiritual leadership of Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’alot.
Since arriving in Irvine, Rabbi Steinberg has set his goals and made his priorities exceedingly clear. He believes that when one comes to Temple, they ought to feel better when they leave than when they walked in. He believes that temples ought to meet people where they are and then take them on the journey of the spirit. He believes that Judaism ought to be compelling and relevant in one’s life, otherwise there is no purpose in practicing.
Rabbi Steinberg works diligently at providing a warm, caring and educational environment for people to grow in all ways. Through creating an interactive partnership with the laity, Rabbi Steinberg is literally fashioning a place that people call home. It has been said of CSHM, “This is the place where children bring their parents.” Family orientation is number one to Rabbi Steinberg. Everyone is welcome at every service. He is very serious when he speaks of the Temple’s motto “A Lifetime of Belonging.” Temple is not a one stop shop to Rabbi Steinberg, but rather the place where one can come to feel rooted and part of something bigger than them selves.
Rabbi Steinberg has not only assumed the leadership of our Temple in Irvine, but has become a community leader in the Orange County Jewish and general community. He serves of the Boards of the Jewish Federation, American Jewish Congress and the Anti-Defamation League and is an office on the Orange County Board of Rabbis. He is extremely active at the Jewish Community Center, Tarbut v’Torah and Morasha Day Schools. He is key point person on the University of California, Irvine campus dealing with the issues of tolerance and diversity. Rabbi Steinberg has received several awards already since coming to Irvine. He is the recipient of the “Outstanding Devotion to the Jewish Community Center” award, the “Yachad Award for Outstanding Jewish Community Service” given to a local Jewish professional each year and he was honored by the Central Region of B’nai B’rith Youth Organization as well.
Rabbi Steinberg’s vision and sense of mission has brought spirit, depth and joy to Orange County Judaism and to Shir Ha-Ma’alot in particular.