Celebrating Over 40 Years of Community Life!
Ahavat Zion is the oldest existing Messianic Jewish congregation on the West Coast, and one of the seven oldest in the entire country. Since our inception over forty years ago, we have been at the forefront of the Messianic Jewish movement, serving as a flagship congregation, a think-tank for innovative ideas and services, and a vibrant spiritual home for those who are Jewish or intermarried.
Following Israel's Six-Day War of 1967, a spiritual awakening erupted across the country, and particularly within the Jewish community of Los Angeles. In response to this spiritual awakening, in 1970 a young couple, Ray and Kassiani Gannon, moved from Santa Cruz to the Fairfax district of Los Angeles, which at that time was a bustling Jewish neighborhood. They soon began hosting small study and prayer groups in their apartment. The response was so great that within a short amount of time they outgrew their apartment and founded a small chavurah called the Beth Emmanuel Fellowship at a private home in Beverly Hills.
This fellowship of Jewish believers in Yeshua continued to expand rapidly and additional gatherings sprang-up in homes across Los Angeles. As a result of this growing phenomenon, Temple Beth Emmanuel was founded in 1973 by Dr. Ray Gannon and his associate, Phillip Goble. The congregation’s early Shabbat services were located in Encino and included traditional prayers, joyous music, and maintained a profound Jewish commitment.
With Temple Beth Emmanuel’s early success, Goble released the book, “Everything You Need to Grow a Messianic Synagogue.” Influential members during these early years included Dr. David Stern, who served as the congregation’s organist and transportation coordinator.
In 1976 the congregation hired Herbert Goldberg to become its next spiritual leader. Under Goldberg’s influence, in 1978 the congregation changed its bylaws and reincorporated under our current name, Ahavat Zion Synagogue (AZS).
In 1980 Rabbi Barry Budoff became the congregation’s third spiritual leader. Moving into a storefront in Reseda, the fellowship, music, and teaching attracted people from all over Southern California. In 1983, AZS moved from the San Fernando Valley back to Beverly Hills, where the congregation originally began.
After eleven years with AZS, Rabbi Budoff moved to Chicago in 1991 and the community hired well-known Messianic Jewish pioneer and musician Stuart Dauermann to become its next spiritual leader. As a tremendous scholar, teacher, and theologian, Rabbi Dauermann helped raise the level of scholarship not only within the congregation, but within the wider Messianic Jewish movement, through his involvement in the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC) and the founding of Hashivenu, a Messianic Jewish think tank with an annual leadership forum. Out of this matrix, Rabbi Dauermann also assisted in the founding of Messianic Jewish Theological Institute (MJTI).
Under Rabbi Dauermann’s leadership, the congregation forged a greater relationship with MJTI, and at various times, local staff and faculty have made AZS their spiritual home, bringing an additional level of leadership and scholarship to the community.
Rabbi Dr. Stuart Dauermann and his wife, Naomi, served as the spiritual leaders of AZS for over twenty years. Due to Rabbi Dauermann’s expanding interests and involvement within the Messianic Jewish movement around the world, in 2011 he stepped aside as the congregation’s spiritual leader to teach, write, and travel full-time. However, he and his wife maintain a close relationship with our community.
In July of 2011 Rabbi Joshua Brumbach became the new Senior Rabbi. As a skilled community builder, Rabbi Joshua brings a warm smile, a contagious spiritual fervor, and an enthusiastic commitment to build upon the congregation’s already solid foundation – adding a new chapter to its rich history.
After 33 memorable years in Beverly Hills, Ahavat Zion outgrew its facility, and in June of 2016, moved to our current location in Santa Monica.
If you share our vision for a vibrant Messianic Jewish community in West Los Angeles we invite you to join us on our journey.