As he and his wife, Randie, consider it less of a retirement and more of a transition, Rabbi Ron Hauss is looking forward to his new life following his 70th birthday May 27.
“I have always imagined that there was a second life, a different life out there for me after I’ve finished my (tenure as rabbi),” he said. “I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly.”
Hauss has served as a rabbi for the last five decades, much of that time leading on and off at Congregation Beth Shalom. He committed himself to retiring at 70, looking ahead at new projects and personal time he could have more focus on. Born in New York City, he moved to the Santa Clarita Valley in 1975. The synagogue started with 33 families, Hauss said, which had swollen to 125 families by 2013.
He considered that change to have began with a “whole new, radical idea.”
“Through a lot of fortuitous circumstances, building the new sanctuary, my coming back (and) a new concept of membership, which did away with membership dues and basically said, ‘If you’re a member of the Jewish community in Santa Clarita, you are a part of Beth Shalom,’” he said. “‘We welcome you, membership dues are not an issue. You come, you (take part) in our services, and whatever you would like to contribute, that’s your contribution.’”
One of Hauss’ upcoming projects will be to write a definitive history of the SCV’s Jewish community that dates back to the early history of Jewish settlement in California. After 40 years of collecting information, he feels that now he’ll have the time for serious research.
His other project entails a formal tour program of Jewish Los Angeles. It would include a monthly bus tour driving around the city and taking guests to historic Jewish sites across LA. As the city with the third largest Jewish community in the world, it’s the only major city to not offer such a program, Hauss said.
Hauss also said he plans to travel more with his wife, though he will still reside in Santa Clarita and attend functions at Congregation Beth Shalom.
With his eye toward the Santa Clarita Valley, he looked at the city as “an island of normality and peace within a very troubled world.”
“It is the place that grounds me, the place that I consider home,” he said. “It is the place that reassures me in difficult moments that the evil in the world and the people who do evil in the world are not the majority. They’re a small fraction. We can’t lose sight of the good in the world as represented here in Santa Clarita.”
As a tribute to Hauss and his wife’s time with the synagogue, Congregation Beth Shalom will hold a gala and dinner on June 1. Individual tickets will cost $95, while couples can attend for $215. The gala is set to begin at 7 p.m.
For more information about the gala itself, go to cbs-scv.org/annual-gala-tribute-dinner/