Oakland is home to some of the best gospel churches anywhere, from Allen Temple Baptist in East Oakland to Olivet Institutional Missionary on the west side. There’s no doubt that the weekly sounds emanating from those houses of worship would stir any soul. But there’s something new in Oaktown, and it’s coming from a conservative Jewish synagogue, no less. Synagogues have never been known as houses of music. In fact, Jews traditionally have been a little, ahem, sedate when it comes to mixing chords with the Lord. But not at Temple Beth Abraham, at least not since Rabbi Mark Bloom came to town. Bloom is blowing a hole in tradition with his fourteen-member rock ‘n’ roll big band, replete with backup singers. And his congregants, old and young alike, are literally dancing in the aisles. Bloom’s occasional Rock ‘n’ Roll Shabbat Friday night service routinely draws several hundred worshippers to the domed red-brick temple along I-580. “It’s perhaps the most intergenerational event we have,” says the young guitar-playing, rock-singing rabbi, who patterns his events after a similar service in Los Angeles and has become a local fan favorite, especially among the younger set.
219 E 15th St., Oakland, 510-649-9999