History of the Shul
HaRav Avraham Hyam Lapin, former Chief Rabbi of South Africa, was invited in 1977 to head a fledgling Orthodox community in San Jose, California. He and his wife, Rebbetzin Maisie, built up the congregation based on Torah values and character refinement. In November 1991, the Rav zt”l unexpectedly passed away. At this time, the community requested that his son, Rabbi Raphael Lapin, Rosh Yeshiva of Keter Torah and his wife, Rebbetzin Chanie, come to San Jose and assume the mantle of leadership. Under their influence, Am Echad continued spiritual and physical growth.
Raphael was raised in the house of Rav Avraham Hyam Lapin and Rebbetzin Maisie Lapin and attended Yeshiva College in Johannesburg. At age 17 he embarked on a journey that took him to Gateshead Yeshiva in the U.K, where he earned his Ph.D and became highly acclaimed for his knowledge and expertise in Talmudic Law.
In addition to leading the community, Raphael studied and trained in negotiation and conflict resolution under the Harvard Negotiation Project (an adjunct of Harvard Law School) and was one of twenty-four people accepted nationwide for Harvard’s advanced mediation program, which he completed in 1997.
Chanie was raised in Minneapolis, daughter of Rabbi Meir Eismann. Chanie studied at Rika Breuer Teachers’ Seminary in Washington Heights. The Rebbetzin developed a true sense of Jewish values recognizable in the selfless dedication to her contribution to community education. Rebbetzin Chanie was Principal of Eitz Chaim Academy, the community Jewish day school, for 16 years.
Raphael now runs a successful negotiation and conflict management consulting firm with several Fortune 500 companies as clients. In addition to this, he is also a licensed pilot.
Aaron Shushan was the son of R. Moshe and Rivkah Shushan, of Slonim-Bronovich, he learned at the Chevron Beis Medrash in Yerushalayim. He then married the daughter of the Botoshani Rebbe, Viti Frankel and taught Talmud in a religious high school. In 1980 the Shushans came to spend six years in New York. Upon his return to Eretz Yisroel, Rabbi Shushan resumed his intensive learning in Mir Yeshiva. Rabbi Shushan was given semicha in 1989, by Rabbi Sinai Frankel, and later, in 2001, by the Sephardi Chief Rabbi, Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron. Rabbi Shushan’s taught at several Yeshivos in Eretz Yisroel as well as being the principal hashgacha director and Rabbinical advisor at the Jerusalem Hilton Hotel.
The Shushans returned to the United States, and came to California in 2001, serving as teacher and Rebbe at Eitz Chaim Academy for four years. Already an integral part of the community, Rabbi Shushan became the Rabbi of Am Echad in June, 2005.