For the 33 years it has been part of the local community, Temple Isaiah has prided itself on being friendly. Perhaps that’s because it started as a group of about 50 friends gathering for Friday night Shabbat in the Newport Beach home of temple founders Felix and Flory Van Beek.
“It was a lot of people in here,” Flory Van Beek said during a recent interview in her living room. “We even had a quartet singing in the hallway.”
As the crowd grew, the Van Beeks knew it was time to search for a bigger space, and they found an even less conventional location. When Flory found out about the recently constructed Harbor Christian Church, she worked to convince the church to open its doors to a conservative temple. Though the couple didn’t expect the arrangement to be permanent, the two have cohabited joyfully for more than three decades in the Irvine Avenue building. Flory fondly recalled group potlucks, an instance when the temple choir sang for the church’s Christmas Mass and when the church presented the temple with an eternal light to honor their friendship in 2001.