First Orthodox Holy Day services slated in Santa Cruz

What he really wants is for people to turn up for worship, and he expects a crowd of about 70.

"People are not emphasizing the positive aspects of Judaism," says Citron, a great-nephew of the late Shlomo Carlebach. "This week's parashah says bad things happen when you don't serve HaShem from out of joyfulness and good heart. The biggest sin is when you don't enjoy Judaism."

This is why checking on congregants' personal levels of observance is on the bottom of his priorities.

"The last thing I'm going to do is advise someone to not drive on Shabbos," said the independent Chassidic rabbi who was ordained at Yeshiva Ohr Elchonan Chabad.

But for those who live beyond walking distance, he's offering an alternative to driving. "Some will actually stay at my house or my neighbor's house."

Although Citron observes the outreach philosophy of his minstrel great-uncle, he's aware that the mechitzah, the partition that divides men and women at services, makes people question.

"The mechitzah is not there to segregate or make any of the sexes secondary. It creates a distinct awareness of an individual's relation to the Creator," Citron said. "Knowing the energies between men and women helps us define who we are for intimacy. Recognizing one's inner spiritual psyche helps us recognize our own unique qualities and differences."

But women and men will have equal views of the bimah and ark, which will be directly in front of the congregation.

"It's not like the women will be in the back; everyone will be side to side," Citron said.

The services will also include plenty of Chassidic-style singing, davening from the Chabad Machsor and blowing the shofar.

Citron said his home-based shul, the Jewish Learning Center, has been running programs since the summer of 1996. About 20 to 50 people attend his weekly programs, which include classes on Jewish medical ethics for the doctors at Dominican Hospital as well as student outreach at U.C. Santa Cruz. He also hosted a Passover seder for 100 people.

He emphasized that all are welcome at High Holy Day services, which he is determined to make affordable.

"A lot of people just want something meaningful without having to pay high membership dues," Citron said.