Honoring Reb Zalman

Please join Fabrangen on  Saturday, Sept. 13 as we honor the life of Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z”l, who was a founding teacher of the Jewish Renewal movement.  A number of Fabrangeners had the opportunity to study with Reb Zalman over the years and he was a powerful influence in their lives. Reb Zalman created a bridge from the deeply traditional Hasidic world in which he was ordained to the modern world where he taught, led, and innovated  At the Sept. 13 services, Max will lead a discussion about Reb Zalman after the Torah reading, and Mark Novak, ordained by the Jewish Renewal movement, will daven Shacharit.  After services and kiddush, we will have a study session in Reb Zalman’s honor. More details on the study session to come soon.

If you’d like to learn more about Reb Zalman, there is so much on the Internet!  A few selections:

For an overview of his life, see http://forward.com/articles/201430/reb-zalman-married-counter-culture-to-hasidic-juda/

A video of his memorial service held last month is at https://www.aleph.org/streaming/

A personal summary of the memorial service is at http://kolaleph.org/2014/08/19/a-heart-as-big-as-the-world-remembered-by-rabbi-rachel-barenblat/

Reb Zalman’s interview and photo from the book, Jewish Fathers: A Legacy of Love by Lloyd Wolf and Paula Wolfson (Jewish Lights, 2004). 

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi“Rabbi Schachter of Boulder Colorado has held the World Wisdom Seat at Naropa University and is Professor Emeritus at Temple University. He is a central figure of the Jewish Renewal Movement, and founder of the Spiritual Eldering Institute. Born in Poland in 1924, he came to America in 1941.He has ten children, Miriam, Sholem Dov Baer, Yosef Yitzhaq. Akiva Eliyahu, Chana, Yonatan Gamliel, Alisa, Shalvi, Barya and Yotam.

My Papa Shlomo, olev hasholem, was a davener. Often he would take me to shul with him. One Rosh Hashonah, after he had finished the silent Amidah prayer, I saw that he had cried. I asked “Papa, why are you crying? “He said, “I’m crying because I talked to God.” I asked him, “Does it hurt when you talk to God?” He replied, “No. I am crying because I let so much time go by since I talked to Him last.”

Papa had a minhag that I have continued. He always bought his children very good tefillin. I do this and tell my grandchildren, “You’re getting Cadillacs.” I buy them really good tefillin, because I want them to be able to honor God. It places our action and our thinking at the disposal of God’s will.

When my first child Mimi was born I came to New York and met my old teacher, Reb Shmuel Lavitan, an aged Chabad chasid, who taught us on the higher level. He asked me, “What are you learning from your daughter?” It was a wonderful question to ask, because I didn’t consider such a thing, to look at a  newborn and say that I had to learn from the child. That trained me in watching children.

I think it is important for fathers to participate in all stages of a child’s birth and welcome into the world.  I think it is significant for the father to make the first cut on the umbilical cord. For a father to do that means to take on responsibility. There is a continuity from father to grandfather to all the way to Abraham, and that’s a very powerful thing.

The Earth is a living being. Every species is part of the vital organs of the planet. Religions are part of the vital organs of the planet. No religion can claim that it is the sole carrier of the life of the planet. Jewish mitzvahs have to do with staying in harmony with the cycles of life. Pesach is at the full moon of the vernal equinox and Sukkot happens at the full moon of the autumnal equinox, they’re plugged into life.

There are are no models today how to become older. You no longer have grandparents live in the same household with grandchildren That is what brought me to the spiritual eldering work. When children see that the parents of that older generation, instead of being crabby, are still holding a kind of spiritual center in themselves, then they can honor that. I teach people how to own their lifelong experience and to become mentors, wisdom-keepers for the younger generations to pass on the legacy.”