Episode 41: Joining The Tribe w/Rabbi Adam Greenwald

Episode 41: Joining The Tribe w/Rabbi Adam Greenwald

The only thing truly within our power, may be whether or not we will behave in each moment with arrogance or reverence.”

– Rabbi Lawrence Kushner

Rabbi Adam Greenwald is the Director of the Miller Introduction to Judaism Program at American Jewish University, the largest learning program for those exploring conversion to Judaism in North America. He also serves as Lecturer in Rabbinics at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. In 2014, Rabbi Greenwald was named one of “America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis” by the Jewish Daily Forward. In 2016, Rabbi Greenwald received the Covenant Foundation’s Pomegranate Prize in Jewish Education.

Rabbi Greenwald is the editor of On One Foot, an introduction to Judaism textbook and curriculum, in wide use across the US and Canada. He is a Fellow with the National Center for Learning and Leadership (CLAL)’s “Rabbis Without Borders” initiative and speaks and teaches nationwide on issues of conversion, inclusion, and engagement of Jewish millennials. His writings have also appeared in the Washington Post, and he is a regular contributor to the Ziegler School’s widely distributed “Today’s Torah” and Jewish Values Online.

Prior to coming to the Intro Program, he served as Revson Rabbinic Fellow at IKAR, one of America’s most innovative spiritual communities. He received his BA in History from UCLA and his MA and ordination from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in 2011. He is married to Anne Hromadka, an art curator and consultant. Continue reading “Episode 41: Joining The Tribe w/Rabbi Adam Greenwald”

Episode 39: It All Started in the Desert; w/Rabbi Mike Comins

Episode 39: It All Started in the Desert; w/Rabbi Mike Comins

Ever-lasting life You have implanted with us.

-Jewish Prayer

Rabbi Mike Comins grew up in Los Angeles, graduated from UCLA with a BA in Near Eastern Studies, and served as Rosh Eida at UAHC Camp Swig before making aliyah (moving to Israel) at age 26.

While guiding Jerusalem for American youth and serving as chairperson of Netzer Olami (the International Reform-Zionist Youth Movement), Rabbi Mike studied classical Jewish texts for four years at Machon Pardes, a yeshiva in Jerusalem. In 1996, he was ordained by the Hebrew Union College – Israeli Rabbinical Program.

Rabbi Comins founded TorahTrek Spiritual Wilderness Adventures in 2001 while serving the Jackson Hole Chaverim in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The community’s first resident rabbi, Rabbi Mike helped the Jackson Jewish community establish itself while developing TorahTrek.

Rabbi Comins returned to Los Angeles in 2004, where he met his wife-to-be, Jody Porter. He continued to grow TorahTrek and turned it into a non-profit (2009).

A Wild Faith: Jewish Ways into Wilderness, Wilderness Ways into Judaism (2007) and his second book, Making Prayer Real: Leading Jewish Spiritual Voices on Why Prayer is Difficult and What to Do about It (2010).

In each, Rabbi Comins developed his “spiritual dynamics” approach to learning and teaching Judaism as a spiritual practice.

While TorahTrek no longer sponsors its own programs, he continues to lead nature and wilderness programs for synagogues and other organizations. Continue reading “Episode 39: It All Started in the Desert; w/Rabbi Mike Comins”

Episode 37: The Mystical Joy of Judaism and Love in Sufism w/Netanel Miles-Yépez

Episode 37: The Mystical Joy of Judaism and Love in Sufism w/Netanel Miles-Yépez

The Ego is driving the car when you are not paying attention.

-Netanel Miles-Yépez

Netanel Miles-Yépez is a teacher of religion and Pir of the Inayati-Maimuni lineage of Sufism, co-founded with his teacher, Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, fusing the Sufi and Hasidic principles of spirituality and practice espoused by Rabbi Avraham Maimuni in 13th-century Egypt with the teachings of the Ba’al Shem Tov and Hazrat Inayat Khan.

Miles-Yépez is the translator of My Love Stands Behind a Wall: A Translation of the Songs of Songs and Other Poems (2015), and co-author of A Heart Afire: Stories and Teachings of the Early Hasidic Masters (2009).

Netanel is currently a professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Naropa University. Continue reading “Episode 37: The Mystical Joy of Judaism and Love in Sufism w/Netanel Miles-Yépez”

Episode 32: Islam, Feminism, and Interfaith Dialogue w/Dr. Celene Ibrahim

Episode 32: Islam, Feminism, and Interfaith Dialogue w/Dr. Celene Ibrahim

“Those who look for seashells will find seashells; those who open them will find pearls.”

— Al-Ghazali

Dr. Celene Ibrahim is an accomplished scholar, chaplain, and consultant. She has been published in numerous media outlets from The New York Times to BBC Persian. Her recently published book is One Nation, Indivisible: Seeking Liberty and Justice from the Pulpit to the Streets, an anthology of inter-religious voices on the transformative power of ecumenism in America. Her current book project examines female figures in the Qur’an (forthcoming in 2020 from Oxford University Press).  

Dr. Ibrahim is a public voice on issues of religious pluralism and civic engagement. She teaches religious studies and philosophy on the faculty of Groton School and served as the Muslim Chaplain at Tufts University. Previously, she held a joint faculty appointment as Islamic Studies Scholar-in-Residence at Hebrew College and Andover Newton Theological School where she co-directed the Center for Inter-Religious and Communal Leadership Education (CIRCLE).

Dr. Ibrahim earned a PhD in Arabic and Islamic Civilizations and a master’s degree in women’s and gender studies and Near Eastern and Judaic studies from Brandeis University. She earned an MDiv from Harvard Divinity School and completed her bachelor’s degree in Near Eastern studies with highest honors from Princeton University. She is a graduate of the United World College of the American West (a boarding high school for a diverse and international student body). Continue reading “Episode 32: Islam, Feminism, and Interfaith Dialogue w/Dr. Celene Ibrahim”

Episode 31: A Godly Bible Filled with Errors? w/Zev Farber

Episode 31: A Godly Bible Filled with Errors? w/Zev Farber

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson on the notion that a great person does not have to think consistently from one day to the next. This remark comes from the essay “Self-Reliance”.

Zev Farber writes, teaches and edits for a living. He holds an M.A. from Hebrew University (Jewish History), a Ph.D. from Emory University (Jewish Studies/Hebrew Bible), and ordination (yoreh yoreh) and advanced ordination (yadin yadin) from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT) Rabbinical School. He currently holds a fellowship at Project TABS and writes/edits for their website, TheTorah.com. He is a founding member of the International Rabbinic Fellowship (IRF), blogs actively at Morethodoxy, and answers questions for Jewish Values Online. He lives in Zikhron Yaakov with his wife, Channie, and their six children. Continue reading “Episode 31: A Godly Bible Filled with Errors? w/Zev Farber”

Episode 30: No Bad Jews, Keeping It Real w/Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek

Episode 30: No Bad Jews, Keeping It Real w/Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek

“Life is a garden, not a road. We enter and exit through the same gate. Wandering, where we go matters less than what we notice.”

— Kurt Vonnegut

Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek has been recognized by the Jewish Forward as one of the most inspiring rabbis in America, by Hudson Valley Magazine as a Person to Watch and by Newsweek as “a rabbi to watch.” He is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute and a Fellow of the Schusterman Foundation.

Before coming to Beacon Hebrew Alliance, he served as the Rabbi-in-Residence at American Jewish World Service and the Marshall T. Meyer Fellow at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in New York.

Rabbi Brent holds rabbinic ordination and a Masters in Philosophy from the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), where he was the first recipient of the Neubauer Fellowship.

Prior to entering the rabbinate, he attended Wesleyan University and worked as a daily journalist in Durham, NC. He lives in Beacon with his wife Alison, a professor of environmental chemistry at Vassar College and their two children. Continue reading “Episode 30: No Bad Jews, Keeping It Real w/Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek”

Episode 26: Shavuot Special – The Gift of Receiving Stories w/Rav Mike Feuer

Episode 26: Shavuot Special – The Gift of Receiving Stories w/Rav Mike Feuer

The founder of hasidism, the Baal Shem Tov, “teaches that exile flows from forgetting, while memory is the key to redemption…

Rav Mike Feuer

Rav Mike Feuer is a teacher at the Pardes Institute for Jewish studies. He teaches “Striving for the Divine”, “Rav Kook”, and “Jewish History”. He has learned Torah in a number of Jerusalem area institutions, including Yeshivat HaMivtar, the Mir Yeshiva and Sulam Yaakov, where he studied for smikha (rabbinic ordination) and served as Educational Director. Rav Mike’s teaching is a mix of rigorous analysis and a passionate love of the poetry found in Torah. 

Since making aliyah in 2001, he has been the program director of a post-high school yeshiva, taught history, Jewish thought and Bible in several Jerusalem yeshivot and midrashot. Today, Rav Mike is driven by the power of story to shape our world. Continue reading “Episode 26: Shavuot Special – The Gift of Receiving Stories w/Rav Mike Feuer”

Episode 23: Is Instagram The New Go-To Jewish Space? With @Modern_Ritual cofounders Rabbi Samantha Frank and Rena Singer

Episode 23: Is Instagram The New Go-To Jewish Space? With @Modern_Ritual cofounders Rabbi Samantha Frank and Rena Singer


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THE NOTORIOUS G-O-D 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉 … … … We want to talk about God a little more here at Modern Ritual because “God” is such a loaded word/concept/idea!!! … … … When we say that we “believe in God” we do so because we see God as a hugely expansive concept that could encompass all meaning/change/the universe. But also sometimes God feels very personal! Something we experience in the day to day in a hug or in the sunshine or after drinks with a friend. … … … Did you know that in Judaism there are around 100 names for God? That God is described in so many ways? … … … This is important because we want to make it clear that we do not believe that God is a man in the sky!!! 👨 + ⛅️ = 🤷‍♀️🤷🏽‍♀️🤷🏿‍♀️ … … … We do want to take ourselves theologically seriously though. This means that we are truly seeking wisdom in our lives, looking for greater meaning. We are open to evolving ideas of God and questions about God and feeling differently on different days. … … … We try to stay away from the binary of belief versus not belief. … … … So we want to know- how are you feeling about God? What are some of your questions? Does the word make you feel uncomfortable? Let’s talk! … #god #theology #feminism #judaism #ideas #questions #love #exploring #jewish #modernritual

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Rabbi Samantha is the co-founder of Modern Ritual, an Instagram account claiming a space for feminist Jewish engagement in our modern world. Outside of social media, she received her ordination the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Samantha decided to become a rabbi because she saw the ways in which Judaism guided people through the most difficult and most joyous moments in life. Sam has worked as a student rabbi in Monessen, PA, Yale University and currently the rabbinic intern at Temple Micah in DC, working on the Haftarah Project. Continue reading “Episode 23: Is Instagram The New Go-To Jewish Space? With @Modern_Ritual cofounders Rabbi Samantha Frank and Rena Singer”

Episode 21: Part Two – Tensions within Mussar w/Geoffrey Claussen

Episode 21: Part Two – Tensions within Mussar w/Geoffrey Claussen

“Take time. Unclutter the mind….
Take time….. Unclutter …. the…. mind.”

Geoffrey Claussen is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Elon University, North Carolina. He was the founding coordinator of Elon’s Jewish Studies program, which launched in Fall 2012, and he is the current chair of the Department of Religious Studies.

Prof. Claussen’s courses explore the history of Jewish traditions, from the Hebrew Bible to contemporary Judaisms. His scholarship focuses on Jewish ethics and theology, and he has particular interests in questions of love and justice, war and violence, animal ethics, moral formation, and the legacy of the nineteenth-century Musar movement. He is a past president of the Society of Jewish Ethics and is the author of Sharing the Burden: Rabbi Simhah Zissel Ziv and the Path of Musar (SUNY Press, 2015) and Modern Musar: Contested Virtues in Jewish Thought (JPS/University of Nebraska Press, forthcoming). Continue reading “Episode 21: Part Two – Tensions within Mussar w/Geoffrey Claussen”

Episode 20: Two Part Series on Mussar – Deep and Real Communal Change w/Rabbi Marcia Plumb

Episode 20: Two Part Series on Mussar – Deep and Real Communal Change w/Rabbi Marcia Plumb

““Whatever may obstruct me from reaching my goals, it is possible to bear the burden of the situation.””

— Alan Morinis, “Everyday Holiness: The Jewish Spiritual Path of Mussar”

Rabbi Marcia Plumb is the Rabbi of Congregation Mishkan Tefila in Brookline, Massachusetts. She was the Rabbi for London’s Akiva School and the Southgate and District Reform Synagogue. For 15 years, she was the Director of Spiritual Formation at Leo Baeck, the rabbinic seminary in London. She has also served as the Rabbi at the North London Progressive Synagogue, and Congregation Beth Shalom in Connecticut. Hoping to lead others on a path towards spiritual enlightenment, she founded Neshama: For Spiritual Wellbeing, a center for spiritual reflection, meditation and the study of Mussar literature. Rabbi Plumb was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, New York. She holds a Masters in Hebrew Literature from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Texas. Continue reading “Episode 20: Two Part Series on Mussar – Deep and Real Communal Change w/Rabbi Marcia Plumb”