My Life in Jewish Renewal: A Memoir

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9781442213272: My Life in Jewish Renewal: A Memoir
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This powerful memoir chronicles the life of one of America’s most celebrated rabbis—Rabbi Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi, or “Reb Zalman” as he is fondly known to friends and followers. The book traces his life from a youth in the shadow of the Nazis through the tumultuous 1960s in America to his position as a renowned religious leader today.

Often controversial for his attraction to cultural mavericks and religious rebels, Reb Zalman’s colorful lifetime includes a striking cast of characters across faith traditions, including Timothy Leary, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Thomas Merton, the Dalai Lama, and more. The book traces Reb Zalman’s work creating the vibrant Jewish Renewal movement that emphasizes spiritual experience and continues to touch Jews around the world today. Reb Zalman often illustrates his talks with anecdotes from his life, and My Life in Jewish Renewal brings together the life story of this beloved leader for the first time.

Reb Zalman often illustrates his talks with stories from his life, and My Life in Jewish Renewal brings together the complete life story of this beloved leader for the first time.

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About the Author:

Rabbi Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi, or “Reb Zalman” as he was fondly known, was the founder and leader of the Jewish Renewal movement and the author of numerous books, including Jewish with Feeling and From Age-ing to Sage-ing.

Review:

In this wonderful and important memoir, we see why Reb Zalman is viewed by so many as one of the key Jewish figures and influencers of the last century. In intimate detail, the book affords us glimpses into the friendships, relationships, and shared experiences he has had with some of the most compelling (and at times lesser known) spiritual teachers and leaders of this era, as well as his own experiences and personal history--and how those many and varied interconnections have shaped his worldview and inner life. I recommend this book very highly to anyone interested in the evolution of a soul and the formation of a modern mystic. (Rabbi Niles Goldstein, director of external relations at the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions; author of Gonzo Judaism: A Bold Path for Renewing an Ancient Faith)

While there are many Jews who never heard of "Jewish Renewal" or Rabbi Zalman M. Schachter- Shalomi, the impact of Reb Zalman, and the movement he has been instrumental in birthing, have been extraordinary. In fact, hundreds of synagogues in the United States and elsewhere, whether its congregants are aware of it or not, have benefited from the nourishing impact of Jewish Renewal and Reb Zalman's rare, inspired creativity. If you do not know Reb Zalman, get ready for a deeply personal memoir about an exceptional personality and important teacher in our generation. If you do know Reb Zalman, get ready for a "can't put this book down" experience. When a gifted writer and teacher like Dr. Edward Hoffman teams up with Rabbi Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi, the result is one of those rare books that are truly important. (Arthur Kurzweil, author of Kabbalah for Dummies and On the Road with Rabbi Steinsaltz)

Judaism is a living religion of endless reinvention. From Abraham to Moses, and Moses to Micah, and Micah to Hillel, and Hillel to Luria, and Luria to the Baal Shem Tov, and the Baal Shem Tov to Reb Zalman ours is a civilization rooted in creativity, innovation, imagination, and experimentation. Reb Zalman’s story is a testament to Jewish creativity rooted in the richest soil of the past and fearlessly branching out into the as yet unknown dimensions of the future. If there is hope for a Jewish future, Reb Zalman carries it; if there is a rabbi for the 21st Century, Reb Zalman is it. (Rabbi Rami Shapiro, author of The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness)

Reb Zalman is a deeply beloved, unique figure, founder of the Jewish Renewal movement, who has single-handedly inspired several generations of Jews to rediscover their own rich heritage. In this compelling memoir, Reb Zalman (assisted by Edward Hoffman) recounts his remarkable life story, revealing the personal evolution that made it possible for him to serve as an authentic Hasidic rebbe in the modern era. This fascinating book is like a long, delicious visit with Reb Zalman as he recounts, with exceptional honesty and affection, the events that have shaped his life. (Howard Schwartz, Author of Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism)

Reb Zalman, the Master Teacher of Jewish Renewal has given us access to the wisdom of the past appreciation of the technological present and insights for a luminous future now he is giving us the inside view of his amazing life presented as an engaging personal narrative those who have enjoyed his teachings will find this a ‘must read’ book. (Rabbi Leah Novick, author of On the Wings of Shekhinah: Rediscovering Judaism's Divine Feminine)

To be in the presence of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shlom is to be in the presence of a fountain that is forever bubbling up with new nsights and fresh discoveries. The next best thing to being with him is to have this book which describes the fascinating journey that Reb Zalman has travelled in his life—so far. The Lubavitcher Rebbe and the Dali Lama, the diamond cutters of Antwerp and the Trappist monks of Kentucky, Shlomo Carlbach and Timothy O’Leary are among some of the travelling companions whom he introduces us to, as he tells us of the adventures he has lived through in his travels from world to world in search of Truth. It is hard to think of a spiritual insight, a new way of understanding reality, a new approach to the tradition, or a fresh idea that he has not been involved in learning and in teaching in his journey. He has raised a generation of disciples, and has done more than anyone I know to touch the minds and souls of young people in our time. Now, in this fascinating autobiography, he enables us to travel along with him, and to learn at his side. This is a book that anyone who wants to understand the twists and turns of the spiritual life of our time simply has to read. (Rabbi Jack Riemer, editor of The World of the High Holy Days and So That Your Values Live On)

What a marvelous collection of memories, told with warmth and affection! We who know and love Reb Zalman have all heard parts of his story, but seeing it all together is quite magnificent. May he live to write still more unexpected chapters! (Art Green, Hebrew College)

Rabbi Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi is the greatest living spiritual teacher of our time. He has been a master and innovator of Kabbalah and Hasidism, whose wisdom and charisma played a preeminent role in creating a Jewish renewal that is the best hope for Jewish continuity in the 21st century—and a powerful model for spiritually alive people in every religious tradition. My Life in Jewish Renewal gives a vivid picture of the courage and challenges that Reb Zalman has faced—and his life detailed in this book reflects his integrity and creativity. (Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor, Tikkun Magazine; author of The Left Hand of God:Taking Back our Country from the Religious Right)

In this radiant book, Reb Zalman Schachter accompanied by Edward Hoffman, take us on the majestic tour of Reb Zalman's exhilarating life. This tour comprises a treasure-trove of wise and diversified souls, beginning with Reb Zalman himself, from his discoveries as a youth in Hitler's Vienna to his education as a rabbi to his meetings with some of the most remarkable minds of the past 100 years. And weaved throughout we are gifted with the clarification and articulation of Reb Zalman's crowning theological achievement—Jewish Renewal—and the hope for a more inclusive, awe-based, and appreciative world. (Kirk Schneider, author of Existential-Humanistic Therapy)

Few writers have so accurately described Jewish boyhood in Vienna, the doubts and fears, the fascination with a world that overnight turned from friendly Gemütlichkeit to hostility and hatred. And none that I know of has had such accurate recall of names, places, people and happenings as Reb Zalman. What this revered rabbi became has much to do with what he was as a boy. After decades of sharing with us thoughts, views, insights and teachings, I am grateful that he has decided to share the journey of his life. (Theodore Bikel, actor, musician, Yiddishist)

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