The HUC-JIR community mourns the loss of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Ph.D., an important and unique Jewish teacher, thinker, and innovator in postwar America. Rabbi, Rebbe, Master Ba'al Tefillah, and teacher to generations seeking the connections between the inclusive and loving teachings of Chasidut, Jewish mystical traditions, and the contemporary search for the spirit and the holy, Rabbi Schachter-Shalomi died on July 3, 2014 at age 89.
Born in Poland and raised in Vienna, Rabbi Schachter-Shalomi's family arrived in the United States in 1941. He received his DHL from the Cincinnati campus of HUC-JIR in 1968 with a dissertation entitled, "The Encounter (Yeḥidut): A Study of Counselling in Hasidism." He taught at Temple University and Naropa University, a Buddhist-inspired Colorado institution that is now home to Schachter-Shalomi’s archives.
Known as Reb Zalman and ordained by the Lubavitcher Movement, he broke with that tradition and became a Rebbe and leader not only to his immediate followers and students, but he reached beyond the Jewish world to the mystical traditions of Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, and Native American traditions. Visionary and founder of the Jewish New Age Movement and Jewish Renewal, his influence impacted all denominations as well as the academic world.
His life long journey and mission was to breathe life, beauty, and deep meaning into prayer and Torah for all seekers. His impact on Jewish life will continue to be felt for through many disciples in North America and in Israel.
Schachter-Shalomi is survived by his wife Eve Ilsen, eleven children from three previous marriages, and thousands of devoted students.
May his memory be a blessing.