Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z''l

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

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.


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's first institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu