Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman, Ph.D.

The Barbara and Stephen Friedman Professor Emeritus of Liturgy, Worship and Ritual

Contact Information

campus: New York

Dr. Lawrence A. Hoffman was ordained as a rabbi in 1969, received his Ph.D. in 1973, and taught from then until 2019 at HUC-JIR/New York. From 1984 to 1987, he also directed the School of Sacred Music. In 2003, he was named the first Barbara and Stephen Friedman Professor of Liturgy, Worship and Ritual. He taught classes in liturgy, ritual, spirituality, theology, and synagogue leadership. For almost forty years, he has combined research, teaching, and a passion for the spiritual renewal of North American Judaism.

Rabbi Hoffman has written or edited over forty books, including My People’s Prayer Book (Jewish Lights Publishing), a ten-volume edition of the Siddur with modern commentaries, which was named a National Jewish Book Award winner for 2007. His Rethinking Synagogues: A New Vocabulary for Congregational Life (Jewish Lights Publishing) and his Art of Public Prayer (Skylight Paths) are widely used by churches and synagogues as guides to organizational visioning and liturgical renewal. In 2011, he received a second National Jewish Book Award for co-authoring Sacred Strategies: Transforming Synagogues from Functional to Visionary (Alban Institute).

His articles, both popular and scholarly, have appeared in eight languages and four continents, and include contributions to such encyclopedias as The Macmillan Encyclopedia of Religion, The Oxford Dictionary of Religion, The Encyclopedia of Judaism and The Encyclopedia of Religion in America. He syndicates a regular column which appears, among other places, in The Jewish Week and The Jewish Times; and writes a blog entitled “Life and a Little Liturgy.”

For many years, Rabbi Hoffman served as visiting professor of the University of Notre Dame, and has lectured at such places as the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, the University of Southern California, and the Yale Divinity School.

In 1990, Dr. Hoffman was selected by the United States Navy as a member of a three-person design team, charged with developing a continuing education course on worship for chaplains. He is a past-president of the North American Academy of Liturgy, the professional and academic organization for liturgists, and in January 2004, received that organization’s annual Berakhah Award, for outstanding lifetime contributions to his field.

In 1994, he co-founded “Synagogue 2000,” a trans-denominational project to envision the ideal synagogue “as moral and spiritual center” for the 21st century. As Synagogue 3000, it has launched Next Dor, a national initiative to engage the next generation through a relational approach featuring strong communities with transformed synagogues at their center.

He founded and is Academic Coordinator of the Tisch Fellowship Program.

The Canonization of the Synagogue Service. Notre Dame and London: University of Notre Dame Press, 1979: 245 pp.

Beyond the Text: a Holistic Approach to Liturgy. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1987: 213 pp.

Two Liturgical Traditions: a Six Volume series on Jewish and Christian Liturgyco-edited with Paul Bradshaw and Janet Walton (Notre Dame and London: University of Notre Dame, 1991-1999).

Covenant of Blood: Circumcision and Gender in Rabbinic Judaism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995).

Minhag Ami: My People’s Prayer Book, a ten-volume series covering the daily and Shabbat liturgy with commentaries from across the Jewish spectrum of thought and practice (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1997-2007).

Rethinking Synagogues: A New Vocabulary for Congregational Life (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2006).

My People’s Haggadah, 2 volumes, coedited with David Arnow (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2008).

Prayers of Awe: A multi-volume series on the High Holy Day Liturgy and Themes, four volumes published thus far (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2010-2013).

Sacred Strategies: Transforming Synagogues from Functional to Visionary. With Isa Aron, Steven M. Cohen, and Ari Y. Kelman (Herndon, VA: Alban Institute, 2010).

One Hundred Great Jewish Books (Bluebridge Press, 2011)

A Day of Wine and Moses: The Passover Haggadah and the Seder You Have Always Wanted

Preparing for The High Holy Days: How to Appreciate the Liturgy of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

The Essence of Jewish Prayer: The Prayer Book in Context and Worship In Our Time

Consultations with boards and visioning committees engaged in synagogue transformation

Beyond Ethnicity: The Coming Project for North American Jewish Identity

How We Pray Is Who We Are: This Is Your Life, North American Jews.

The Varieties of Authentic Jewish Spirituality

Looking For God in a Secular World

Limits, Truth and Meaning: The Anxious Search for Meaning in our Time

Synagogue Change: Transforming Synagogues as Spiritual and Moral Centers for the 21st Century

Freud, Marx and Others: A Dialogue With Critics on Why Ritual Matters