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PAGE 14A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 11, 2014 By Ben Harris (JTA) -- Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi was one of the w~rld's most innova- tive and influential Jewish spiritual leaders. To his followers, he was their Hasidic rebbe. But what other rebbe had dropped acid with Timothy Leary and dia- logued with the Dalai Lama? Schachter-Shalomi, who died in his sleep on July 3 at his home in Boulder, Colorado, after a short bout with pneu- monia, wasn't the only rabbi who tinkered radically with Jewish tradition. No one else, however, did so with the sense of gravitas and authenticity that came with carrying a liv- ing memory of the richness of prewar Jewish Europe. Though Jewish Renewal, the movement he helped midwife, remains marginal by the standards of the major Jewish denominations, many of the ritual innovations he fostered have long since gone mainstream-- from the use of musical instrumentation dur- ing services to the incorpora- tion of Eastern meditative practices. Few Jewish spiritual lead- ers could match the scope of his erudition, steeped as he was not only in sacred texts and Jewish mysticism but contemporary psychology and Eastern spirituality. He was a Yiddish speaker proficient in the vernacular of modern science and computer tech- nology, an academic capable of creating transformative religious experiences for his followers. "He was awhole world," said Rabbi David Ingber, spiritual leader of the Manhattan con- gregation Romemu and a lead- ingfigure among the younger generation of Renewal rabbis. "There was no one like him when he was alive, and now that he's gone, there will never be anyone like him." Born in Poland in 1924 into an Orthodox family with Belzer Hasidic roots, Schachter-Shalomi was raised in Vienna and arrived in the United States in 1941. He was ordained as a Chabad rabbi but strayed far from his Orthodox roots, eventually helping to found a movement that fused the ancient and postmodern into a kind of liberal Hasidism. Like the Hasidic masters of Europe, Schachter-Shalomi encouraged his followers to seek a direct experience of the divine through practices inspired by the Jewish mysti- cal tradition. He embraced a decidedly liberal ethos, cham- pioning equal roles for men and women in religious life, welcoming gays and lesbians, and promoting doctrines like eco-kashrut that integrated contemporary concerns into Jewish practice. Rabbi Arthur Waskow, founder of the Shalom Center in Philadelphia, which for a time was joined with ALEPH: The Alliance for Jewish Re- newal, recalled a moment in 1971 when Schachter- Shatomi wasJeading a service in Washington and asked permission to separate the men and women. Mindful of the feminist cri- tique then gaining currency in progressive circles, Waskow objected. Schachter-Shalomi explained he was seeking to create a polarity between masculine and feminine en- ergies and asked if it would be acceptable to keep the genders physically together but separate their voices. Waskow agreed. "He was clearly a great and knowledgeable teacher -- and he listened when a newbie said 'No!'" Waskow Wrote last week in a remembrance. "That made him a real teacher." Schachter-Shalomi pio- neered ritual innovations that were groundbreaking at the time, including meditation, ecstatic dance and drums and other musical instruments in religious services. He led prayers in the vernacular, reading Torah from a scroll but translating it into English on the fly while maintaining the traditional cantillation -- a feat he could carry off with seeming aplomb well into his ninth decade. Though he lost fam- ily members to the Nazis, Schachter-Shalomi believed it was a mistake to attempt a restoration of the Jewish world destroyed by the Holocaust. Instead, he felt that Jewish tra- ditions needed to be renewed, harmonized with new ways of viewing reality that emerged in the 20th century, much in the way theology had to be reordered following Galileo's demonstration that the earth was not the center of the universe. Schachter-Shalomi spoke often of a paradigm shift made necessary by world- view-busting events -- the moonwalk, Auschwitz and Hiroshima were favored ex- amples -- that were so earth- shattering they rendered traditional Jewish modalities irrelevant. He wanted Jews to get over what he called their "triumphalist" sense that they had a monopoly on religious truth in favor of an "organismic" model that saw Judaism as one of many tributaries of the divine river. He was a believer in a radi- cal ecumenism, fascinated by the ways other traditions "get it on with God." During the historic Jewish dialogue with the Dalai Lama in 1990, Schachter-Shalomi capti- vated the Tibetan leader with a a lengthy presentation on kabbalistic cosmology. Along with the legendary composer Rabbi Shlomo Car- lebach, Schach.ter-Shalomi was among the earliest em- -issaries dispatched by the Lubavitcher rebbe to do out- reach on college campuses. But he drifted from the stric- tures of Orthodoxy, exploring " other mystical traditions and immersing himself deeply in the counterculture. His LSD experience, Schachter-Shalo- mi said later, had confirmed certain "intimations" he had previously about the nature of the spiritual world. He was a leading figure in the growth of the Havurah movement, the small prayer groups that emerged in_the 1960s and rejected institu- tionalized synagogue Juda- ism" in favor of home-based worship, presaging the rise of today's independent minyans. Schachter-Shalomi mar- ried four times and fathered 11 children, inc ding one through a sperm donation to a lesbian rabbi. An inveterate boundary crosser, he declined to choose between the social justice imperatives and progressive politics of Reform Judaism, the spiritual rigor and devo- tion of traditional Orthodoxy and the mystical impulses of Hasidism. He wanted all of them. Daniel Sieradski Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi pioneered groundbreak- ing ritual innovations that went mainstream. The other Jewish streams "all had their own truths and languages, but they were partial, and Reb Zalman didn't want a partial expression of religious life,"ingber said. wanted a holistic expression of religious life." In the 1990s, Schachter- Shalomi left Philadelphia, where he had held a teaching post at Temple University, to assume the World Wisdom chair at Naropa University, a Buddhist-inspired liberal arts college in Boulder, Colo. There ensconced as the "Boul- der rebbe," Zalman received scores of visitors in his base- ment study, many of them seeking inspiration and solace on their own journeys away from Orthodoxy. In his later years, as Schachter-Shalomi began to relinquish many of the lead- ership responsibilities of the Renewal movement, he came to focus his declining energies on preparing himself and his followers to face his inevitable death. Schachter-Shaiomi was driven by a belief that the existing Jewish toolbox was lacking the instruments to navigate the later stages of life -- what he came to call the December years. In 1997, he co-authored "From Age-ing to Sage-ing," an attempt to recast the golden years as something other than a period of decline. And in March, journalist Sara Davidson published the book "The December Project," the product of nearly two years of weekly meetings the two conducted in Boulder. "The whole teaching that he wanted to impart to people was that you will come to the'end at some point, and at that point the work is letting go -- letting go of your ties, letting go of your loved ones, letfing go of everything," Davidson said. Despite his failing health, Schachter-Shalomi contin- ued to teach until the very end. One month before his death, he led a retreat at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Re- treat Center in northwestern Connecticut for Shavuot. His appearance there had been an annual event, though he had missed the year before because he was too unwell to travel. Schachter-Shalomi was 89 years old. Handy man and General Maintenance : Air Conditioning Electrical Plumbing Carpentry Formerly handled maintenance at JCC References available STEVE'S SERVICES Call Steve Doyle at (386) 668-8960 87961 2543 45,2397168 361845729 72658943.1 145236897 983471256 698754312 234168975 5 17923684 By Felice Friedson and Linda Gradstein The Media Line Israel's cabinet approved a proposal by Israel's tourism minister to hire up to 1500 Jordanians to work in hotels in Israel's Red Sea resort of Eilat. The approval comes amid a growing shortage of workers and as the high sum- mer season begins. "I see this as an important step in Israel-Jordan rela- tions," Tourism Minister Uzi Landau told The Media Line. "My hope is the Jordanians will come, work and enjoy the p ople and the salary here." The workers will all have to be vetted by Israel's secu- rity services, They will enter Israel each morning via the Aqaba crossing, which was established as part of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty in 1994, and go home each night. They will be employed as cleaners and dishwashers in Eilat's 12,000 hotel rooms. There are already 170 Jor- danians working in Eilat, at the local laundry. But this is the first time the Jordanians will be working in the hotels, and having direct contact with Israeli and international guests. Eilat, with its beach and water sports, and mild winter temperatures, is a popular destination for both Israeli and European tourists. However, there has long been a shortage of workers for some of the jobs. Israeli officials say they prefer Israelis to fill these open positions, and even offered incentives such as tuition breaks, and extra payments' for released soldiers. While young Israelis are prepared to be waiters in restaurants in the center of the country, and work in reception in hotels, few are interested in minimumwage cleaning jobs. "Do you want a lecture on Zionism?" Shabtai Shay, the CEO of the Eilat Hotel Asso- ciation asked The Media Line in response to the question "why not?" "Israelis don't like to do menial labor jobs. Eilat is also remote. We offered the workers flights from Eilat to Tel Aviv a few times a year to get them to come, but they were not willing to." Over the past 10 years, the shortage was temporarily alleviated by illegal foreign workers from Eritrea and Sudan. Although they crossed the border into Israel illegally from Egypt, andwere detained by Israeli troops, they were allowed to work in the hotels. Yet in the past few months the Israeligovernment has changed its policy, saying that all illegal workers must be held in a new detention facility called Holot, built by Israel at a cost of tens of mil- lions of dollars. Israeli officials say that hiring the Jordanian workers for the hotels will be good for both sides. "There are job seekers in Aqaba and there are jobs in Eilat," Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told The Media Line, referring to the town in southern Jordan just across the border from Israel. "The most obvious thing is to join the two. Israelis who live in Ranana (a town some 15 miles- from Tel Avivj and work in Tel Aviv have a longer commute. Palmor said it will also forge ties between the two Red Sea resorts- one in Israel and one in Jordan. "This is a normal relation- ship between neighboring cities and countries," Palmor said. "There will be tighter cooperation between Eilat and Aqaba." Many tourists, including Israelis, travel from Eilat to the ancient red-rock city of Petra viaAqaba. The border crossing is open from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends. Although the new workers who will be hired will cross into Israel in the morning and return home at night, there is a problem. "The problem is that we need them even more.for the evening shift when there are weddings in the hotels, or just tourists eating dinner there," Shabtai Shay, the CEO of the Eilat Hotel Association told The Media Line. "But we can- not fight for everything. We would like to get this started, and then once we see who is coming, perhaps the govern- ment will decide it s not a risk to let them stay overnight." Shay said the average sal- ary for a hotel employee in Jordan is $500. Across the. border in Israel they would earn minimum wage, which is $1500 plus food, pension, health insurance and paid holidays. He said the hotel industry has been trying to get more workers since 2000. The government has ap- proved 500 workers in the first stage, for a total of 1500. Shay hopes this is only the first stage and that in the future, Israel will allow some 4000 Jordanians to work in Eilat's hotels.