Legacy of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Sara DavidsonAs a Lubavitcher rabbi in the 1960s, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi felt he needed to “rescue Hasidism from the Hasids” so that he could share its essence with the young Jewish students he was encountering who were seeking spirituality in every tradition but their own. That was the beginning of Reb Zalman’s life long mission to bring a living experience of God to contemporary Jewish seekers and to teach them the art of davening (prayer).

An audience of over 80 people gathered at Hebrew College on Sunday night, November 1, to learn about the life and work of the iconic founder of Jewish Renewal, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, who passed away in July 2014. 

New York Times best-selling author Sara Davidson shared highlights of her weekly Friday conversations with Reb Zalman, recounted in her recent book, The December Project: An Extraordinary Rabbi and a Skeptical Seeker Confront Life's Greatest Mystery. Reb Zalman, then in his late 80’s, described the December Project as a time when, “You know you’re coming to the end of your tour of duty. What is the spiritual work of this time, and how do you prepare for the mystery?” 

Rabbi Art Green, rector of the Hebrew College Rabbinical School who knew Reb Zalman since he was a 16-year-old freshman at Brandeis University, joined Davidson for the final part of the evening. He told stories from over 50 years of friendship and mentorship and described the legacy that Reb Zalman has left to contemporary Jewish life—a legacy that informs Rabbi Green’s life’s work to this day.

The evening began with an audio clip of Reb Zalman singing “Learn to Treasure Each Day”  (based on Psalm 90) and ended with a meditation he created on letting go at the end of one’s life. Listen to the "Letting Go" meditation.