Rabbi Michael Strassfeld has made a life and career at the core of Jewish counterculture, combining a deep connection with Jewish text and tradition with a passion for creative experimentation with new, accessible and relevant forms of Jewish community and practice. In our conversation, we discuss his experiences as a founder of the havurah movement, co-creator of the groundbreaking Jewish Catalog series, and rabbi of the SAJ. Toward the end of our conversation we turn to the Jewish future, reflecting on the opportunities presented by digital culture and on new paradigms for Jewish prayer.
While this episode was recorded before the Coronavirus pandemic, the theme of disruption as an opportunity for Jewish creativity speaks to our current moment. As we release this episode, Reconstructing Judaism has released newly-reinterpreted High Holiday liturgy created by a committee chaired by Rabbi Strassfeld. You can find it under "New Liturgy" at https://www.reconstructingjudaism.org/highholidays2020.
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- Michael Strassfeld
- New Liturgy for High Holidays 2020 — Creative High Holiday liturgy for remote services, crafted by a committee chaired by Rabbi Strassfeld. Click on "New Liturgy" on this page to find it.
- The First Jewish Catalog: A Do-It-Yourself Kit (Amazon link)
- The Second Jewish Catalog: Sources and Resources (Amazon link)
- The Third Jewish Catalog: Creating Community (Amazon link)
- The Jewish Holidays (Amazon link)
- A Book of Life: Embracing Judaism as a Spiritual Practice (Amazon link)
- Reconstructing Jewish Communities: A Learning Module | Reconstructing Judaism — On the opening night of the Reconstructing Judaism conference in November of 2018, an extraordinary panel of rabbis reflected on a crucial question: how do we reconstruct Jewish communities in this time and place, to meet tomorrow’s challenges?
- Prayer for the Shabbat after Pittsburgh -- Jewish Ritual
- Havurat Shalom
- Ansche Chesed — History — "Happily, the late 1970s and the Chavurah movement, in which small groups of like-minded Jews created autonomous, egalitarian and lay-led minyanim, brought new life and vigor to Jewish communal life and to Ansche Chesed…"
- National Havurah Committee — The National Havurah Committee (NHC) was founded in 1980 to facilitate the activities of fellowships known as havurot and to spread havurah values and enthusiasm to the larger Jewish community, thereby serving as a model for revitalizing Jewish living and learning in North America.
- The Jewish Counterculture in the Michael Strassfeld papers | Special Collections Cataloging at Penn — The Michael Strassfeld papers, 1901-2015 (bulk: 1968-2015), which came to Penn in 2015, are now processed and open for research. Theycontain the records of the his education and life’s work. Represented are elements of his Orthodox upbringing, traditional Jewish education, influence of the Jewish anti-establishment and countercultural movements, and his training and practice as a Reconstructionist Rabbi.