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American Rabbi Project

American Judaism from the perspective of rabbis across the country. Full website at rabbiproject.com

Rabbi Albert Gabbai used to dream of visiting Philadelphia when he was a kid growing up in Cairo, Egypt. After fleeing imprisonment and harassment in the country of his birth, he would eventually make it to the United States and to the pulpit of Philly's Synagogue of the American Revolution. Gabbai talks about his life, his congregation and the importance of tradition in this episode of American Rabbi Project

Savannah, Georgia was originally founded for debtors, paupers and other people European society thought needed a new life in the "New World". Some of those original settlers were Jews, many of whom were fleeing the Spanish Inquisition. They would go on to form Mickve Israel, one of the oldest congregations in America. Today its pulpit is held by Rabbi Robert Haas. Additionally, he's a tour guide and interfaith bridge builder who also likes to moonlight as a stand up comedian.  

The next several episodes will profile some of the oldest congregations in America. Specifically, three that pre-date the United States. That includes Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim in Charleston, South Carolina. Rabbi Greg Kanter gives a tour of the historic sanctuary and how it ties into events like the American Revolution, the rise of the Reform movement and the Civil War. He also discusses his hopes and concerns for the future.  

In the late 1800's many Jews came to West Virginia for the coal industry. About a hundred years later, Rabbi Victor Urecki came for the charm and warmth of the Charleston community. But it's an aging community with many of the young leaving Appalachia as the state's coal-based economy declines. Urecki talks about these challenges, the Pittsburgh shooting and his 50,000 comic book collection in the season 2 premier of American Rabbi Project.   

The new year is here and season 2 is approaching! I'd like to take this time to ask for your support in helping this podcast reach its full potential. 

Rabbi Gil Steinlauf was the first rabbi I interviewed after the Pittsburgh tragedy. He talked about his worries and hopes going forward. He also talked about his Torah study session with then President Barrack Obama, his strongly-worded letter to President Donald Trump, coming out as gay to his congregation and his plans to help more LGBTQ Jews own their identity in the Jewish community. 

Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman has written anthems, blocked construction sites and gotten arrested for the climate movement. In this episode, Friedman talks about the role Judaism plays in her work and how activism can be a form of prayer. 

Rabbi Jon Spira-Savett of the Granite State talks about teaching kids ethical philanthropy, the importance of patriotic criticism and the time he met Secretary Hillary Clinton at a town hall and asked her a question steeped in Jewish philosophy.  

There was a time when Jan Salzman thought she'd never step foot in a synagogue again. But now Rabbi Salzman heads a congregation in the heart of Burlington's "little Jerusalem". She found her way back through the Renewal movement ("Judaism's R and D department") and a desire to give people, herself included, a deeper Jewish education. 

In this special episode, rabbis weigh in on what the phrase 'Next Year in Jerusalem' means to them. 

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