In 2000, a group of students and friends* put together a list of 75 contributions Reb Zalman has made to Jewish life (in honor of his 75th birthday):
I. Starting Out
- Serving as religious environmentalist at Camp Ramah, inspiring a generation of Ramah campers to sew their own multi-colored Tallitot, and encouraging women to put on Tallit and Tefillin in the sixties.
- Envisioning the P’nai Or Rainbow Tallit.
- Being a Congregational rabbi in New Bedford, MA at once too innovative and too traditional.
- Teaching and inspiring at Hillel Summer Institutes.
- Being a Hillel Director unlike any other and leading Shabbatonim at more Hillels all across North America than any other Hillel Director
II. Making our Tradition Accessible
- Being a living link to pre-war Europe.
- Doing shlichoot work, being a spiritual emissary, at Brandeis Hillel with Reb Shlomo in the late 50’s.
- Teaching us to davven in English.
- Translating Hebrew liturgy into singable English.
- Singing an alternative Birkat Ha-Mazon / Grace After Meals melody and translating Birkat Ha-Mazon into singable English in the early sixties.
- Opening our hearts through your melodious song and chant.
- Bequeathing to us your chant of Ana B’Cho’ach (a prayer used for healing and opening).
- Translating Y’did Nefesh (a love poem to God) into an English that can be sung.
- Bringing familiar secular tunes into sacred contexts, like Psalm 109 to Michael Row the Boat Ashore and El Adon to Donna Donna.
- Giving us Ha-Shir v-Ha-Shevach and a legacy of new Shabbat melodies.
- Inspiring us through the magic of your story telling.
- Recording English-Hebrew davvenen in stereo.
- Gifting us with the legacy of hundreds of hours of taped classes and workshops.
- Rewriting traditional Hebrew prayers.
III. Opening Judaism
- Attending classes given by others without taking over.
- Creating new homes for the Jewishly homeless by welcoming people into Judaism by inviting without insisting.
- Welcoming women into equal partnership in Jewish spiritual life.
- Welcoming Gays and Lesbians into equal partnership in Jewish community life.
IV. Interfaith and Universalism
- Teaching at the Abode of the Message, ashrams, and dharma centers.
- Dancing with Sheikh Muzaffir, chanting with Swami Satchitananda, and doing Zikr with Pir Valayat Khan.
- Studying Psychology of Religion with Howard Thurman.
- Being one of our ambassadors to the Dalai Lama.
- Spawning extensive dialogue and sharing between Jews and Buddhists and showing new ways for inter-faith conversations.
V. Transcending the Boundaries of Jewish Life
- Bringing Hassidut to Hebrew Union College and teaching davvenology at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.
- Chairing the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.
- Being a Professor of Jewish Mysticism and Psychology of Religion at Temple University in Philadelphia.
32. Zayde / Grandfather and midwife of the Havurah movement and being at the inception of Havurat Shalom in Boston in 1968.
- Envisioning and creating B’nai Or, P’nai Or, and ALEPH.
- Bringing CLAL, Yesod and ALEPH into partnership.
- Inspiring the Jewish Catalog.
- Contributing to making Mount Airy one of the more dynamic Jewish communities in America.
- Seeding the creation of the Aquarian Minyan, Philadelphia P’nai Or, B’nai Horin and Makom Or Shalom in Los Angeles, B’nai Or in Boston, and many other new communities.
- Cross pollinating among the movements within Judaism.
VI. Manifestor of Chesed, Expansive Love
- Loving and supporting innumerable individuals by being available for phone calls, faxes, e-mails, andthe famous Reb Zalman meetings on the run.
- Opening your homes in Winnipeg, Philadelphia, Jerusalem, and now Boulder to spiritual seekers.
- Cooking meals for people as an act of avodat ha-Shem (Divine Service).
- Teaching about intimacy as part of living a Jewish life and modeling a Torah teaching partnership with Eve.
- Pioneering the concept of Spiritual Eldering.
VII. Connecting us to Jewish Spirituality
- Inspiring the rediscovery of meditation in Jewish practice.
- Teaching us to see a paradigm shift happening in Judaism in our time.
- Elevating awareness of Sh’chinnah (the Divine feminine, the indwelling presence).
- Elevating awareness of Gaia as a living entity and helping to create a new cosmology.
- Being willing to talk about God after the holocaust.
- Initiating conversations about the root metaphors of God language.
- Introducing us to other God names besides Adonai.
- Teaching us to see Jewish education as educating the spirit.
- Teaching us about angels in Judaism.
- Articulating a Judaism which is magnetic and global in scope.
- Inspiring us to create new Jewish prayers, songs, and chants and to write many new siddurim /prayer books (see the ReSources catalog).
- Teaching us to dance our Judaism.
- Helping articulate our Jewish agenda for the 21st century.
- Learning to use a Shiviti as a focus in davvenen / prayer.
- Modeling for us how to stand under our tallitot / prayer shawls in deep prayer.
- Teaching us to do the morning blessings with movement.
- Motivating us to think about eco-kashrut.
- Helping us to understand the psycho-halachic applications of Jewish tradition.
VIII. Deepening our Jewish Practice
- Teaching us to experience Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in retreat settings and to do vigils on the seventh day of Pesach.
- Teaching us to dance the hakafot as expressions of the s’firot (the emanations of Divine energy whose dynamic interactions are our universe).
- Introducing us to the kabbalistic tree of life, the s’firot and giving us the four worlds as a model for understanding so much of our Jewish experience and life itself.
- Sharing with us your love of technology and thinking about G!d and reality in computer metaphors.
IX. Connecting us to Eastern European Hassidism
- Making HaBaD teachings and practices accessible and translating texts of little known Hassidic rebbes such as the Dinover and Arele Roth.
- Transmitting unrecorded Hassidic niggunim.
- Translating Reb Nachman’s torahs and his story of the Seven Beggars and recording it on a vinyl LP.
- Teaching a whole generation to reclaim the legacy of eastern European Hassidism.
X. Nurturing Leaders
70. Offering a return to s’michah through rabbinic apprenticeship and ordaining a new generation of musmachim / musmachot.
- Mentoring and inspiring a generation of students and rabbis.
- Inspiring the creation of Jewish retreat centers.
- Supporting Elat Chayyim through your teaching.
- Envisioning a Jewish renewal gathering that we call the Kallah and supporting the Kallah through your teaching.
- Supporting the Kallah in particular and Jewish renewal in general by making room for the next generation of rebbes to blossom.
BEING THE FIRST POST-MODERN HASSIDIC REBBE.
* Daniel Siegel and Simcha Raphael with help from Mitch Cheifitz, Leonard Gordon, Marga Hirsch, Sherry Israel, Anne Mintz, Geela Rayzel Raphael, Moshe Waldoks, Rivkah Walton and others.