Rabbi Daniel Siegel’s connection to Reb Zalman formally began in 1974. After years of learning and mentoring with Reb Zalman z”l, Reb Daniel became the first person to receive smicha from Reb Zalman as a rabbi and colleague. In those early days, ALEPH had not yet been created and Reb Daniel focused on finding congregational work. Then, during 1976-77 year, Reb Daniel and family lived with Reb Zalman and set up the early systems which became the “infrastructure” of P’nai Or.
Reb Daniel next went on to work as the Hillel director in Vancouver, British Columbia and the co-founder of what is now Or Shalom. In those days, without email and Zoom, “I had been unable to participate in the growth of the projects housed mostly in Philadelphia,” recalls Reb Daniel.
Then came the ALEPH Kallah in 1995 in Fort Collins, CO and Reb Daniel reignited and deepened his connection to renewal. “I was amazed that over 700 people were there! And the quality of the class given by R’ Marcia Prager convinced me to reconnect with this movement,” recalls Reb Daniel. Says R’ Marcia, “Meeting Reb Daniel was a turning point for me as well. I recognized him immediately as a kindred spirit and fellow seeker, and thus began a friendship that has spanned decades.”
Reb Daniel’s return and recommitment to ALEPH marked a turning point in his, and our, Jewish Renewal journey. Along with our beloved Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z”l, Rabbi Daniel’s Jewish journey has sourced the wave of Jewish creativity that is called Jewish Renewal. The renewal movement would not be the same without his creative contributions and formidable stewardship.
Together with his wife and partner, Rabbi and Eshet Hazon Hanna Tiferet, Reb Daniel co-founded Or Shalom in Vancouver, BC, a vibrant thriving renewal synagogue grounded in traditional Jewish observance, and now led by ALEPH Rabbi Hannah Dresner. Reb Daniel is also the founding director of The Integral Halachah Institute (IHI).
“Integral Halachah,” says R’ Daniel, “is way of anchoring innovation in the traditional halachic process, which means mastering and moving beyond the classical system while simultaneously including it.” Says Rabbi Sherril Gilbert, Chair of ALEPH Canada, “Our hope is that the IHI will bridge gaps between generations, between denominations, between communities, and between the affiliated and unaffiliated, as we ask and explore the meaningful questions of our time.”
Reb Daniel has answered many calls to serve renewal and ALEPH during his career. From 1997-2004 he served as ALEPH’s first full-time Executive Director. In 2003 he received a further honor, achieving a higher level of ordination as a Dayan (Adjudicator) from Reb Zalman, along with a mandate to train future ALEPH Dayanim. Under his supervision, three ALEPH Dayanim have been trained and ordained.
With the formation of the ALEPH Ordination Program (AOP) VAAD, R’ Daniel stepped up to become the AOP Associate Dean and Chair of the AOP Rabbinic Text Department until mid 2015. The VAAD is the committee of core administrators and faculty who guide the programs.
Reb Daniel currently serves as the Rabbinic Director of ALEPH Canada, continues to consult when needed, and is busy with several writing projects and with some teaching. He lives simply on his beloved Hornby Island, British Columbia, where he has served as vice-president of the Hornby Island Residents and Ratepayers Association, as past chair of the Hornby Island Community Economic Enhancement Corporation, tends a garden, and stacks his own winter wood. He remains engaged with many rabbinic projects, including curating materials from the corpus of Reb Zalman’s written and audio-visual legacy, a compilation of Teshuvot on the topic of Ger Toshav, serving as ALEPH Dayan and advisor, teaching individual students and classes, and writing on diverse topics of current interest.
Reb Daniel writes an occasional blog: https://www.alephcanada.ca/reb-daniel-writings
The products of the Integral Halachah Institute and others can be found the ALEPH ReSources Catalogue: https://www.alephcanada.ca/catalogue