Unexpected song

May their memories be a blessing

Two luminaries of my Jewish world have died within the last week: Rabbi Aryeh Hirschfield and Rabbi Alan Lew. I didn't know either one personally, but I knew their work, and many of the people I hold dear are broken-hearted at these two passings.

Rabbi Hirschfield (who went by Reb Aryeh -- here's more about him) was known as a songwriter and teller of tales. Many melodies and niggunim that I know and love came from, or through, him. He was ordained by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi in 1985; he was part of the rabbinic lineage I hope someday to join. He died last week in Mexico, where he had traveled with his family to celebrate his son's wedding. His funeral was today.

Rabbi Lew (here's his page at Beth Sholom, and here's his speaker's bureau page; I wonder how long either link will continue to be online?) was a pillar of the Jewish meditation world. I blogged about his book This is real and you are completely unprepared a few years ago, and in the very earliest months of this blog I wrote a bit about his book One God Clapping (here.) His writings about Zen, meditation, Judaism, and teshuvah continue to be a powerful source of change in my life. His funeral will be on Thursday.

If you'd like to know more about these men and their work, I've got a few links for you. Here's a beautiful interview with Rabbi Lew at Religion & Ethics Newsweekly: Cover: Rabbi Alan Lew; and here's a Beliefnet article, Time of Spiritual Emergency: Rabbi Alan Lew explains that the High Holiday season is an archetype of our lifetime journey of the soul. And here's an article by Reb Aryeh: Jewish Renewal: Tradition and Innovation for the Here and Now. (If you can play RealAudio files, you can listen to some of his music here.)

Donations to the Reb Aryeh Legacy Fund can be made through Congregation Pnai Or of Portland. I don't know of a similar fund being established in the memory of Rabbi Lew, but if I hear of something I'll update this post.

May their memories be a blessing for all of us.

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