Tablet magazine ran an article last week about Jewish Renewal. I'm honored to be quoted in that article along with several other people whose voices and perspectives I respect. Some of the material from our interview about which I was personally most excited (talking about Jewish Renewal's "spiritual technologies" e.g. chant, davenology, sage-ing, hashpa'ah / spiritual direction) didn't make it into the piece, but it's a good article and well worth reading. Here's a taste:
While Renewal insiders are proud of the numbers of communities that affiliate with Aleph and with the growing number of students at their rabbinical school, which admitted 25 students in the last year, they also argue that Renewal’s influence can’t be counted in numbers of bodies alone.
Schachter-Shalomi hoped that Renewal would “be a virus.” According to Ingber, he hoped it would “infiltrate and infect as it were as many places as possible.” His legacy, Ingber said, “is that much to the chagrin of his students, he didn’t care about trademarking stuff. Reb Zalman was not a copyright, trademark kind of person,” even if it meant Renewal would not receive due credit.
As a movement centered around one man’s persona and charisma, Renewal is now at a critical juncture in a post-Reb Zalman era. “Everything that happens now in Renewal on some level was generated by Reb Zalman,” Magid explained. The consensus is that there is nobody who could or should take this place. “His whole upbringing was prewar Europe,” Magid added. “I think that that makes it impossible” for anyone to replace him. Like Carlebach and the Lubavitcher Rebbe, so, too, Schachter-Shalomi: These men bridged old Europe and new America, and nobody can do that anymore.
But if Schachter-Shalomi is irreplaceable, what’s in store for the movement?
Read the whole thing here: Can Jewish Renewal Keep Its Groove On? (I expect you will not be surprised to hear that my answer to that question is a resounding "yes!")