Thinking through the Metaphors of Deep Ecumenism: A Dialogue

By Arthur Green and Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Rabbi Arthur Green is one of the preeminent authorities on Jewish spirituality, mysticism, and Hasidism today. A student of Abraham Joshua Heschel, Green has taught Jewish mysticism, Hasidism, and theology to several generations of students at the University of Pennsylvania, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Brandeis University, and Hebrew College, where he is currently Rector of the Rabbinical School. Some of his recent books include: Ehyeh: A Kabbalah for Tomorrow and Radical Judaism. He lives in Newton, Massachusetts.

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, better known as Reb Zalman, was one of the world’s foremost teachers of Jewish mysticism and Hasidism, as well as the father of the Jewish Renewal and Spiritual Eldering movements, and one of the pioneers of ecumenical dialogue. A student of the 6th and 7th Lubavitcher Rebbes, Schachter-Shalomi went on to teach Hasidism and Kabbalah, as well as Psychology of Religion, at the University of Manitoba, Temple University, and Naropa University. Some of his last books include: Geologist of the Soul and Foundations of the Fourth Turning of Hasidism. Reb Zalman passed on in July of 2014. 

In this dialogue, the root metaphors of ecumenical discourse are discussed by two modern masters of the Jewish tradition like a page of Talmud, l’shem shamayim, 'for the sake of heaven.' The dialogue was excerpted from a longer conversation that took place in Reb Zalman’s home in Boulder, Colorado on August 19th, 2001. It was originally transcribed by Ivan and Temima Ickovits and later edited for inclusion in an early issue of Spectrum: A Journal of Renewal Spirituality (Volume 3, Number 2, Summer-Fall, 2007).

— N.M-Y., editor

ZALMAN SCHACHTER-SHALOMI: Is the earth alive? Once, it was considered idolatry to ascribe consciousness to the earth and the stars. Now we talk about 'vibrations' and 'energy,' and it is more acceptable to say that they are consciousness. We can even speak of a galactic consciousness, or a solar consciousness.

This is why I feel a connection to the traditional Melekh Ha’Olam, the 'World Sovereign' description of God, because this is a Gaian God with whom I can have a connection. With a Solar God, in a manner of speaking, the distance is too great; it takes the Sun approximately 250 million years to make one circuit around the galaxy, and my experience has little to do with that galactic time-scale. But when I say, Melekh Ha’Olam, speaking with the Gaian-consciousness of the Global Brain, I can say that every religion is like a vital organ of the planet, and we need to have all the religions. This moves us away from the triumphalist[1] point of view to one that is organismic. 

Then comes the question, “How does the Universal Mind want to be addressed?” It needs personas (partzufim), metaphors, and forms through which we can get to the uniqueness of the Universal Mind, and these are what we find in the different religious traditions. If it appears as a woman, looking like Mary, the mother of Jesus, we might not feel that this is appropriate for us as Jews. But how should the Divine Presence (Shekhinah) appear to the imagination? We need to have it in a form that the heart can recognize. This is what I make of the sentence, dibrah Torah bil’shon b’nei adam, it comes as it has to come to each individual awareness. 

When other Jews criticize my acceptance of non-Jewish spiritual traditions, I ask them, “Do you believe in God’s special Providence (hashgahah pratit)?” And if they do, then I ask, “Do you think God was asleep when Jesus was born? Or when the Buddha was born?” If God’s Providence is true and we believe in 'general souls' (neshamot klaliyot), then how else can we see such souls as Jesus and the Buddha, except as general souls through which the Divine-flow (shefa’) comes through to people?

 ARTHUR GREEN: We are very close on this issue, though I think I want the religions to be seen as 'garments' (levushim) rather than 'organs,' because I want to say that “the One is one and whole in itself.” It is seen in different vessels as It addresses Itself to different civilizations. Garments clothe the body, but organs are part of the body, dividing God, as it were.

I think every mountain, every tree, and every flower is a garment (levush) for the One. We believe in biological diversity, in cultural diversity, and spiritual diversity, because the planet needs to recover the spiritual truth that has been lost in the modern world. And for this healing, we need to preserve all the diversity we can; but I think I am still more comfortable with the language of garments than the organism.

SCHACHTER-SHALOMI: I understand your point, but the problem with garments as opposed to organs arises around the question of the collaboration organs have with each other; there is inter-dependence with organs.

When I have dealt with health problems in the past, I really began to understand that the kidneys and lungs share a connection—that the kidneys and the heart share a connection, and that each one influences the other to find a balance for the whole.  There is a book by Sherwin Nuland, called How We Die, in which he says, it is a mistake to say that someone died from a 'heart attack,' because the rest of the organs had to give consent to that as well. That is to say, they were all getting fatigued in the process.

It used to be that people would say, 'she' or 'he died of old age.' But now, because the medical profession wants to find the 'culprit,' we no longer acknowledge that the organism as a whole begins to shut down. Nuland writes that the mutual influence of the inner organs is important. So when I look at the organismic understanding of things, it is better to me than the flatland democracy, with no distinctions and hierarchy. Some people say, 'everything is the same,' but it isn’t. With the organism, we have distinction and inter-dependence.

GREEN: I understand that “your intent is desirable,” as it says in the Kuzari, but what of the question of the supernatural origins of the traditions? I want to say something that goes like this:

There is the One Universal Being, a line of life present in all things, undergoing the whole evolutionary process, struggling to manifest itself, seeking to be known. It is a Creature seeking a garment for Itself, one which can ultimately have self-awareness, that can ultimately stretch its mind to be aware of this greater Whole. This One Brain manifesting all of our brains, manifesting all of our cultures, needs of us, calls upon us, to know It, to recognize It. And we, as people and cultures, then create all the forms. We create all the forms through which It is known, whether those forms are the Eucharist, the shalosh regalim, the chakras, the language of metaphysicians, or the language of Buddhist angelology; whatever these forms are, we create them. We create them in response to an inner call from the One, which says, “Know Me!” 

If you say, “organs,” you are making them more part of the One, rather than the human response to that inner call, and this is why I still prefer 'garments' to  'organs.'  I do like the inter-dependence of the organic relationship, but you seem to be saying they are essential revelations, rather than human responses.

SCHACHTER-SHALOMI: No, this isn’t the way of it for me. The first cells are called stem-cells. Stem-cells are generic cells that can become particular cells when the body needs them to do a unique task. Now, when I look at the Earth, I see that species are interacting in this same way. What is it that salmon spawn eat? What is it that comes from the old fish that has died? Everything has to become everything else! I see this as an organic issue, and this is the reason that I feel strongly about the specificity of organs. 

If I say it is a garment among other garments, it loses some value. But if you say it is a 'vital organ,' then they are not something one can divest easily. This is why I want to counter triumphalism by saying, if the heart were to say, ‘the whole body can exist by the heart alone,’ without the kidneys, without the lungs, then it is obvious, isn’t it, that the body is going to die! That is why I want to make the total inter-dependence more palpable.

GREEN: Which tradition do you want to make 'the heart,' and which one 'the kidneys'? 

SCHACHTER-SHALOMI: Each tradition always wants to claim the heart.

GREEN: Yehuda Halevi’s Kuzari makes someone else the kidneys; it’s not much of a concession.  

SCHACHTER-SHALOMI: Yes, and when I was reading Emanuel Swedenborg,[2] I found that he has a Maximus Homo, a primordial human corresponding to Adam Kadmon. But, unfortunately, the Jews are the rump, the back-side. People will designate as they will. 

GREEN: Are you sure that these are all vital? Let’s choose a tradition other than our own. Let’s suppose that Zoroastrianism and the Parsis disappear; too many of them become middle class, they move West, intermarry, and their tradition disappears. Is the body of the Universe, the mind of God, going to get sick because of that? I don’t think so. It will survive. Certainly, It would be diminished because of that. We are poorer for not having Dodo birds, and I regret that the Universe doesn’t have them, but the Universe has made itself new garments and has gone on; they have planted what they needed to plant into the civilizations of the world, and I don’t think there is a vital organ missing. 

SCHACHTER-SHALOMI: The psychologist Alfred Adler wrote about how the body compensates. If you have only one kidney, you can still do quite a lot. Even without a gall bladder, you can still survive. That is true. But, I still feel that there is a contribution that gets lost. I want to say, 'As a Jew, I need to be a Jew, because I am making a contribution, not only for myself, but also for the planet.' The better a Jew I am, the better the contribution I make. The better a Catholic Christian is, the better contribution she or he makes. But then, I don’t speak about garments that you can take off or put on. That is why I like organs.

 GREEN: The difference is essential.



1. Triumphalism is the belief that one’s own spiritual tradition will 'triumph' in the end, all other traditions being proven false.

2. A Christian mystic and scientist known for his great works, Heaven and Hell and the Arcana Coelestia.

Livelihood and the Spiritual Journey Dialogue

Sreedevi Bringi, Rabbi Tirzah Firestone, Father Alan Hartway, Stephen Hatch, Pir Netanel Miles-Yépez, and Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown, hosted by Roland Cohen

The sixth and final event of the 2014 Awake in the World Conference was an interreligious dialogue (hosted by the Shambhala Mountain Center and Naropa University on October 24th, 2014) in which six representatives of different religious paths engaged in dialogue on "Livelihood and the Spiritual Journey."

The Religion of Spirituality

Netanel Miles-Yépez

"The Tower of Babel" by Pieter Breugel the Elder c. 1653

"The Tower of Babel" by Pieter Breugel the Elder c. 1653

In 1949, Max Zeller, a disciple of the visionary psychotherapist, Dr. Carl Jung, came to Jung with a dream he could not understand. In the dream, he saw a “temple of vast dimensions” under construction. As far as he could see, in every direction, there were multitudes of people participating in the building of the temple. Though the temple was only in its beginning stages, the foundation had already been laid, and he was himself working on a pillar. Hearing this, Jung simply nodded and said, “this is the temple we are all building today.” It is “the new religion.” We don’t know all the builders, of course, because they are “in India and China and in Russia, and all over the world.” But “this new religion will come together.”[1]

This is what Jung believed. The problem for us is that the process has only just begun, and we do not yet know what shape it will take or how it can help us. Looking at the rubble of the past and the chaotic building-site of the present, many people today—both spiritually-inclined and secular—are understandably declaring “the end of religion.” But what neither seems to understand is that religion cannot die unless we, as human beings, somehow cease to feel and long for that indefinable, ineffable awareness of the sacred to which religion is merely a response. Until that happens, we will continue to reach out to the sacred, and we will use religion to get it. The real question is, what kind of religion will we use to access the sacred? Will we continue to use the old religions of the past, whether in their conventional or mystical forms? Will we evolve and participate in new hyphenated fusions of traditions like Christian Zen or Sufi-Hasidism? Or will we embrace a greater religion of spirituality, as some are already suggesting?

I think the simple answer is, ‘Yes.’

Until fairly late in the 20th-century, no matter where you might find yourself on the map, you were likely to live in a more or less homogenous culture, where most people were ‘like you’ in language, race and religion. If you knew anything about another religion, you probably viewed it as something inferior. But today, we live in a world where cultures are increasingly bumping up against one another, and where religions are learning to co-exist. Today, we find that our neighbors are Hindu, and our co-workers Muslim. In almost every metropolitan area, we have access to Yoga classes, Buddhist meditation, Hindu satsangs, Muslim Sufi dhikrs, Christian Centering Prayer groups, and Jewish Renewal services. Living in this spiritual marketplace, in a time when many of us find ourselves cut-off from the religions of our birth, and with almost every religious possibility within reach, some are asking, “How do we choose between them?” Nevertheless, my sense is that this is not actually the question they want to ask; I think they are bewildered at having to make a choice at all . . . Indeed, I don’t think they want to choose anymore.

In the Jewish mystical tradition, the expulsion from Eden is characterized as the loss of the primal unity. Having eaten the fruit of the eitz ha’da'at, or ‘tree of knowledge,’ humanity suddenly found itself cast headlong into the world of separation, into a world devoid of the sacred, in which we could only see the differences between things.[2] But in the last century, we have again eaten the fruit of the tree of knowledge—of other cultures and religions—and found, paradoxically, that we are really one people, one body, whose needs are the concern of all.

Our current access to all the religions of the planet is slowly (or perhaps quickly) putting an end to the myth of religious superiority, the view we call ‘triumphalism.’ But something else is happening as well. It is also eroding the clearly definable boundaries of our current religions, giving many the feeling that there is no longer any particular reason to be exclusively wedded to one religion or another. Many people no longer want to be boxed-in to any one tradition. Having had access to them all, and having seen the unique tools and beauty of each, who can believe that any one of them has all the answers anymore?

Given this awareness, which religion you choose really becomes a matter of emphasis and individual need. For a tall person, a ladder with rungs far apart is preferable, while a shorter person obviously prefers one with rungs set closer together. Still, both are ladders, and both are designed to facilitate access to higher regions. In the same way, religions have all developed the same basic tools to deliver an experience of the sacred, but each has a different emphasis and uses these tools in different ways, just as the ladder is used for different jobs. What the spiritual seeker is able to do today, which is different than through most of our past, is choose which religion (or even which aspect of a religion) is most suitable to their needs, their purpose, and their abilities.

Over the last forty or fifty years, the gradual dawning of this awareness of personal choice has led to an interesting evolutionary phenomenon, one I like to call, “hyphenated religion.”[3] With all the jostling and bumping up against one another that happens in the universe, new relationships are bound to form, just as atoms gain and lose electrons, or different chemical compounds are formed in seemingly random interactions. In the world of religion, such interactions have led to the development of hyphenated loyalties—Christian priests who have become recognized Zen roshis or Vedantic swamis, rabbis who have become Sufi sheikhs or embraced a more shamanic form of Judaism. Today, there is hardly anyone who doesn’t have some kind of ‘hyphen,’ whether they be dedicated Christians devoted to Jungian psychology or resolved atheists to Yoga practice, couples learning to handle the demands of inter-marriage or individuals integrating dual cultural identities. So why should it be any different with religions? Although there is certainly an element of choice at work here, it is also clearly an evolutionary process, the planet mashing things together, as it always has, creating new forms of life and a healthy diversity for itself.

But this phenomenon of hyphenated religion is just the beginning of a larger process. Each hyphen must, in time, join to form a part of the mortise-and-tenon construction of the temple of the new religion, described in the dream of Jung’s disciple. In this process, the magisterium—the body of spiritual teachings, lore, rituals and techniques—of each individual religion must, in the interaction with other religious traditions, begin to ‘surrender electrons’ and form a new magisterium that “transcends and includes” both.[4] The process will go on, contributing to and eventually forming a greater magisterium of all religions, where the myths and practices of each will become the rightful inheritance of all. In this sense, it will be a true religion of humanity, though I believe it will be defined as the religion of spirituality, with these basic values:

The religion of spirituality will recognize the centrality of the spiritual, valuing it above religion, which must serve exclusively as a cultivator of spiritual awareness. The religion of spirituality will be comprised of the magisteria of all religions and unified by the primordial mysterium at the heart of all. It will recognize the call of the spirit as the source of all previous religions, and will utilize the deep structures of religion, made clear by comparative analysis, as the catalyzing basis for further spiritual evolution. The distinctively nuanced teachings and practices of independently developed magisteria will continue to serve the needs of individuals and their unique spiritual orientations from within the greater, unified magisterium of the religion of spirituality.

Why is “the new religion” to be defined by spirituality? Because the ‘spiritual but not religious’ have declared it so. They have made it clear that spirituality is more important than religion. What they have not yet discovered is what to do about it; for doing is the territory of religion. Religion is the tool that allows us to access the spirit with regularity, to catalyze growth and spiritual maturity, to accomplish spiritual awakening and transformation. Thus, religion in the future must be the handmaiden of spirituality. One is clearly the servant of the other, though both are essential ingredients. Over time, these two ingredients—the deep structures of religion and heart-essence of spirituality—will be extracted from the individual religions, making a religion not of the Buddha or the Christ, not of the mind or the heart, but of Humanity and Wholeness, the parts and nuances of each the inheritance of all, a reflection of the primordial human archetype, Adam Kadmon, as it is called in the Jewish mystical tradition.

This is my conviction. But it is also clear to me that we are not there yet, and won’t be for a very long time. It is not enough to have a vision of the future and theoretical access to the ‘Greater Magisterium of the Religion of Spirituality.’ We must also understand those deeper structures of religion, the basic technology of how religion works to accomplish spiritual transformation, and put that understanding into practice over a long period of experimentation. Actual understanding will come slowly, organically. We are only beginning to understand what it means to have commitments in more than one tradition. We still don’t have a firm grasp on how one balances and honors each without making one or both anemic. And what will be the role of the old traditions in a universal structure which must, over time, make them all less relevant? How painful will the descent into a lesser degree of relevance be, and how will we deal with the inevitable reactions of violence, which we are already witnessing? Our questions still far outnumber our answers.

After Jung had interpreted the dream of the temple of “the new religion,” his student, Zeller, asked him if he knew how long it would take to build. Jung answered without hesitation, “About six hundred years.” “Where do you know this from?” Zeller asked. “From other people's dreams and from my own.”[5] Did he mean, six hundred years in transition to the new religion, or six hundred years for that religion to reach its peak? And what does it mean that the foundation has already been laid?

However we interpret the dream, three things are clear: our current religions will continue for a long time yet; they will evolve and begin to hyphenate; and the great experiment of the religion of spirituality will proceed, slowly creating the structures of spiritual practice that will define it as a true incubator for spiritual transformation. For this is what is lacking today, and the reason we must bear with the slow evolutionary process.

(Part three of a three-part series on The Religion of Spirituality.)



[1] Max Zeller, The Dream: The Vision of the Night, ed. Janet Dallett, Los Angeles: The Analytical Psychology Club of Los Angeles, 1975:2.

[2] Actually, the ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil,’ etz ha-da'at tov va-ra, Genesis 2-3.

[3] After similar usage by Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, who often referred to the hyphen connecting a person to more than one religious commitment.

[4] A phrase used by philosopher Ken Wilber in his descriptions of holarchies.

[5] Zeller, The Dream, 2.

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Father of Jewish Renewal, Dies at 89

By Netanel Miles-Yépez

“Reb Zalman in celebratory prayer at Baker’s Beach, California.” Photo credit: Yehudit Goldfarb, 1987.

“Reb Zalman in celebratory prayer at Baker’s Beach, California.” Photo credit: Yehudit Goldfarb, 1987.


Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, a spiritual innovator who developed a new trend in Judaism over the last half-century, passed away peacefully in his sleep on Thursday, July 3rd, 2014, at around 8:40AM in his home. He was 89. He will be buried at the Green Mountain Cemetery in Boulder, Colorado.

Schachter-Shalomi, better known as 'Reb Zalman' (a less formal title he preferred), was often a controversial figure in his lifetime, beloved of many and reviled by others. Those who loved him saw him as the visionary father of the Jewish Renewal movement, as a spiritual revolutionary who infused religion and inter-faith relations with a new vitality and contemplative depth. Those who opposed his innovative approach to Jewish spiritual practice felt he had betrayed the traditional values of Orthodox Judaism. Though this opposition diminished in his later years as former opponents came to appreciate his spiritual integrity and the need for new perspectives. But whether embraced or shunned, his impact upon Judaism and modern spirituality is undeniable.

Father of Jewish Renewal

Beginning in the 1950s, Schachter-Shalomi addressed himself to the masses of disaffected Jews who found their own religious tradition bereft of spiritual depth in the wake of the Holocaust. Along with his friend and fellow revolutionary, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach (d.1994), he set out to find Jewish youth 'where they were' and to show them the depths and options still available within Judaism. For his currency and participation in the spirit of the times, some dubbed him the "Hippie Rabbi" in the 1970s, just as in the 1990s, many called him the "Cyber Rebbe" for his mix of Hasidism and technological savvy.

For the most part, Schachter-Shalomi's success was based in his liberal acceptance of people exploring alternate paths of spiritual awakening (from LSD to Yoga), and his legitimizing of alternate possibilities within Judaism (from the rabbinical ordination of women to the acceptance homosexuals), and not least on his making available to them the deepest teachings of Jewish mysticism and meditation.

Today, Jews the world over wear the B'nai Or 'Rainbow Tallit' (prayer-shawl) he designed, and Jewish Renewal rabbis and teachers are at the forefront of modern Judaism and its encounter with the changing nature of society. ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, the organization he originally founded as B'nai Or Religious Fellowship, continues to serve the core of Jewish Renewal communities all over the world; and OHALAH: the Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal, originally begun by rabbis personally ordained by Schachter-Shalomi, meets every year for fellowship, learning and the ordination of new rabbis.

Innovator in Ecumenical Dialogue

From the earliest days of Schachter-Shalomi's career, he was continually involved in ecumenical dialogue with leaders and practitioners of other spiritual paths, from Trappist monks to Sufi sheikhs. These frequent forays into what was then forbidden territory led Schachter-Shalomi to describe himself as a "spiritual peeping-Tom." But far from being a mere browser, Schachter-Shalomi became deeply learned in the most minute aspects of the theory and experiential practice of these traditions, praying matins with the monks and performing dhikr with the Sufis.

This deeply personal approach to dialogue led to significant friendships with many of the world's great philosophers and spiritual teachers, including: Father Thomas Merton, Pir Vilayat Khan, Ken Wilber, and the 14th Dalai Lama.

The twin peaks of this ecumenical work had to do with the increasingly significant dialogue between Jews and Buddhists. Always sensitive and sympathetic to Jewish involvement in Eastern traditions, in 1990, Schachter-Shalomi was invited to a meeting in Dharamsala, India, between the Dalai Lama and Jewish leaders, to discuss how Tibetan Buddhism might "survive in exile." This dialogue, and Schachter-Shalomi's remarkable influence upon it, became the focus of a best-selling book by Rodger Kamenetz called The Jew in the Lotus. Immediately, the book became a catalyst for Jewish-Buddhist dialogue and the sensitive issue of why so many American Jews were involved in so-called 'Eastern' spiritual paths.

Within a few years, Schachter-Shalomi was invited to take up the World Wisdom Chair at Naropa University, the only accredited Buddhist-inspired university in the Western hemisphere. Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado became home to Schachter-Shalomi and a new phase of his teaching career. By the time of his retirement from Naropa in 2004, he had influenced thousands of students and spiritual seekers of all backgrounds.

Myriad Dimensions

Despite his profound impact upon American Judaism, his renewal teachings are still only beginning to take hold in Europe and Israel. To many, he remains a misunderstood figure, representing far more 'innovation' than they are comfortable with, and yet 'guilty' of far less than they usually suspect.

A charismatic and infinitely accessible teacher, he was able to tap-in to the particular need and interest of a generation ready for a paradigm shift in consciousness. His expansive personality and brilliantly creative mind never found a place to rest, but continued to push the margins of spiritual growth, using the language of emerging technologies and ecological awareness. Nevertheless, he was deeply committed to restoring vitality to as much of tradition as was possible, and to "re-formatting" it for modern use. In many ways, this was his particular genius, to build the "spiritual technology" of the future from the traditional wisdom of the past.


Meshullam Zalman Schachter was born on August 17th, 1924 in Zholkiew, Poland, to Shlomo and Hayyah Gittel Schachter. In 1925, his family moved to Vienna, Austria, where he spent most of his childhood.

His father, a Belzer hasid with liberal tendencies, had him educated in both a 'leftist' Zionist high school and a traditional Orthodox yeshiva.

In 1938, when he was just 14, his family began a long and harrowing flight from Nazi oppression through Belgium, France, North Africa, and the Caribbean, until they finally landed in New York City in 1941.

In 1939, while still in Belgium, the young Schachter-Shalomi became acquainted with and began to frequent a circle of Habad hasidim who cut and polished diamonds in Antwerp. This association eventually led to his becoming a Habad hasid of the Lubavitch branch, in whose yeshiva he later enrolled in 1941, in Brooklyn, New York.

In 1947, he received his rabbinic ordination from the 'Lubavitcher Yeshiva' (Yeshivat Tomhei Temimim) and continued the outreach and teaching work he had begun the previous year in New Haven, Connecticut.

In 1948 or '49, he began to travel to college campuses with Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach at the direction of the Sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe and took up a post as a congregational rabbi in Fall River, MA. From 1952 to 1956, he was a congregational rabbi in New Bedford, MA.

By 1956, he had acquired a Master of Arts degree in the Psychology of Religion (pastoral counseling) from Boston University and had taken up a teaching post in the Department of Religion at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada, which he would hold until 1975.

In 1958, with the blessing of the Seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, he wrote and privately published what was perhaps the first book on Jewish meditation in English. Later reprinted in The Jewish Catalog, this little manual would be read by an entire generation of Jews, and would reach individuals as diverse as President Zalman Shazar of Israel and the Christian monk and spiritual activist, Thomas Merton.

In 1964, inspired by examples of Trappist spirituality, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Hasidism of his teachers, Schachter-Shalomi founded the neo-Hasidic B'nai Or Religious Fellowship with a small circle of students.

By 1968, he had earned his Doctor of Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College and was effectively 'divorced' from the Lubavitcher hasidim over issues relating his controversial engagement with modern culture and other religions. Nevertheless, he continued on as an 'independent' hasid, teaching the experiential dimensions of Hasidism as one of the world's great spiritual traditions. That year, he was also influential among the group who formed Havurat Shalom in Boston.

In 1974, he ordained his first rabbi, Rabbi Daniel Siegel of British Columbia (one of the current leaders of ALEPH) and helped to found the Aquarian Minyan of Berkeley, California.

A few years earlier, he had begun to study Sufism and meet with Sufis in California's Bay Area. This eventually led to his being initiated and ordained as a Sheikh in the Sufi Order of Pir Vilayat Khan in 1975. That year, he also became professor of Jewish Mysticism and Psychology of Religion at Temple University, where he stayed until his early retirement in 1987, when he was named professor emeritus.

1984 saw the birth of a new period in Schachter-Shalomi's life. That year, he took a forty-day retreat at Lama Foundation in New Mexico and emerged with a new teaching about "spiritual eldering," which later developed into his popular book, From Age-ing to Sage-ing, and led to his founding the Spiritual Eldering Institute, whose work is now carried on by Sage-ing International.

In 1986, B'nai Or ('children of light') Religious Fellowship became P'nai Or ('faces of light') Religious Fellowship, which would later undergo one more transformation and take up its current name, ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal.

In 1995 he accepted the World Wisdom Chair at the Naropa Institute (now Naropa University) from which he officially retired in 2004.

In 2004, Schachter-Shalomi participated in the Vancouver Peace Summit, where he gave an address to the session on "Balancing Educating the Mind with Educating the Heart" at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts and dialogued with Nobel laureates, the 14th Dalai Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu. He also co-founded the "Sufi-Hasidic," Inayati-Maimuni lineage of Sufism, reviving the medieval tradition of Rabbi Avraham Maimuni and allowing the Hasidic lineage of the Ba'al Shem Tov to integrate with the Sufi lineage of Hazrat Inayat Khan.

In 2005, he witnessed the creation of The Reb Zalman Legacy Project, an initiative of the Yesod Foundation "to preserve, develop and disseminate" his teachings, which eventually led to the donation of the Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi Collection to the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2011 and the creation, in cooperation with the Program in Jewish Studies, of the Post-Holocaust American Judaism Archives in 2013. Since then, the University of Colorado has hosted an exhibit on his life and work, as well as a symposium on his influence upon Jewish music.

In 2012, Schachter-Shalomi was awarded an honorary doctorate of theology from the Starr King School for the Ministry in Oakland, California, and gave a popular series of lectures on the "Emerging Cosmology" as a part of its inaugural symposium, "Living in the Differences."

In 2014, he was again awarded an honorary doctorate from Hebrew College in Boston, Massachusetts, for his many contributions to global Judaism and his influence upon the college itself. Shortly thereafter, he traveled to Connecticut to lead a Shavuot retreat at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. After this retreat, he fell ill with pneumonia. He recovered sufficiently to return home to Boulder on June 19th, and seemed to be improving steadily, before passing in his sleep two weeks later.

His greatest interest in his last years was to articulate the foundations of a new manifestation of Hasidism, which he called "The Fourth Turning of Hasidism," and to contribute to the evolving understanding of religion and spirituality. At the time of his passing, after hundreds of hours of dialogue on the subject, Foundations of the Fourth Turning of Hasidism, a short statement of principles written with a student, was being prepared for publication, the last writing he read and approved.

A few of Schachter-Shalomi's most significant books include: Spiritual Intimacy: A Study of Counseling in Hasidism (1991), Paradigm Shift: From the Jewish Renewal Writings of Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (1993), From Age-ing to Sage-ing: A Profound New Vision of Growing Older (1995), Jewish with Feeling: A Guide to Meaningful Jewish Practice (2005), A Heart Afire: Stories and Teachings of the Early Hasidic Masters (2009), Sh'ma': A Concise Weekday Siddur for Praying in English (2010), Gate to the Heart: A Manual of Contemplative Jewish Practice (2013), and The December Project (2014).

He is survived by his wife, Eve Ilsen (married in 1994); ten children, Mimi Gess, Shalom Schachter, Joseph Schachter, Yale Schachter, Tina Duskis, Jonathan Schachter, Lisa Vito, Shalvi Schachter, Barya Schachter, and Yotam Schachter; and his child by donation, Rosi Greenberg; numerous grandchildren and many great-grandchildren; a brother, Joseph Schachter, and a sister, Dvorah Kieffer.