Rabbi Shawn Zevit: Liturgist, Musician, Writer, Teacher, Activist, Congregational Consultant, Community Leader
Mishkan Shalom, a progressive Reconstructionist Jewish community located in a restored historic mill building in Roxborough, has named Rabbi Shawn Israel Zevit its new rabbi starting August, 2013.
Rabbi Zevit is a dynamic and widely known liturgist, teacher, singer, author and consultant to Jewish communities. “We’re thrilled to have Rabbi Shawn bring his many strong gifts to Mishkan Shalom,” says David Piver, Board President.
Rabbi Zevit is a 1998 graduate of The Jewish Reconstructionist College and worked for the Jewish Reconstructionist Movement for fourteen years as the Director of Congregational Services, Outreach, and Tikkun Olam. He was most recently the visiting rabbi at Congregation T’Chiyah in Detroit, Michigan.
He has been a sought after teacher and leader of spiritual practice programs, including as co-director of the award winning Davenning Leader’s Training Institute, where he coaches rabbis, cantors and lay leaders of all denominations. He is also a spiritual director for the ALEPH Hashpa’ah program. He has consulted to myriad congregations, organizations and social justice initiatives in the Jewish and secular world.
An accomplished singer and guitarist, Rabbi Zevit is a founding member of the popular Jewish musical group, Shabbat Unplugged. He has led Shabbaton programs, been Guest-Artist and Scholar-in-Residence in more than 100 congregations and havurot. Among his many publications is his most recent book Brotherkeepers: New Explorations in Jewish Masculinity and Offerings of the Heart: Money and Values in Faith Community.
The extensive search process for a new rabbi was led by the Rabbinic Search Committee, co-chaired by Margaret Lenzi and Steve Jones. Jones explained that “In searching for a new Rabbi for the congregation, the community was particularly focused on locating someone who has shown the ability to lead twenty-first century Jews in a dynamic spiritual practice who also has the organizing skills needed to grow our community and attract new members.” Co-chair Lenzi added that “In keeping with its identity, the congregation was also looking for a leader who could help members connect Jewish values to social activism.” Both agreed Rabbi Zevit embodies these qualities.
Since its founding in 1988, Mishkan has been committed to the integration of prayer, study, acts of caring, and repair of the world. The congregation is known for its strong commitment to social action, inclusiveness, and support for the rights of Palestinians as well as for the State of Israel.
When Rabbi Zevit visited the congregation, Co-chair Jones noted that “Rabbi Zevit engaged very openly with congregants and emphasized providing on-going warm welcome and inclusion for all kinds of Jews and families looking for a Jewish home in the life of our congregation. He also spoke with deep conviction about working with coalitions of faith-based communities to provide a Jewish perspective on creating a more just society.”
Mishkan’s founding rabbi, Brian Walt, left Philadelphia to work on human and civil rights issues in Israel/Palestine and in the US. Since then, Mishkan Shalom has been served by two lead rabbis, most recently Linda Holtzman, from 2007 until June of this year.
The congregation has also been served by Rabbi Yael Levy on a part-time basis for over seventeen years. Rabbi Levy has developed a program of Jewish Mindfulness, which incorporates meditation into Jewish practice and has attracted a significant following.
Board President David Piver is excited about Rabbi Zevit ushering in a new Jewish year and era of congregational growth: “The coming year, our 25th year as a congregation, is one of renewal, celebration and deep gratitude as we welcome Rabbi Zevit. We are looking forward to his leadership as we continue to grow our deep roots and broad connections within and beyond Mishkan Shalom.”
Mishkan Shalom has many programs and diverse offerings for prayer, study, and Tikkun Olam (repair of the world). The congregation has a vibrant religious school, adult education courses and many opportunities for both spiritual direction and community service within and outside of Mishkan.