Rabbi Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi, better known as Reb Zalman, was born in Zholkiew, Poland, in 1924 and raised largely in Vienna. His family was forced to flee Nazi oppression in 1938. After almost three years on the run, the family finally landed in New York City, settling in Brooklyn, where young Zalman enrolled in the yeshiva of the Lubavitcher Hasidim. He was ordained by Lubavitch in 1947 and later received his master of arts degree in the Psychology of Religion in 1956 from Boston University and a doctor of Hebrew Letters degree from Hebrew Union College in 1968.
Reb Zalman is widely considered the father of the Jewish Renewal movement, a recent movement in Judaism that works to reinvigorate modern Judaism with mystical teachings and contemplative practices influenced by Hasidism. This movement, which has its origins in his B’nai Or (Children of Light) groups of the mid-1960s, is now officially represented by ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal in Philadelphia. He taught at the University of Manitoba (Canada) from 1956 to 1975 and was professor of Jewish Mysticism and Psychology of Religion at Temple University until his early retirement in 1987, when he was named professor emeritus. Videos of Reb Zalman can be viewed on the the Jewish Renewal channel on You Tube. Search “Reb Zalman” to access the entire collection.
Initial work with the Schachter-Shalomi Collection, as well as those of other leaders of the Jewish Renewal movement, led to a broader vision of an archive dedicated to seeing how Judaism and Jewish life flowered in America in the post-war era. Shifting away from a view of these forms of Jewish life as “counter culture,” the Archive of Post-Holocaust American Judaism puts these movements emerging in post-war America at the center of a new history of the Jewish experience. Ongoing acquisitions for the collection will position the archive as a key repository, helping to explain modern re-engagement with Judaism and Jewish identity in America, and how it has influenced Jewish life across the globe.