In 2014, Dr. Justin Jaron Lewis, an Associate Professor in the Department of Religion at the University of Manitoba, began an oral history project documenting the many formative years Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi spent living in Winnipeg from 1956-1975. This collection will be a valuable resource for studying a major period in Schachter-Shalomi’s life that has yet to receive much scholarly attention.

Dr. Justin Jaron Lewis is an Associate Professor in the Department of Religion at the University of Manitoba. Before joining the University of Manitoba in 2008, Lewis was assistant professor in the department of religious studies at Queen’s and served as the director of Jewish studies there. Lewis received his rabbinic ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion in New York in 2001. He received his PhD in post-biblical Hebrew language and literature from the department of near and Middle Eastern civilizations at the University of Toronto in 2003. Until 2007, Lewis was the rabbi of Congregation Iyr HaMelech, in Kingston, Ont., where he was responsible for adult education.

About the Winnipeg Jewish Renewal Oral History Project from Justin Jaron Lewis: 

“Rabbi Zalman Schachter (later Schachter-Shalomi, also known as “Reb Zalman”) lived in Winnipeg from 1956 to 1975. He passed away in summer 2014 in Boulder, Colorado, aged 89. He was well known as the founding figure of the Jewish Renewal Movement, and is widely considered one of the most influential rabbis of our time.

Rabbi Schachter’s years in Winnipeg were important, the foundation of his later career, but they have not been well documented. This is an oral history project to record interviews with people who knew Rabbi Schachter while he lived in Winnipeg. We are looking for all perspectives and points of view, whether laudatory or critical. Brief memories are welcome; interviews so far range from five minutes to two hours. Please contact me if you would be interested in sharing any memories of Reb Zalman during his Winnipeg years.”

The Winnipeg Jewish Renewal Oral History Collection contains interviews conducted by Justin Jaron Lewis with people who knew Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi while he lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada (1956 to 1975).

Gift of Dr. Justin Jaron Lewis in 2015.