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Published:December 15th, 2006 05:52 EST
Judyth Piazza chats with Moshe Waldoks, The Big Book of Jewish Humor

Judyth Piazza chats with Moshe Waldoks, The Big Book of Jewish Humor

By Judyth Piazza CEO (Editor)

Along with an infectious laugh and a soulful voice, Rabbi Moshe Waldoks — Reb Moshe — brings many years of deep and eclectic experiences to his role as Temple Beth Zion's spiritual leader. Educated in a Yiddish-speaking yeshiva and holding a doctorate in Jewish intellectual history, Reb Moshe taught at Wellesley, Hebrew College and Brandeis before receiving smicha, or post-denominational ordination, by his mentors, Rabbis Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Arthur Green and Everett Gendler.

Although grounded in the wisdom of these remarkable rabbis, Reb Moshe is temperamentally inclined to experiment. For example, his spiritual practices have been influenced by his meditation teacher, Sylvia Boorstein (author of That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Buddhist: On Being a Faithful Jew and a Passionate Buddhist). To help integrate meditation practices and Jewish prayer, in 2005 Reb Moshe founded Nishmat Hayyim: The Breath of Life Jewish Meditation Community, which is based at TBZ.

Dedicated to building bridges, Reb Moshe went to Dharamsala, India in October 1990 to participate in the first Jewish-Tibetan Buddhist encounter with the Dalai Lama. This amazing journey through Tibetian Buddhism and Judaism is recounted in Rodger Kamenetz' best-selling book, The Jew in the Lotus: A Poet's Rediscovery of Jewish Identity in Buddhist India. Reb Moshe is active in Jewish-Christian and Jewish-Muslim dialogue as well; and he serves as an advisor to Boston's RUAH Spirituality Institute.

A storyteller and stand-up comedian (he is co-editor of The Big Book of Jewish Humor), Reb Moshe has used humor to animate our once-diminished shul. "I'm a real advocate of joy," he has noted. His joyful congregants agree.

Since 1998, Reb Moshe has transformed our congregation from a few dozen (mostly-elderly) members, to a vibrant and diverse community of nearly 600. Based on his unique talents and TBZ's remarkable growth, Reb Moshe has become a much-sought lecturer on evolving Jewish culture and spiritual renewal.

With his wife, Anne, and their three daughters, Reb Moshe infuses our community with spirit, song, laughter and learning.

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