Rabbi Claudia Kreiman

I see in social justice activism a religious obligation, and that is at the center of my rabbinate.

Temple Beth Zion
Brookline, Massachusetts
A Jewish Perspective

Where did you first encounter Heschel’s work?

I encountered Heschel’s work as a little kid. Growing up in South America, Heschel was an intrinsic part of the teachings. Most of his books have been translated into Spanish, and I still have them in my library. My father, Rabbi Angel Kreiman-Brill (z”l), was one of the first two graduates of the Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano and a student of Rabbi Marshall Meyer (z”l). Heschel's teachings were so embedded in the teaching I grew up with that I remember being very surprised when I learned in my 20s that the "palace of time" from the book The Sabbath was not in the Torah. For a long time (and perhaps still) my Judaism was fully shaped by Heschel’s writing, without even knowing.

How did Heschel and his thinking inspire your work, religious life, or civic engagement?

Heschel’s thinking was/is the base of my religious practice and the basis of my social justice engagement as a religious obligation. A few things come to mind:

My relationship to prayer, especially to the tension/relation between keva (straightforward prayer) and kavanah (the intention behind prayer). I wrote my final paper for rabbinical school on that question and I have applied this question not only in religious practice and prayer but beyond in my teaching and my own practice.

Heschel’s activism, as a religious man and in response to the teachings of the prophets, is perhaps at the center of my activism (through the teachings of Rabbi Marshal T. Meyer). I see in social justice activism a religious obligation, and that is at the center of my rabbinate.

The Sabbath (which I read first in Spanish) shaped my understanding of Shabbat from early age.

Lastly my relationship with God, as a seeker. I am searching for God at all times. As a student of Rabbi Art Green, I use the concept of seeker; I believe that Rabbi Green’s teachings are also influenced by Heschel.

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