Episode 7: The Bravery Needed to Lead As Your Authentic Self w/Rabbi Rachel 'Bluth' Rosenbluth
Rabbi Rachel “Bluth” Rosenbluth is currently studying for rabbinic ordination at Yeshivat Har El, a co-ed Orthodox Rabbinical program in Jerusalem. She is the Founder and Educational Director of Achvat Amim Ruchani, a program for Israeli-Palestinian peace and justice volunteer work, focused on Jewish learning. Born in Toronto to two amateur Klezmorim, Bluth lives in a plant-filled home in Yafo.
Bluth graduated from McGill University in 2012, having majored in International Development Studies and Buddhism. At McGill, she had valuable experiences in community-based development and sustainable food systems through environmental field research in East Africa, and working on permaculture farms. She worked as the Director of Education for Shoresh Jewish Environmental Programs in Toronto, combining her passion for sustainability and social justice with Jewish education and community building.
Bluth made Aliyah to Israel in 2015 to pursue a life of creativity, initiative, community and sunshine; and in Israel she found a complex reality in need of meaningful contribution. She founded TLV Seaside Shabbes, a spirited minyan on the beach, leads a weekly Torah and meditation class in a Yoga studio, and is part of the Israeli-Palestinian initiative: Women Entrepreneurs Making Change. She has studied at Hadar, Pardes and Matan, and she leads Jewish retreats around the world, and spiritually focused High Holiday services in Toronto.
Bluth creates Jewish art and Ketubahs, and loves the Jewish calendar cycle, coffee shops and meeting and engaging with people. She strives to learn Torah, think deeply and critically, and create experiences for personal growth aiming to heal the world around us.
We began our conversation by discussing the Jewish holidays. While at times they can feel overwhelming, each holiday has it own focus or theme - and each of these themes is rooted in a sense of pure contentment, peace, and joy.
“All of the holidays are connected to a deep sense of joy - capital J Joy. Not just, ‘oh, I am happy.’ But a sort of deep encounter with all of our emotions, where we can hold them and be strong, full, conscious, present individuals.” - Bluth
Bluth also provides some very practical tips in regards to how to go about building a thriving community.
“One is making sure there’s enough people, that there is sort of a critical mass to hold the space together. You can individually call 20 people to make sure people will be there. This ensures that there will be a core base that can grow. So you feel supported as a leader.” - Bluth
We also discussed Bluth’s peace-building work between Israeli-Palestinian constituencies. One group that she mentioned is Shorashim which brings together settlers and Palestinians to try to create grassroots change in order to bring more peace/shalom and wholeness/shlemut into people’s lives.
Additionally, after we finished recording, Bluth also mentioned a memory she had of playing ukulele to entertain the folks in the village of Khan al-Ahmar. Which was a bittersweet memory for me, as well, as I had helped to build the school in this Bedouin village 10 years ago which has had the demolition order levied against it put on indefinite hold. It was reassuring to see that long after my departure that there are still many voices that are advocating on behalf of the voiceless - for those living on the margins of society.
We also talked about the challenges of having to “remove one hat” as a progressive individual entering religious spaces, and also having to “remove a hat” as a religious person entering “lefty” spaces. By using the language of permaculture we touched on the idea that the greatest growth and richness actually comes at the nexus between two areas; and that rather than having to hide elements of ourselves we must summon a bravery to lead as our authentic selves.
Lastly, we concluded our conversation with some resources to follow up with to continue the learning:
For a book recommended by Bluth, check out:
“Seek My Face: A Jewish Mystical Theology” by Rabbi Art Green.
Thanks again and looking forward to being on this journey with you!