Our mission is to nurture and develop a network of rabbis who share a common vision: to make Jewish wisdom accessible in order to enrich people’s lives across religious and cultural borders in America. Come learn more about who we are and who we serve...
Our Mission is:
Jewish influence can be felt throughout American culture - from movies, television, and books to politics, business, and art. But though we can take pride in the high-profile accomplishments of Seinfeld or the minyan in the Senate, this just scratches the surface. More important than having prominent Jews portrayed in a positive light is having Jewish texts, ideas and values be part of our national dialogue.
As the primary teachers, creators and mediators of Jewish thought and practice, rabbis are the most important developers and disseminators of Jewish wisdom. RWB’s goal is to communicate in ways that make Jewish wisdom useful and meaningful to Americans, regardless of region, ideology or ethnic background.
The American Jewish community needs rabbis who remain deeply committed to synagogues and Jewish institutions, and who also possess a global vision. RWB helps train rabbis as religious leaders and spiritual innovators who will introduce Jewish wisdom to anyone seeking greater meaning and purpose in their lives.
Rabbis Without Borders is a program of CLAL -The National Center for Learning and Leadership. Founded in 1974, CLAL is a leadership training institute, think tank, and resource center. As a leader in religious pluralism. CLAL links Jewish wisdom with innovative scholarship to deepen civic and spiritual participation in American life. CLAL’s interdisciplinary programs explore religious and national identity. The CLAL faculty, with its reputation for excellence, represents rabbis and scholars from many streams and disciplines, and provides cutting-edge teaching, lectures, courses, seminars, and consulting across the country. For more information about CLAL please visit www.clal.org.
Who We Are
Rabbi Rebecca W. Sirbu is the Director of Rabbis Without Borders at CLAL – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. Rabbis Without Borders provides rabbis with cutting edge methodologies for addressing the challenges people face today and supports rabbis as they become creative entrepreneurs, thinking outside the box to use Jewish wisdom in innovative ways. Rabbi Sirbu directs two rabbinic fellowship programs, teaches seminars to rabbis, rabbinical students, and lay leaders across the country, and coaches individual rabbis in attaining their career goals. She was the founding director of the MetroWest Jewish Health and Healing Center, and the Center for Jewish Life at JCC MetroWest. In addition, she is a trained hospital chaplain. She speaks and writes about the future of Jewish life, social media issues, women’s issues, healing, and spirituality. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Vassar College, she holds a masters degree and ordination from The Jewish Theological Seminary of America. In 2013, she was named as one of the "Most Inspirational Rabbis in America" by The Forward. She tweets at @rabbirebecca and @rwbclal, responds to questions on Jewish Values Online and blogs at Rabbis Without Borders on MyJewishLearning.com.
Rabbi Tsvi Blanchard, Director of Organizational Development at CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, is an ordained Orthodox rabbi. He holds Ph.D.’s in Psychology and Philosophy, and has taught at Washington, Northwestern, and Loyola universities, the Humboldt University School of Law in Berlin, Fordham Law School, the Drisha Institute for Women, the Jewish Theological Seminary, and the Wexner Heritage Foundation. He is also a practicing clinical and organizational psychologist in New York. A popular speaker and consultant, he has appeared in the media on such programs as “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and “Eye on Religion.” In 2006, he was featured along with Elie Wiesel in the film, Turn to Me, by Academy Award nominee Murray Nossell, on the gift of volunteering. Author of the article, “Jewish Voices, Jewish Values” in Jewish Week’s Directions Magazine (Dec. 2006), and a participant in Psychoanalytic Perspectives: A Journal of Integration and Innovation’s (2006) roundtable discussion on psychoanalysis, spirituality and religion, he is a 2003 Reisman Award winner for “Article of the Year“(Journal of Jewish Communal Service), co-author of Embracing Life & Facing Death: A Jewish Guide to Palliative Care (CLAL, 2003), and writer of the introduction for photographer Frederic Brenner’s acclaimed book, Diaspora: Homelands in Exile (Harper Collins, 2003).
Rabbi Steve Greenberg, Senior Teaching Fellow at CLAL, was featured in the acclaimed 2001 film Trembling Before G-d, about Orthodox gay Jews, and has appeared in over 500 post-screening community dialogues worldwide. As educational coordinator for the film’s outreach project, he arranged for screenings in Israel’s religious school system, reaching over 2,000 principals, educators and school counselors. Steve helped organize the first Orthodox Mental Health Conference on homosexuality, and has worked with numerous families in reconciliation. Winner of the coveted Koret Book Award for Philosophy and Thought, he is the author of the groundbreaking book Wrestling with God & Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition (Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 2004). Steve is a founding member and educational advisor of the Open House in Jerusalem, an organization that advances the cause of social tolerance. A renowned speaker and a guest on numerous talk shows including NPR’s “Fresh Air,” he is a frequent commentator for the media and has published several articles on Jewish law, and church and state issues.
Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, President of CLAL, has been ranked several years in a row in Newsweek as one of America’s “50 Most Influential Rabbis,” and recognized as one of our nation’s top “Preachers & Teachers,” by Beliefnet.com. Author of the powerful book, You Don’t Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism (Harmony, Jan. 2008), he conceived and hosted two landmark series for Bridges TV? American Muslim TV Network, “Building Bridges: Abrahamic Perspectives on the World Today” and “American Pilgrimage,” and is a regular commentator for Tru-TV. Co-host of the weekly radio show, “Hirschfield and Kula” (KXL, Portland, OR), and featured on PBS’s “Frontline: Faith and Doubt ant Ground Zero,” and the acclaimed film, “Freaks Like Me,” he writes a column for the WashingtonPost/Newsweek.com’s “On Faith,” For God’s Sake, and his blog, “Windows & Doors,” appears on Beliefnet.com. A popular speaker, he has appeared at the Aspen Institute, the Washington National Cathedral, the Islamic Society of North America, and many leading universities and religious institutions. A Scholar-in-Residence for the JCCA, he is the editor of Remember for Life: Holocaust Survivors’ Stories of Faith and Hope (The Jewish Publication Society, 2007), co-author of Embracing Life & Facing Death: A Jewish Guide to Palliative Care (CLAL, 2003), and a contributor to Three Times Chai: 54 Rabbis Tell their Favorite Stories (Behrman House, 2007), and A Dream of Zion (Jewish Lights, Jan. 2008).
Rabbi Irwin Kula, President of CLAL, is the author of Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life, winner of a “Books for a Better Life Award,” selected as one of the “10 Best Spiritual Books of 2006,” and featured in the public TV special, “The Hidden Wisdom of Our Yearnings.” Named one of the new leaders to watch on the American spiritual landscape by Fast Company magazine and “Religion and Ethics Newsweekly” (PBS), Irwin has been listed several years in a row as one of the nation’s “50 Most Influential Rabbis” in Newsweek, he received the 2008 Walter Cronkite Faith and Freedom Award for his work “toward equality, liberty and a truly inter-religious community. A regular on “The Today Show,” and a repeat guest on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” he hosted his own public TV series, “Simple Wisdom,” and was featured in the acclaimed film, “Time for a New God.” In addition, he is co-host of the weekly radio show, “Hirschfield and Kula” (KXL, Portland, OR), A nationally recognized speaker, lecturer, and commentator, who appears frequently in the media, he has worked with such luminaries as Queen Noor and the Dalai Lama on compassionate leadership, as well as with business and community leaders, corporate and family foundations, and religious and philanthropic institutions to promote leadership development and institutional change. Featured in PBS-TV’s “Frontline: Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero,” he is a blogger for the WashingtonPost/Newsweek.com’s “On Faith” and The Huffington Post.
Rabbi Tsafi Lev is the Director of the West Coast Rabbis Without Borders Student Fellowship.
He is an accomplished speaker and educator. Ordained at JTS, Tsafi gained over a decade of pulpit experience before moving full-time into the true love of his rabbinate, teaching. Part of the founding faculty of New Community Jewish High School in West Hills, CA, Tsafi has proudly helped shape the Jewish curriculum of this innovative pluralistic school. He brings his passion for Judaism and teaching to the upcoming generation of Jewish educators as a long time Adjunct Lecturer in Bible and Jewish Philosophy for the Fingerhut School of Education Master of Arts in Education program at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles.
Rabbi Lev is also an accomplished writer and swimmer. In 2011 he completed the Write a Novel in a Month Challenge as well as swim the San Francisco Bay, from Alcatraz to Fisherman's Wharf, earning 14th place in a competition of "the world's fasted open water swimmers". To commemorate that experience he now gets automatic monthly pulls of Aquaman at his local comic book store.
Rabbi Sid Schwarz has been a congregational rabbi, a social entrepreneur, an author and a political activist. Currently, Sid serves as a senior fellow at Clal: The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership where he runs the Rabbis Without Borders Student Retreats, training rabbis to become visionary spiritual leaders. Sid founded and led PANIM: The Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values for 21 years, an organization dedicated to inspiring, training and empowering Jewish youth to a life of leadership, activism and service. Dr. Schwarz previously served as the executive director of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington D.C. where he oversaw the public affairs and community relations work for the Jewish community. He is the founding rabbi of Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda, MD where he continues to teach and lead services. Dr. Schwarz holds a Ph.D. in Jewish history and is the author of numerous articles and two groundbreaking books--Finding a Spiritual Home: How a New Generation of Jews Can Transform the American Synagogue (2000) and Judaism and Justice: The Jewish Passion to Repair the World (2006). In 2002 Sid was awarded the prestigious Covenant Award for his pioneering work in the field of Jewish education. He was also named by Newsweek as one of the 50 most influential rabbis in North America. Sid's new book, Jewish Megatrends: Charting the Course of the American Jewish Future will be published by Jewish Lights in early 2013.
Thank you to our generous donors without whom this program could not be possible!
If you would like to support our work please click here: Donate
Be a part of the conversation. Do you have thoughts you want to share with like-minded colleagues or fellow students? "Like" our Fan Page on Facebook and join the conversation.