I first learned about Jewish Renewal in the mid 1980s. At the time, ALEPH was a small office in the home of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, producing exciting learning events and conferences and promoting his books. Since then, the organization has grown to include a trans-denominational seminary that is now the largest non-orthodox Rabbinical School in the world. Jews of many different orientations meet and study at the bi-annual Kallah. ALEPH leads the international Jewish community in creative responses to such religious issues as LGBT inclusion, the extended human life span, and climate change.
I have been involved with Aleph for 20 years as a volunteer, student, and teacher. I am a rabbi ordained by a more main stream seminary, but I have identified for a long time with Jewish Renewal. Aleph has enriched by personal, spiritual, and professional life. I have attended 8 Kallot and every conference of OHALAH, the organization of Renewal rabbis, as well as local groups. I have organized several email discussion groups with and for Aleph.
I had already been working as a cantorial soloist for several years before I entered the cantorial program through the Alliance for Jewish Rnewal (Aleph). Aleph has changed my life profoundly--as it is surely changing the practice of Judaism profoundly across all the Jewish denominations. Friday Night Live, Blue tzitzit, colorful tallitot, Jewish meditation, "Torah yoga", use of drums, dancing, and niggunim-chanting during services...all these things and more have trickled out into all the liberal movements, and they all began with Aleph, under the revolutionary and inspiring teachings of Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Rabbi Marcia Prager and many more visionary teachers. Unlike the other big movements, however, Aleph does not have a well-endowed infrastucture, and so is always in need of funding. It is essential to the future vitality of the practice of liberal Judaism (and perhaps even Orthodox Judaism, as they are not above borrowing from us too, if it works!) that Aleph receive the funds that they need to keep producing this stream of "living waters" that will renew Judaism as a spiritual and ritual practice!