Today the world lost a great soul. Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (Meshullam Zalman Hiyya HaKohen ben Hayyah Gittel) passed away peacefully at his home in Boulder, Colorado, aged 89. Reb Zalman was the founder of the Jewish Renewal Movement, the mentor of numerous rabbis, and a guiding light in the lives of innumerable souls.
He was a dear friend of my father’s, and was an initiate in the Order, invested by my father with the rank of Shaikh. In this capacity, Reb Zalman revived the legacy of Rabbi Abraham ben Moses ben Maimon and established a Judeo-Sufi branch of the Inayati lineage known as the Maimuniyya. Netanel Miles-Yepez (Murshid Mu’in ad-Din) succeeds Reb Zalman in this line.
My most cherished memory of Reb Zalman is the memory of having climbed with him, and with many other peacemakers and pilgrims, the rocky path that leads to the peak of Mt. Sinai in the Egyptian desert. We ascended the holy mountain in the predawn darkness, and as the sun slowly rose over the horizon Reb Zalman sang joyous chants of divine praise. Standing on the summit, one could see the wiratha of Hazrat Musa (‘alayhi as-salam)—the inheritance of Moses (peace be upon him)—radiating from his face.
Reb Zalman’s rabbinic and kabbalistic erudition, his breadth of vision, and most of all his vastness of heart will never be forgotten by those whose lives he blessed with his presence.
To me, Reb Zalman was a wise and affectionate spiritual uncle to whom I would turn at times for counsel and inspiration. I will keenly feel his absence, though I know his spirit is by no means lost to us if we know where to seek him.
I am sending my prayers for the peace of our dear Rabbi’s soul in the hereafter. My thoughts are with Eve, his beloved wife, his children and grandchildren, and all who are left bereft by his going from this world.
With God’s blessing, may Reb Zalman’s treasured legacy flourish for ages to come.