From WDST, Radio Woodstock

Rabbi Jonathan is interviewed by co-hosts Doug Grunther and Susan Rosen on WDST’s Roundtable, September 21, 2014.

Listen to the interview…


From the NY Times

Our Towns: Woodstock’s Values, and Abraham’s, Too

Published: September 13, 2007

In his Rosh Hashana sermon today, Rabbi Jonathan Kligler, like many rabbis, will try to put the eternal struggle to square human fallibility with human aspiration in a context particularly germane to his own congregation.

So in the prepared text of his sermon he begins by meditating on “messianic visions of modernity,” particularly the idealism and passions of the ’60s that brought so many of his peers to this Catskill town still defined by the concert that wasn’t held here. Along with mulling over the “yetzer hara,” the capacity for evil, and the “yetzer hatov,” the capacity for good and the ancient wisdom of Rabbi Huna of Tzipori, he’ll tell his congregation to keep hope alive.

“I never want to abandon my idealism,” he says, near the beginning of the sermon. “I’m the rabbi of Woodstock, for God’s sake!”

Yes, Mr. Kligler is the rebbe of a distinctive congregation, where the High Holy Days ceremonies are always held outdoors in their beloved tent, and the first Rosh Hashana service begins with the singing of the ’60s anthem “Turn! Turn! Turn!” with the rabbi playing guitar, where there’s always plenty of singing, dancing and hugging along with the davening.

But still, two decades on, there’s a tale of modern Jewish life in the success of the Woodstock Jewish Congregation….”

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Building a Synagogue For 60’s Generation; Woodstock Congregants See Faiths the Distilled Essence of Judaism

Published: August 5, 1995

Rabbi Kligler said his congregation had found itself responding not only to Jewish mysticism and ecstasy but also to Jewish ethics. “In an era of looking out for No. 1,” he said, “Judaism speaks from its heart and says that what it’s about is treating people well. That’s what we’ve been speaking for 2,000 years.”

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Jewish Currents

For the Sin of Racism

by Rabbi Jonathan Kligler
September 14, 2013

“Tonight I want to speak about the collective sin of racism, and our responsibility to combat it. I speak tonight as a Jewish American, a citizen of a nation whose great wealth was built on the enslavement, exploitation and degradation of African Americans; a nation that rationalized and institutionalized the intolerable treatment of African Americans by claiming their inferiority to those of lighter skin tone; a nation that, despite much progress, continues to be separate and unequal.

I speak tonight humbly, knowing that many other sins infect our society, equally demanding of our attention, knowing that I am taking advantage of my pulpit tonight to speak on only one deserving topic out of many. I speak tonight humbly, after much reflection, trusting that I should speak my mind…”

Read the entire article…


Anti-Semitism and “The New Jim Crow”

Posted: January 14, 2013
By Rabbi Jonathan Kligler
Woodstock Jewish Congregation

I want to describe two reasons why the New Jim Crow, the system of mass incarceration, is a Jewish issue, and why I wanted our synagogue to host this gathering.

The first reason should be self-evident: the central Jewish narrative is our story of how we originated as a people: we were slaves to a tyrant, the Pharaoh of Egypt, and were mightily oppressed. Upon receiving our freedom, we enshrined a principle at the center of our collective consciousness: “Do not oppress the stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.” Therefore, being a committed Jew means being aware of others who might be suffering under oppressive societies, and standing opposed to that oppression. It’s pretty straightforward, and it is one of the main reasons why I am proud to learn and to transmit the teachings of Judaism.

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Mountain Record: Zen Practitioner’s Journal

The Breakdown of Community

by Rabbi Jonathan Kligler
Volume XIX, No. 1 – Fall 2000
We bemoan the breakdown of community in our society, and the fact is, that breakdown is for real. The quest for individual fulfillment, mobility, and economic success — life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — is central to the American experiment. But that quest, in our time, has torn loose from the context of communal and civic responsibility in which it was nurtured. We are faced with the steady atomization of our communal infrastructure….
Jewish community is a good place for this balancing of self and community. We can thread parts of our fragmented lives back together here. Jewish communal values can ground us: they are different from the values of our consumer society. They can remind us that it is connection we seek. That the ghost of “individual fulfillment” leads us finally free-floating away from a critical source of that fulfillment: other people…

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“The Creative and Spiritual World Are One”

Minister David Gregory, Rabbi Jonathan Kligler, and Dr Mitchell Flaum
(an internet radio interview)

I call this world “The Invisible Creative Zone”, which is where you meet your Transcended Creative Self. This is the space that creation takes place.

David Gregory is the minister of North Congregational Church in Middletown, NY a member of the United Church of Christ (UCC). He is active in the interfaith community throughout the Hudson Valley promoting the causes of social justice, inclusion, and diversity. He is a vocal musician that looks for opportunities that combine creative impulse and spiritual energy.

Rabbi Jonathan Kligler has been the spiritual leader of Kehillat Lev Shalem, the Woodstock Jewish Congregation known for its welcoming and heart-opening atmosphere, innovative and inspiring approach to religious practice, and great music. He is an accomplished and recorded singer and folk guitarist..

Listen to the interview…