JK Testimonials Edited.
“The first time I went to the Woodstock Jewish Congregation, here comes this man in short sleeves and sandals, with a guitar strapped across his back. I was stunned. Where was I? I started going to services with Rabbi Jonathan because I found that in one evening I would learn something, cry, laugh, and sing. That is what I would call a great evening!”
Joan Apter, Woodstock NY
”Twenty years ago Rabbi Jonathan introduced me to a way of being Jewish that felt like home. In fact I moved to Woodstock because I knew the community he led with his gifts of insatiable curiosity, honest communication and love of being Jewish would offer me a place to thrive. Through his wisdom I experience the longing to be close to God, all the while enjoying the great fun of being Jewish.”
Carol Fox Prescott, Woodstock NY
“Attending Rabbi Jonathan Kligler’s classes is a memorable and uplifting experience. His fascinating 21st century approach to Judaism embraces the deepest aspects of its scriptures, history, and rich mystical past. It’s particularly inspiring when Rabbi Jonathan focuses on how Judaism is continuing to emerge today as a directly accessible spiritual path.”
Esther Weaver, Highland, NY
“Rabbi Jonathan has redefined and explicated the concept of divinity in a way that even an atheist like me can find not only acceptable, but also appealing. What more could one wish in a teacher?”
Martha Lewis, Bearsville, NY
“Being with Rabbi Jonathan is a heart opening experience that connects me with a past I don’t always know and prepares me for a future with more fulfillment, more life. He offers Judaism in a way that’s fun, musical, accessible, intellectually challenging, politically ethical, often with humor, while not losing the depth of wisdom Judaism offers. His teaching is an emotional conduit, opening the world of Judaism’s mind and soul.”
Rob Saffer, Woodstock, NY
“I’ve been happy to attend Rabbi Jonathan’s Torah Study classes regularly for more than five years. These are the spiritual and intellectual highlights of my retirement-days in the Hudson Valley. Rabbi Jonathan is a remarkable and rare synthesis of scholar/teacher/spiritual leader.”
Robert M. Lipgar, Rhinebeck, NY
“I always leave class reflecting, thinking, inspired, and energetic. As a result, I try to be more compassionate and nonjudgmental of others. I keep reflecting on what the ancients have gone through and how their issues are still relevant today.”
Myra Schwartz, Woodstock, NY
“Rabbi Jonathan could teach the phone book and I would go to his class. Of course, Jonathan isn’t teaching the phone book. He’s teaching Torah and through his teaching and presence, Torah breathes with becoming. It becomes, for me, The Now. I live with it, learn from it, wrestle with it, grow.”
Perri Blaze Ardman, Kingston NY
“There are many things that are inspiring and impressive about Rabbi Jonathan. These include his Judaic knowledge, his intimacy with the words of the Bible and his very positive attitude. Yet, to me, his love of the land of Israel and the Jewish people are a joy and an inspiration.”
Robert Messing, Woodstock, NY
“It was meeting Rabbi Jonathan that stirred in me, for the first time, the desire to explore my Jewish heritage. When I speak to him and ask my questions, I have his full attention and I feel my words are all he wants to focus on. He has a compelling way of teaching, with sensitivity and humor.”
Arlyne Ettinger, Mt. Tremper, NY
When Jamie and I met and fell in love in 1994 neither of us had observant backgrounds, or had much inclination to be part of a religious community. Rabbi Jonathan opened the door to the richness of a meaningful Jewish life for us. He has a unique gift for sharing his spirituality and wisdom in a way that is natural, playful and generous. Recently I have been reading his beautiful book Hineni and discovered that his writings mirror the compelling and unique qualities of his leadership.
Tanya Marcuse, Barrytown, NY
Thanks to the passion, creativity and commitment of Rabbi Jonathan Kligler, my daughters got to experience what many American Jews consider to be an oxymoron: a fun Hebrew school. And for the first time in my life, thanks to Rabbi Jonathan, guilt is not the only reason I want to come to the synagogue.
Rabbi Jonathan is not only a teacher but a mentor, and a friend. I tell everyone everywhere I go that they have to come to Woodstock because I have the greatest Rabbi in the world!
Adira Indich Baum, Oberlin College, Oberlin OH
I remember the first time I walked into the Woodstock synagogue when I was eight years old. It was like a party. A Rabbi played guitar, everyone had drums, or maracas, or simply clapped their hands, all singing at the top of their lungs. We were hooked. Thanks to Rabbi Jonathan, Shabbat morning services and the High Holiday services are among the greatest memories of my childhood.
Ellena Indich Baum, Smith College, Northampton MA
“I was tearful when I read the welcome Rabbi Jonathan wrote on the WJC home page. How beautiful! I thought, ‘Yes, I am truly welcome here.’ That sense of being understood by this person who doesn’t even know me was clear to me during my first visit to the shul, when I heard his Rosh Hashanah message. His way of expressing Jewish thought and presenting principles of Jewish spirituality allows me to be more open to the Jewish path and to heal the disconnect I have felt. I am so grateful to him for this. I am struck by how integrated Rabbi Jonathan’s knowledge is. His understanding is clearly in his bones; certainly not just theoretical, an informed by a lifetime of studying.”
Deborah Burger, Woodstock NY
“Jonathan Kligler is the best thing since sliced bread. He is one-of-a-kind.”
Elliot Schilkrout, West Newton MA
“During the retreat, Jonathan Kligler’s presence of deep joy, important teachings and powerful-in-many-ways voice made my heart sing… every day.”
“I loved starting the day with Jonathan Kligler — prayer, intention, in community”
“A definite highlight was the morning prayers. I’ve never experienced such a soulful spiritual leader as Jonathan.”
Bob Schechter, Weston MA
“One hour spent privately with Rabbi Jonathan literally changed my life. He listened intently as I shared a family problem that had been plaguing me for many years, asked astute questions, and between us we arrived at a solution that really worked. When I left his office, I felt as though a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.”
Rebecca Daniels, Woodstock NY
I imagine that my Jewish self has been attempting to heal since the day I was born into a small Hungarian community of Holocaust survivors. But it was not until I attended Rabbi Jonathan Kligler’s Healing Your Jewish Self workshop that the true healing of my family’s legacy of losses began. For once I was in a safe space where my grief was not pathology but the necessary next stage of growing into my joyful Jewish self.
Julia Indichova, Woodstock, NY, author of Inconceivable and The Fertile Female
I have known Rabbi Jonathan for many years now–we met when he came to Omega Institute to take a basketball workshop with Coach Phil Jackson. I loved that a young rabbinical student was also into basketball and improvisational dance and all kinds of different spiritual traditions and practices. I wondered what kind of special rabbi he would become. Well, he didn’t disappoint! Jonathan is creative, heartfelt, wise, kind, powerful, and unique. He is a leader who has made a difference in thousands of people’s lives.
Cofounder, Omega Institute; author of Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow
As a Christian, my faith has grown deeper and more detailed as a result of Rabbi Jonathan’s teaching. Rabbi Jonathan teaches Jews about Judaism, bringing new life to the faith of many of his congregants. Paradoxically, he does the same for us Christians, for he has generously welcomed all seekers to join his classes. We find that spiritual principles that underlie the stories in the Torah also underlie the stories in our own tradition. He models how to search more deeply into our sacred writings. I hope my co-religionists will take advantage of one of today’s truly inspired teachers.
The Rev’d Susan Auchincloss
Priest Associate, Trinity Episcopal Church, Saugerties, NY
[Here is Susan’s unedited version – I put iut in because it might be useful if we find ourselves at some point reaching out to a specifically Christian or interfaith audience
As a Christian who is devoted to Jesus Christ, my faith has grown deeper and more detailed as a result of Rabbi Jonathan’s teaching. Rabbi Jonathan teaches Jews about Judaism, bringing new life to the faith of many of his congregants. Paradoxically, he does the same for us Christians, for he has generously welcomed all seekers to join his classes. We find that spiritual principles that underlie the stories in the Torah also underlie the stories in our own tradition. He models how to search more deeply into our sacred writings.
Christians have long ignored Jesus’ Jewish background, culture, and faith. How much we have missed that our religion might have brought us! We half-know Jesus, half-devote ourselves to the whole person. This is starting to change, and Rabbi Jonathan is one of the great instruments of that change. I hope my co-religionists will take advantage of one of today’s truly inspired teachers.]
Jonathan Kligler is everything a rabbi ought to be: spiritual, learned, compassionate – and even musical. He is also the best teacher I have ever encountered. He ignites a group with his brilliant intellect, enthusiasm, knowledge, and humor—and beyond that, by his openness and authenticity as a deeply spiritual human being struggling with the same issues we all face. Whether we are new to Jewish teachings or not, he creates a safe and welcoming environment in which we can expose our own vulnerability as we explore deep questions of Jewish religion, ethics, and history; and we have all grown in our years with him.
In addition, he has led us in the practice of acting with loving-kindness toward one another, which has created a community that embodies the best of Judaism; and his musicality takes us to a holy space at services that goes well beyond words.
Gail Albert Ph.D., author of Mending the Heart, Tending the Soul: Directions to the Garden Within
I took Rabbi Jonathan’s class on Jewish Mysticism in the Fall of 2014. It was one of the most interesting, thought- provoking and spiritually rich classes I have taken. Jonathan’s own deep faith, passion for truth and his desire to bring others to a deeper understanding AND experience of the mystical, created an atmosphere that was vibrant, safe and sacred.
The Rev. Gwyneth MacKenzie Murphy
I am not Jewish (I am an Episcopal priest), but my experience in Rabbi Jonathan’s class was not the objective study of another faith; rather, though I did learn more about Judaism, I also came to a more profound appreciation of the essence of the mystical, what our respective faiths do share at the deepest roots. Jonathan encouraged students to think, ask questions and reflect upon their own experience.
The Rev. Gwyneth MacKenzie Murphy