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Small lotus photo by Tanakawho
Lotus with pod and leaves photo by J Brew


January 12, 2009

With heavy hearts and great sadness, we regret to inform our community that our beloved, friend and teacher Rabbi Alan Lew passed away on Monday, January 12/Tevet 16.

This morning, after teaching rabbis at a Seminary Leader training institute near Baltimore, Rabbi Lew meditated, prayed Shacharit, went for a run, and left this world.

Rabbi Lew was a founding member of the Metta Institute® faculty, a dear friend to all his colleagues and an unending inspiration to our students. He was admired, respected and deeply loved.

It is difficult to believe that this vital and generous man of great heart, this man of wonderful good humor, this man of bright mind and still brighter spirit is gone. Oh we will miss him so.

We extend our love, prayers and practices to Alan, his wife Sherril Jaffe, and his three children Steven, Hannah and Malka.

Biographical Information

Rabbi Alan Lew was Rabbi Emeritus and former spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Sholom in San Francisco. He was also the co-founder of Makor Or, a center for Jewish Meditation and one of the nations' a leaders in the revival of Jewish meditation practices.

Previously, he was the rabbi of Congregation Eitz Chaim of Monroe, New York and the first chaplain of the Jacob Perlow Hospice of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.

Rabbi Lew was the President of the Board of Rabbis of Northern California and for ten years, the moderator of the Mosaic television program on KPIX-TV in San Francisco. He has also appeared on The Lehrer Report, PBS's Religion and Ethics, ABC News, The Osgood File, All Things Considered, and more.

His first book, One God Clapping; The Spiritual Path of a Zen Rabbi, chronicles his ten years as a serious student of Zen Buddhism and his work in exploring the use of meditation in enhancing Jewish spirituality. His later books include; Be Still and Get Going: A Jewish Meditation Practice for Real Life and This Is Real and You are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation.

Alan Lew was ordained as a rabbi in 1988 at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York where he won more than a dozen major academic awards. He received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1965 and a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop in 1970.

See the San Francisco Chronicle's article about Rabbi Alan Lew.