Kashrut (culinary laws) would expand in so many ways to be not only eco-kosher, but bio-kosher and fair trade. I think Judaism would have to have both some shtebelach (small neighborhood synagogues) and some cathedrals. When I remember Temple Emanuel in Binder, I recognize that we've lost a lot of the exaltation. I would like to see some more of that (old world) grandeur. I would like to see Jerusalem become internationalized with a Temple that should be a house of prayer for all peoples.

I would like to see a way of teaching Jewish children in a much deeper way about their faith so that they could grow with it better. I would like to be able to make sure that within twenty minutes we could do a real transformative davenin (prayer service), so it shouldn't have to take a long, long time and we don't spin our wheels with just mere words.

I would like to see more holidays celebrated differently. Imagine if, in temperate zones during the spring, we could grind our grain and make a seder (Passover celebration meal) and find dandelion greens and roast a sheep and stuff like that. I would like to see a lot of good plays and movies that are transformative.

I would like to see an Israel that, humph . . .  I would like to have a calendar of every religious denomination that is there and, for instance, at the time a holiday comes for the Armenian, I would bring a basket of nice things over to the Armenian patriarch and have a nice schmooze with him and so on. I would ask him, "Is there anything we can do to give your denomination a better play? Where do you feel constricted? What can we do to help you?" And the same thing with every religion there.

I would like to see a kind of Disneyland for spirituality. Imagine going into the shul, getting in a little wagon, and traveling through the six days of creation.

. . . and it leads you to the Sabbath.

Right! (chuckles) So using your imagination this way, wonderful things could be done.


Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, better known as "Reb Zalman," was born in Zholkiew, Poland, in 1924. Raised largely in Vienna, his family was forced to flee the Nazi oppression in 1938. After almost three years without roots, they finally landed in New York City in 1941, settling in Brooklyn, where young Zalman enrolled in the yeshiva of the Lubavitcher Hasidim.  Throughout his long career, Reb Zalman has been an unending resource for the world religious community. He is the father of the Jewish Renewal and Spiritual Eldering movements, an active teacher of Hasidism and Jewish Mysticism, and a participant in ecumenical dialogues throughout the world, including the widely influential dialogue with the Dalai Lama, documented in the book, The Jew in the Lotus. One of the world's foremost authorities on Hasidism, he is the author of A Heart Afire: Stories and Teachings of the Early Hasidic Masters (co-authored with Netanel Miles-Yepez). Reb Zalman currently lives in Boulder, Colorado, and continues to be active in mentoring his many students the world over.