Rabbi Benjamin Weiner, a 2008 graduate of RRC, has been the spiritual leader of the Jewish Community of Amherst, Mass., for almost a decade. He studied English literature at Columbia College and received a Master of Philosophy degree in Anglo-Irish literature from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, focusing his thesis on the works of James Joyce and Samuel Beckett. He worked for a time as a translator of Yiddish and Hebrew, and also wrote occasionally for publications including the Forward, Religion Dispatches and Pakn Treger, the magazine of the Yiddish Book Center. While in rabbinical school, he served as a chaplain for adults with mental illness, Jewish elders and terminally ill hospital patients. In addition, he interned at the RRC archives and, under a Luce Foundation grant, at the Institute for Christian-Jewish Study in Baltimore. He lives with his wife, Cantor Elise Barber, and their son, Efraim, on a three-acre family homestead in Deerfield, Mass., along with several dairy goats and chickens, and a hive of bees.
*This article was first published in the ZEEK issue “Reconstructionism: Denominationalism That Works?” (Fall 2010)* Among recent attempts to define “Jewish authenticity,” I find one characterization of
Rabbi Benjamin Weiner explores the ways that traditional Hebrew prayers can provide meaningful spiritual experiences for those who neither understand Hebrew nor believe in a God who hears and responds to our prayers.