Rabbi Steven Blane stands out as a pioneering spiritual leader in the Jewish community, particularly in the realm of online religious practice. His founding of Congregation Sim Shalom, a groundbreaking International Online Liberal Jewish Community, and his role as the Dean of JSLI (Jewish Spiritual Leader’s Institute), an online Rabbinical and Cantorial School, mark him as a visionary in adapting Jewish traditions to the digital age.
Here is an in-depth look at Rabbi Steven Blane’s journey and contributions:
- Early Life and Education: Rabbi Blane’s spiritual journey began in his youth. He attended Orthodox Jewish schools, including the Yeshiva of Hudson County and the Rogosin Yeshiva High School. His academic pursuit in music led him to a B.A. in Music Education from Jersey City University, where he majored in Voice.
- Diverse Career Path: Before his rabbinical journey, Rabbi Blane had a multifaceted career. He gained notable experience as a singer and actor, performing off and on Broadway, notably in the show “STRIDER.” He also explored roles as a film extra and a playwright, showcasing his creative talents in various artistic realms.
- Entrepreneurial Ventures: In 1986, Rabbi Blane co-founded Blane & DeRosa Productions, focusing on audiobook and children’s audio production. This venture highlights his entrepreneurial spirit and ability to innovate.
- Cantorial Career: Rabbi Blane’s path to becoming a Cantor was mentored by Hazzan Noah Schall. His cantorial roles spanned various Jewish communities, including Conservative and Reform temples, demonstrating his versatility and commitment to Jewish liturgical music. He began his professional Cantorial career by leading High Holiday services at Conservative Temples Beth Israel in Biloxi, Mississippi in 1991 and Shaarey Zedek in Buffalo, N.Y. in 1992. He served for four years as Cantor (1994-98) at Conservative First Hebrew Congregation in Peekskill, New York, and one year (1996) as Cantor at Reform Temple Beth Haverim in Mahwah, N.J. During his final year at First Hebrew Congregation, he served as Spiritual Leader. He then became Cantor at Congregation Beth Israel in Bergenfield, N.J. from 1999-2006. From 2001-2009, he was a member of the Cantor’s Assembly- a collection of the finest Hazzanim in the world. He resigned from the CA in 2009 when he was offered the option of resignation or expulsion by the Cantor’s Assembly when he began officiating at Interfaith Weddings.
- Rabbinical Journey and Ordination: After studying with Rabbi Joseph Gelberman, Rabbi Blane was ordained as a Rabbi in June 2001 at Rabbinical Seminary International. Prior to founding Sim Shalom, he served as Rabbi and Spiritual Leader of Congregation Beth Tikvah-New Milford Jewish Center from 2006-2009. His journey reflects a deep commitment to Jewish tradition and spiritual leadership.
- Inclusive Approach and Interfaith Advocacy: Rabbi Blane’s commitment to inclusiveness is evident in his decision to officiate at Interfaith Weddings, a choice that led to his resignation from the Cantor’s Assembly.
- Vision for a Universal Jewish Community: Rabbi Blane’s experience in various Jewish movements, combined with a vision for universal kindness and inclusiveness, led him to found Congregation Sim Shalom. This online community, which meets every weeknight, reflects his innovative approach to Jewish worship and community building, welcoming members from across the globe.
- Impact on Global Jewish Practice: Rabbi Blane’s leadership in creating an online synagogue has had a significant impact, offering a unique blend of liberal thought and traditional liturgy. His approach caters to a modern, diverse audience seeking spiritual connection in the digital era.
Rabbi Steven Blane’s journey from a traditional Jewish education to founding an online Jewish community exemplifies his adaptability, creativity, and dedication to fostering an inclusive and progressive Jewish practice. His leadership in Sim Shalom and JSLI marks a significant contribution to the evolution of Jewish spiritual leadership in the 21st century, bridging traditional Jewish values with the opportunities presented by modern technology.
Rabbi Blane has envisioned and founded a new Jewish Movement, Jewish Universalism.
For more information on Rabbi Blane, visit Rabbi.Net.