Our tradition teaches that we should prioritize “the poor of our town” before reaching beyond our own city limits. But in a world where an Israeli rabbi living in New York can connect with trans activists in the Dominican Republic, could the meaning of “our town” be shifting? In this brief mini-episode, Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie asks: how might we redefine our sense of Jewish responsibility to reflect a 21st-century reality?
Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie is the founding spiritual leader of Lab/Shul NYC and the creator of Storahtelling, Inc. An Israeli-born Jewish educator, writer, and performance artist, he received his rabbinical ordination from The Jewish Theological Seminary in 2016. Rabbi Amichai is a member of the Global Justice Fellowship of American Jewish World Service, a founding member of the Jewish Emergent Network, a consultant to the Reboot Network, a member of the URJ Faculty Team and the Advisory Council of ORAM, an LGBT focused organization for refugees, asylum and migration. He was a Jerusalem Fellow at the Mandel Leadership Institute in Israel (2008-2009) and serves on the advisory committee of Faith House Manhattan. Rabbi Amichai has been hailed as “an iconoclastic mystic” by Time Out New York, a “rock star” by the New York Times, a “Judaic Pied Piper” by the Denver Westword, a “maverick spiritual leader” by the Times of Israel and “one of the most interesting thinkers in the Jewish world” by the Jewish Week. In 2016 The Forward named him one of the thirty-two “Most Inspiring Rabbis” in America. He is the proud Abba of Alice, Ezra, and Charlotte-Hallel.